|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I should like to correct one evident misunderstanding. I did not for a moment suggest that good things have not taken place as regards the issue of the police. I said that the SDLP had joined. My point was that the IRA had not.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I do not think that we have time to enter into a long debate. That should be left for another day. I simply wished to point out that, first, the Government's policy on policing had been a success. Secondly, Ronnie Flanagan has made decisions in the interests of good policing and security in Northern Ireland and I fully support those decisions. Thirdly, I think that the noble Baroness was less than generous to Mr Ramaphosa and Mr Ahtisaari, to whom she referred in a manner which I felt was unworthy of two eminent international statesmen. They have enormously important track records, in South Africa on the one hand and as a former president of Finland on the other. As I said, I believe that it was less than generous to suggest that they were bumbling, incompetent people, which was more or less the thrust of what she said.
Since our previous debate on this issue, we have had time to consider the implications of what happened in New York on 11th September. I believe that we have had even more time than was available in that debate to reflect on the enormous bravery of the New York fire service and police and of many other New Yorkers. We have had an opportunity to reflect on the increasingly mature approach of the United States Administration. We have been made more aware of the dreadful toll of life and the tragic last-minute telephone messages of those who knew that they were about to die, either in the buildings or on some of the aircraft.
Furthermore, I believe that we are more aware now than we were three weeks ago of the continuing threat imposed by bin Laden and his terrorist network. It is a very real threat in this country, in the United States and in many other countries. If there is only one main aim for Western government policy--indeed, not only for Western government policy but for that of other governments, particularly those in the region--it is to do all that we can to prevent, or at least to lessen, the chance of further abominable acts of terrorism. That
It also means that there is a need for far more covert action and probably an increasing role for Western intelligence services. It will involve educating the public in all our countries that this will, indeed, be a long haul and that we must be resolute, firm and single-minded in our purpose; otherwise, as time goes by, it will be easy to give a lower priority to these matters than we would give today. That will be a challenge for governments everywhere.
One key issue in this matter is the source of information. Clearly, not only in this country, where we have good sources of information, but in many parts of the world where those do not exist, we need to ensure the existence of accurate, impartial information and informed analysis and, indeed, debate so that people in Afghanistan and in the adjoining areas can be aware of the issues and of what is happening. We may not always be as aware of the issues as we have the ability to be.
I welcome the fact that the BBC World Service has stepped up its programming significantly in recent weeks. I understand that at least 60 public radio stations in the US have taken a large amount of World Service programming. However, perhaps more importantly, the BBC has expanded its World Service in Pashto, Persian and Urdu. It has extended its Arabic news service to 24 hours a day, and it is also increasing the use of medium and short-wave transmissions to Afghanistan. That is important because there is no television in Afghanistan and very few credible newspapers. Therefore, the main source of information is the radio.
According to limited survey work carried out by the World Service among heads of households, it is indicated that 70 per cent of Pashto speakers and 60 per cent of Persian speakers listen to the BBC World Service. Eighty-six per cent judge it to be newsworthy. Sixteen million people listen to the BBC World Service each week in Pakistan. Forty per cent of recently surveyed international travellers--admittedly a slightly skewed sample--from Iran are regular World Service listeners. I hope very much that the BBC World Service will be given resources not only at present but in the future to ensure that it can continue with that type of full coverage. It is important to ensure that people in the region are aware of what has happened and of what is being done and the measured way in which the issue is being approached.
Perhaps I may also mention the work of the British Council in the region--a much longer-term objective. The British Council is playing a part in education and the spread of information, and I consider that to be crucial.
One important consideration must surely be not to destabilise the Government of Pakistan. The set-up there is fragile; at least, I believe that it is, judging by the changes of government. It is important that we support Pakistan and that we do not take action which would destabilise it. Of course, we all welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to tackle poverty in the region, to send aid to Afghanistan and, indeed, to assist Iran and Pakistan in coping with what is likely to be a large movement of refugees from Afghanistan into those countries. It is important that we continue to do so because the effect of a large flow of people could itself be destabilising for the region.
Perhaps I may repeat the comment that has been made by many people: the Muslim community in this country has been resolute in condemning terrorist actions. I have heard nothing but condemnation from the Muslim community, not only in this House but also in the country as a whole, of what happened in New York. I am very sorry that a former Prime Minister has suggested otherwise. Of course, I welcome the Government's commitment to legislation against religious discrimination. I hope that we can define "religion" in such a way that it does not cause too much confusion. I believe that a difficulty lies in that, but I welcome the commitment in principle and I hope that the Government will be able to give good effect to it.
Lastly, I do not believe that today we can sensibly debate all the civil liberty issues that are liable to stem from what has happened. We do not know the details of the Government's policies; we have simply heard hints of the general direction in which they want to go. We shall certainly consider the matter in detail but I believe that it should be left for another day. Today is the day on which to be firm and resolute and to accept that a serious threat still exists and that it is up to governments to lessen that threat.
I believe that what happened in America on 11th September will be marked down for ever in our calendar as a day of evil. It was a day when terrorism struck at the very heart of America and brought a rude shock to so many American citizens who, until that time, had harboured the dream or illusion that they were somehow invulnerable to the type of events that have engulfed other parts of the world from time to time. Naturally, our heart goes out to all those who have suffered from the frightful atrocities. We must do and contribute whatever we can to guard against their repetition.
What has happened compels us to assess, to reassess and to take stock. I have no doubt that attitudes and positions will need to be changed in a number of different directions. Not least is that likely to be the case in the Middle East. The threat of "bin Ladenism" is not only against the West; it carries grave implications for other countries as well--not least for Saudi Arabia.
I hope that somehow in the aftermath of the horror that we have all witnessed a new statesmanlike position can be adopted in some countries in the Middle East. I listened with great interest to the distinguished maiden speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I found myself in sympathy with much of what he said about the state of Israel. I find particularly offensive the aggressive establishment of settlements on Palestinian or Arab-owned land. Frankly, at this moment there is an urgent need to subordinate the pursuit of narrow nationalist objectives and to aim instead at restoring stability and at bringing prosperity to those areas in which there is poverty and which constitute a breeding ground for unrest. That applies to parts of the territory that is currently under the governorship of Israel.
The Prime Minister, through his energetic and effective leadership, helped to mould the consortium in support of the American-led response to terrorism. However, in his speech to the Labour Party conference he drew on from that and expressed the hope that that would bring about developments in European policy, that we would all find ourselves coming closer together in that regard and that we would find solutions in Africa and elsewhere. I do not in any way disparage his vision--I understand what he was saying--but he has a very long-term objective.
What impresses me about the way in which the consortium has been brought together is the fact that there has been commonality of purpose. There is clear-cut evidence of the objective. People know and understand what we are aiming to achieve. When the cause is clear and the purpose is plain, countries come together. I hope that we continue in years to come to preserve sufficient independence, flexibility and capability always to be able to act decisively in our self-defence. The United Kingdom's position is pivotal in the three concentric circles of the transatlantic alliance, the Commonwealth and Europe. We should retain
Faced with the possibility that any further manifestations of terrorism might develop into a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions it is necessary for the US-led action to take place fairly soon. I have never quite understood what is meant by "proportionate" in relation to the action that is likely to be taken simply because the only action that is worth taking is that which most effectively achieves the objective of eliminating the terrorists' capability of being able to strike again. If anything goes beyond that it is clearly unnecessary. Within that, whatever action it is necessary to take should be taken and we should not try politically to circumscribe the ability of our forces to achieve that.
However, for our efforts to curb terrorists' activities to have any effect at all, we must operate simultaneously on several fronts. There is a need to take action on the civil front and against those who campaign and raise funds and those who issue propaganda or incite hatred. The priority is obviously to destroy the Taliban and bin Laden centres of power in Afghanistan because it is from there that so much of the evil work is being planned and launched.
The Al'Qaeda network appears to be very tightly organised, highly disciplined and heavily funded and it has a most successful system of communication at its command. To destroy it will require a composite campaign of considerable complexity. It will also be of long duration. It is essential that, throughout the duration of that campaign, the Government sustain the support and resolution of the people of this country. They will need to do so through constant communication, explanation and education.
We have to come to terms with an entirely new definition of hostilities in which the "enemy" is barely identifiable and whose single-minded agents are directed silently from cells deeply embedded, even here, among the ever-tolerant, unsuspecting and freedom-loving peoples of the western democracies. To further their aims the terrorists will stop at nothing. Life itself, their own as well as that of others, has no meaning for them. They are driven by a fanatical hatred and by the conviction that they will find "infinite paradise". Moves against trained terrorist activists, wherever in the world they may be hiding, must be urgently and vigorously undertaken.
I hope that we are now no longer in any way complacent about what we need to do. I was impressed by the references of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, to the security services. I am not by any means an expert on the subject but I believe that we now have to look for a degree of co-ordination and co-operation between our security services such as we have never previously witnessed. In this country perhaps we can expect MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Customs and Excise, the Immigration Service and the police to work together as one integrated task force, pooling information and sharing intelligence. I hope that some
It may be necessary to consider the introduction of computerised records that note the movement of individuals at all United Kingdom points of entry and departure. Nor should we ignore the more localised terror organisations and those who incite violence from platform and pulpit. Too many self-styled freedom fighters still have sanctuary in this country. For example, the Tamil Tigers, whose suicide bombers have for decades wreaked such havoc in Sri Lanka while the world turned its back, are still here raising money for mass murder. Surely we should now say and actually mean that time has run out for the paramilitary groups in our midst. We must make it clear that groups such as the IRA, which connive with extremists in other lands, which finance their activities through extortion and drugs and which resort to bombs and bullets in order to get their way, have no place in a free country. That message is not for us alone; it is also for our friends in America who are misguidedly one of the IRA's main sources of finance.
If we are serious in our determination to act against terrorism in all its forms, which clearly both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are, then it is time to take the gloves off and to get down to business. If that proves to be unpleasant and painful and if it offends some people's sensitivities, that is a price that we, and they, must be prepared to pay. Otherwise, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" count for nothing.
Lord Alderdice: My Lords, many noble Lords have spoken from great experience and with great expertise on the military and historical background of the present difficulties. Many have spoken with characteristic concern and generosity about the humanitarian dilemma that faces us. I simply want to make a few remarks based on my experience in Northern Ireland, where I have spent most of my adult life trying to bring some element of peace and tolerance during ongoing terrorist campaigns. I hope that they will not be seen merely as the dispirited comments of a Speaker whose Assembly is perilously close to suspension, but rather as words of caution.
I fear that in the tone and content of many of the contributions there has been a sense with which I am familiar. When good people come to Northern Ireland from this side of the water after 20 or 30 years, from a community where tolerance and plurality are watchwords--I see at least one of them in his place today--and attempt to deal with a place where terrorism is rife, one of my difficulties lies in persuading them when they have great difficulty in believing the words of those who hold entirely different views.
One of the problems with terrorists is that they tend to tell you what they intend to do and what they believe; but that is so unpalatable to people from a democratic society that we choose not to believe it and,
So noble Lords are mistaken to say that this is all about poverty. Mr bin Laden is not a poor man and never has been. The members of Baader-Meinhof and the Red Army Faction were not poor people. Those who led the Shining Path were not poor, benighted, uneducated souls. Her Majesty's Government felt over a long period of time that in Northern Ireland the resolution was to ensure that there was no longer poverty in places such as West Belfast and pumped in huge amounts of money. It did not bring violence to an end; nor did it bring polarisation, sectarianism and extremism to an end. These matters are about people's beliefs and feelings. Not everyone wants to create the kind of society that we want to see and attempt to create. Indeed, some believe that it is dreadfully and terribly wrong--and not necessarily out of poverty. Most terrorism campaigns--I am not talking about disaffection and trouble on the streets but about international terrorism--rarely arise from a question of simple poverty.
That is not in any way to suggest that poverty, ignorance and disease are not matters to be dealt with, or that we should not already have been addressing the problems in Afghanistan, which have not arisen since 11th September and are not the cause of the events of that day. They had been present for a long time as a result of the drought and so on. Of course all these matters need to be dealt with as moral imperatives. But dealing with them will not resolve the terrorist campaign.
References have been made to the situation in the Middle East. That is also an area where matters need to be resolved. I happen to agree with the suggestions made by George Mitchell, whom I know from his previous incarnation, and with the suggestion that the Palestinians ought to have their own state. The idea seems eminently reasonable and I support it. But the House should not assume that that will bring to an end the wish to wipe Israel off the map. It will not. It is a naive illusion; it is wishful thinking.
The problem is much more difficult. It is not the case that when we address some of the social and economic problems everyone sits down, has a cup of tea with us and says, "Isn't it great? We're all going to live in the same happy liberal, democratic, pluralist, tolerant world. Some noble Lords have said that the solution lies in all religions wanting to respect each other and
All the issues about making sure that such a slur is not applied are all well taken and are right. But my greatest fear at present is that Islamic fundamentalism--that is what it is, whether we like it or not--will spawn Christian fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel and Hindu fundamentalism in India. These things tend to produce their equal and opposite. Those who have more tolerant and pluralist ideas then tend to brushed aside. My remark is born of painful experience.
Yes, the social and economic questions need to be dealt with; but they will not in themselves necessarily resolve the problem. I plead that we take seriously what such people say about themselves, because they believe it. In holding such beliefs, they do not become "suicide bombers"--that is what we call them--they become martyrs to their cause; that is what they believe themselves to be. It is quite a different thing.
Furthermore, we are dealing with a different kind of difficulty. It is not new--indeed, this country began experiencing it in a serious way in the 19th century in relation to Ireland--but it has reached new levels for all kinds of reasons. That is not necessarily because the terrorists have the technology, but because they can now turn our technology against ourselves. Our capacity to communicate with and to translate people from one part of the world to another is turned, in the form of aircraft, into the destruction of those things that not only symbolise but are central features of world trade, with the use of a pen knife. It is not a question of whether such people have the technology--although it will be extremely frightening for us to discover some of the technology that may be available to them.
We are also dealing with a network. I hear the remarks that are made about Afghanistan. It is absolutely right that we should address those matters. My noble friend Lord Ashdown pointed out how careful we need to be in terms of interfering in that country. But this is not a tightly structured, hierarchical terrorist organisation. Cut off that head, and a whole lot of others spring up all over the place. The cell structure that was created was also created in the IRA many years ago and was extremely successful. Capture one person and it does not make any difference: he knows only another two or three people in the structure. It is highly effective. This is the world of networks--the Internet, relationships and communications. Dealing with it will not be easy.
What joins together Afghanistan, the United States and the United Kingdom? Afghanistan produces large amounts of drugs. The United States' top target for drugs is Colombia. Terrorists from the United Kingdom have recently been in Colombia with those who work using drugs and terrorism and who have links with Afghanistan. That network does not just sprout out of 11th September. The terrorists did not plan 11th September with the idea that they would then put their feet up, sit back and do nothing for the next four or five years while we put everything together. We must accept that there not only may, but will be more atrocities. Each time we come to London we take the risk of being involved in one such atrocity because London has been and remains a prime target.
We are living in a changed situation. I am relieved that our Government, the Government of the United States and other governments have not sat back but have reflected carefully before acting. Act they must--we must. No amount of talking and pleading will resolve the problems, but we must think through carefully what we are doing. We must face the unpalatable fact that the very thing that we want for ourselves and for others--liberal, pluralist, tolerant prosperous, free-trading, democratic countries in which men and women, young people and old, people of different religious faiths and of none can live together in plurality--is exactly the world that the terrorists want to destroy.
Terrorism is a tactic, but it is more than that. It is a way of thinking, a way of construing and understanding the world. It is a virus that is now well embedded in us and we must think and work hard, and face--as we often must with a disease--some unpleasant realities if we are to get the treatment right.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has certainly injected a note of realism into the debate, for which I thank him. My speech is somewhat more optimistic, but, I hope, no less realistic. I want to speak about the necessity of dialogue. Of necessity, we have heard a lot about conflict this morning and this afternoon, but dialogue is necessary if the conflict is to be justified and if there is to be a programme of international reconstruction in the aftermath of that conflict.
Last month's tragic events have shown us in the most vivid possible way the urgency of dialogue between different systems of thought, polity and social organisation--the dialogue between civilisations to which President Khatami of Iran has drawn our attention. But as the Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung, never tires of pointing out, such a dialogue can be useful only if it is undergirded by dialogue between different religious traditions, for it is they which underlie so much of culture, politics and even economics.
In this country, it is good that the need for dialogue has long been recognised. Leaders of faith communities are conscious of the importance of keeping lines of communication open, and bodies such as the Inter Faith Network, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Richardson of Calow, provide co-ordination within communities and between them and government. Of course, some may be reluctant to engage in any kind of conversation, but many are willing.
However, worldwide we need an immediate reorientation in our policy on exchanges, scholarships and research. The role of the British Council has been mentioned. Too much of our policy has been built on materialistic assumptions that have favoured the physical and life sciences and technology at the expense of subjects such as culture, faith and history--more elusive, but important nevertheless.
That policy has now been proved to be both narrow-minded and dangerous. There is a kind of scientific fundamentalism about it. Technical training takes no account of the uses to which science and technology may be put--whether terrorism, internal repression or exploitation of the poor. I have seen examples of all three. In future, we should be sure that we are engaging with beliefs, values and traditions, which are at the heart of cultures, rather than promoting optimistic and false beliefs about homogenising the world through the spread of technology.
Contrary to popular--and even, dare I say, scholarly--beliefs, there is a long tradition in the Islamic world of a civil polity that recognises the importance of intermediate political, judicious and religious institutions, which are seen to mediate, interpret and develop the injunctions of revelation, as Muslims see them. Such a society will, of course, be founded on the principles of Islam. As the former Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Dr. Nasim Hasan Shah, points out, the laws and institutions of such a society will be conducive to Muslims practising their faith, but they will not be coercive. That is the issue: no one will be forced to be a Muslim; no one will have to be a Muslim in a particular way decreed by the state.
In that connection, it is worth pointing out that the earliest so-called heretics in Islamic history were the Kharijites, who rejected all intermediate institutions, including the Caliphate, and proclaimed the direct rule of God--theocracy in its pure form--la- hukm illa- illa- li-lla-h. However, their view has never, I am glad to say, gained general acceptance in the Islamic world. For more than 200 years, leading Muslim scholars--both
It is of the utmost importance that those engaged in the building of civil society in the Islamic world, and those who are working for the development of Islamic law in the light of contemporary circumstances, are recognised and supported, not only by their own governments, but also by the wider international community.
Another area which merits further exploration and dialogue is that of jihad, mentioned already by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. That has been variously interpreted in Islam to mean struggling against oppression, against hostility to Islam and, as the noble Lord said, even against one's lower instincts.
I pointed out some years ago that dialogue about jihad and the Christian concept of the "just" war, could be fruitful. It may lead to a wider international consensus on the circumstances in which the use of armed force can be justified. We must listen carefully to what Muslims say about the rest of the world. If it is not an abode of a war--as traditionally described--what is it? We wait to hear the answers.
I am delighted, like other noble Lords, that there is to be substantial emergency aid for those likely to be affected by the current conflict. However, it is unlikely to be more than a fraction of the military cost. Both kinds of expenditure may be necessary now. But how do they compare to any political and diplomatic effort in solving major underlying problems which fuel militancy? Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya have all been mentioned today in this House. It may be that the resolution of these disputes does not eradicate terrorism, but it will certainly remove its sting in many parts of the world.
Encouraging better internal security in states at risk and choking off the financial supply routes of extremist organisations, both semi-official and illicit, is a sound policy. Public opinion worldwide may also tolerate overt military action provided that there is proper authority for it; that it is proportionate--by that I mean that it does not cause greater evil than the evil it is seeking to remove: that is the meaning of "proportionate" in just war theory--that it does not harm civilians; and that it is aimed at establishing an enduring peace and not more war.
