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International Terrorism

10.47 a.m.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean) rose to move, That this House takes note of further developments in international terrorism.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when we last met, this House expressed its heartfelt horror and revulsion at what had happened only three days earlier in the United States. I am sure that today the grief, shock and disgust remain as strong. I am sure, too, that noble Lords will wish to discuss how we in this country and as a part of the international community can bend every sinew to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to account and that we do everything within our power to prevent such an atrocity from happening again. We look forward in particular to the maiden speeches of my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Aberavon and my noble friends Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Temple-Morris.

This time yesterday morning I had just got off a plane from New York. After a weekend flying to other countries as the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the United States, I have this week seen for myself the reality of a city--a very great city--struggling to come to terms with the appalling atrocities of the terrorist attacks on 11th September.

Like many Members of this House, and like many people from Britain and around the world, I feel a strong connection to New York. Maybe it is because it is in some senses the ultimate city. It has been photographed many thousands of times in the cinema and in images that sum up at once both the essence of America and the skyscraper pinnacle of modern life. My own connection, like that of many others, is personal. When I had finished my degree at university I worked for a while in a merchant bank on Wall Street. I came to know and love New York--its vibrancy and noise, its swirl of movement and the sense of being at the centre of things.

New York this week was different. It was a quieter city--it was more subdued. It was a city in which, instead of the usual cacophony of traffic and car horns, there was a different sense: a sense of hurt, damage, suffering and sheer sadness. That was not found just at Ground Zero, at the site where the World Trade Centre stood just four weeks ago; there was sadness all over the city because a hurt to one is a hurt to all.

This hurt to America is indeed a hurt to all of us. But it goes further. This week I saw that the city of New York is not prepared to let these attacks succeed. New York is indeed pulling its community together in response to the attacks. I believe that this reaction is the response of all of us. Just as the attacks affected everyone, so too is everyone brought together by our response to them.

When the terrorists flew those hijacked planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, into the Pentagon, and--were it not for the incredible bravery of those extraordinary people on the fourth plane who took on their hijackers, who knows where else would

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have suffered?--they were not merely attacking a building or a group of people--savage and heartless though that was. No. They were specifically and deliberately attacking something else too. They were attacking ideas--ideas which are at the heart of what we all stand for. They were attacking ideas about freedom: freedom of opportunity; freedom of speech; freedom from oppression; and freedom of trade.

That is why we all stand shoulder to shoulder now with the United States. The attacks on America were, as we have said, an attack on all of us in the world community. That is why the world community has been so sure, so united, in its determination to come together as a community to tackle the clear and present danger from international terrorism. In terms of responding to terrorism, our nation's self-interest and our world's mutual interest are now as one.

Our objectives in dealing with terrorism are clear. Primarily they are twofold: to take action against Osama bin Laden and his associates and against those who harbour them, in a proportionate and targeted response to the vileness of the attacks of 11th September; and, beyond that, to take action to dismantle the apparatus and the mechanism of international terrorism, so that we all--wherever we are in the world--can feel safe and secure again.

We are already engaged on the second of those objectives. We are taking action at every level: first, in the UN, with a clear and binding declaration on all countries to act against the terrorists and all who give them sanctuary and support; and then this week, with Resolution UNSCR 1373, imposing obligations on all member states to respond to a global threat to international peace and security; and in particular in regard to the safe havens for terrorists and in regard to their finances--which is an enormously important part, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, made clear. In NATO there has been a determination, stated fully this week, to make real its core principle that an attack on one is an attack upon us all. In the EU there are pan-European measures to tackle money laundering and other means by which terrorists sustain themselves. And here in Britain the Government have been urgently looking at ideas to make sure that Britain is not a safe place for terrorists to be--but that Britain is a safe place to be against the threat from terrorists.

The Home Secretary has made clear that measures are being worked on by the Home Office as part of the Government's legislative response to terrorism. Those include making it an offence for financial institutions not to report transactions which they know or suspect to be involved in terrorist activity--a very important point. The measures include giving law enforcement agencies full access to passenger and freight information, which air and sea carriers will be required to retain. They include widening the law on incitement to include religious hatred as well as racial hatred and amending the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to ensure that those who are suspected or convicted of terrorist involvement cannot be considered for asylum.

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There can be no compromise with terrorists. There can be no negotiation. There is no meeting of minds. There is instead a clear choice: to defeat terrorism or to be defeated by it.