Such action may bring about a backlash against Muslims living as minorities in the West and elsewhere--again, India comes to mind--and also against non-Muslim minorities living in predominantly Muslim countries. Therefore I welcome the steps being taken to prevent incitement to religious hatred here and I welcome the comments of my brother the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford about the protection of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries like Pakistan. It is crucial that government and law enforcement agencies be prepared for such an
In relation to Afghanistan, further division will not clean up the country. Surely we need a United Nations sponsored conference which brings together the different ethnic and political groups as a first step towards a government of national unity which is then protected by some form of international guarantee.
Freedom from terrorism is a very significant prize, and people, including the populations of Muslim countries who have suffered the most, may be willing to pay the price. In the end however the battle is not just on poverty; it is also a battle for minds and hearts. That is why I return to my original theme of the importance of dialogue. That is why research, exchange and scholarships are important. That is why support for the development of civil society is important. And that is why increased political activity for the resolution of long-standing disputes is important. Military and security measures may at best cauterise the immediate sources of danger. But sustained and long-term action on many fronts is necessary if the causes of extremism are to be addressed effectively.
We have so far heard three outstanding maiden speeches. Another speech--that of my noble friend Lord Ahmed--was particularly important because of the bravery it characterised. My noble friend left us in absolutely no doubt about what he saw, together with millions of others, as the essence and truth of Islam.
Tribute has been paid to many of those who responded so amazingly at the time of the grim events in New York, and to many of those who grappled with the aftermath. I should perhaps declare an interest as a former director of Oxfam and a member of the Oxfam Association, but I hope I shall be forgiven if I say that there is one group which I should like to be remembered on this occasion. I refer to the humanitarian workers in and around Afghanistan who, with determination, are selflessly demonstrating everything that we say our society is about. I hope that our thoughts will be there with them also at this difficult time.
In saying that, I commend what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said. In our humanitarian response we must think not only of the problem of Afghanistan itself and the refugees, but also of the burden on neighbouring states. In any strategy we devise on the humanitarian front, it must be one that looks to the region as a whole.
In the context of what I say without hesitation has been the measured and courageous leadership of our Prime Minister, certain principles have become very clear. The first is that we are living in an age when we can no longer speak about "national" interests as
The second principle which has become very clear is that if we are making a stand for civilised values, everything we do must be compatible with those civilised values. There was a lot of cold calculation in the ruthless acts that took place. We must deny those who planned them the victories that they seek, one of which is to demonstrate that when we are under pressure the values of which we speak begin to disintegrate. Never is it more important to demonstrate those values than in the midst of a crisis such as this.
The third principle, which I believe is becoming very clear and which I find reassuring, is that we talk more and more about justice--not just the administration of justice in the law courts, but justice in its fullest sense. That is why it has been so vital to demonstrate, as the Prime Minister and others have done, that we have no argument with the ordinary people of Afghanistan. If we accuse their government of being implicated in international crime on a massive scale and describe that government as tyrannical and oppressive, we cannot at the same time be prepared to do anything that punishes those who suffer under that government. That point has become increasingly clear.
It is also becoming clear that, in the context of those other considerations, evidence is very important. The more evidence that is available the better. If we are talking about justice, we have to produce evidence that will stand up to investigation and analysis. Of course there are security dimensions. As a former defence Minister, I am the first to recognise that. It would be wanton irresponsibility to deny it. However, as much evidence as possible must be available.
Alongside all those points has been the developing, powerful commitment to the humanitarian campaign. We have to win people's hearts and minds. The demonstration of our humanitarian commitment to their needs is as important as any military action that we may be contemplating.
That brings me to the interesting and challenging speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. He is professionally expert in these areas of human behaviour and we must take seriously what he says. However, I ask him to consider one other political reality. One of the most difficult problems when dealing with terrorism or extremism is what I describe as the constituency of ambivalence that surrounds the terrorists. There are countless people who would not contemplate terrorist action themselves or who would be appalled by it if confronted with it immediately in their own situation but whose experience of life is so bad, having suffered oppression, deprivation and hopelessness, that sometimes they allow themselves to
That is why the Middle East is so important. I am sure that the noble Lord is right that dealing with the problems there will not of itself solve all the problems of terrorism, but the grotesque sense of injustice about what is happening in the Middle East creates a ripe recruiting ground for the extremists. That is why it is so important for us to be even-handed and to be able to demonstrate even-handedness, not in a wishy-washy way but in a muscular way. That is why I am glad that one result of the crisis is an openness in talking about the need for a Palestinian state.
However, I sense something else underlying all this. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me. I have spent most of my life in international work, so I see Britain not just as we like to see our country, but in the way that many of those with whom I have mixed and worked abroad see it. We are deluding ourselves if we do not face up to the growing resentment among intelligent people across the world at what they see as an increasing tendency for the affluent and powerful nations to want to manage the world in their way. We have to come to terms with that fact because it is central to winning the battle against terrorism.
We are coming up to a new trade round. Are we doing everything conceivably possible to ensure that the world's less wealthy nations will be adequately represented in those negotiations, that they will have at their disposal the same expertise that we have at ours and that their rights will be furthered every bit as much as our interests? That is central to the issues that concern us.
In his powerful speech, the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, referred to the importance of the United Nations, not least because of the Russians. There is another reason why the UN matters. We have talked an awful lot in recent years about the European Union, NATO and the G7, but the majority of the world do not feel that they have a stake in those institutions. The UN represents global humanity, with all its inadequacies. That is why it is so important to have the authority of the UN behind what is done and to use the UN in every way possible. That means resourcing the UN, not just sentimentalising about it. We have to make sure that we give the necessary support to the Secretary General.
The international dimensions are not separate from the national issues. People look at Britain and ask whether we practise what we preach or whether we are just telling the rest of the world what we want them to do. That is why it will be important to see the Home Secretary's proposals for facing up to the new challenges. Of course things have to be done, but we shall have to look at his proposals carefully to ensure that they build up a picture of an enviable society and a model of what we believe that society should be about and do not undermine that objective.
Several noble Lords have referred to the importance of education. It cannot be over-emphasised. We have been too preoccupied in recent decades with the quantitative dimensions of education. We need to get back to the values and quality of education. In higher education, philosophy needs to play a far higher part in our university life than it is accorded at the moment. We need to discuss and be able to demonstrate what can be achieved by intellectual analysis, dialogue and discussion.
I hope that in all we do and however we do it, we shall not be ashamed of the principles that matter to us as individuals. We are sometimes a little defensive and feel that if we start talking about those principles we will seem wet or inadequate, so we end up talking about the tough management issues to make us feel important and relevant.
This crisis should bring home to us two principles that I am not ashamed to tell your Lordships matter to me deeply when I look at my own children and my grandson. I wish that we would talk more about peace. I wish that we would say that we are following tough policies overseas and at home to win the peace. We want peace in its fullest sense, because none of the other things that we talk about in terms of the fulfilment of personality will be possible without peace in that sense. I also hope that we can begin talking again about the creative power of love. As were others, I was struck that in the last moments, when people were dying a horrifying death, they took up their mobile phones and rang home with messages of love to their dear ones. I believe that it is love which is the real antidote to the hate and nihilism of the terrorists.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, we are all most concerned to restore to airline travellers the confidence that they once had. The Minister said in terms that we must do everything we can to ensure that such events do not happen again. The reason for my intervention in the previous debate was quite simple. I wished to have confirmation of the security arrangements in relation to the flight deck. Save in perhaps one case, the terrorists were able to force entry to the flight deck and then pilot with accuracy into the building the aeroplane which had become a flying bomb of enormous propensities. I asked for confirmation from the Minister, that it was only in the Israeli airline that the door to the flight deck was locked and bolted before the plane set off and remained so until it landed. There was a small hatch through which food was passed. But the instructions which were adhered to were that if a terrorist forced his way outside the flight door, and said, "If you don't open the door I will blow up the plane", the threat was ignored. I believe that there has been only one case where the Israeli process did not succeed.
I accept entirely that it is very inconvenient for the aircrew to be locked in the flight deck for the whole of the journey. The food position can be overcome, but other more complex arrangements may have to be made. But that inconvenience is a small price to pay for the added security of the Israeli airline where the locked door principle to which I have made reference has been almost 100 per cent. successful. I hope that the Government will stress to the CAA that the pilots must put up with the inconvenience.
My noble and learned friend Lord Lloyd of Berwick has pointed out that in his view that is a requirement that can be waved aside because intelligence would produce all that was required. But there is no incompatibility between improving on intelligence and improving physically the safety of the flight deck.
I spoke for five minutes on the previous occasion and I have spoken for only seven minutes now. I hope I can thus continue to ingratiate myself with your Lordships. In my more affluent days I had a tailor who used to say that judges shine most on their seats. I shall resume mine now.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I am very glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, addressed the House about the airlines. I am not sure that the answer lies simply in the way that airline crews are closeted in their cabins. As I understand it, the Israelis also have sky marshals. That has to be considered by the airlines and trade unions concerned. As usual, we are greatly indebted to the noble and learned Lord for raising this important issue.
In common with other noble Lords, it is with an immensely heavy heart that I speak today in the wake of the profoundly tragic events which bring us together and on the brink of momentous decisions which have to be taken to continue to ensure the continued peace and freedom of civilised people everywhere. It is an enormous privilege to have heard from my noble friend Lord Judd and the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, who is not at present in the Chamber.
On a personal level, before I resume my remarks about the tragic events in New York and elsewhere, I am deeply sad, too, that we are missing Lord Shore of Stepney--Peter, as he was known to many of us. He wanted to be here; he wanted to make one of his usual distinguished contributions to our debates. He was my former Secretary of State and he was my friend. He collapsed just after speaking in the House before the Recess when a similar issue was being discussed. He died after a long and valiant struggle. He will be seriously and severely missed by many of us.
Today we face a nightmare scenario. There are threats of terror, of nuclear, germ or chemical warfare. To cause us to succumb is the objective of bin Laden, his associates and those who protect him. They seek to promote fear to weaken our resolve.
The terrorists are sophisticated. They demonstrated on 11th September that they possess the expertise to pervert ordinarily benign apparatus for a massively dangerous purpose. They care nothing for human life--least of all their own. That is why international solidarity is all important. In Europe and elsewhere, we must continue to build on the dialogue and the alliances that can firmly and vigorously challenge the new enemy in our modern world. The United States should be congratulated. In the face of intolerable provocation but without revengeful reaction, they are seeking to build a coalition in the civilised world.
At the same time, all of us need to try, to a far greater extent than ever before, to understand the culture of those who view the west with suspicion, or even hatred. We are not at war with Islam and it is not at war with us. Ninety-nine per cent of our Islamic fellow citizens are at one with those of differing faiths, and none, in the battle to eliminate terrorism and all that it stands for. I believe that that is the view of ordinary people in our country.
The Taliban, by their own admission, have vowed to destroy democratic values. They have no concept of equality or proportionality. They do not understand what these words mean. Women have no part in the everyday life of the Taliban--they have no rights to education or employment. They have no rights even over their own bodies. The Taliban do not speak for the majority of Muslim opinion.
The moderate Muslim world and others must recognise that the problem is far larger than the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. The Middle East struggle has to be resolved. The Palestinians must recognise Israel's right to be there--to exist. Equally, the Palestinians
Fatwas will extend from individuals to countries. None of us will be immune. Terror is not the prerogative of only one ideology or faith, as we know to our cost. Some western policies must be changed and I believe that our Government will be mindful of how and where we can help to bring that about. We have to move towards a fairer distribution of the world's bounty. It is necessary to recognise that there are people in the world who are poverty stricken. Terrorism is sometimes blind to that. The message that comes through from the United States Administration is not always helpful in that respect, but given good government and wise leadership, these issues can be resolved.
We need to reinforce our basic values and not to retreat from them. That is why, as my noble friend Lord Judd said, we need to scrutinise carefully the legislative proposals in this House as they might impinge on those values--values that many of us have sought to underline in this debate.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and to associate myself from this side of the House with his remarks on Lord Shore, who also happened to be a friend of mine.
In this debate, much has been said which requires no repetition. The Government have the unequivocal support of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Party, save as to domestic legislation requisite to implement such support, in particular for extradition and asylum, about which the Liberal Democrat Party has hoisted a danger cone, which in due course will engender discussion in Parliament.
Do not the speeches of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, and my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth have crucial input? How is terrorism to be defined? What is the strategy? What is the measured military aim? What is the order of withdrawal? What extra provision for expenditure will be announced for our overstretched Armed Forces? What is to be done about terrorism on our doorstep in Northern Ireland? Do not the suggestions of my noble friend Lord Strathclyde warrant the urgent attention of the Government? Without breaching security, if it is possible some response would be welcome.
Against that background, perhaps it may be said that it will take some time for the world to recover from the trauma of these waves of seismic shock and it will take months if not years to root out Al'Qaeda and international terrorism. Is it not plain, our common bond with America, our most profound sympathy, our admiration for the courage, resolve and resilience of
The fortitude and restraint of President Bush under the ultimate provocation of a series of assassinations which would have astounded the assassins and the scale of material and economic destruction has been truly remarkable. Under his leadership of the United States of America, a coalition without precedent has been set up to deter, detect and contain further such terrorist attacks, not only by Al'Qaeda, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, mentioned. By all means, it is an alliance which has the unqualified support of the Government and the Opposition which has to succeed and shall succeed. In particular, the support of Pakistan, Russia and other Islamic states and ethnic groups are of vital consequence and are welcome.
However, the attitude of Iraq is much to be regretted. Whether by accident or design, the area of conflict over which that massive naval presence stands guard could widen and escalate into war in the Middle East, which is not the purpose of the alliance. A massive resort to arms is not envisaged and the hope must be that such a situation does not arise. But the tinder is there. We now know that the case against bin Laden and the Taliban has been established to the satisfaction of the United Nations and NATO, which has joined the alliance.
The alliance envisages a long-term campaign, implemented by selected specific armed operations with the broad approval of the United Nations, NATO and the international community. Armed intervention against the Taliban would be such an operation. In the planning of such an operation, account has been taken to provide shelter, food and medical care for the refugees as the humanitarian aspect of that situation. The House has been assured of that in some detail and one naturally accepts that assurance.
The 11th September served as an augury of ill omen for the safe conduct of the world. There is the overwhelming justification for armed intervention against the Taliban to destroy bin Laden's organisation, apprehend bin Laden, destroy the poppy crops used by him to fund international terrorism and debilitate and undermine the West, and destroy the stockpile (about 3,000 tonnes) from the millions of acres of poppy fields under the control of the Taliban, worth about £20 billion on the market and available to fund further attacks by the organisation. Bin Laden is sheltered by the Taliban as a safe haven and it is much to be doubted whether he is an unwelcome guest as the Taliban support what I would call the fatwa jihad, referred to by my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford, and is prepared for such a war but only in the hope of support from Islamic states and organisations.
Under public international law there is the legitimate entitlement on the evidence referred to by the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House to resort to armed intervention in self-defence to prevent future attacks and destabilisation of the West with
At present, these poppy crops are the means of subsistence of the people. Ancient customs of war meant that you did not destroy the vines but the vines could not be used as means of aggression for further attack--or to supply 80 per cent of the drugs market of the world. Does not one again revert to the questions of the noble and gallant Lord and seek some answers? What shall be grown in those fields? Who shall govern the people? What is the military aim and the time for withdrawal? It was suggested by the right reverend Prelate that the appropriate disposal of this could be United-Nations sponsored and, with respect, that does not seem at all a bad idea.
All religions have zealots and extremists but few believe that in committing suicide to assassinate others they do the will of God to receive their reward in heaven. As my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford said, historically the Islamic regime is essentially tolerant and benign, at all events compared with the excesses of Christians committed against each other and against others. Assuredly this is no confrontation with Israel or the people of Afghanistan.
Diplomacy, as we have heard today from the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House, has already had a truly remarkable success and is in the process of continuing at this very moment. It is the cornerstone of the alliance and shall continue as such. Already steps have been taken: national and international shared intelligence and security; extradition and asylum proposals; money laundering--freezing assets and bureaux de change; and so forth.
But surely the main achievement would be to safeguard the integrity of Israel and found a Palestinian state, having set up a dialogue such as that referred to by the right reverend Prelates, the Bishops of London and Rochester; an alliance of those of many faiths, according to their creed, to oppose international terrorism in the concept of a universal God, and of what is good and what is evil.
Irrespective of whether we are about to enter some "new world", as envisaged in the Revelations of St. John, is it not plain that in the course of time the purpose of this alliance shall be achieved, and shall be achieved not only by resort to arms?
For that reason it is tempting to spend a long time testifying to one's feelings about terrorists. However, there is a long list of speakers; we are among friends; and I hope that I shall be understood if I confine myself to one single story about the day that the IRA bombing campaign of the Tube began. I was bringing my two and-a-half year old son back from his nursery. We had just got onto the Tube at Tottenham Court Road when it was announced that a bomb had been found at Oxford Circus. It was not known how many more bombs there might be around the line and all trains were being held while they were searched.
Into a silence in which you could have heard a pin drop, a small voice floated up from my knee, "By the way, daddy, what is a bomb?" That boy is now the holder of a post-graduate degree in strategic studies. He has just produced his first serious publication on the verification process for some of the disarmament agreements of the seventies. I regard that as an intelligent response to a real threat.
One interesting point, to which the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, drew attention, is the change in the military balance between official and unofficial force. I was interested in the noble Lord's remark about the miniaturisation of weapons. Exactly the same thing happened in the late 16th century with the invention of the portable and concealable pistol, as William the Silent discovered to his cost.
This is a significant shift in the balance between official and unofficial force, between the state and the forces of disorder. When that has happened before, it has diminished the importance of states and increased the importance of causes. The whole history of the late period of the Reformation illustrates that very clearly. It creates an internationalisation of conflict in which the relations between states become of less relevance, both to the problems and to the solutions. When one finds an Algerian being trained on the Kidbrooke Estate in south London for an act of terrorism in the United States by an organisation based in Afghanistan and taking orders from a Saudi, one cannot help but wonder whether the nation state really has a particularly large part in the remedy, or whether it is like trying to drill one's way through living rock with the aid of a plastic bucket and spade.
I entirely understand why this issue has made the Prime Minister think in international terms, not only of the European Union, but also of the United Nations and of other international organisations. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, about the United Nations was well taken. It is a world in which national sovereignty seems a good deal less relevant than it did before 11th September.
I was also interested in the remarks of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, about how misleading it is to talk about the struggle against terrorism as a war, and his warning about ill-directed, punitive action. On Tuesday, there was an extremely
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, rightly drew attention to the fact that the currency of a struggle against terrorism is intelligence. In dealing with intelligence, it is absolutely vital to have the sympathy of what the noble Lord, Lord Judd, called the constituency of ambivalence. So a great many of the techniques have more in common with the fighting of an election campaign, which, after all, we are supposed to know something about, than they do with the techniques of war.
I heard also what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said about the apocalyptic terror. The right reverend Prelate is right about that. Those who, like one of the 17th century Fifth Monarchists, talk about "the military officers of the Lamb", tend to be beyond reach of dialogue. My noble friend Lord Alderdice, with whom I have had some conversation and will have a great deal more, was absolutely right about this issue. But the person who got this right was King James VI and I who directed in the propaganda sermons on the gunpowder plot that what must be done was to separate out the moderates from the extremists; to address the constituency of ambivalence; to assume their loyalty; and to address their misgivings. The history of the treatment of Roman Catholics since the gunpowder plot shows that we did not get that right and we are still paying for it.