We are asked how we know who is responsible. The Prime Minister's Statement which was repeated by my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House assured your Lordships that we shall put as much evidence forward as possible. I am sure that all noble Lords will understand that we cannot give details of intelligence information. We cannot reveal information which would compromise our sources, undermine national security or threaten the safety or effectiveness of our Armed Forces. As the Statement made clear, the Government are in no doubt as to who planned and organised this atrocity. We are in no doubt as to who organised the training of those who carried it out.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister could not have been clearer, he could not have spoken more for us all, when he spelt out this week the message to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists, or surrender power. That is their choice.

But this is emphatically not a fight with the people of Afghanistan. No one understands better than the Afghan people the terrible human suffering caused by the policies of the Taliban regime: the unrelenting civil war; the failure to allow aid to relieve the worst drought in living memory; the starvation of children; the total lack of freedom for women; the isolation from the rest of the world.

That is why in helping to forge a coalition to defeat terror, Britain is working hard to forge a coalition of equal importance: a humanitarian coalition to help the Afghan people now, in the current crisis, and, as importantly, in the future, in rebuilding their economy, their country and their lives.

Just as we are taking action against the threat and the reality of international terrorism, so too we are attaching equal priority to addressing the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people in rebuilding their country. Since the events of 11th September, we are providing an extra £36 million in aid for the region--on top of the £32 million given since 1997. That aid will mean food, water and blankets--it will also mean hope for the refugees.

We want to work with all responsible Afghans to bring peace to their country and to help set it on the path to stable development. Afghanistan does not need Osama bin Laden; it does not need the Taliban; and it certainly does not need terrorism. It needs irrigation and agriculture. Afghanistan needs to be able to put food in its children's stomachs. It needs schools, hospitals, roads, and a real future.

Afghanistan and its people have been ill served by those who have made their country a centre for terrorism across the world. It is also a centre for drugs. The two are inextricably linked: buying drugs here, on our streets, and funding terrorism there, in the training camps. Illicit drugs doubled in Afghanistan in the

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three years after the Taliban took power. We calculate that over 90 per cent of the heroin on our own streets originates from Afghanistan.

I want to say a word about the international coalition. When my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited Iran, he discussed how we should work together on a crisis that threatens the Muslim world every bit as much as it threatens the West. He discussed with president Khatami and the Iranian Government how our two countries can work together to help the refugees who are already seeking shelter in Afghanistan. Many profound difficulties still exist in our bilateral relationship with Iran. But we must, in the current circumstances, build on what we have in common, without glossing over those differences.

Let us be clear that the evils of Osama bin Laden and the Al'Qaeda are sanctioned by no faith. When the Foreign Secretary visited Egypt, that message was reinforced by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar--the spiritual leader of the Sunni Muslims. He said that the terror attacks went completely against the teachings of Islam. The Saudi Grand Mufti also condemned the attacks on 15th September. So also have the Muslim Council of Great Britain and many others. So let there be no doubt: Muslim leaders, secular and religious, have indeed condemned the attacks, and they have done so fully and unequivocally.

At home and abroad, this Government will continue to emphasise that this war against terrorism is not a war against Islam. Muslim states are among those leading international political and diplomatic efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks. Of course, I include in that Pakistan, and we applaud in particular the courage of General Musharraf at what is an especially difficult time.

Our recent contacts with leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as furthering our efforts to build an international consensus against terrorism, have enabled us to press them to do all that they can to contribute to the search for peace in the region. Few parts of the world have suffered more from terrorism than the Middle East. When my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke last week to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, about the latest moves for peace, he stressed how determined Britain is to help the two sides reach a lasting and just settlement.

We must reinvigorate the peace process. Our priority now is to see the recent dialogue between Mr Arafat and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Peres, develop into a sustained contact. Indeed, swift and full implementation of the Mitchell recommendations is needed. The parties must take rapid steps to ensure that their commitments are turned into reality on the ground. The continuing violence--indeed, the violence of the past 24 hours--serves only to make clear that both sides must now redouble their efforts to enforce the ceasefire.

Peace with security can come only through a political process which allows the emergence of a viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state,

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committed to co-existence with Israel and recognised and respected by Israel. For its part, Israel must be given recognition by all, its people freed from terror and its part in the future of the Middle East fully accepted.

We stand at a daunting point for our country and for our world--indeed, for our values. Difficult though the prospect is, I am sure that this House believes that our country will not falter in what we now have to do, because, of course, we may well see military action. If we do--as I am sure the whole House knows, and I certainly know as a former Defence Minister--our Armed Forces will acquit themselves well. They are second to none as fighting forces. At this difficult moment, we can be confident in their capabilities, commitment and courage. In what we ask them to do for us all, we can be proud that we know what their answer will be.

I am sure that there will be many questions about what action may be involved. No one can or should answer those questions with any precision at this stage, because to do so would undermine the very effectiveness of the tasks with which we may be entrusting our servicemen and women. However, let me assure the House that if we do engage in military action, we will do everything that we can to avoid civilian casualties. Our enemy is not the people of Afghanistan, or the real followers of Islam. I believe that the last three weeks have shown beyond doubt that everyone involved in this fight against terrorism is determined to proceed with care and deliberation.

New York, Washington and America are showing that such a force for evil can indeed be turned into a force for good. The extraordinary unanimity of the world community is showing us that the world is drawing together to make sure that good can and will come out of evil. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for the tribute that he paid to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, who from the first moment of this disaster has worked so tirelessly to forge and sustain that coalition. I also echo what the noble Lord said about President George W. Bush. America, too, has a leader who is responding to his country's most momentous challenge in modern history. In Mayor Rudi Giuliani, New York has found someone who has been steadfast, who has in the past three weeks never lost either his nerve or his compassion, and who has been able to articulate not only the pain and anguish of his city and his country, but its hopes and determination for the future.

Your Lordships may be interested to know that we have long planned for the end of this month an event called "UK in New York". Now we have renamed it "UK with New York". Many of us will take part in the celebrations in the city of our country's cultural, economic and trading ties with America. All of us here pay tribute to the resilience of New Yorkers, to those who have lost loved ones and are trying to rebuild their normal lives and, of course, especially to those in the fire, medical and emergency services who gave up their lives in trying to save others.

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My noble friend Lady Amos and I want also to pay tribute to the incredible work that has been done since 11th September by British Government staff there. Tom Harris, the British Consul General, his deputy Duncan Taylor and all their team--every single one of them--have performed magnificently in most difficult circumstances.

We now look ahead to the fight against terrorism. We know that it will be long and hard. We will have to deploy all the tools available--military, economic, diplomatic and legislative. We must do our utmost to prevent further such attacks. The international consensus against terrorism is widespread and growing. As the Leader of the House has been able to tell us, the Prime Minister will again be travelling to ensure that he does everything in his power to bring that consensus together. We will proceed with deliberation and with care. Counter-terrorism is at the top of our agenda. It is the overriding priority for our country and the world community.

One of the most telling images of the terrible sights that followed 11th September was that of the emergency and rescue workers raising their country's flag above the rubble of what, only a few days before, had been a symbol of modern America and modern civilisation. It is our job now, the job of all of us, also to raise the flag--the flag of justice, of democracy and of freedom--because our values and beliefs are right. Decency, compassion, fairness and justice are our ideals; those are what we are fighting for. Out of this evil, good must come.

Moved, That this House takes note of recent developments in international terrorism.--(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)

11.7 a.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, more than three weeks after the atrocities, the grieving continues and grows even more intense as the horror sinks in, as the noble Baroness eloquently described. However, I think that she and your Lordships would agree that the passage of three weeks also allows us to make a little more sober analysis of the full implications of what happened, and to begin to shape a longer-term strategy to deal with this terrorist-ridden world and the new threats to everyone. It is no criticism whatever of the Government, whose actions we totally support, when I say that, despite clear indications of the immediate objectives, despite the excellent speech that we have just heard and despite the Prime Minister's eloquent venting of aspirations that we all share, it is not yet entirely clear--indeed, it could not be, such are the great uncertainties with which we are dealing--how we shape our longer-term response; how we change our lives, policies and approaches to the world after the atrocities of 11th September.

I want briefly, at the beginning of what will be a long and no doubt well-informed debate, to offer two starting points for consideration of that longer-term scene and how we build on immediate events. The first is one on which there is no disagreement: simply, there will be no knock-out punch; no immediate settling of

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scores; no quick fix. I am afraid that there will be nothing to bring joy to the CNN cameramen and the other media people who long for some spectacular event to put on screen and who, in the absence of such an event, to describe events that have not happened. They set out dramatic, heroic scenes of how this or that special force might raid this or that lair and throw bombs in this or that direction.