On the day that the news of the gunpowder plot reached Bishop Auckland everyone in the village lit a bonfire to celebrate the king's deliverance. One woman was out shopping. While she was out, her children lit a fire inside the house. A neighbour told her what had happened. She rushed back and got it put out. But she happened to be a Roman Catholic. One of her Protestant neighbours informed on her for failing to have a bonfire to celebrate the king's deliverance. The authorities did not believe her story and she died in prison. I do not know whether her children turned into conspirators. If they did, that is the sort of thing we ought to have expected. One should be careful not to overreact and behave in a way that produces extremists where there would be none otherwise.
As to Ireland, I have seen a 17th century order that any trees within 100 yards of the River Bann should be cut down because they provided cover for snipers. The disease has a deep hold. It may be easier now in some
It is peculiarly stupid as well as unfortunate that we are facing attacks on not only British Muslims but also Hindus and Sikhs. I was talking at the Liberal Democrat conference to a council leader from one of our great northern cities. He spoke about a friend of his who entered the local post office and was spat upon. That friend happens to be an American. Irony cannot get much deeper.
Charles Kennedy was right. The root of the evil is hatred of diversity, which is something we all have to overcome because diversity is with us to stay. Mercifully, hatred does not appear to have taken hold in my own borough of Brent where the English happen to be a racial minority--and that is very good for us. The English are the fourth racial group in the area after the Irish, Afro-Caribbeans and Asians.
I have one or two misgivings but I do not want it thought that I am expressing misgivings about the Government's handling of the issue as a whole. A great deal has been done right. It will not surprise Ministers to know that my misgivings relate principally to asylum. Mr. Blunkett wants to deport people who are guilty of or suspected or terrorism. I am anxious about people being "suspected" of terrorism. After all, the Home Office is a suspicious body. With Roman Catholics, the authorities knew that suspicion was not enough so they decided that Roman Catholics could be arrested provided they were vehemently suspected. I can imagine that phrase catching on in the Home Office.
It is open to question whether Article 1.5 of the United Nations Convention on Refugees already provides sufficient protection. If it does, UK legislation is unnecessary. If it does not, I wonder whether new legislation is anyway justified. I remain absolutely and entirely unrepentant about the protection that we gave during the 1960s and 1970s to members of the African National Congress. I shall not enter into argument over whether there is any natural right to change one's government. That is not a constructive question. Under any circumstances in recorded history, there have always been people who wanted a change of government. If they did not have any legal means, they tended to use illegal means. In times past they included people who removed monarchs of this country. Where there is no legal right to remove a government, can we treat that in exactly the same way as a body such as ETA, which could remove a government through the ballot box if only it knew how to set about winning--which clearly it does not.
I was concerned by the Prime Minister's remarks on "Breakfast with Frost" last Sunday when he spoke of claiming a power to detain asylum seekers suspected of terrorist links and to deport them automatically, without right of appeal. Again, I do not see how one can reconcile a power to detain on suspicion with the European Convention on Human Rights fair trial provision or with the UN convention. There is a
I have an uncorrected transcript of a case involving the Home Office in November 1996 but I have checked the passage that I will quote with the noble and learned Lord. It was stated in the case that if Parliament wishes to confer a power to act unfairly, it must say so in express words. That is not something I see Parliament being in a great hurry to do. If we want to enter that particular territory, we may find ourselves entering a deeper legal thicket than the Prime Minister realised at the moment of speaking.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, today is one of those occasions when it is safe to say, "I wish I were not here". I remember looking at the seemingly endless heights of the World Trade Centre on my first visit to New York nearly 18 years ago and a cousin of mine speaking proudly about it. The symbolic character of its tragic demise, in which 7,000 people from 62 countries perished, cannot be over-estimated.
Following the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London speaking on behalf of a city that has known terrorism, I want to give a couple of Portsmouth perspectives. We have an unusually small proportion of ethnic and religious minorities, which therefore places good relations at a premium. The evening after "Terrifying Tuesday", as I believe it is still called in New York, the dean of our cathedral went to prayer in the local mosque. Such gestures and the relationships that they express and foster will become more and more important in other parts of the country where there are sizeable Muslim communities, to encourage better understanding and prevent the escalation of unthinking and ill-informed behaviour, which can so easily spill over into violence on our streets. That is particularly so if the present conflict is going to be long lasting.
Another Portsmouth dimension is the presence in the Gulf of 24 ships and two submarines in the Saif Sareea exercise, which has been planned for some time. I am told that although there are contingency plans for a possible future conflict, as in any other naval exercise, that is not primarily why those naval vessels are off the coast of Oman at present. Regrettably, there has been some heightened tension among those at training establishments--although things have settled down.
I cannot help observing that some public comments and reporting in recent days have not been entirely helpful to the families concerned. We are sometimes told to "globalise our compassion" and to see certain tragedies, including that of three weeks ago, in the wider perspective of others. We need to globalise that compassion in relation to our service families and to show some signs of that rather elusive virtue--restraint.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, suggested, there is a real need to understand why these events have happened. An internal cooling system needs to operate underneath the revulsion which we all naturally feel. Among its mechanisms could be, first, education--which is not the same as indoctrination--including religious education which is balanced, such as already has to take place in many of our Church schools. Secondly, as was pointed out by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London both today and in the debate on 14th September, there should be a recognition that religion persists in being an integral part of the world-wide scene and is not to be easily dismissed as backward and merely irrational. Thirdly, there should be a recognition of religion as comprising ancient ways of life that are not to be patronisingly swept aside in the interests of catching up with the rest of us. Fourthly, there must be recognition that 11th September marks the end of an era in which many of us thought, through the 90s, that the world was moving towards a more or less unified civilisation, whereas diversity is a fact of life in all its inconvenient variations, as was pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd.
But more than all those factors, belief of whatever kind, not just religious, needs constantly to have a critique, not in order to deconstruct it, but to strengthen its foundations, remove its weaknesses, and to help it to retain its essential characteristics and move on to new terrain. There is an inbuilt tension in every single religious, philosophical and, I dare say, political and economic system.
All three major world religions have a noble tradition of critique and interpretation which, at best, can be most impressive in its workings and results, including for those whose beliefs are not religious but ethical, economic or to do with lifestyle. Sometimes, tragically, that critique has to be won by conflict rather than by genteel conversation. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, for his contribution to the debate. However, we must hold on to the view that religiously-motivated terrorism is an affront to sacred texts.
I want to comment on the expression "strategic patience". Today is the day when many Christians celebrate St Francis of Assisi, who died on this day in 1226. Among the many sayings attributed to him is one which probably does come from the horse's mouth:
We need to look carefully at our domestic affairs at this time in order to make them commensurate with the stand we are taking internationally. That means, for example, having a well thought-out, clearly understood immigration policy--which we do not have at present--and an asylum system which quickly identifies the genuine from the non-genuine and confuses neither with the genuine, not the suspected, terrorist. That is particularly important in terms of perceptions in the public eye as well as with regard to the internal workings of the system. As the son of an MI6 officer who did not do terribly interesting work interviewing escaped prisoners of war in Stockholm during the war--about which he kept his mouth shut when I was a boy--I welcome the wise words in the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, about identity cards, the workings of intelligence systems and how we can be more open than we are at present.
But "strategic patience" means more. It means cherishing the truth that no event is inevitable--however long it has been waiting to happen--precisely because of the creative capacities, including imagination, which we possess by virtue of our free will. Free will allows us to behave responsibly as well as irresponsibly. As I try to understand why those men flew those aeroplanes into those buildings, I do not want the process to end with a shrug of a shoulder and the shedding of some tears.
I shall go further. I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in her eloquent speech at the start of the debate. I refer to her remarks about bringing good out of evil. It is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith that nothing is irredeemable. There are times when that faith falters but, as has so often been the case in the past, new life somehow emerges, which many people dare to ascribe to the strategic patience of God, however we worship and serve, celebrate and mourn--and continue to live.
Baroness Uddin: My Lords, three weeks after the tragic events in America on 11th September, we, the British Muslims, are still reeling from the aftershock. Scenes of the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre took with it the confidence of the Muslim community living as citizens of the world.
Sadly, it is only now that one becomes aware that a substantial number of those who died in that appalling terrorist tragedy were Muslims. Estimates from rescue workers in New York put the figure as high as over 1,000. Many Muslim families were among those mourning the death of their loved ones in this heinous act.
Contrary to the comments made yesterday to The Times by a former Prime Minister and once great champion of the movement that led to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the vast majority of British Muslims and their brethren throughout the world have categorically condemned the horrendous act of terrorism inflicted on America.
It is beyond tolerance and acceptance that the Muslims who have no truck with violence and terror are asked again and again to assure loyalty. Shia and Sunni, scholars and laymen, men and women, in private and public have been loyal. The vast majority of Muslims throughout the world have not minced their words or their actions in the condemnation of the attacks. British Muslims and Muslim countries have been in the forefront in expressing their shock and horror and in reflecting on the tragedy.
For the past few weeks, mosques up and down the country have been performing special prayers for those who have died and those who are grieving. At the same time we are also praying for patience, understanding, tolerance and eradication of such evil from our midst.
My Lords, 11th September changed the nature of global solidarity and politics. A British Foreign Office Minister visited Iran. The President of the United States took off his shoes and entered a mosque. Inside he told the American people and the world, "Islam means peace". He spoke in prime time before the joint union of the Senate and the House of Representatives and said that terrorists not only hijack planes but attempt also to "hijack Islam". According to many independent observers, it was the day that marked the transition of the USA from being a mere superpower to perhaps being seen to be a courageous, fair leader and nation.
On 14th September, in an address to the House the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told British Muslims and Muslims throughout the world in no uncertain terms that it was not Islam or the Muslims that caused this terror. The Prime Minister also reiterated that point when, together with the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and others and alongside a number of organisations, I met him at Downing Street. The Prime Minister has raised the value and confidence of the British Muslim community. I believe that he has demonstrated leadership and authority in putting forward a calm, measured approach to the atrocities. The joint comments of solidarity and understanding by President Bush and Tony Blair will be noted and remembered, particularly by the 20 million Muslims living as citizens of the West. The racist elements within our society need more than statements to contain their hatred and bigotry. I am proud, therefore, that our Government are to introduce legislation to combat religious hatred and discrimination. That is much awaited and a victory for those who believe in fairness and the ideals of freedom, justice and tolerance that we all seek to share.
I should like to comment on the current position of the media. Coverage of the event was far from equal or effective. However, the recent restraint and responsibility of the mainstream media are much to be welcomed. In Islam, as with other great religions, we are taught to look for the positive even in the worst situation and that even among the evil that drowns us there is a current trend that gives us all hope.
A briefing paper by the Centre for Muslim Policy Research, CMPR, a London-based think-tank on Muslim affairs, inquires, rightly, what the new community order will mean for the 2 million Muslim community in Britain, many of whom are at the bottom of the ladder of every government statistic collected, whether on education, housing, access to employment or other initiatives. I have mentioned that on many occasions, but today is not the day to elaborate.
Events in New York and Washington have been a baptism by fire of British Muslims. Buoyed up by the rightful recognition extended to them finally by the political establishment, one cannot expect the largest sector of the country's visible minorities to return to their excluded boxes. The response of all of us who are active in community relations in the coming weeks, months and years, must include empowerment and an enabling of the proper leadership which exists within the grass roots of our community up and down the land--and I do not mean some of the leadership thus far demonstrated in several broadsheet newspapers as "coming from the community". We in this House must urge the Government to ensure that leadership is not allowed to languish in the hands of a few male leaders--I hesitate to make any divisive comment--who have no base or credibility within the community.
I am pleased to say that during the past few weeks searching questions have been asked at all sections of government corridors about the longer term effect of the attack in America. As was said earlier, this is indeed an opportunity to address and redefine the social exclusion agenda, which often has not included those stuck at the bottom of the statistics I mentioned earlier. Public policies must examine how their impact can help include the marginalised British Muslims into the social cohesion to which we all aspire.
The Centre for Muslim Policy Research is of the opinion that the integration of Britain's 2 million Muslims should now be a top priority for the Government. I agree. The centre has suggested a number of measures which I should like to share with the House. The first is that government departments and policy makers from all authorities should make a commitment to engage in a serious dialogue--with practical actions to back it up--with the Muslim communities and not only with the leaders that I have mentioned. This dialogue must be inclusive and transparent. For it to be meaningful, the dialogue must be primarily with the grass roots community and leadership. It must also reflect the richness and diversity of the Muslim communities, which hitherto has not necessarily been apparent.
More significantly, we must ensure the presence of women in meaningful positions and visible authority--and not only in the House of Lords. I believe that it will be women who will inevitably take the brunt of the peace building, as they have taken the
Secondly, there is a need to focus on education. Both the national curriculum and the environment in which education is provided need to be evaluated and challenged if necessary. Schools must be the primary source of providing the relevant education essential for the emergence of civil society.
Thirdly, indirect forms of anti-Muslim discrimination and "Islamophobia" must be identified and appropriately combated. Immediate action is needed to ensure that Muslim communities are not by-passed in government initiatives aimed at social inclusion. This is very significant. More important steps need to be taken to incorporate Muslims into public life. The aim is to access the community into mainstream and vice versa. The lack of British Muslims in public jobs is incredibly glaring. The appointment of a few into insignificant positions smells of tokenism--certainly that is how it is seen outside--and it is no longer acceptable because there are so many qualified and competent people around. It is important that the community itself feels that it has a stake in the changes that are required of it.
I have listened to a number of speeches during the debate--I am sorry that I have not been able to attend all of it--and the contributions of some noble Lords have made me immensely proud. I never thought I would live to see the day when, in a British Parliament, on the Floor of the House, an American president would be quoted as asking for the state of Palestine to be considered, or that I would witness noble Lords talking about justice for the Palestinian people.
Lord Bhatia: My Lords, the event of 11th September was one of the worst terrorist events in the recent history of the world. It was a tragedy which took about 6,000 innocent civilian lives. But, as the details have emerged, it is becoming clear that many families have been scarred, perhaps forever. It is estimated that some 10,000 children have lost a parent. This event is clearly terrorism at its worst and must be dealt with as an attack on democracy and humanity, and the terrorists must be brought to justice.
The coalition needs to move forward resolutely but cautiously, with sadness rather than in anger. The target should be the terrorists and not innocent civilians. The coalition's primary objective should be to bring the terrorists to justice. In the civilised world in which we live, delivery of justice is not in the hands
I also should like to pay tribute to the mature leadership provided by our Prime Minister on the world stage. He has not only worked very hard by helping to build a coalition but has managed to convince the coalition of the need to plan, gather intelligence and avoid the temptation in anger indiscriminately to resort to arms. The whole vocabulary has changed in the past three weeks. The coalition is talking more about justice than about revenge; there are more concerns about civilians and what the Afghans have suffered over the past 22 years; and, lastly, reasoned consideration has been given to refugees, destabilisation of the neighbouring countries and the severe food shortages in Afghanistan. The coalition and certainly this country owe a debt to our Prime Minister for his statesmanship and the leadership he has given to deal with the horrifying effects of international terrorism and its undermining of the foundations of our democracy.
I should like to raise some issues of which we need to be aware and how we can avoid or minimise the damage to innocent people. First, there is the issue of demonising the faith of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and justice and does not condone indiscriminate acts of violence. The Holy Qur'an states:
It is essential, therefore, to separate the terrorists from the religion of Islam, and it is reassuring that the Prime Minister and the President of the USA have recognised and emphasised this distinction.
Muslims the world over and particularly in this country and in the USA have shown their sorrow and distress over the events of 11th September. There are over a billion Muslims in the world and they form about a quarter of the world population. Closer to home some 435 million Muslims live in the Commonwealth forming about 25 per cent of its population. Those are large numbers of people and therefore our Government and, indeed, the coalition partners should protect, respect and respond to the fears and frustrations of Muslim communities.
There are some 2 million Muslims who live in the United Kingdom who currently live in fear. Those of us who are close to our communities are aware of the huge numbers of verbal and physical attacks they have suffered since 11th September. I may add that hardly 1 per cent of such incidents are reported. It is important that the Government and the police create a climate of calm and support for the Muslim community in the UK and state clearly that the full force of law will be applied quickly and effectively to those who break the law. I was happy to hear that the Home Secretary is in the process of revising the present legislation to ensure that Muslims are protected under the law in the same manner as those of other faiths.
Secondly, as regards the media and its role, the superficial and often misleading way in which the media treat Islam needs to change. Islam is little understood or not understood at all in the West. In these difficult times the media need to be aware of the sentiments of Muslims and to stop demonising the world of Islam. The words "Muslim or Islamic terrorist" have gained common currency, totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Muslims across the world condemn such acts of terrorism and want no part of them. The media therefore need to play their part more constructively and thoughtfully. We need to accept and understand that there are terrorists in all faiths and countries and that they have to be dealt with under the laws of the land. Over many, many years the democratic world has brought freedom to its citizens on the foundation of the rule of law and justice knowing that only the rule of law will ensure freedom, justice and democracy. In the past hundred years it is in the West that the world has witnessed some of the worst kinds of atrocities, such as the Second World War, the Holocaust and the recent ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. In all three cases attempts have been made to bring the culprits to the courts. Therefore, it is incumbent that the media instead of demonising Islam should focus on bringing terrorists everywhere to justice.
Thirdly and lastly, I wish to highlight the plight of Afghan civilians. The bulk of the civilians of Afghanistan have endured some 22 years of war and strife. There is nothing left in that country. As a reporter recently said, there is nothing to bomb there. Most of the buildings, houses and infrastructure have been destroyed. Starvation is never far away. Some 7 million Afghans are near starvation level today and many millions are on the move to neighbouring countries as refugees. Not only will those refugees suffer but they have the potential to destabilise the countries which give them asylum. Unless the coalition proceeds cautiously with clearly defined short and long-term objectives, it will find that in solving one problem it will have created new and possibly even more dangerous problems with far-reaching consequences for the whole region. The billions that are being spent to deal with terrorism may be justified but more resources need to be allocated to the current disaster relief and to the long-term development of Afghanistan. DfID under the Secretary of State, Clare Short, should be given the resources required to undertake that work.
Justice calls for rooting out the terrorists and bringing them to courts of law. Humanity calls for compassion and pleads for urgent humanitarian aid. The coalition has the capacity to make that happen and must not fail.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, we are fortunate in this House that we have those who have given great service to this country and who now serve here and who are themselves Muslims, three of whom have spoken in the past few minutes. I express our appreciation to my very dear noble friend Lord Ahmed and to my good noble friends Lady Uddin and Lord Bhatia for their contributions to our debate in which they made it absolutely plain that there is no difference at all between any of us, whatever our religions, faiths, beliefs or politics, as to the tragedies that have recently occurred.
Indeed, the leaders of the Muslim communities in this country have all expressed the same sentiments. It was a little tactless, even if it was to be expected, that a certain lady took another view publicly yesterday. It is wrong but we know that the press will always focus on those who make extremist demands, remarks and attacks because that is news, while the remarks of those who speak as our noble friends have done are not news because they are decent and that is to be expected.
I know the Muslim community in this country very well and am proud to be friends with so many of them. I know also that it is desperately wrong to stigmatise the Muslims of this country because of the extremist remarks and actions of a tiny marginalised minority whether or not they operate out of a mosque. We should be proud of the good community relations in this country. I say that not only as a parliamentarian who worked and served for many years in the city of Leicester where we have a substantial minority of Asians. Indeed, it is estimated that by 2010 it will be the first city in the country with an Asian majority. I also serve as a leader of the Jewish community and as a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress. I identify with the victims of the current attacks on the Muslim community. I condemn the attacks not only from a sense of morality but also because I recognise that Jewish people have too often been submitted to precisely the same attacks when they have been blamed for certain events.
I say to my Jewish community that I am pleased that none of them has said, "Thank God it's the Muslims being attacked and not us". To the best of my knowledge, no one in any position of authority or, indeed, anyone I have met has taken that view. That is because we have learned that any attack on a minority is an attack on all minorities. In our community and happily in the Muslim community, we have a leadership that is central and understands what is going on--leadership that knows that, in the case of Muslims and Jews, the great Abrahamic faiths which come from the same origins, must work and live together. If we do not live together then we shall die together. I believe that that approach is vital. Far from following the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, I congratulate the large number of Muslim leaders, both lay and cleric, who have spoken out. Most of them have not been reported because it is not news.
The spillover from this event and from the Middle East is one that is very dangerous for our communities and our society in this country. I take exception that, so soon after Israel's Prime Minister Barak offered to the Palestinians so much--97 per cent of the land which originally they did not want to occupy and which they would be pleased to leave if they could reach an agreement--it was refused. But whatever our views on the Middle East, they must not be allowed to spill over into ill will in this country. As I said to my son when he joined the Conservative Party, it is a free country and everyone is entitled to be wrong.
In this House people are entitled to be wrong, to disagree and to argue. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and I debated against each other in the United States when we were somewhat younger than we are today. We were both recent graduates from Cambridge. We have been friends ever since. We may disagree, but we are friends. That reflects the decency of this land and this civilisation. Wherever I travel, I come back here and say, "Oh, I am so pleased to be back".
That has particularly been the case recently. I attended the so-called United Nations conference against racism in Durban, which turned into a racist conference. I have never seen anything like it. I was on the street when around 10,000--alas--Muslims paraded and passed out literature the like of which I have not seen since the days of Hitler. Indeed, one paper portrays a picture of Hitler and states, "What if
In my view, it is for the Jewish community to ensure that it does not attack the Muslim community or Muslim people, and it is for Muslims to ensure that they do not attack the Jewish community or Jewish people. It is for us, within our own communities, to try to promote understanding, friendship and the recognition of differences between us, as well as the right to be different. It is not for others to do so. Not long ago I recall that a black anti-Semitic leader was due to come to this country from the United States. No, it was not Farakhan. However much I may deplore the decision in the Farakhan case, this man was able to come over. I met a black leader who is still well known. He asked me what I wanted him to do about the man. I said, "That is for you to decide. If it is a Jew who is a racist, that is a problem for me and I shall deal with it. But if it is an Afro-Caribbean or black man who is a racist, as is the case here, it is for you to deal with it through your community". I am pleased that he did so. The unwanted visitor got as far as Liverpool where he addressed a small meeting. His London meetings were cancelled and he went home. I believe that it is for each community to deal with its own people and to ensure that racist material redolent of Hitler is not published. Community leaders should remember that if evil practices are allowed to start, they tend to grow. Once such a movement has begun, it can be very difficult to stop.
My other recent visit took place two weeks ago to Latvia and Lithuania where all my family who did not escape, principally to the United Kingdom, are in the mass graves. Those graves are set off the roads. The victims were marched into the woods where the Nazis and their local associates dug a pit. The people were shot and then buried. The locals hoped that everyone would forget about those victims. They are not doing too badly because most of the mass graves--there are 220 of them in Lithuania--cannot be found without a guide. I am pleased to tell the House that the presidents of both Latvia and Lithuania agreed to my request that they would be patrons of a project to signpost those graves from the road. That project is now under way.
I recall standing by one of the mass graves. I was told that 17,500 people had been buried there. I thought of the 7,000 or so people murdered in the New York tragedy. The newspaper headlines stated that the world has changed. When 17,500 people were murdered and put into one mass grave, no one took the slightest notice of it and nothing changed. Some good might come from this latest misery because when fewer have been murdered than in the Baltics, we recognise that, if the world has not changed, then we must work very hard together--Muslims, Jews and everyone else--to change it for the better.
Lord St John of Fawsley: My Lords, before I commence my remarks I should declare two interests. First, I am the head of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, which works in the Middle East for the relief of leprosy and other evils. Secondly, I am an independent, non-executive director of Sky. I am chairman of the compliance committee which seeks to ensure that the company is conducted in line with the appropriate laws and regulations.
Today's debate is a further fulfilment of Parliament's duty to express the mind of the nation. It expresses it today on one of the most dangerous challenges that we have faced since the dark days of 1940. The last three speeches from the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, and my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Janner, demonstrate the valuable work done in such a debate and what this institution is capable of achieving. I have been debating with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, over a period of 50 years. We have never entirely agreed, but I welcome the sincerity and concern with which he has spoken. In particular he mentioned the United Nations conference on racism. How I wish that, instead of wasting its time on such an inflated concept, the UN had held a conference on refugees and thus sought to introduce joint action throughout the world on agreed principles in order to meet the needs of this tragic situation.
We have heard many well-informed speeches full of insight. I do not intend to repeat them or attempt to compete with them. I want to make a few remarks on the ethical principles which may help to guide us through the present perplexities. Clearly this will be a long and complex struggle. The most important thing that will help us will be if we sustain our moral position and that of the grand alliance and keep that happy conjunction working together. That will not be done by what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London stigmatised as "secular materialism"; rather, it will be done by drawing on the riches of our Western tradition.
Personally, I speak out of a tradition which over the centuries, while not the only contribution, has been a vitally important one to the moral consensus. I speak, of course, of Catholic Christianity. Pacifism is an honoured tributary of that tradition but it has never been the mainstream. International war or conflict has been recognised as a material evil--a breakdown of the efforts of poor, struggling humanity to solve disputes by reason and by compromise rather than by force.
But instead of condemning the use of force as intrinsically evil, Christianity has attempted something rather different: to subject it to moral rules; to limit it; and to control the barbarous feelings and impulses that unavoidably it releases. If we give way to those, the values that we seek to defend will inevitably be destroyed.
I do not want to enter into a semantic debate with the noble Earl, Lord Russell, as to whether or not we are in a state of war. However, I believe that the concept of the just war--the intellectual concept used
The essence of a just war is that its purpose is not vengeance. It is not a lust for power but is the punishment of evil and the advancement of good. No civilised person can believe that the acts perpetrated against the United States three weeks ago were anything other than evil. It is perfectly appropriate to react to them with a sense of righteous anger.
Of course, we know that violent acts are rooted in a rancid soil of wrong-doing and injustice, especially in the Middle East and in the shameful gulf that lies between the rich nations and the poor. But that of course does not vindicate them. We must understand the conditions that produce such acts, not to justify them but to help to ensure that they do not happen again. That is why a military response alone is so inadequate, although we do not rule it out altogether. All credit, then, to President Bush, who so far has got matters right. We must do the same here. The Prime Minister has been rightly praised in the debate today for having a charism for finding the right words to express worthily the response to a great historical challenge. But I would add an addendum to that: if your Lordships love Tony, they must love Clare as well.
Our task, then, is to punish those guilty of atrocities. The direct perpetrators of them are beyond the reach of human justice. But those who aided and abetted them are not, and countries or regimes which give them comfort or refuge are equally guilty. We can find echoes of that in the cadences of the common law: all people are held responsible for the natural consequences of their acts. That is why, having read the evidence that has been published today, I have concluded that the Taliban deserve to be rooted out, but not, of course, to the accompaniment of indiscriminate bombing and the slaying of innocent citizens who are in no way responsible for the bloody acts which have been committed by their rulers. Fortunately, modern technology, like Janus, has two faces: one increases the destructive power but the other enables it to be pinpointed and controlled.
At home also we must be diligent. I have nothing but contempt and express nothing but condemnation for those who would take revenge on the innocent followers of Islam. But we should not tolerate here those who incite others anywhere in the world to commit terrorist acts. As The Times pointed out last Saturday in a very persuasive leading article, we have ample powers under the Terrorism Act of last year to punish such people and those powers should be used.
Perhaps I may ask a question which no one else seems to dare to ask. Why are some, but not all, of our BBC commentators so intemperate and so bellicose? Have they never heard of security considerations, especially concerning our own forces? Do they have to resort to aggressiveness, bullying, rudeness, interruption and the demand for simple answers to complex questions? Sometimes the abrasiveness is even reflected in the sneer in the tone of voice. The tone of public discussion is almost as important as its content. The recollections that I have of some interviews that I have heard on "The World Tonight" make me shudder, and those on "Newsnight" make me shiver. We have been through all this before. We went through it in the Falklands War and in the Gulf War. Let us not go through it a third time.
I conclude on a more irenic note. At its best, the BBC still gives the finest media service in the world. Its World Service is a national treasure of incalculable value. I hope that we can renew and strengthen that tradition in all parts of broadcasting in the testing weeks and months that lie ahead.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I had prepared a speech but most of what I was going to say has already been said--and said very well. However, I have one point to put to the Government, which I hope they will clear up.
There is no questioning the fact that the Government are doing well in this tremendous crisis. However, we have to look at the reasons for the previous lack of action. I have in my hand a copy of Hansard from 12th December 1991. In that debate Lord Cheshire was very concerned about terrorism. He said:
Another matter that has disturbed me greatly is Israel's behaviour. We saw what triggered the present round. The fact is that the normal method of controlling crowds and rioters involves the use of gas and rubber bullets, not marksmen killing rioters, who are probably young people throwing stones. The toughness that is beginning to be shown by America and ourselves is absolutely necessary if we are to get the right sort of settlement in the Middle East, although that will not be easy. I hope that that policy of toughness with Israel--forcing them to face the facts--will be continued by the Government.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, the restraint shown by President Bush has already been commended. He showed restraint in the face of tremendous pressure to act swiftly after 11th September. What has not been said is that it is very largely due to the influence of our own Government and the new coalition against terrorism. We badly need statesmanship of that quality.
On Tuesday, Tony Blair showed that he had the necessary skills to forge a new bond not only between Europe and the United States but also between the Atlantic alliance and the rest of the world. I was disappointed that he had little to say about the Middle East. In view of his visit, perhaps he is leaving that for later. However, his Weltanschauung and his commitment to humanitarian action in Afghanistan and elsewhere--if that can really be achieved alongside a military campaign--was genuine and impressive. If anti-terrorism implies a renewed campaign against poverty and the conditions in which terrorism thrives, the whole world should be behind it.
Earlier this summer, when a handful of us debated Pakistan in this Chamber, I discussed the issue of refugees from Afghanistan. I said that 170,000 people had fled the effects of war and drought, on top of the 1.2 million already in Pakistan, the 1.3 million in Iran and the tens of thousands scattered in at least 68 countries, including ours. Afghans are now the single largest group of refugees in the world.
Since the events of 11th September the UN is appealing for help for nearly 10 times the number of new arrivals--up to 1.5 million people, in addition to the 7.5 million people who are in need inside the country. Just as the scale of the New York attack stupefied us, so will the extent of the human disaster in Afghanistan as it unfolds.
Who can say whether the food will reach the people? There is a very real risk that thousands of families will die of starvation, especially around Herat and the northern regions that are controlled by the Northern Alliance, if renewed conflict and lack of security get in the way of distribution. That has happened in so many countries so many times previously. For that reason, although they will not say so, the aid agencies take a very dim view of any United States or UK-led strike on Afghanistan on the Iraq model. Any NATO attack on government buildings, public highways and infrastructure might help to drive the Taliban out but it would be unlikely to restore peace, stabilise the country or meet the people's needs without a massive occupying force. That force would need to be larger than even the Liberal Democrats can conceive of. The approach would involve a Marshall Plan that would absorb all the peace-keeping resources that are available to the UN. It is pie in the sky to think that we could get to that point.
Of course we must all hope for stability in the future but, as noble Lords have said, it must primarily be for the Afghan people to decide--if they are ever given the chance. The immediate concern among aid workers is the condition of the poorest families. According to Oxfam, Afghanistan is already the poorest country in Asia. Three in four Afghans have no safe water or access to the most basic healthcare. As many as 800,000 people have been displaced during the past year alone. Not all of them were from areas under Taliban control. Many NGOs are now moving staff to areas bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
In a few days, the British public will again be asked for money for Afghanistan. But do we care? Dare we admit that, despite our protestations about common humanity, 6,000 people in Afghanistan or Lithuania mean a lot less to us than the same number of lives, including our kith and kin, in Manhattan? Does that matter? Yes, it matters, because the appalling suicide attack is more about perception than reality. It is about how we in the West, and especially in the US and the UK, see others, and how they see us. We in the West occupy the economic and, we believe, the moral high ground. The first is incontestable; the second is now critically in question. From now on, we shall have to reassess our moral position, whether we are living in the mid-west, in Europe or somewhere closer to the centre of the planet.
We constantly cry justice and freedom, but we in our mainly Christian--though increasingly plural--Western society can have no monopoly of those virtues or aspirations. I use the word "we" because we more than any other state share the values and heritage of the United States. However, it may even be time for us to rethink the concept of belonging to the West. I should like to think of us primarily as Europeans. I applaud the Prime Minister's attempt to enlarge the
Globalisation has not solved the problem of perception. Advanced technology allows us to look into the backyard of an Afghan refugee for our entertainment, or even to give charity to help him and his family; but it also brings home to us the huge contrast in lifestyles and cultural values across the world, and can do little on its own to bridge the divide. Only our collective effort based on our individual experience as human beings will do that.
In international relations, we are having to get used to rapid sound-bite responses and the sudden refocusing of our lives by political leaders, fed to us by the media. What was important yesterday does not seem as important tomorrow. We pass through cycles of instant concern for victims past, present and future. We find it harder today to make eternal judgments based on the old values, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or any other law or code of practice.
Having worked with several aid agencies now working in Afghanistan, I have seen some of their current responses and I know what they are going through. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, has already rightly commended them. Humanitarian agencies do not easily pass judgment on the actions of terrorists and politicians, but they feel strongly impelled to represent the feelings of the people whom they serve. They cannot but take the side of those innocent people who have wandered from place to place in that forlorn country in search of ordinary lives. They resent the innuendoes of some western politicians that they should be indirectly blamed for terrorism because of the country that they live in.
The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, has already mentioned the complicated ethnic divisions in Afghanistan. If ordinary Afghan Pushtuns support the Taliban, as many of them do, they can reasonably argue that many of their leaders were trained with United States support and are now being shot in the back. They are bound to resist any attack, and there can be no excuse for NATO to target innocent civilians--however close they live to the terrorists.
The same aid agencies, while not in any way denying the need for justice for victims of terrorism, ask why such punishment should extend to the targeting of infrastructure and communications, which will make innocent people more miserable and future aid an impossible nightmare. As the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, knows better than any of us, they recall the painstaking clearance of mines all over Afghanistan during many years and the painful process of rehabilitation and recovery from civil war in a country which may now be invaded again and left in ruins.
We must make certain in this unprecedented state of virtual war that justice is done on all sides, and that--as many noble Lords have said--there is a proper proportion between one act of aggression and another. At the same time, we must derive the maximum advantage from the new coalition against terrorism, to
I should like to express appreciation for the extent to which the Government, and, indeed, the Government of the United States, have gone out of their way to try to ensure that this campaign against terrorism--like Michael Howard, I prefer to avoid the use of the word "war", and especially of "crusade"--is not turned into a war against Islam. I hope that we shall not relax our efforts, both at home and abroad, towards that aim.
My noble friend Lady Richardson referred to the need to redefine Islamic fundamentalism. I hope that I may be allowed to tell the House a brief anecdote. Some 16 years ago, when I was Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, I accompanied a senior British Minister to call on the then and present Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al Faisal. I was somewhat electrified to hear the British Minister ask Prince Saud, "Tell me, Minister, do you have much trouble with Islamic fundamentalists?". Prince Saud drew himself up to his full 6 feet and said, "Minister, I have to tell you that we, the Saudi Government, are Islamic fundamentalists". It is perhaps worth remembering that.
There has been discussion about an apparent--I think that it is only apparent--contradiction between what the Prime Minister said two days ago, namely that the Taliban should either hand over Osama bin Laden or hand over power, and what the Foreign Secretary has been quoted as saying, namely that it is not the Government's aim to unseat the Taliban. I do not believe there to be a real contradiction between those two statements.
Whatever the facts, I most earnestly caution against any attempt by ourselves or other outsiders to start forming alternative governments in Afghanistan. I fully share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, in his remarkable maiden speech, that we should not impose a regime on Afghanistan. There has been talk of helping the Northern Alliance to take over the reins of government in Kabul, and even of encouraging the ex-King, Zahir Shah, to leave Rome and resume his position as the constitutional monarch of Afghanistan. If events turn out that way, well and good, though I foresee many problems on the way. But the history of the past two centuries should provide us all, and perhaps most especially the Russians and ourselves, with sufficient warning against becoming too closely involved in or taking responsibility for the dangers and uncertainties--political, geographical, religious, ethnic and tribal--that afflict that unhappy country.
This is not the moment to go more deeply into the issues behind the continuing Palestinian-Israeli disturbances, which are still, tragically, producing daily casualties on both sides, but the time has come--indeed, it is long overdue--when all sides, in particular the United States Administration, should take balanced steps to tackle the deeper issues set out in Senator Mitchell's report. In this process, I hope that Her Majesty's Government and our European colleagues will be ready to play a similarly active and balanced role.
On a personal note, I am delighted to learn that the Secretary General of the United Nations has given special responsibility for humanitarian assistance to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi. Not only has Ambassador Brahimi unrivalled understanding of the problems of Afghanistan, but he will also be known to several Members of your Lordships' House as a distinguished ambassador of Algeria in London in the 1970s. If, as the Minister said, we regard ourselves as the vanguard of those giving humanitarian aid to the region, I have no doubt that we will find Ambassador Brahimi a most helpful and co-operative colleague.
Finally, I fully endorse the plea of my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley that there should be no reduction in the resources made available to the Armed Forces in waging this campaign against international terrorism. Perhaps I can echo his remarks in respect of the Diplomatic Service. The point has already been made today that the campaign will need to be waged on all fronts--military, intelligence and diplomatic. The last is particularly relevant to what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, called a "cornerstone" to the need for informed analysis and debate, to which the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, referred also. It is clearly vital that adequate resources should be made available to all three services to enable them to contribute effectively to what the Leader of the House admitted will be a long and difficult haul.
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I do not believe I have ever listened to a debate in which there has been a greater degree of unanimity of view, not only over the tragic events, but also over the manner in which it should be approached. We should like to bring to this tragic mess something of the order in which we like to believe that we ourselves live.
I had intended to say something about my experiences in World War II--I was in the Royal Air Force and spent some time in the Far East--and its relevance to the present situation. However, as this has been a long debate, that point can be raised on another occasion. Instead I close with another indication of the unanimity of view which exists, which is probably the most promising aspect of the events which face us.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I should have thought that the freedom of expression that allows the Daily Telegraph to publish a letter that disagrees so profoundly with its own line is precisely the kind of thing that we are trying to defend. I hope that the newspaper will not be criticised in any way for that.
At the outset of the debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, referred to the almost universal Muslim condemnation of what happened on 11th September. We have heard many echoes of that during the debate, not least from the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. I was dismayed to read in The Times this morning that there are prominent
I have only one point to make. A number of speakers have referred to the attitude of the Muslim community in this country to what I call, perhaps illogically, the undistributed middle. We have all rightly condemned the terrorists--those who committed the offence are now beyond our jurisdiction--and those who support, aid, abet and finance them. We have all recognised that the vast majority of the Muslim communities in the world, including British Muslims, condemn the terrorists equally strongly. However, there is an undistributed middle--those who somehow manage to stand between the two groups.