None of that will happen. Indeed, I hope that whatever happens will be kept secret. I accept the view of the noble Baroness that, as a democracy, we do not wish to know the full details, the intelligence and the minutiae of future plans. Too much disclosure will help the enemy. We have heard clearly this morning, both in the Statement of the noble and learned Lord and in the speech of the noble Baroness, about the immediate objectives. As I understand it, the first objective is to "topple" the Taliban. Some are now talking of replacing the Taliban with a "moderate" Taliban rather than with any coalition with the Northern Alliance, which has its own faults and problems and is not exactly unified. That may succeed. It will require both politics and internal pressures and will be extremely complex. I am not sure who the more moderate Taliban are; whether they are more acceptable to Islamabad and the Pakistan Government. However, that appears to be the intention, otherwise there would be a hopeless vacuum.

The other more spectacular intention, declared on all sides, is to capture the monster Osama bin Laden. I hope that that can be done. I understand he is now in a Russian-built anti-nuclear bunker somewhere on the borders of Tajikistan, or may even have fled from there. However, he will have to be winkled out before the winter because when the winter comes those sorts of ground operations will be impossible. We hope and pray that that succeeds and that he is brought to justice.

But when those immediate objectives have been achieved, we will all have to take a deep breath and realise that we are dealing not just with one poor organisation; not just with one country. Al'Qaeda is a world-wide network; it is not a pyramid hierarchy. It is drug-financed. It extends its tentacles throughout the world and I have no doubt it has been planning many other atrocities, including those in New York and Washington, for a long time.

We learn that the New York horrors were in the pipeline for possibly three or four years. Something planned one or two years ago may now be in the pipeline. We must be realistic. If these things are to be stopped in their tracks, then the campaign has to be fought on far wider fronts than military events and things that can be filmed for the television news in the evenings. We have to deal with a vast variety of operations.

In that regard I agree that cutting off the oxygen of finance is absolutely crucial. I am glad we are freezing all accounts in this country. I shall be interested to hear what we can do to assist others in freezing the whole so-called "Havala" network of funds which circulate

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around the Middle East. Much of it comes from people who are part of the coalition and who we need as friends. Much of it comes out of Saudi Arabia in enormous quantities.

As the Leader of the House rightly said, the sums involved are far bigger than the mere millions about which we have heard. The total drug turnover of the world is estimated to be between £500 billion and £600 billion. Afghanistan and the surrounding countries are presently the centre of at least half that trade. So we are talking about billions flowing through the monetary network and they must be cut off before the next horror visits us.

That is my first point. My second point is also a slightly gloomy one, though I hope to come to a more positive note. We are living against the background of a rising terrorist trend. RAND estimated that in the 1990s there were more than three times as many terrorist incidents and civilians killed than in the 1980s and the 1970s. Things are swinging the terrorist way. Conditions are getting easier for the terrorist. The New York Trade Centre event was new in the sense of the magnitude; but the trend is established and it is deep and sinister.

We knew long before 11th September that tiny cells could destroy great structures with increasing ease, for two reasons. One is that the weaponry is now miniaturised and it is much easier to kill people in large numbers. Indeed, in a way the weaponry has become simpler. As someone pointed out, 6,000 deaths were caused on 11th September with the use of a Stanley knife, or a Swiss army penknife. That level of horror was achieved with a simple piece of weaponry, though obviously there was vast planning behind it.

The second reason is that our society is now much more vulnerable than it was 50, 30 or even 10 years ago. It is also more complex and therefore contains more nerve centres and points at which a terrorist can aim with deadly effect in terms of lives of civilians in massive numbers.

Against that background of the grim reality that we live in an age particularly encouraging, post-Cold War, to terrorism, and particularly easy for terrorists, what should be the main elements of our strategy? The Government and Ministers pointed to some, but perhaps I may add a small list which I hope will be of some help.

First, I totally agree--I have heard no disagreement anywhere--with the Government's insistence on condemning utterly the attempt to arouse religious hatred and incitement and to depict what we are dealing with as a clash between one religion and another; between Christianity and Islam. As the Prime Minister said, such attempts are "despicable" and we must never rest from ensuring that such attempts are suppressed. The idea that Islam is militant is absurd. In history Muslims were considerably gentler conquerors than the extremely brutal Christians. But whatever the history, they are our allies and our brothers.

We do not need to tell our Muslim friends that extremism must be contained. They stepped forward to sympathise deeply with the United States in its

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agony. But this extremism exists on both sides. Just as we will have no truck with the semi-racism and Nazism used against Islamic people or those of other religions, so I am sure the Muslim leaders recognise that they too must have no truck with and be completely dissociated from not so much jihad, which may mean no more than a struggle in oneself against sin, but against concepts such as jihad al saghir, which means go out and shed blood and kill people--and even more against the kind of fatwah which the noble Lord mentioned earlier. The World Islamic Front fatwah of 1998 enjoined all Muslims, not merely as a duty but as an individual duty, to go out and kill Americans and their allies in any way at any opportunity. So that extremism too needs to be sidelined from our affairs, and I am sure it will be.

Secondly, there is the question of the defence forces. The Defence Secretary Mr Hoon tells us he is thinking of rebalancing our forces. Perhaps we could hear a little more as to what that means. If it means that we are going to need more special forces, then that is long overdue in this world of new enemies. John Simpson, the distinguished foreign affairs correspondent, wrote in an interesting column that what are now needed are "invisible skills". They will require new equipment. Rows of tanks, fleets of helicopters and divisions of armed men are no longer necessarily the best security for our citizens or world peace.

While dwelling on security I agree with the Prime Minister that, far from abandoning the national missile defence concepts against rogue states, we need to reinforce them and help America more to rejig the whole of our nuclear deterrent thinking.

Thirdly, the noble Baroness mentioned the grand coalition. That is going well and Ministers must be commended on zipping round the world and doing their best. The only advice that one should have is that they should perhaps pack a long spoon in their luggage as they visit some of our coalition friends. It should never be forgotten that people who are as much against terrorism as we are may have their own agendas which they may pursue under cover of the general bonhomie of the coalition. I particularly worry about those who want to destabilise Saudi Arabia. That would be a world disaster on a bigger scale than anything so far. At the moment the price of oil has been the dog that did not bark: on the contrary it has become weaker and not stronger. If somehow Saudi Arabia lost its balance with its extreme Wahabi sect pouring money into the poisoned well of the terrorists and the rulers trying to stay alongside America, but losing their grip as a result, a direct result would be the end of a producer of world oil and catastrophic shortages, interruptions and prices rises, which would make anything that has gone so far look mild.

We have to tighten internal security. My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith will have more to say on that. I simply say what has already been said; namely, that we must do nothing to undermine the liberties and law-based government which we are trying to protect and which the terrorists are trying to destroy. I am personally glad that the idea of identification cards has been put on the back burner because they would not

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help to catch terrorists. The German experience, where there is a very tough regime with compulsory identity cards, had made no difference at all. Indeed, much of the recent plot was hatched in Germany.

Finally, do we change policy? One's instinct is never to change it as a result of a terrorist act. Any changes that we make should be far more carefully considered than those arising from events of 11th September. I notice that before that date the United States was planning to bring forward a new strategy for the Middle East. I share totally the Israeli outrage at bombers who blow Israeli men, women and children to pieces in the shopping bazaars. Like the noble Baroness, I wish to see Israel's existence, and right to exist, totally guaranteed. As US policy indicates, I believe that the time is coming when the state of Palestine will come into being and the Israelis will have to accept it. That may be the beginning of the removal of that element of poison in the system. It has nothing to do with responding to terrorism, but is part of a longer-term policy.

I have said more than enough and taken my share of the time. We heard a great deal of talk about war. I believe, with the noble Baroness, that the real war is on poverty in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That is the breeding ground for terror. The causes of it are not Islam, which is an absurd suggestion. How could that be? Some of the richest countries in the world are Islamic. The main causes are bad governance, corruption, excessive state powers, crippling taxation and--I hope noble Lords will forgive the phrase--old-fashioned state socialism.

The cure is not armies, but letting in the daylight of global markets, investment, trade and enterprise. As the Prime Minister indicated in his fine speech, those who oppose the global economy are unwitting supporters of the very conditions in which terrorism thrives, both the poverty from which it arises and the poverty and misery which it creates, as the World Bank reminded us in its assessment of what 11th September will do to the poor of the world.