I recently had a conversation with a Muslim who has lived here for nearly 25 years. He holds a senior professional position and is a thoroughly respectable and trustworthy man. He asked me to spend a few minutes with him, as he wanted me to understand his point of view. It concerns the use of the word "fundamentalist". I was interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, and others on the subject.
My friend started by asking me why successive British Governments had allowed people whom he described as Islamic extremists to live in this country and continue to preach their messages of hate. I explained the state of the law. We believe in free speech, we are reluctant to prosecute people for what they say as opposed to what they do, however unpalatable it may be, and, of course, we are particularly careful not to discriminate against ethnic or religious minorities.
My friend said that that was all very well, but the people he was talking about do not care for any of these things. They believe that for those who do not support their wish for their kind of Islamic religion to sweep the world, anything goes. They do not hesitate to call for the deaths of their enemies, even other Muslims. They seek to indoctrinate the young with their extremism and their followers are prepared to go to any lengths to compel adherents to their cause.
I said that that was a bit unreasonable. After all, there are fundamentalists in every religion, including in the Christian religion in this country. My friend said, "Patrick, that is all very well, but fundamentalist Islam is a rather different kind of animal."
This may be a matter of semantics. Perhaps we have to think this through and take advice from people who understand the issue a great deal better than I do. My friend's point is that the undistributed middle is here. They are a tiny minority, but they are present in this country and are apparently free to go on preaching in their mosques and schools that it is right to kill their enemies. My friend went on to ask whether we realised that the presence of such people here is a source of acute embarrassment to the majority of the Muslim community.
I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, say precisely the same thing two or three hours ago. I have discussed the issue with him since then outside the Chamber. I asked why we cannot persuade the authorities to get on and deal with the issue. If somebody is committing the offence of incitement to murder, why are they not hauled before the courts? Perhaps they are going to be. I saw an article in The Times on Tuesday headed, "Scotland Yard investigates North London militant". His name has been mentioned several times--Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad. The other name mentioned in the article is Abu Hamza al-Masri. They have been consistently seen as supporters of terrorism. They made no secret of their joy at what happened in New York. I find that deeply offensive. I accept that the Government do not prosecute; the police do that. However, I would like to know from the Government whether the authorities now intend to crack down on such support for terrorism. We do not need to put up with it in this country. I very much hope that I shall be able to tell my friend that I raised his point in the House of Lords and got a rather encouraging answer.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, those of your Lordships who know my range of interests may have been surprised to see my name on the speakers' list for a debate on foreign affairs. I would not normally presume to add my name to those of your Lordships who are much more knowledgeable than I am on such matters. I shall precede my main remarks by explaining how it has come about. It is because I was in Washington during the attack on America and I have some information that I would like to share.
On 9th September I flew to Washington with members of the All-Party British America Parliamentary Group. The purpose of our delegation was to study American government at all levels, from the federal right down to the very local. I was the only Member of your Lordships' House in the delegation, along with seven Members of another place.
As the third plane hit the Pentagon, not far away, we stood in the heart of the Capitol building, in the old Senate Chamber--the cradle of modern American democracy. Suddenly, security staff ran in and yelled at us to leave the building and to run. Helped by our escorts from the state department, we left swiftly and hurried away from Capitol Hill, as instructed. As we did so, we saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon and picked up snippets of information from television crews as we moved as far away as possible from federal buildings. I pay tribute to the professionalism and humanity of Deborah Underhill and Paul Engelstadt, our state department escorts, for their care for our safety and wellbeing.
We took refuge in a bar ironically named "The Hawk and Dove". The full horror of the diabolical attack on the free world unfolded itself on the television screens to a hushed crowd. It soon became clear that a fourth hijacked plane had been aiming at the Capitol building where we had been and that we probably owed our lives to the brave passengers who attacked the hijackers and brought the plane down in Pennsylvania. I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude and those of my colleagues to those men and my sympathy to their grieving but proud families. The reason why I wish to speak in this debate is to make your Lordships aware of what I heard directly from American politicians and ordinary people in the immediate aftermath and the two weeks that followed, unfiltered by the media. I heard shock and anger. I heard outrage and puzzlement. "Who could hate us so much that they would do this and why?" were the questions on many lips. I heard hurt and grief, but I did not hear demands for revenge and retribution. I heard very few incautious words. Instead, I heard calls for reason and justice. I heard wisdom, moderation, tolerance and self-examination.
America was shaken to its very foundations, but the response of many to whom I spoke was to call for a measured and wise response; to look inside at America's own foreign policies and internal race relations. I heard calls for a end to American isolationism and for more aid to those who live their lives in poverty. I heard fears that those of the Muslim faith within American society might be victimised because of these terrible acts and loud calls for the whole of society to outlaw any such thing. That is why I was glad when my senior colleague suggested that I should stay and complete my programme rather than return to your Lordships' House for the emergency Sitting on 14th September.
From the inside position which it was my privilege to be given, it became clear to me that many wise people within Congress realised immediately the danger of a precipitate response. The internationalists among them quickly identified the need for the
Many people thanked God for the influence of that leading moderate, the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. General Powell is a soldier and as such he knows that there is very little either of certainty or of glory in war. Many I spoke to prayed that he would be listened to. One of those with whom I worked closely over those first few days, Congressman Jim McDermott, the representative from Seattle, used some very powerful imagery in his speech to Congress a few days later. Understanding the need for the President to be seen by his people to be strong, he asked,
The power and importance of our special relationship with the United States was demonstrated over the next two weeks by the warmth with which we were received. The American people were very moved by the powerful symbolism of Her Majesty the Queen ordering the playing of their national anthem at the Changing of the Guard. It occurred to me, as has been said by several noble Lords, that good things must come out of this evil. One of them must be that this country must realise what a unique role we can play in the world. If we can play an active and committed role at the heart of Europe, and if we can at the same time remain America's candid friend, we alone can form a powerful conduit between those two vast blocs of the developed world and help them to work together for peace, environmental protection and enlightened development. Only we can do that and I for one hope that we shall do it.
From what I heard in the United States I promise noble Lords that those who fear the pressure on President George Bush from those who want action and symbols of America's strength, can be assured that there is equal, if not greater pressure on him, from wise and moderate people at the heart of American politics for a proportionate response, a massive humanitarian initiative and greater efforts to help the people of Afghanistan who are also suffering under Osama bin Laden and his friends in the Taliban regime.
We have heard a great deal about solidarity, the solidarity between the coalition of states against international terrorism and the solidarity between those brave emergency workers in Washington and New York who worked so hard and who in some cases gave their lives to save others. We have heard a great deal about solidarity among people of faith--all faiths. Let there by no mistake. There are many commonalities between Christianity, Islam, Judaism and many other faiths. Osama bin Laden's version of his religious duty is a diabolical distortion of real Islam. I therefore very much welcome the
Religious freedom is one of the basics of my own political philosophy. Indeed, it is fundamental to the philosophy of my party. I firmly believe in the right of all people to practise their religion freely and to educate their children in its principles. I have within my own family Christians of several denominations as well as Muslims and Jews. I love and respect all of them. All of us have sent our children to non-sectarian schools. In Northern Ireland the workers for peace are sending their children to integrated schools, the better to understand each other and to promote peace in that troubled community in the long term. In view of the events of the past few weeks, as well as the lessons learnt at such terrible cost in Northern Ireland over 30 years, I would ask the Government seriously to reconsider whether it is right to encourage more faith schools in their forthcoming Education Bill. I personally do not believe that it is.
We face a number of battles at the moment: the battle for accurate information, the battle to devise and carry out an appropriate military response. But one of the most important battles we face, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester and others have said today, is the battle for hearts and minds and for understanding between peoples of different cultures and religions. In such a situation surely our children must grow up together, learn together and play together.
This has been a wonderful debate full of wisdom and insight. I apologise to later speakers and in particular the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bach, that I may be forced to miss their contributions because of a pressing engagement. I miscalculated the length of this debate and in the unusual circumstances I hope that I shall be forgiven. I shall read their comments in Hansard with interest.
Finally, perhaps I may urge any noble Lords who have their own special relationships with friends and relatives in the United States, to give them support through correspondence or in any other way that noble Lords can. Most of the citizens of the United States of America are thoughtful, tolerant and democratic people who share our values. The Prime Minister has been a trusted and candid friend to them so far on our behalf. I pray that he will continue to do so.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, perhaps I should preface my contribution by saying that I have had experience in the past three years of dealing with young asylum seekers, some of whom are refugees from Afghanistan. I recently visited Angola with UNICEF. The theme of my remarks will be engagement with the developing world. Towards the conclusion of his speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said:
In the previous debate on this matter, the noble Lords, Lord Naseby, Lord Elton and Lord Grenfell, emphasised the need to address the imbalances between the developed and the developing world if we are to choke the supply of terrorists in the future. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made that point earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, made an interesting contribution, which challenged that proposition. I have yet to consider his thoughtful words, but I shall give my first response now.
He seemed to be saying that terrorism and fanaticism are bred in the bone, and that in Northern Ireland, for instance, one cannot shake the faith and ideology of fanatics on both sides. He said that prosperity had little impact. The noble Lord seemed to be saying that we need a very long-term plan to address the problem. I agree with that and wonder whether the problems in Northern Ireland stem from the long-term oppression of Catholics and the feelings of Protestant insecurity over many generations. If that is the case, perhaps that lends weight to the arguments of other noble Lords that oppression in the developing world, that gross iniquity, may not be the way in which to address the immediate terrorist problem, but it may be how to address fanaticism in generations to come, to avoid breeding it in the future.
I shall give a specific example of how one might attempt to make a difference in the developing world. In Angola three out of 10 children die before the age of five. More than 50 per cent of children are stunted in their growth. They are less than 70 per cent of normal size. These figures come from UNICEF. The consequence is that there are children who are constantly crying and begging for attention. They are angry and unhappy because they are underfed. Other children are listless and bloated. They have reached the point of starvation when the cells cease to function properly. Such children have to be fed 12 times a day with a special milk formulation because the body can no longer cope with normal feeding. These children's arms are the thickness of doweling sticks.
At a recent conference at Chatham House in London, sponsored by the British Angolan Forum, a couple of Ministers from Angola and the governor of the national bank were present for the two days to discuss western policy on Angola. A young man from Mozambique, who works for an NGO, spoke to me towards the end of the conference. He said, "It is such a pity that here are two Ministers and a governor of the national bank from Angola, spending two days in London, but there is no Minister from the UK or Europe".
It must seem that we are not listening. The organiser of the conference said that he had written to members of the governments in Europe and the UK asking for their attendance, but without success. We need to engage in these issues.
Ambassador Paul Hare was present at the meeting. He described the engagement of the United States in recent years. Previous Administrations set up a bilateral committee, involving US officials, national Government of Angola officials and business people from America. One fruitful outcome was a grant supporting the prevention of the spread of HIV in Angola. President Bush was due to meet President dos Santos of Angola in Washington last month, but the meeting was cancelled for obvious reasons. President Bush is a Republican, who previously sponsored UNITA, the opposition party. The roots of the party of President dos Santos are Marxist, so there has been a journey--a useful one.
I return to the Prime Minister's words. Are they realistic? What can be done? I was in Paris on Tuesday evening and stood in front of the great Notre Dame cathedral. I was very moved by the sight of it in the spotlights against the dark blue night sky. I thought what an achievement it was for Bishop de Sully and the people of France in the 12th century. They had come together to create this immense and beautiful edifice that still inspires today. I remember JFK deciding that man should go to the moon. One of the most exciting times of my youth was the sight on television of the Apollo mission taking off and a man stepping on to the moon.
This Prime Minister has brought a party that was deemed unelectable by some through to a second term. Perhaps there can be hope if one plans for long-term engagement and adopts the principle of diplomacy that Ambassador Hare outlined, which must be on a personal level. We need to develop trust between individuals. Perhaps there is hope that we can engage more effectively with the developing world on many levels, through business, diplomacy and the NGOs, to remedy the problems that I described earlier. It is also in our interests not to create a generation of terrorists for the future.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, just about all that can be said about the terrible events of 11th September in New York and Washington has been said. Much of it has been well said, both in the debate in this House three days later and again today. Mere words will not, however, bring the perpetrators of those crimes to book. Nor will they protect us, or our friends and allies, or indeed the whole international community, against a repetition of them. As the scale and outreach of the terrorist networks that underpinned the onslaught become more discernible, we can see the enormity of the task that faces us. It is surely time to focus on some key elements of the campaign that lies ahead.
I want to begin with a plea--and I understand that in doing so I shall put myself in a position different from many who have spoken--that we stop spending quite so much time debating whether or not what we are engaged in is or is not properly speaking a war. Much effort can be put into parsing that word but common sense tells us that a carefully planned series of attacks which kills in an hour as many people or more
However, this is not a war like any other in which this country has ever been involved; and some of the differences need to be understood if our response is to be as effective and as sustained as it will need to be if it is to succeed. A normal adage is that when war breaks out the diplomats and those who manage the economy play second fiddle until it is all over. Nothing could be further removed from the present situation. If this campaign against terrorism is to succeed, its political and financial dimensions will have to be pursued with as much vigour as its military ones. All three dimensions will need to move ahead in parallel and to be prosecuted in such a way that each supports the other. Indeed, it would not be surprising if in the long run the military dimension were less prominent than the other two.
A second difference is that in this war, unlike any other including the Cold War, there really is no such thing as a neutral or non-aligned state. To say that is not just a piece of rhetorical bravado; it is a statement of the obvious. So long as the terrorists can find safe havens, can transmit funds and can acquire weapons and documents they will not be defeated.
A third difference is that victory in this war will not be marked by some military triumph but rather by things that do not happen; by terrorist attacks which do not take place; and by the dislocation of these networks as much as by the bringing to justice of those who work in them.
In the past three weeks a massive coalition has been put together to combat terrorism. It is no mean achievement to have brought within its ambit countries as diverse as Russia and China, India and Pakistan. The solidarity of the five permanent members of the Security Council has been re-established for the first time since it ceased to exist shortly after the end of the Gulf War. Two resolutions of the Security Council have been adopted unanimously which, taken together with the United States' undoubted right to act in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, now provide a mandatory framework of international law for the campaign against terrorism. Maintaining this coalition will not be easy. Coalitions are, by definition, fragile and fractious. But it is a crucial objective not because it is an end in itself--it is not--but because without it the political and financial dimensions of the campaign will be so much less effective.
The United Nations' framework may not mean much to some commentators in Washington but it means an awful lot to most of the countries whose effective co-operation is essential to success. Now that this framework is in place it needs to be developed further, if possible through the negotiation,
To move from the general to the very particular, I want to say something about Afghanistan. I should declare an interest as, unlike most Members of this House, I lived there for two years. But that was 40 years ago. Afghanistan finds itself in the eye of the gathering storm through no desire of the majority of its population who are in fact voting with their feet as they flee to the nearest frontier. Few countries' modern history has been more tragic and agonising; and that more due to the action of foreigners than to the failings of Afghans themselves. To read the commentaries of armchair generals and academic gurus, each lovingly describing the rate of the various misguided and mismanaged attempts, first by the British then by the Soviet Union, to dominate that country, the idea of taking any military action at all against Osama bin Laden and his supporters, the Taliban, is made to appear foolhardy in the extreme. But to take that view is not only a counsel of despair, faced as we are by so much evidence that the terrorist onslaught was indeed directed from there; it is also to allow historical analogies, which are almost never exact, to dominate our judgment.
Two factors doomed those earlier fiascos. The first was to attempt to prop up as rulers of Afghanistan unpopular factions whose dependence on external military support was their undoing in the eyes of most Afghans. The second was to attempt to hold down the country by military force which both the geography and the temperament of the Afghans made untenable. There is no reason to believe that anyone is likely to fall into either of those traps again.
But does that mean that we should simply in the longer term be indifferent as to who rules Afghanistan? That, roughly speaking, is the policy which has guided the international community since the Soviet Union withdrew from the country in 1989; and the least one can say is that it does not seem to have been a huge success. I suggest that there could be a way between the extremes of meddling and of indifference which could include four elements. First--and many noble Lords have addressed this point--there is need for a massive relief effort by the international community to help those Afghans suffering from the effects of drought and civil war both as refugees and, even more important, within the country.
Secondly, there should be a renewed attempt to encourage the Afghans themselves to put together a broad-based and representative government. By definition, that could be neither the Taliban, whose support comes almost exclusively from the Pashtuns and who lack any real consent from the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, nor the Northern Alliance, in its present form, which has the opposite defect. The United Nations could well have a role to play in brokering the formation of a government representative of all the main ethnic groups.
Here I slightly take issue and distance myself from the suggestion made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. I do not believe that something like a UN protectorate is at all wise. Afghanistan has the pride of being able to say that it was one of the only two countries in the world which were never colonised in the 19th century or dominated by an external power and I do not believe that it is about to start submitting to that now. Therefore, I believe that it would be better to think of the United Nations in the form of a broker. The initiative, effort and responsibility must be taken by Afghans themselves.
Thirdly, we should set out formally and publicly what the international community is prepared to do by way of aid and backing for any representative Afghan government which hands over those who have committed or are planning terrorist offences and which verifiably dismantles the whole structure of training camps supporting them. Our hesitation and reluctance to set out the positive side of the agenda in quite different cases in Iraq and Yugoslavia in my view severely weakened the impact of our other policies.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, once the other elements are achieved, we should aim to put in place a set of binding international legal obligations accepted by all of Afghanistan's neighbours against any further meddling in its affairs. That was eventually what was done far too late in the case of Cambodia. It could be that after so many bitter experiences a consensus might now be reached that meddling in Afghanistan has never paid, and never will pay, for any of its neighbours.
In conclusion, I should like to say a brief word about the role of the European Union so far in this crisis. A great deal of credit is due to the speed and unanimity of its action, whether it be in standing by the United States in its hour of trial, in helping to marshal the worldwide coalition against terrorism, in taking the first steps towards strengthening its own defences or in clamping down on the financing operation of the terrorist networks.
Europe's common foreign and security policy was always going to have to be beaten out on the anvil of events, not just enshrined in some communique or other. So far it has come through with flying colours. Yet again we have seen that when it comes to facing up to new threats and challenges it is action by the Union as a whole and not just action by one or other of its member states that provides the most viable and effective response.
Lord Turnberg: My Lords, this has been a particularly impressive--of course--and sobering debate. However, I should like to add my appreciation of the way that the UK Government have approached the terrorist threat to world stability. Perhaps I may also say how well the Americans have responded, which has been so cautious and measured despite the fears that some may have had. We and they need strong alliances wherever we can find them.
The questions I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Bach to answer when he winds up the debate are about our relations with Iran and about the discussions, so far as they can be revealed, between the right honourable Foreign Secretary Mr Straw and the leadership in Iran.
Before I come to my specific questions, I want to spend a moment or two examining how such atrocious acts could have become possible and on the reasons why they may be the tip of rather large icebergs. I am afraid that I do not believe that these acts are simply the product of poverty and oppression in the Middle East, although, as we know, they certainly exist and may play a part. Of course we must do everything in our power to correct them. However, I doubt if they are the root cause of terrorism. Nor would I accept that it is the Israel/Palestinian conflict that is responsible, as some seem to hint. Although it may contribute to the matter, it is much more likely to be symbolic of the wider conflict with western democracies than its cause, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, explained so eloquently.
There is much more of its root cause in the cynical manipulation of large vulnerable populations, somewhat ignorant of the outside world, by malign leaders who ceaselessly pour out their anti-western propaganda. Furthermore, to the deep regret and disgust of clear-thinking Muslims they often do so in the name of Islam, which they debase with their brand of fundamentalism. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, spoke movingly on the subject.
There are clearly recognisable extremist terrorist organisations, of which bin Laden's is but one. Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas--they are all on our list--are right up there with them with many others in a complex interrelated active network. They are all growing as they gain ready recruits from a propaganda-saturated population which forms the submerged base of this iceberg.
Much of it is driven up in places like Afghanistan, and, I am afraid, in Iran, in a very systematic way. That has not just started; it is a phenomenon which has been active for 20 years or more, and certainly, for example, during the whole of the time that the Middle Eastern peace negotiations were being pursued at Camp David and in Oslo.
Messages of hatred of the West and of Israel are constantly fed through school lessons and through the state-controlled media. Preachers extol the virtues of suicide to children as a way to Paradise. Perhaps I may quote some examples to your Lordships. On 30th August the official Palestinian authority daily newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida said that we must,
I have quoted from official Palestinian sources, but this type of background is a constant in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Is it any wonder then that we saw the spontaneous outbursts of joy and celebrations in the streets of Iran and the West Bank on 11th September? Of course the unfortunate journalists who recorded them were quickly bundled out of the country, but the celebrations were clearly a reflection of what the population had been taught was right from an early age.
It is depressing in the extreme to realise that whole generations have been borne into hatred, which will take decades of enormous effort to remedy. These hatreds may also help to explain why, for example, the offer by Prime Minister Barak of Israel to Mr Arafat at Camp David of the West Bank and of East Jerusalem to form the basis of his Palestinian state, with all the humanitarian and economic advantages that could then have started flowing for the unfortunate Palestinian people so long deprived of these basic needs, was turned down. That offer closely resembled what both Mr Bush and our own Prime Minister have hinted at recently--make no mistake, this was on the table--but it was turned down by Mr Arafat. What a tragically missed opportunity that was for the Palestinian people as well as for Israel and the rest of the world. The Palestinians at least deserve better.
But peace with Israel does not appear to be on the agenda for many other Middle East countries, including Iran, that wish completely to eliminate Israel from the map. Not just Afghanistan but a number of other countries, including Iran, promote, fund, train and arm terrorist groups on the West Bank and in Syrian-occupied Lebanon with the express purpose of destroying Israel. Little wonder that Israel feels, and is, a country under siege.
My questions are set against the background of state-sponsored propaganda against western democracy, of which Israel is only the local example. In fact, Israel is the only example of a democracy in the Middle East--its Parliament, the Knesset, includes Israeli Arabs. That propaganda, coupled with the cynical distortion of religious fundamentalism, leads to extreme terrorist activities.
Can my noble friend the Minister tell the House whether the Foreign Secretary raised with the Iranians the question of their promoting and arming terrorist organisations across the Middle East, including training camps in Iran? In particular, did the Foreign Secretary seek Iran's support in exerting pressure on Mr. Arafat to negotiate peace with Israel rather than its total destruction?
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I had hoped to contribute to the previous debate but felt that much of what was said on that occasion was much more eloquent and based on far greater knowledge than any speech of mine would have been. It was also possibly that was not the right moment to discuss the humanitarian side of the crisis. Now we have reached a time when that aspect, which is of utmost importance, can be debated.
Preparing for today's debate, I had a depressing experience. I took out my old files on Afghanistan, only to realise that I had talked about its problems since I arrived in your Lordships' House in 1994. Worse still, I had done so on not one occasion but many times. The political, security and military aspects have been discussed at length by several noble Lords, so I shall highlight three humanitarian points--some of them mentioned by the noble Earls, Lord Sandwich and Lord Listowel, and by the noble Lord, Lord Judd.
First, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, who has always been most helpful in every way. My questions concern the extended poverty caused by terrorist exploitation of anti-globalisation and the difficulties arising from different cultures.
As was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London in his eloquent speech, as far as we know the terrorists involved in the recent atrocious acts were well educated, not poor, and led normal lives. However, they were able to manipulate and indoctrinate thousands of people who were desperately poor and had little to live for. In this country, there is a new generation who mind a great deal about poverty and similar plights and genuinely want to help. Many charities, such as the International Red Cross, do fine work, but that aid is a drop in the ocean in relation to the immense problems. The future refugee problem will be gigantic--let alone the latest reports of the largest outbreak in history of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, similar to Ebola fever, among Afghan refugees crossing into Pakistan.
How can we help? Will the Government make certain that refugee camps meet international standards and that no one country will have to bear the disproportionate burden that would easily swamp and destabilise the area? Most importantly, in the longer term we should think about reconstructing the Afghan homeland so that refugees can return home safely.
The humanitarian side emanating from this disaster is more important than ever as it is difficult to fight either terrorists or dictatorships from a democratic country. In April this year, the Minister told us that we were providing assistance that benefits Afghan farmers who have lost their livelihoods for various
Of the 21 million Afghans still remaining, many will die this winter unless food aid programmes can be resumed before the winter closes in across the routes in mid-November. If any bombing should take place, it is vital that as much food aid as possible should be delivered beforehand.
What progress have the Government made in reopening the BBC office in Kabul? There are indications that over 60 per cent of Afghans listen regularly to the BBC. Since 1982 the BBC World Service has been broadcasting in Pashtu to millions of listeners. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord St John of Fawsley, in his support for the BBC World Service.
The figures that have come from the World Bank are frightening: 40,000 more children could die from the knock-on effect in those poor countries, even if the World Bank increases its lending by up to £542 million, because of the economic damage wrought by the terrorist attacks.
The anti-globalisation or the anti-capitalist voice has grown dramatically recently. Many of the anti-globalisation demonstrators who now plague international meetings should think twice before wrecking more cities. I am sure that many are well-meaning social activists who believe in the sanctity of human life, but other anti-globalisation activists, like the terrorists, have made clear it that they see the capitalist icons such as the New York Trade Centre and the World Trade Organisation in Geneva as symbols of oppressive American domination of the world economy.
The terrorists have achieved some of the anti-globalisation protesters' dearest objectives. Following the attacks on New York and Washington, the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington have been cancelled. The protestors who want to prevent the holding of those meetings seek to advance their political agenda through intimidation, which is the classic goal of the terrorist. Those meetings are of great importance for the developing world, especially with the slowing world economy and the risk of protectionism. The world trade round this year is said to be essential to restore economic growth and confidence.
In Claire Stirling's remarkable book written as long ago as 1981 when terrorism was rife, she said that the ultimate target of the international terrorist network was the western democracies and their supporters; the beneficiaries, the enemies of the West.
Finally, I turn to a sensitive point. When I asked the Minister in November 1997 how the Government would make certain that blatant abuses of human rights in Afghanistan, especially towards women, would be fully addressed, the answer was, "With great
Both Boris Johnson and Polly Toynbee have recently written that there are people who feel that their culture is under siege. They fear that American morals and values will take them over. Yet this is a world where women are lashed for adultery; all girls are denied an education; no women, even if they are doctors or teachers, are allowed to work; and women are denied elementary healthcare. We should not forget that 65 per cent of the Afghan are women and are virtually under house arrest.
It is difficult to reconcile two seemingly contradictory sides of this debate. Should religious and cultural self-determination take precedence over the promotion of women's education? Surely, female education is one of the main answers to the global population problem.
Lord Bridges: My Lords, the content of this second debate has differed markedly from the first. None the less, it is of great value to us all. On the previous occasion we were preoccupied by the extent of the horror and the timing and possible nature of retribution. In this debate we have changed course, turning instead to the state of opinion in this country, and particularly to the views of the minority communities here. We have heard some outstanding and valuable contributions on this particular topic.
But we have drawn, I suggest, no common conclusions about the essential matter of retribution. I may be wrong, but my impression is that while we admire the untiring efforts of the Prime Minister and his colleagues to win support for their coalition and for a common position with our friends around the world, particularly in the Middle East, it remains doubtful whether we can win their active support for military operations without disclosing the intelligence which we feel it our bounden duty to protect. If I am correct in drawing this conclusion, that leaves the British and American Governments in a very disagreeable dilemma.
Thus in this debate we have moved from the general nature of our reaction to the terrorist attack, which we debated before, and the broad principles involved in this, to the adjustment of our existing laws to the new international environment. I want to emphasise the importance of this task and its particular difficulty. The importance is clear enough: it is our capacity to turn into effective measures the fine words and commitments of principle which have been courageously made. The overriding problem for us British is that we are dealing with an area of maximum
As an example, let us take the tricky business of the extradition question. Recently, in March of this year, the Home Office published a paper explaining why some changes in our procedures were desirable. I am inclined to follow that approach. But I mention this matter in particular because I think it is one of the cases where the adjustment of our domestic laws can be examined with particular attention in this House, where we have much relevant knowledge and the capacity for careful and impartial analysis which could prove very useful. Indeed--this is a suggestion the Government may care to bear in mind--this is a Bill which could appropriately be introduced into this House for discussion.
The poet John Donne taught us nearly four centuries ago that no man is an island. Nor is a continent, even one which is the home of communities as successful and determined as is North America. The underlying necessity in this particular crisis is the need to keep the global context of our national measures constantly before us. I believe that this has been the Prime Minister's approach, as he exemplified in his remarkable speech in Brighton on Tuesday. I trust that the rest of us can, like him, continue to think of the global effect of what we actually do, and also of the global consequences if we do nothing in particular.
Of the speeches made in this interesting debate, I was struck by the suggestion made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, about the need for a United Nations protectorate in Afghanistan. To this was added the latest suggestion of my noble friend Lord Hannay about what the Security Council might actually do. I suggest to your Lordships that his particular suggestion, based on his experience in the United Nations and in Afghanistan, is a very practical step forward for us to consider.
Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, for nearly nine hours we have had an extremely wide-ranging debate. During that time there have been many passionate and intellectually inspiring contributions, with many of which I have agreed. But by comparison I feel that what I have to say is an analysis of where we are and what we should be doing in this country to deal with the question of terrorism.
When we debated the issue of terrorism on 14th September in the immediate aftermath of the atrocities committed in America by those who can only be described as suicidal fanatics, there was a mixture of disbelief, shock, horror and anger felt throughout the civilised world. Those spontaneous emotions were quite naturally reflected in our debate that day. There
Leaders throughout the world in the coalition must not only be congratulated but supported for the way in which they have responded to the evil of terrorism that threatens us all and about which we have become much more conscious since 11th September 2001. Those congratulations and support are particularly directed at the president of America and our own Prime Minister, both of whom have demonstrated not only determination and commitment to defeat terrorism and bring the terrorists to justice but have shown patience and restraint to ensure that whatever military action is necessary the loss of innocent lives is minimised--something the terrorists never concern themselves with. Indeed, the Taliban has been given every opportunity to meet the demands of the international community and give up bin Laden. The approach and actions of the governments of America and Britain have ensured that it is universally recognised that this is not a war against peace loving Islam but a war on terrorism. That is now appreciated not only by what we know as the free, democratic and civilised world, but also by countries which have different cultures to our own.
The coalition of nations against terrorism is new and unique, the like of which the world has never before seen. It is a pity that it has taken such an outrage to bring about this international co-operation--international co-operation between security and intelligence services which is without precedent. That co-operation must never be allowed to elapse. Never again can we take anything for granted. I know that it has now become something of a cliche but the world has now changed and changed for ever. If people are to feel safe and secure, measures we have not experienced in the past will now become normal practice.
A start is already being made with proposals for sky marshals on planes, demands by American airline pilots for guns and demands for secure cockpits, as well as much greater security checks at airports. These safeguards will never be relaxed again. New laws will
In this country we have always prided ourselves on extending civil liberties and human rights not only to our own citizens but also to those who have chosen to come and live here. That has been welcomed, but now we know more than ever before that there are those who exploit and abuse our liberal approach and generous conditions to such an extent that it now threatens our very security. Of course we must never abandon our civilised approach to civil liberties and human rights, for to do so would be to surrender to terror. However, I believe that now we have to re-establish a new balance between the provision of these values and the need for security and safety.
In that regard, there are four major and important areas which the Government have a prime duty thoroughly to examine and to bring before Parliament the appropriate proposals. For some of those to which I shall refer, I welcome the statements already made in that regard. First, I believe that the introduction of identity cards on a compulsory basis must be given serious consideration. In that regard, I am encouraged by the remarks of my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours in his maiden speech. Secondly, I believe that the laws governing asylum seekers should be tightened. Thirdly, I believe that our laws on extradition should be sharpened. Fourthly, I believe that the law, or the lack of law, which allows people publicly to preach support for terrorism should be drastically overhauled.
In respect of identification cards, I have heard it argued that it is a gross attack on civil liberties. I do not agree with that. I share the view that the innocent have nothing to fear from the introduction of identity cards. I have also heard it said that if ID cards are introduced, they will provide a field day for the forgers. To that I respond by saying that passports are forged, but we still produce passports. Counterfeiters forge currency, but we still produce banknotes. That argument does not wash with me. The answer is not to avoid producing ID cards; it is to make it more difficult for the forgers. I am not saying that ID cards alone will increase safety and security, but as one measure in a package of measures, I believe that it will help.
With regard to asylum seekers, I have seen it reported that there could be as many as 200,000 to 300,000 asylum seekers who have been denied entry to this country, but nevertheless have melted into our society and are surviving by way of the black economy. We do not know how many of those have become members of terrorist cells. Another newspaper report suggests that there are as many as 1,200 terrorists living in Britain today. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. In my view, the law should be tightened accordingly.
Concerning the question of extradition, it is clear that although there are a number who have committed terrorist acts in other countries, our current laws provide them with a safe haven in Britain, no doubt
Finally, I turn to the law, or lack of law, that allows fanatics publicly to express support for terrorism, to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, referred. I refer in particular to those who expressed joy at the suicidal terrorist outrage on 11th September. That cannot be right. Most people in this country find that to be a bewildering scenario. This circumstance is not only morally wrong, it is also highly dangerous because such actions attract a backlash. It is the innocent Muslims living in this country who then come under attack. It is my view that the law should make such acts of support for terrorism illegal, much as has been done regarding the incitement of racial hatred.
It is clear that if we want the people of this nation to live in an environment that is safe and secure as far as possible from terrorism, in particular on the scale witnessed last month in America--and I am convinced that that is what most people want--then it is possible that the price to be paid is some curtailment--I stress: some curtailment--of what we currently know to be our civil liberties and human rights. I believe that that is a price worth paying in our attempt to ensure that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in a world free of terrorist atrocities.
Lord Elton: My Lords, as one who has listened to 40 of the previous 47 speeches but sees considerably fewer than 47 people present to hear mine, I wondered for a moment whether I should detain your Lordships at all.
I do not want to pick up all the points that were made but I start with the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. In a most powerful speech he pointed out that, whatever we do, terrorism will not go away in the immediate future. We shall not stop it at a blow; we shall never stop it altogether. We must learn to live in a world in which regrettably it has already become established.
We can do some things to mitigate that in the short term and I believe that one of the most important was mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick: we should increase considerably our intelligence efforts and resources. That will cost money and should be taken into account in the Budget. We must be prepared to pay for it.
In the long term we must change the context in which terrorism flourishes, but not by the execution of vengeance. "Vengeance is mine", sayeth the Lord. "I will repay", we read in the Old Testament. I was fascinated to hear the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, quote a part of the Koran in which God is attributed with a very similar message. It seems that we need to know more about each other's faith if we are to live at peace with one another, and nothing could be more strengthening than that.
The context in which terrorism flourishes does not produce the terrorism. That is produced by fanaticism and, I believe, by a misunderstanding in the nature of God. That is the case even with those who are neither Muslim nor Christian. I do not believe that the UDA is a Christian organisation any more than is the IRA or any more than Osama bin Laden's group is a Muslim organisation. That has been made clear today.
However, the context in which the terrorists are able to carry out their work is one in which, as I said in our previous debate, a great proportion of the world in poverty views a much smaller proportion of the world in wealth. It is one in which those who enjoy approximately 70 per cent of the total benefit of modern developments are, as they see it, in charge of the process of producing it. They manipulate it and are forced to protect it. They are the policemen and the millionaires. I am not saying that that is how it is, but that is how it looks. That matter must be addressed.
There has always been a moral imperative in that direction. What changed on 11th September is the recognition that there is also a very strong element of self-interest in that message. If we do not remove the context in which there is such disparity in wealth and security, our own security is very much at risk. The moral imperative has been joined by a strategic imperative. I say again and in spades that that is going to cost.
No noble Lord has yet discussed the fact that making the world not merely just for others but safe for us will necessarily involve a considerable impact on our own economy. I refer to the impact not of terrorism but that of the aid and structural change needed to bring the other part of the world into the enjoyment of wealth. That is not going to be popular in a democracy that votes on taxes.
We are in an extraordinary situation in the face of terrorism and in defence of liberty. It is surely axiomatic that in the defeat of someone who tries to take away one's liberty, one has to give up some of one's liberty in order to defend it. The noble Lord,
I do not want to be tedious in relation to a subject about which I spoke only a few days ago. I probably did so with more energy because I was speaking earlier in the day. However, I speak with exactly the same degree of conviction. We have a moral and a strategic duty and an imperative to address the inequality of wealth in the world. If we do not, we shall not for long have a world at all.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, there must be some sort of memory in operation. I believe I am right in saying that on 14th September, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, was followed by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who was followed by me. We were in about the same place in a long batting list.
I start with a few words on identity cards. I take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, who made a notable maiden speech. He recounted an anecdote of his time in Paris as a student when his identity card saved him from the savage French police. I was there at the same time or a little earlier--1958--and have a slightly different tale to tell.
I was going to bed in my 1932 Wolseley one night in Pigalle. Someone was plainly anxious about what I was doing--undressing and putting on my pyjamas, as one should. Ten minutes later, there was a rap--a very savage rap--on the car. I looked out of the window and saw eight fierce, heavily armed army men with sub-machine guns that were all pointing in my direction. I gingerly got out of the car. I did not have an identity card but I uttered the immortal words, "Je suis anglais". That was sufficient for them to realise that I was a pathetic and eccentric Brit. They laughed hilariously, got on to the back of their fierce vehicle and drove off. I wish that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, had been here to hear my counter-story.
Having said that--my noble friend Lord McNally referred to his sceptical approach--we must be careful of the over-mighty state. We need not think in exaggerated terms of Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four, but it is a truism to say that these days the state intrudes more and more, with greater and greater specificity, in our lives. Many people are uneasy about that. I have many friends who came here in those terrible pre-war years who will say, "The thing that I most value about this place is that I am on nobody's list; I feel free; I am free; I can change my name tomorrow; I have no identity card." Those are intangible but invaluable benefits of living in this land. The psychology of freedom must never be forgotten. Freedom is an issue of the heart. People talk about the climate of freedom, not its narrow specifics, and we so easily inadvertently undermine that.
The only truly effective way of having an identity card that is not easily circumvented by fraud would be by use of what is called a biometric identifier. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, was calm at the prospect of such a card. It would have not only one's picture but fingerprints or an iris scan, as well as details of one's DNA make-up. My objection to that--although I do not have a closed mind--is that we have so many examples of the incompetent state of national record-keeping. Let us take the national register of fingerprints and DNA samples for those who have been convicted or are suspected of crime. In the audit undertaken by the police last year, no fewer than 50,000 illegally held samples were found to be still on that register.
Fraud in relation to national registers is notorious. It is easy to get details of someone's convictions or their driving licence. It is as simple as pie to get details of anybody's bank account in any bank. We should steer clear of such a scheme unless its arrangements are foolproof, but without an overwhelming bureaucracy, and unless it will achieve its purpose--the biggest question of all.