That is why the world centre of trade and investment was the target and why those who want a fairer, less violent and freer world should fight to the last for open trade, open investment and open societies in which terrorism has no place to hide and, indeed, no place at all.

11.24 a.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, before moving to some of the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, perhaps I may return to what the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said in her very powerful speech. One of her central themes was that good should come out of evil. The noble Baroness spoke of some of the ways in which that might happen. There are two in particular that I wish to highlight. The first is the astonishing dedication of the public services of New York, the firemen, ambulancemen, doctors and many others, including ordinary citizens, who risked their lives helping others. That was one shaft of light in an otherwise a turbulent sea of darkness.

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The second piece of good that may come from evil is the recognition now running very deep in the United States that it is no longer an invulnerable country. For a long time the United States was given to what is sometimes called American exceptionalism, the feeling that unlike the rest of us it was not subject to the suffering and extraordinary tumult of the world. I believe that that lesson has been well learned. It is very striking that the American Administration has begun to move towards a more multilateral policy. In particular, it has accepted the concept of an alliance covering many nations, with many different attitudes and philosophies.

It is worthwhile underlining attitudes in Britain. When George W Bush was elected--I certainly do not exempt myself from this criticism--there was a tendency to produce a great number of cartoons about Texan cowboys. There was the use of the word "Dubya" with the implicit sense of contempt contained in it. I believe that almost none of us could have imagined that Mr Bush would reach such a careful, sensible and patient approach to international affairs. A phrase which I believe is now used a great deal in Washington, and which I am sure is very familiar to the noble Baroness, is "strategic patience". It is not one which is immediately associated with the United States. I believe that it owes a great deal not only to the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the pressures of America's allies, but also to the wisdom of the senior Mr Bush who has been through all this before. Whatever the reasons may be, I believe that all of us feel much more confidence in the present American Administration than we might have done three months ago. It has been an amazing response.

As regards good coming from evil, the next point I wish to raise concerns the coalition. No one should be under any impression that it is other than a very fragile creature. I read recently some reports about the number of young men in Indonesia who are putting themselves forward as potential recruits for the mujaheddin defending Afghanistan and not attacking it. It is a very troubling set of reports from that country. The same is also true of many young men in Pakistan.

One of the difficulties of the coalition is that we have not yet won the hearts and minds, particularly of unemployed young people with few prospects in many of these troubled and poverty-stricken countries. That is why the twin-track approach is so crucially important. As the Leader of the House indicated, we have to deal not only with terrorism, which is difficult enough, but also give some kind of hope to a generation of young people for whom committing suicide may be the most attractive option open to them. It is a terrible thing to say.

Perhaps I may return to the question I asked the Leader of the House about the Statement. In the coalition there is still the issue of carrying conviction as regards the evidence against Osama bin Laden. I fully recognise the limitations. I underline again that in so far as we can make some confidential information available only to the Secretary-General, it might be

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very helpful in providing a global basis for an attack on terrorism and a global conviction that that is right. In many ways Kofi Annan is the representative of the whole of humanity and is so considered throughout the world. The more that we can involve the United Nations and in particular the Secretary-General, the stronger our position in that somewhat fragile coalition is likely to be.

I was somewhat concerned by the discussion introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, about the possibility of imposing a government on Afghanistan. I am puzzled. Whether that imposed government is moderate Taliban or whether it is the Northern Alliance, the central issue is that if we are to carry conviction within the coalition, there must be some test of opinion within Afghanistan itself.

My noble friend Lord Ashdown will talk more about this, but I find it puzzling that we have not discussed the possibility of a UN protectorate in Afghanistan for a substantial interim period until the refugees have returned and until it is possible to establish a wide measure of opinion for a successor government. One of the reasons why I am somewhat puzzled is because of the success in East Timor of precisely that procedure under which the Timorese returned as refugees, settled again in their own country and eventually, after several months, were able to give their own views about the kind of government they wished to govern them and whether or not they should be independent of Indonesia. I mention that because I think that imposing any solution on a Muslim state would, to say the least, set up hostages for the future.

I wholly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, about the importance of moving against discrimination on the basis of religion. Many of us here will remember that the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and others have continually pushed for this approach. It is only because of the current crisis that we now see the urgency of that statement.