I turn to the issue of terrorism and concentrate on the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Although there are many causes of terrorism, there is no doubt that the Israel-Palestine stand-off since the creation of the state of Israel has been the principal cause of bad blood and poison in the Middle East and surrounding regions. If we are--as others have said, and as I said on 14th September--in the business of winning hearts and minds as an essential precondition of making any serious dent in terrorism, we in the West must have a live sense of our failings, understand how others see us, especially those from different cultures, and adopt an even-handed approach in future actions in a way that, sadly but undoubtedly, we have failed to do vis a vis Israel and Palestine.
The noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, in another admirable maiden speech, talked of our treatment of Iraq and Iran. What he did not mention, though I will because it is an extremely live issue in Iran, is that
Reference was made to the clash of religions. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and my noble friend Lady Williams pointed in the direction of not so much a clash of religions as sometimes a clash of religions and values. Although it is difficult for me to say this, I believe that when the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said that the World Trade Centre was a symbol of modern civilisation, that was perhaps a good example of seeing those twin towers from our own vantage point and not as they are apt to be seen by other countries. Many Muslim states regard the World Trade Centre as a symbol of the infinite power, the unalloyed materialism and aggressive competitiveness of America and the West. And I am bound to say that modern multinationals are often ambivalent ambassadors of western values. We need to contemplate and understand how we are seen by others and to be a little humble in trying to understand that.
Finally, a word on even-handedness. What I say is critical of Israel and America, and indeed of ourselves. But I should immediately add that I agree entirely with the tone of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Janner. I count myself a friend of Israel. I offered to enlist in the Israeli Army in the Yom Kippur war. It is against that backdrop that I make these remarks.
When visiting, as I did in the spring, the camps in which the Palestinian refugees are housed, I learnt for the first time that the anniversary of 2nd November 1917, the day of the Declaration of Balfour, is regarded as a day of mourning throughout the 59 Palestinian camps. It is worth remembering that the Balfour declaration specifically says that in providing a national home for the Jewish people,
That has been honoured in the breach. The Palestinians have never been asked in a plebiscite whether they wanted the creation of the state of Israel on their land. Though I am sure everyone in this House is resolutely committed--the deed having been done--to the preservation and the guaranteeing of the safety of the state of Israel, we must see it through the eyes of not only Palestinians, but also many other countries in that region of the world. To them we are hypocrites, salving our own consciences vis-a-vis the Jews, particularly after the holocaust, by giving away someone else's land. There are 1.2 million refugees in 59 disgusting, degrading, disgraceful camps as we sit here. They, and a further 2.5 million registered
We need to understand how the situation seems to those people. If we fail to do that, we shall never come near to a resolution of the terrorist problem that we are talking about tonight. Those camps drive the people in them to an extremism that we have seen demonstrated in the grotesque events of 11th September. They are breeding grounds for new terrorists. Nothing will stop that unless we change the circumstances.
I end with a word of hope. We all know of the breakdown of Camp David, but I had not fully appreciated--and others of your Lordships may be in the same position--that the negotiations continued thereafter. In January this year at Taba in Egypt, the two delegations came to a broad agreement, though tragically it came too late for implementation, because that was shortly before the election in which Mr Barak was defeated by Mr Sharon. I shall read two excerpts from the documentation that came out of the Taba talks.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, the debate has moved down a large number of side roads, but at its heart is the question of the best way in which to defeat terrorism. In seeking to rid the world of terrorism, we are fighting a fire. The first rule of firefighting is to avoid adding fuel to the flames. It is my belief and that of the Green Party that any heavy-handed military action against Islamic fundamentalists would add fuel to the fire. I shall explain why.
The terrorists want us to attack. They have sought to manoeuvre us into it. Their attack on 11th September was meant to provoke us into heavy-handed reaction. They want us to attack as heavy-handedly as possible. However, making martyrs for the further inspiration of new adherents to the cause
I do not speak lightly about this because, although I was as shocked and horrified as anyone by what happened on the morning of 11th September, I was the more so because my daughter and grandchildren were living within half a mile of the twin towers and for some time I did not know what might have happened to them. I am glad to say that they are all well and reasonably happy.
The second step in fighting this fire is to cut off the oxygen supply. President Bush has handled the situation admirably so far. He has already taken steps to cut off funding, as we have. The world is practically unanimous in condemning the atrocities. A major step has been taken to isolate the fire and the steps need to be consolidated. But it is important that the United Nations is seen as the best forum for international agreements and it is to be hoped that the United States of America will abandon some of its traditional antipathy.
But we must go much further. Terrorism did not begin on 11th September 2001; nor are some Islamic fundamentalists its only proponents. Every state which kills or aids the killing of civilians is guilty of terrorism. President Bush has not declared war on terrorism only on some terrorism. For decades US governments have been ignoring, sponsoring or even perpetrating acts of terrorism when they have perceived some benefit to themselves from such a course of action. The United States and the United Kingdom were complicit in the murder of up to one million people by the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia during the 1960s when Suharto invaded and occupied East Timor and killed one fifth of the original population. The British and United States governments maintained friendly terms and fell over themselves to supply arms. I put it to this House and to Her Majesty's Government that if we are serious about defeating terrorism there is no room for such an appalling double standard.
In one of the admirable maiden speeches we have heard tonight I heard one of the very best mixed metaphors ever. "A global alliance is not a one-way street". It is not, but nor is a war on terrorism a one-way street. Double standards which have been displayed in the past by the West, and by many other nations--in the training of Contra terrorists in Nicaragua, for example--must be abandoned in future. We must be clear about our mission. It is not merely to put an end to some terrorists, it is to end the scourge of terrorism. It is not something which is just perpetrated by hijackers and shadowy figures in black balaclavas. It is something which states themselves can and do indulge in.
We are clear that in seeking to defeat terrorism we are promoting the rule of law. On the international stage we must adhere to international law. Yet we have far from spotless records in that regard. The Geneva Convention forbids attacks on civilians in wartime, but that has been repeatedly ignored, not least in the last two wars of 1991 and 1999 in which we took part. An estimated 200,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the slaughter known as the Gulf War and its immediate aftermath, as a result of targeting policies calculated to destroy the civilian economic infrastructure. In the bombing of Yugolsavia in 1999 NATO breached international law which forbids attacks on civilians and civilian objects. No wonder that about 1,500 Yugoslav civilians were killed in that campaign.
In that sense, our Government were guilty of regarding ordinary Iraqis and Yugoslavs as the enemy. That is what the terrorist does. He regards the people who were working in the two towers as the enemy. The only moral course of action must be one that tries to avoid civilian casualties. Of course there will be some, but we must try to avoid that as far as possible.
If we are to inspire the whole world to collaborate energetically in the defeat of terrorism, it must be to defeat all terrorism. There must be no turning a blind eye to acts of terror simply because we want to do business with the perpetrators, as in the case of Indonesia. There must be no sponsorship of terrorism by western Governments, as there was in the case of Nicaragua. Our Governments must recognise international criminal law and never act outside it.
If we hold dear the sanctity of human life, we cannot, and must not, take any action that would escalate this crisis, leading to the death of more innocent people in any country. To return to Sun Tzu, he said that the acme of military skill was not to win 100 victories in 100 battles, but to win without fighting.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, having spent the last year of my government service fully caught up in the Gulf war, I appreciate from my own experience at that time the complex and difficult task of assembling a wide-ranging coalition of governments world-wide. I also appreciate the sensitivities of Muslim societies round the world to a conflict in which non-Muslim governments confront a Muslim country. The very great care being taken by the US and our own Government to explain their actions and to stress that this is a battle against terrorism and certainly not against Islam is absolutely right.
I also know only too well how it feels to be, at the time of potential military action, on the inside looking out at external commentators, however well-intentioned and expert they think they are. At best, their views and speculations can be hopelessly wide of the mark and are often counter-productive. At worst, they can be unwittingly close to the highly classified and sensitive truth, and therefore dangerous. I shall be as careful as I can to try to avoid both those pitfalls.
I did not intend to mention Northern Ireland, but I shall echo my noble friend Lord Dubs. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, is not in her place, but I have to say that I was appalled at the terms she used in speaking of Cyril Ramaphosa, a great champion and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and leader of the free trade union movement, and Martti Ahtisaari, whom I have the pleasure to know. He is not only a very distinguished former president of Finland, but was the special envoy from the UN charged with the sensitive task of bringing Namibia to independence. Neither man is easily hoodwinked, nor are they strangers to arms or conflict. I hope that the noble Baroness will review the language that she has now used twice in this House about these men.
Two days before the terrible events of 11th September, I read with dismay about the assassination in Northern Afghanistan of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic leader of the Northern Alliance--the Lion of Panshir, as he was known. He had been perhaps the most successful Mujaheddin leader in the fight against the Soviets and was greatly feared by the Taliban.
I read the reported details of the two so-called journalists with false passports. Some reports in the newspapers referred to Moroccans with Belgian passports. How clever for an interview with French-speaking Massoud. Whatever the accuracy of those newspaper details, their credentials must have been convincing to gain them access to him when they exploded their camera, killing themselves and fatally injury Massoud.
It is easy to recognise immediately the hallmark of bin Laden and his henchmen. I thought then how significant it was that he would do this enormous favour for the Taliban. Massoud was not a natural priority target for bin Laden, but he was a serious threat to the Taliban. That surely meant that bin Laden and his organisation, Al'Qaeda, were inextricably linked with the leadership of the Taliban. If one considers them to be that close--and today's Statement confirmed that, giving more evidence--it makes absolute nonsense of the charade that the Taliban have been performing since 11th September in their constant prevarications about their so-called "guest". I am glad to see that if they calculated that Massoud's murder would demoralise his own men and the other members of the Northern Alliance, now called the United Front, that was wrong. In fact in appears that it has inflamed them to fight to seek revenge from Massoud's death.
Whatever form the government of Afghanistan take in the future, it has to be something better than the Taliban. What is vital is the pledge that we will not turn our backs on Afghanistan again afterwards. That pledge was given by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in his powerful speech last Tuesday in Brighton, when he also promised that the humanitarian coalition would be assembled alongside the military coalition and that the world community must show its capacity for compassion as much as for force. Those pledges were repeated in today's
Everyone agrees that nothing at all can ever justify the terrible barbarism of 11th September. However, I have become increasingly concerned by commentators who, always carefully prefacing their remarks with, "Nothing can of course justify or excuse", then go on to talk about looking for explanations and usually end up with American foreign policy in general and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in particular. Well, I am sorry, I do not accept that approach for one minute. "Explain" is in this context as unacceptable a word as "excuse" or "justify". The faults in the Versailles Treaty and the shortcomings of the Weimar Republic cannot "explain" Auschwitz or Belsen--and no grievances can "explain" 11th September.
I was most pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, made that distinction very clearly in his speech when he turned to the Middle East and went out of his way to say that of course that has nothing to do with an explanation for 11th September. Unfortunately, not all speakers made that distinction so clearly.
Bin Laden wants, among other things, to exterminate Israel, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, said in his impressive speech. And bin Laden wants to drive the US out of the Middle East and he wants his version of Islam to be predominant. Does anyone seriously believe that he or his followers care about any peace process or fair settlement? That is not to deny what we must all want--a just settlement of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict--but it has to be justice for both sides. That means justice for the Palestinians and also justice for Israel.
I have to say that I have not found all today's contributions on the Middle East either as fair or balanced in that connection. When one invokes UN resolutions on the Middle East, let us never forget the UN resolution of more than 50 years ago which created the state of Israel. That also must be honoured.
I conclude with a word about the special forces, who are currently much discussed in the media by people with varying degrees of expertise or wisdom and sometimes with not a great deal of either. I believe that the less said in public about the special forces the better.
Having had some contact with them in the past, I should like to say that wherever they might be, and might or might not be doing, I know them to be capable of astonishing feats of courage, endurance and achievement. We in the United Kingdom are extremely fortunate that we can be confident in their ability to carry out whatever is asked of them.
Baroness Cox: My Lords, perhaps I may begin by joining other noble Lords in expressing great appreciation of the Government's demonstration of solidarity with the United States in its declaration of war against international terrorism, in ways which have been both principled and practical.
However, there are a number of concerns which I wish to raise based on first-hand experience of working in some of the areas directly associated with international terrorism. But, first, as Islamic terrorism has been the main focus of investigations following the attacks on New York and Washington, I join other noble Lords in emphasising the great importance of taking every precaution to avoid Islamophobia, by making that fundamental distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of violent Islamism, and also the importance of the Government's commitment to take the threat of violent Islamism very seriously. Otherwise, the Islamist terrorists' activities may generate a backlash against the vast majority of the peaceable Muslims who live in our midst.
The aspect of violent Islamism which I wish to address briefly relates to this country, to Azerbaijan, Indonesia and the Sudan. I have been interested to read accounts of measures now being taken against avowed Islamists living here in the United Kingdom, such as Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed. Only two days ago, The Times reported that British authorities have begun to crack down on militant Muslims who use Britain as a sanctuary for fundraising and inciting terrorism.
I hope that it will not be unhelpful, or be seen to be arrogant, if I remind your Lordships' House that in January of last year I gave detailed examples of some of the ways in which Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed and other Islamists, such as the Afghan veteran Abu Hamza, were recruiting and training Islamists in this country. I also drew attention to a very powerful film on the "Despatches" series, which shows those Islamist teachers teaching their ideology and the tactics of Islamist terrorism. That film was screened on our national TV in August of 1999.
I raise this matter because people are asking many questions. Why did it take so long for the authorities to begin to act? How many recruits have been trained in Islamist terrorism here in Britain in the intervening two years? How many have been sent abroad to fight in jihads to gain military experience? How much money has been raised in this country and used for deadly purposes? Why have the authorities allowed organisations such as Al Muhajiroun to demonstrate and to use language inciting racial hatred and violence with apparent impunity?
It appears that a great deal of licence has been given to those who have been recruiting and training terrorists here in Britain--until the terrible events in New York and Washington occurred. It is of particular concern that many of the men who carried out those appalling acts had been in or had passed through this country.
I ask these questions and raise these issues, not in a spirit of recrimination, but because they are legitimate concerns felt by many people who would welcome reassurance. Furthermore, because they demonstrate why any measures proposed by the Government to correct those problems should be strongly supported. I have today gratefully received a letter from the Minister which addresses some of these issues.
Another concern relates to funding Islamist terrorism either directly or indirectly in the guise of charitable organisations. Last Tuesday, International Herald Tribune reported the United States initiatives to block the assets of charities suspected of aiding Osama bin Laden's Al'Qaeda network:
Many people were not satisfied with the Written Answer of 9th October 2001, which implied that there was no cause for concern because Salah Idris had no day-to-day involvement in the running of the company. That seems naive in the extreme. Can the Minister say whether such possible Islamist penetration into key organisations will be subject to more rigorous investigation?
Looking abroad, I returned two days ago from Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, where the people expressed deep concern at the well-recorded activities of Islamist terrorists in neighbouring Azerbaijan. That was my 52nd visit to the region. Many visits were during the bitter war in 1991-94, when Azerbaijan's self-confessed policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Karabakh was at its height and the Armenians were trying to defend their right to live in their historic land against impossible odds.
During that war, the Azeri leadership enlisted more than 1,000 Islamist mujaheddin mercenaries--including Arab veterans of the Afghan war. Some of bin Laden's senior military commanders fought in at least two battles in Karabakh. So the Armenian people have already held one front line against Islamist terrorism without any help from western countries. Britain, with its huge oil interests in Azerbaijan, generally favoured Azerbaijan.
That favourable attitude towards Azerbaijan has continued despite long-standing reports of continuing Islamist terrorist activity condoned or supported by the Azeri leadership. In August 1998, the Azerbaijan branch of the Islamic Jihad--which by then had merged with Osama bin Laden's Al'Qaeda--repeatedly played a vital role as a communications centre during the bombing of US embassies in Kenya
The story continues in October 1999, when an article in Defence & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy by the expert on Islamist terrorism, Yossef Bodansky, entitled The New Azerbaijan Hub: How Islamist Operations are Targeting Russia, Armenia & Nagorno Karabakh, described in chilling detail the activities of Islamists in Azerbaijan--including the training of suicide warriors and the smuggling of weapons and money, sometimes under the guise of supporting charitable organisations.
The Chechen Islamist leader, Muvladi Udugov, has said publicly that he is happy to assist Azerbaijan with a so-called resolution of the Karabakh problem--confirming the policy that Islamists should first seize Chechnya, then Dagestan and Karabakh, which was destined to become a centre for Islamist terrorist activities.
Canada has now included Azerbaijan on the list of countries where terrorists are trained and has instigated a policy of special checks for people with links to Azerbaijan trying to enter Canada. Meanwhile, the US embassy in Baku is reportedly denying permission for Azeri citizens to enter the United States after US State Department officials placed Azerbaijan on the list of countries supporting international terrorism. I therefore ask the Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have similar policies in place with regard to Azerbaijan. If, so, perhaps he could indicate what they are. If not, why not?
I have also recently had the privilege of visiting Indonesia and travelling to the exotically-named Spice Islands or the Moluccas, which had been a kind of Paradise but which have become a kind of hell. Indonesia had a reputation for religious tolerance, where Muslim and Christian communities lived peacefully together. However, in the Moluccas, the situation changed tragically in January 1997 when violent conflict erupted. That conflict has since claimed the lives of thousands and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes to live as internally displaced people in harsh conditions in the jungle.
Through my organisation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, I have been working with the traditional Muslim and Christian leaders. We met members of both communities during our recent visit to the islands of Ambon and Seram. They expressed their grave fears over the arrival of between 2,000 to 3,000 Lasker Jihad warriors who were stirring up religious conflict and engaging in militant activities. There is widespread concern in the Moluccas that the Lasker Jihad will take over this strategic part of Indonesia for militant Islamism. There is therefore an urgent need, which I hope the Government will be able to meet, to encourage and support the new administration in Indonesia in any policy needed to contain militant
I refer briefly to Sudan. The United Nations Security Council has lifted sanctions, but the day after those sanctions were lifted the Islamist National Islamic Front regime released El Turabi from gaol. El Turabi was the mastermind behind Sudan's terrorist activities. He and the regime have longstanding connections with Osama bin Laden and numerous terrorist organisations. Professor Eric Reeves, a scholar with deep knowledge of Sudan, wrote on 28th September:
The sophistication of the attacks in New York and Washington prove that Islamist terrorism has created a large, well-funded and widespread network of organisations with a ruthless agenda, supported by people who are so fanatic that they desire to commit suicide in fulfilment of their life's mission. At stake is the abuse of the freedoms democracy enshrines by those who would destroy those freedoms and, indeed, democracy itself with weapons which have no historical precedent.
Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to assure the House that the Government's response now, although in some ways late as far as this country is concerned, will not be little. I hope also that the Government will receive appropriate support for whatever may be needed to contain this menace to our security, freedom and civilisation.
Lord Desai: My Lords, I am the 55th speaker today. I accept all the usual responses--"It was a terrible attack." "We must do something about it." "The fight will go on for a long time", and so on--but let me speak about matters which have not been mentioned before.
I do not like the word "terrorism". It is too loose and it is very difficult to apply to whoever we do not like. I have said in the House in the past that normally in our former colonies terrorists became Prime Ministers.
I should like to understand what it is that makes these people--these militants, terrorists, liberation fighters or whatever--do what they do. It is very important not to say merely that they are cowardly and fanatical--all that is irrelevant--we must understand them.
The roots of this family of terrorism lie in an ethnic nationalism which is fired by religion. When you combine a primordial ethnic nationalism with a religion which has a very large reach, you get a phenomenon which is rooted in the people and which has a very long reach. Those people who are Islamic terrorists obviously come from a background of a post-colonial fight over Palestine, the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the mess that it made, and the part that the West played.