We must not be hypocritical. Central to our view of human rights and of life is the sacred nature of the individual human being. In that context, we have to admit that the terrible events in Rwanda and Srebrenica, when 7,000 young Muslims were killed in cold blood, did not elicit the kind of response that we are making now. I understand why, but if we are to have solidarity between religions and embark on an attack on terrorism, we must begin to recognise the value of Muslim, African and Asian life, as well as the value of European and American life. I feel that we still have a long way to go.

I turn now to the internal structures, which I shall mention only briefly as I do not want to detain the House. There are two important points to make. First, I refer to indefinite detention without arrest or charge being made. I hope that the Government will think carefully about this issue. We know from experience in Northern Ireland that detention without an attempt to bring charges can be counter-productive. This is the area about which we on these Benches are most troubled. There must be a basis on which detention for a period has to be justified. We note that the

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Prevention of Terrorism Act, which provides for the right to extend the period for which someone can be detained for questioning, has been used only in a small number of cases. Will the Government consider how far that legislation already meets the needs that we have? There are undoubtedly real needs. I do not deny the need to investigate and question people who are suspected of terrorism.

Secondly, I add to what I said before about the funding of terrorism and other money laundering issues. The Leader of the House was gracious enough to admit that there is a weakness in this area. The approach to laundered funds is deeply flawed by the divisions within the government structure. There are least three ministries with some responsibility, including the Treasury, the Department of Trade and Industry and, curiously, the Home Office, which is responsible for many of the investigations, and one agency, the Financial Services Authority.

The Government often speak, reasonably, about joined-up government. I can think of few stronger examples of fractured government, and it would be helpful if over the next few months the Government would think about how to tighten up these serious divisions--I appreciate that they are already beginning to do so--in their counter attack on terrorist funds.

My final remarks concern an issue on which I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Howell. One of the breeding grounds of terrorism is unquestionably poverty. It is striking that the latest report of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, an international and much-respected body, shows that the past 20 years of economic growth have been much less productive for the poorest countries of the world than the previous 20 years--1960 to 1980. It even demonstrates the rapid widening of economic inequalities between rich and poor, and suggests that in the poorest countries in the world there has been a net drop in per capita income in the past 20 years. That is pretty devastating when the rest of us have benefited hugely from economic growth.

That has to be addressed more profoundly than by aid alone. We must look again at the world's deep inequalities and at how international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, deal with those inequalities, sometimes caused by structural pressures which are almost beyond their capacity to bear. In this context, I add Russia. Despite its great interest in identifying with us against terrorist action, from which it has suffered greatly, it is suffering profoundly from the weakness of its economic system. We cannot neglect that entirely if Russia is to become an ally. Nor can we totally neglect some of the action that Russia has taken in Chechnya and pretend that Russia can be part of our counter-attack. There are limits to what we ought to do.

My final point is a different, philosophic one, which was brought to my attention by people with a much greater knowledge and closer understanding of

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terrorism than I have. The current situation has been created not only by economic conditions. These men and women believe profoundly in what they are doing and reject our way of life in all kinds of ways. They reject our beliefs, values, commitment to human rights, our individualism, and so on. One of the sources of that profound rejection lies in what many people in the developing world see as their traditional ancient structures which offer some kind of protection against the pressures of the world. We have to understand the desire that people have to belong to something and somewhere, and the way in which poverty drives them to identifying more closely with the communities and groups to which they belong. There are not only economic causes and military sources of terrorism, but something that we in the western world hardly understand at all, which is the spiritual source of terrorism. That issue must also be profoundly addressed.

11.37 a.m.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords, my first pleasant task is to thank so many of your Lordships and staff for the welcome, the kindness and practical help that I have already received since coming to your Lordships' House. It has been particularly pleasant to renew friendships in all parts of the House with those whom I have known and met in my 41 years in the other place.

Parliament has been recalled for the second time in the long Recess. I cannot remember that happening before. I turn immediately to the reasons for the recall, and pay the highest tribute to the Prime Minister's role since the terrible events of 11th September. He has reacted in a measured, caring way, which was crystallised in the speech that he made on Tuesday. He said succinctly that the action that we take will be proportionate and targeted and that we will do all that we can to avoid civilian casualties. The words "proportionate" and the need for targeting and avoiding "civilian casualties" derives from the general principles of customary international law, codified in Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Action should not be indiscriminate and should not cause excessive damage to civilians.

It is in the public domain that as Attorney-General I played a ministerial role in the Kosovo campaign. Perhaps I may say that the Prime Minister's Statement has always been our approach and I trust that it always will be so.

It is vitally important that the leaders of the coalition use the correct language to justify the action taken. It would be foolish for our aims to be confused by an argument about ill-chosen words. That is what the clever men and women who advise world leaders are supposed to ensure does not occur. The speech writer who allowed such a word as "crusade" to be used had no sense of history whatever. International law does not allow for "revenge" or "retaliation".

However, self-defence is allowed, as the noble and learned Lords, Lord Howe of Aberavon and Lord Mayhew of Twysden, and the noble Lord, Lord

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Brennan, said in the previous debate, and self-defence is a wide-ranging concept. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, said:

    "No state should be required to wait until an attack has in fact been launched and only then try to parry the blow".--[Official Report, 14/9/01; col. 31.]

It could not have been said better.

I welcome the Security Council resolutions of 12th and 28th September,

    "recognising the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the charter",

and expressing its readiness to,

    "take all necessary steps",

to deal not only with the attacks of 11th September but all forms of terrorism. The resolution of 28th September,

    "decides that states shall deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts".

It is never easy to reach agreement on the form of words that emanate from the Security Council. I believe that the action we take, provided that it is proportionate, is well within the ambit of our rights under the charter.

Osama bin Laden undoubtedly presides over scores of training camps for the export of terror. There are demands for the evidence to be publicised now. We have not yet seen the interim statement to which the Prime Minister referred. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, the NATO Secretary-General, said on Tuesday after an American briefing that the facts,

    "are clear and compelling . . . The information points conclusively to Al'Qaeda's role in the attacks".

I accept that the limitations set out by the Prime Minister today for saying nothing more now is that the sources and methods of obtaining information would be compromised. That was my experience both as a defence Minister and as a Law Officer. It is not only bin Laden who is wanted but his organisation, and his capacity to commit further acts of terrorism has to be destroyed.

However, if the leaders survive, they will have to be brought to justice. Obviously they should be tried in the American courts for the events of 11th September. That is the stage when sufficient evidence will have to be produced to secure convictions.

Turning from terrorism, for which there is ample judicial machinery, it is sad that the International Criminal Court, which the government in which I served were in the vanguard in sponsoring, is still not in being. The last Bill in the previous Parliament cleared the decks for our ratification of its treaty. I understand that we are about to ratify. Thirty-eight countries have already done so. Sixty countries are needed to ratify for the court to come into being. Sadly, the United States does not accept it; certainly not in its present form. At last April's meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the British delegation, of which I was a member, succeeded in obtaining unanimous agreement to encourage countries to ratify.

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A global alliance is not a one-way street and I hope that the tragedy of 11th September will bring home to all the need to reconsider the repercussions of all forms of isolationism. I see signs of that happening. The diplomatic map of national interest has been redrawn since 11th September. I welcome the emphasis on diplomatic and financial action as well as military. I particularly welcome the concern and the action already taken in order to try to alleviate the human catastrophe in Afghanistan this winter.

The coalition that is being built already manifests different degrees of enthusiasm for particular action. That is understandable; countries have their own domestic agendas. The greater the action that is taken the greater the need for us to be on our guard against the coalition unravelling. In the days ahead, world leaders will have some awesome tasks and duties and our sympathies are with them.

11.46 a.m.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, on behalf of the whole House, I am both honoured and delighted to congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, on an admirable and indeed memorable maiden speech. It was certainly measured, proportionate and targeted.

The noble and learned Lord has served his country so well in four different but inter-linked areas of our national life: military, law, politics and government. He served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and then he achieved a law degree from the University of Aberystwyth and from Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1954. He entered the other place as an extremely young Member in October 1959 and served for almost 42 years. During that time he had government portfolios of power, transport and defence. Latterly he was Secretary of State for Wales from 1968 to 1970 and lastly Attorney-General from 1997 to 1999. All noble Lords will realise that that is a most impressive list and shows his breadth of experience and expertise.

I said that I was delighted as well as honoured to congratulate the noble and learned Lord because my late husband and I were personal friends of the whole Morris family for more than 30 years. The one thing I have learnt about the noble and learned Lord was that there is one word which epitomises his whole character and dedication to national life; it is the word "wisdom". That is something which we need in this House. We have it in great abundance but the more we have, particularly at times such as this, the more we can benefit. I hope that we shall have many opportunities to benefit from that wisdom in his future contributions to our debates.

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