We have to understand that these people sincerely believe in what they do and are willing to stake their lives. If they are willing to stake their lives, we must understand why they do so. I do not think that it is helpful to say that Islam is a religion of peace; that there are peaceful Muslims and that these people are horrible. All religions are religions of peace and all religions have been involved in wars.
I am the only speaker today who cannot be called a child of Abraham. I am not a child of Abraham; I am an atheist. Even were I not an atheist, I would not be a child of Abraham. Abraham's children have a habit of quarrelling and killing each other which they have practised for the past two millennia. With all the sincerity that I can command, I believe that religion is part of the problem and not part of the solution. As a young man, I thought religion would disappear. I am astonished that it is still around and doing as much harm as it does.
These people, these primordial nationalists, have a cause. That cause is partly to do with Palestine and partly to do with the history of the decline of Islamic states, particularly in Arabia. We must try to understand why, over the 20th century, the one region which did not modernise, the one region which did not develop, is that part of the Middle East which we call Arabia.
It is quite astonishing that although we are in favour of democracy and modernity and so on, our allies in the Middle East are not democrats; they are kings. Despite the wealth that has been accumulated in the Middle East since 1973, they have treated their people like dirt. Let us make no mistake about that. One of the criticisms made by Osama bin Laden--and he is much more against the Saudi sultans than he is against America--is that these are hypocrites who, in the name of Islam, accumulate a lot of wealth and then go and gamble it in Monte Carlo.
There used to be a modernising movement in Islam through much of the inter-war and post-war period. Indeed, in the Middle East the Ba'ath Party, which was a secular, modern party, was undermined by the fact that the oil wealth was situated in the territories of the most feudal elements in the Middle East who have encouraged the reversal of modernity in Islam and have gone back to the primordial fundamentalist route of the Wahabis and others. All that has been funded by oil money. It may redound on the sultanates of the Middle East if the war goes on for a long time. It is an unintended but predictable consequence of the war that we shall not have any sultanates left in the Middle East.
I know that that will cause a problem with regard to the price of oil, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said. However, we should care about more than the price of oil. It is because we care only about the price of oil in the Middle East that the Middle East is the mess it is. The Middle East is not just a source of oil and a consumer of arms; people actually live there. We have not thought about the people who live there. We have treated them as a vast blank mass. Is it not surprising that the only modern Muslim "near democracy" in the entire region is Pakistan? We must be careful about Pakistan, which is in a fragile situation. I say to many of my Indian friends, "Do not celebrate the likely disintegration of Pakistan; you will have five Talibans, one of them equipped with nuclear power". It is in the interest of all of us to make quite sure that whatever demands we make on Pakistan we do not topple it because an unstable, fragmented Pakistan will pose a much bigger danger in the Middle East, partly because it will be seen to be a failure of a modernising experiment in Islam. That is why, despite the problems that Pakistan has--I shall not detain your Lordships with those--it is important that it should be shored up and defended.
We ought to concentrate on the long-term consequences and the shape of the post-war settlement in the Middle East. We have in our universities the intellectual resources to be able to start two kinds of studies. One should study the nature of terrorists, how they function and where they are recruited. Some naive theories about poverty and deprivation can be discarded; we must study the ideological and functional base of terrorism. We have the resources to do that; let us use them.
Further, we must use our resources to plan how we shall develop and modernise Arabia, if I may call it that, when the war is over or during the course of it because we have not considered the miserable human development conditions in Saudi Arabia. For many years I have been associated with a UN human development report. A favourite conclusion we reach is that despite low GDP a country can have a high human development index, high longevity, a high level of education and high income. However, countries where incomes are high can have citizens with low
I should like to make a final point. Many noble Lords have mentioned the problem of Palestine. The problem goes back either to 1948 or it is a recent one. I believe that the election of Mr Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister was for many people in the region almost the final straw. It represented a total loss of hope. But in Israel Prime Ministers change every 10 months and Mr Sharon will go. Let us hope that a Labour Prime Minister is then elected so that the debate as it was until January of this year can be revived. In doing so, however, I hope that we shall not see a bilateral meeting held in Camp David. Instead let there be a multinational gathering involving the European Union, the United States and many Arab countries of the region to discuss the problem of Palestine in a comprehensive manner. We must avoid solving one problem and then creating more difficulties in other places. That might then create new nationalist demands and others would then resort to terrorist attacks to have those demands met.
Lord Northbourne: My Lords, this has been an amazing debate, full of wisdom and experience. Like other noble Lords, I support the Government's determination to bring justice to bear on those responsible for the terrible horrors which took place in New York and Washington. Such an outrage undoubtedly demands an appropriate and proportionate response.
I was interested to learn recently that the principle of "An eye for an eye" was first codified into law in Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago. But of course the teaching of the philosophy of "An eye for an eye" has limiting as well as well as permissive aspects. Yes, you can take an eye for an eye, but you must not take more than an eye. Perhaps that is not uninteresting in the present circumstances.
Neither terrorism nor our response to it will solve the fundamental, long-term problems of the relationship between Islam and the West. I suggest that there are two groups of problems: the political problems and problems of a difference in fundamental values, which were first referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. Other noble Lords have discussed the political issues with far more expertise than I could, so I shall not presume to trespass on to that ground. However, when it comes to fundamental
We are not concerned here with two values--Islam and the Christian West--but rather with three values: the values of Islam; the values of Christianity and the values of secular materialism. Christianity and Islam share a view of the world which is based on the belief that there is some power greater than the forces of nature and man's natural intelligence. They believe that there is a purpose and meaning to man's life here. They believe that there are truths which the human brain cannot understand and that those truths are important. Since time immemorial it has been the role of the revealed religions of the world to try to help men to live their lives on earth in harmony with those higher values.
Both Christianity and Islam see this task in the context of a theistic vision of the universe, but they work out the details of their message to humanity in different ways. However, the fundamental message and the fundamental values are the same. Secular materialism is different. It is not theistic and does not envisage any higher power than the forces of nature and man's ingenuity. Its aims are personal happiness, individual freedom, material well-being and freedom from pain, which are all most desirable.
Over past centuries Christianity and Islam have had to come to terms with secular materialism, and they have done so in different ways. At this point I look nervously at the Bishops. Christianity has taken the route of compromise. I suggest that for the vast majority of Christians today their religion is an "optional extra", tacked on to the secular materialistic values by which we live.
Islam is different. Islam tends to be a way of life. It certainly does not exclude materialism. But for a Muslim believer, materialism, however important it may be, takes second place. As has been said by, I believe, two noble Lords, the great fear of most moderate Muslims today and, indeed, also of the tiny minority of fundamentalists, is that Islam is being subsumed into the secular materialism of the West as Christianity has very largely been already. That would change the whole nature of Islam and of Muslim society.
In what I considered to be an extremely important speech, the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, referred to globalisation and the perceived imbalance of economic power between Islam and the West. He suggested that that was among the causes of the fanatical attack on the United States. He drew attention to the fact that many Muslim societies see the West as exercising a form of quasi-colonialism and said that they fear that the values of their society are being eroded. At the level of beliefs and values, I am sure that it is that threat to the values and beliefs of their society which frightens all true Muslim believers.
I have risen to speak briefly today because I believe that, if the West wants peaceful co-existence with Islam, we need to understand those deep fears and to respect them. As the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, said, we need to engage with Islam as a friend and, perhaps I may add, with some humility. If we do not, we shall play into the hands of the fanatics and fundamentalists and we shall help them to recruit support. We shall then be forced into a terrible war of attrition without an ending.
There is a need for understanding; there is a need for dialogue; and there is a need for humility from the Western world. Muslim society may have its faults, but so does our own. Indeed, conceivably we may even sometimes be able to learn from them.
The Christian Churches have, in a sense, a foot in both camps--the theistic camp and the Western materialist camp. They could do much to improve mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence between Islam and the West. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester referred to work which is already being done. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, threw down a challenge. He said that religion is part of the problem. Well, let the Christian Churches do something about it. In that context, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury introduced a debate last January in which I spoke. He urged the Churches to do more to prevent international conflict. I believe that now is the moment for him to prove his point.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, there has been some talk in this place and outside it of the idealism that underlies the activities that led to the events of 11th September. I believe that we need to look at the full extent of the results of those events before we accept the verity of those propositions. It has been said often that the aim of the terrorists has been to help the poor and the dispossessed in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. I believe that the remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London were extremely interesting in that respect. I should like to draw colleagues' attention to them when they look at Hansard tomorrow.
I draw even more attention to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, who briefly quoted from a report by the World Bank on the effects that the attacks would have on child mortality around the world. I should like to detain the House for a moment by quoting rather more extensively than the noble Baroness had time to do. I refer to a report in the International Herald Tribune of 1st October, which quoted the words of James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank. He said:
When we read reports of the airline business and the tourist trade being hit we need to bear in mind the extremely profound truth that a hidden economic suffering will be imposed on the poorest people, who are supposed to be candidates for receiving the sympathy and support of Mr bin Laden and his friends. I very much hope that Ministers in this country will hammer away again and again at that theme and that they will show people that this matter is not just about 7,000 people being struck down in New York City; it is also about the effects on the poor around the world. We are far from having heard the end of the story.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, struck an extremely important note when he pointed out that the incubation period of attacks of this sort involves not just months but very often years. It therefore follows that other attacks are already now in the process of incubation. If I interpret the noble Lord correctly, it is not just likely that we shall have more outrages of this sort; it is absolutely certain. I am grateful to him for indicating his assent. That will have further implications on child mortality in the poorest parts of the world. I hope that noble Lords will emphasise those matters on every possible occasion in this country and in public fora elsewhere.
I am afraid that it used to be said by certain sorts of people that it was high time the Americans got their comeuppance and that we would see what would happen if they were ever hit by terrorism. Americans, it was said, had a soft society, were decadent, would crack and could not take it like the rest of us.
As it happens, I was in Manhattan eating my breakfast on the morning of 11th September. I was there for a few days afterwards as well. New Yorkers did not crack or run. They knew perfectly well, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, that there might be more attacks any day. They did not send their children off to the country and there were no attempts to construct air raid shelters or to get hold of survival equipment. The spirit of the New Yorker showed itself in an absolutely magnificent manner. Moreover, their sense of humour remained inviolate. We should all be extremely grateful for that.
I shall not add to the many wise words of analysis of the reasons for terrorism or the recommendations of policy changes for this country or other countries. However, I want to say one or two words about some things that I think we should do in this country and could usefully do in this House.
In particular, I want to talk about intelligence matters. There are four elements in intelligence work. There is the collection of the product, its collation and analysis, the distribution of the product in the right form to the right people to ensure that those who should get the message get it and, finally, the protection of the product. We need to look at all four elements of intelligence work in our operations.
On collation, analysis and distribution, I want to say a word or two about the extremely valuable contribution made by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours. I am so glad that he is here with us in this House. I never thought that we would see him here--that is not a reflection on his health--but I am delighted that he is.
I agree entirely with what he said about the need for a Minister for Intelligence. I shall let out one secret: I discussed precisely that proposition with three Members of the present Cabinet in the immediate run-up to the 1997 general election. My advice was not taken--possibly because they thought that I was hawking myself for the job; so perhaps their wisdom was greater than it might appear. It is absolutely impossible for the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister to have time to take care of those services and invigilate them properly. That is absurd. What is more, my information is that the services themselves would welcome such ministerial control, because it would give them a higher profile in government and greater regular access to Cabinet Ministers.
I disagree with my noble friend on one point about the reporting methods of the Committee on Intelligence and Security. I originally agreed with him that it ought to be a Select Committee reporting to the House. As my noble friend knows, I served on the committee for a couple of years during the Parliament when it was set up by Mr Major. I am convinced that the present arrangements are preferable.
When I was a member of the committee, we used to meet regularly--although not frequently--face-to-face with the Prime Minister and could raise any subject that we liked with him across the table in No. 10. As far as I know, that privilege is not given to any Select Committee of the other place. There is no problem about reporting to the House because the Prime Minister is under a statutory duty to transmit the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee to the House of Commons--after, of course, making provision for any sidelining that he thinks appropriate.
However, there is something that this House ought to do about the matter. It is absurd that we have that committee set up by a statute that says that it must have at least one member from each House. Eight members of the committee are from the House of Commons--worthy people, but some of them with a rather tenuous connection with the fields of defence, security and intelligence. There is only one member from this House--my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell.
The House of Commons also has the benefit of a Defence Committee consisting of nine members which receives regular briefings on classified matters. It has a Foreign Affairs Committee which, from time to time, receives briefings on classified matters. This House has no committees whatever of which I am aware that at any time receive briefings on classified matters. It is absurd that we make no use whatever on a day-to-day basis of the talents that exist in this place on the Cross-Benches, I am delighted to see a new recruit on the Liberal Benches in the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, and on the Conservative Benches as well. That is a ridiculous situation.
I hope that the Government will understand that a well-informed committee is supportive of the work of the department and agencies that it scrutinises. A sensible Secretary of State, one with any self-confidence at all, will welcome a committee doing part of his work for him in scrutinising his department and making helpful recommendations. I have said before that I see no reason that this House, like the Senate in the United States, should be inhibited from having the same committees here as exist at the other end of the corridor.
I hope that my noble friend will be able to say that at the very least he will initiate discussions on these matters with the Opposition. He and I had a discussion before the Recess--I hope he will not mind my disclosing this--on these matters. I was asking whether he could find some way to extend the amount of classified briefing coming to Members of this House. My noble friend was extremely helpful and said that he would like to talk about the matter. When I had a job at the Ministry of Defence I did my little bit to brief Members who had a serious interest in defence matters, within the range of secrecy. I hope that the Government will be able to initiate discussions with the other parties so that at this time this House can play a much more vigorous and useful role in supporting the Government and also in reinforcing public morale.
Lord Weidenfeld: My Lords, the Prime Minister has lent an overtone of hope and lofty aspiration to the mood of grim determination to fight and win an existential struggle. The need for a wide-ranging coalition in the first phase of what President Bush warned may be a five or even a 10-year war, is unarguable; indeed it is essential. But realpolitik must not too crassly turn into surrealpolitik.
Some of today's rogue states cannot change overnight into guardians of international order, nor can select terrorist organisations be upgraded to freedom fighters. The bombs and bullets of Hamas, Hezbollah, jihad or DPFLP aimed at civilians by suicidal fanatics cannot suddenly obtain a higher moral rating that those fired by the Al'Qaeda and its associated gangs.
Causes of war, war aims and the final outcome are equally important elements of historical equation. Obscurantism at the beginning colours the course and tends to threaten the end of a great enterprise. The causes of this war lie back generations ago in the merciless and bitter fight of an unholy alliance ranging from atheist revolutionaries, mercenaries and organised criminals to religious and racist fanatics. Their common enemy is the open society, liberal order and western-style democracy. True idealists might mingle with cynical opportunists and barbarous fanatics, intermittently rallying together or feuding between each other.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very important issue, but it is not the root cause of this war. It may serve as a symbol for rage and thirst for revenge on the part of humiliated Arabs and Muslims against the United States and the West, but it is also a lightning rod--an outlet for feudal and despotic regimes in the Arab world who are striving to deflect the bitterness of the oppressed masses away from themselves.
We know that Osama bin Laden's foremost aim is the deliverance of the whole of Araby from what he perceives as the corrupt, inept and depraved Saudi monarchy, lording it over Mecca and Medina. He hates them as much as--possibly more than--he hates Israel or world Jewry. Even if, by some miracle, the whole of Israel were to vanish into space, the terror groups now operating out of Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan would not lay down their arms. They would still fight with great gusto against the West, and possibly also against each other.
The leaders of the alliance, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, hope that, if only we could mediate between Israelis and Palestinians without bile or bias and seize this moment before an unpredictable sequence of violence causes irreparable harm, the present crisis could yield an historic dividend. It has already done so elsewhere, with the remarkable and wholly welcome rapprochement with Putin's Russia--a country similarly beset by a tragedy caused by terrorism in its Caucasian enclaves.
The Mitchell report must be implemented, but the intifada must stop, for it relies on terrorism and carries a negative dynamic away from peace and reason. Israel's reaction--often over-reaction--to attacks on innocent civilians, as distinct from military objectives, has attracted great criticism, but, I submit in all diffidence, there cannot be a moral equivalence between those who aim deliberately at maximising casualties among non-combatants, preferably amassed in large numbers in public places, and those who defend themselves, even if sometimes disproportionately.
The basic Israeli argument is that under Prime Minister Barak they tried to offer terms that were widely regarded by the international community as eminently worthy of acceptance by the Palestinians. Chairman Arafat's refusal, in conjunction with the dismissive reaction of the late President Assad to the proposed return of the Golan Heights, created a feeling throughout the Israeli nation that here was an enemy no longer intent on peace through negotiation and compromise. It was an enemy who to the outside world endorses a negotiated peace but to its own constituency vows to stand for the ultimate liquidation of the Zionist entity.
This is no longer a question of borders, schedules of withdrawal or economic clauses. We face a terrible morass of fear, suspicion and stark pessimism. Lifelong pacifists and advocates of Israeli-Arab or Jewish-Muslim co-operation and acculturation have now turned into bitter and disillusioned peace sceptics. The Israeli psyche is no less disturbed than the Arab psyche. Confidence-building measures are absent. When the Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon, Hezbollah intensified its attacks and saw it not as a gesture of conciliation but as a sign of creeping enfeeblement.
Many of those who, like me, would wish to evacuate the isolated settlements in the Gaza area and on the West Bank feel that the time is not right and that such a move would be interpreted as the first step towards total capitulation. The absurd rumours about Jewish responsibility for the New York massacre are mindlessly repeated even by responsible Arab leaders. It is the state of mind among some of Israel's neighbours--minds filled with propaganda, systematic misinformation and incitement to hate and violence in school books and learning materials--that is so alarming. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, mention that important subject.
Thanks to the intervention of the European Union, some progress is being made on compiling new textbooks for territories under the Palestinian authority, yet most of the old and poisonous books, largely paid for by UNWRA or Brussels, are still in circulation. Even worse literature is current in Syrian schools. I recently asked the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, to look into Syrian school books for the fourth to the 11th grade which incite racial hatred and perpetual war, glorify suicide attacks and threaten destruction, not only of Israel but of the whole Jewish world community. I have sent specimens to the Foreign Office and eagerly hope that they will receive attention and lead to positive action. I am stressing that point because as we enter into an unchartable war against evil we must strike at the root. In the Middle Eastern countries nearly two-thirds of all inhabitants are under 18 years of age. That means that there are at least 120 million or more young people who for two generations have been brought up with a mindset which is completely hostile to compassionate understanding of the other side and bent on violent revenge.
The establishment of a Palestinian state is now almost nowhere questioned, but security remains, even more than before, the order of the day. Yasser Arafat remains the only valid interlocutor on the Palestinian side. Prime Minister Sharon and Shimon Peres are an indispensable team. Sharon has 80 per cent of the nation on his side. Peres is respected as a man of peace throughout the world. They both trust the goodwill of the president of the United States, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Chancellor of Germany as the three most honourable mediators in the West, but they also fear, rightly or wrongly, old enemies rising to the surface in Europe as well as in the wider world, bent on a long-held resolve to erode and destroy the state of Israel and at first try to achieve a Middle Eastern Munich-style settlement. They must be warned that while the present, or indeed the future, government of Israel may be ready to make great sacrifices, no Israeli leadership will ever preside over collective self-immolation in a wildfire caused by fanatical foes.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, I witnessed the tragedy of 11th September in New York and count acquaintances, even friends, among those atomised in the rubble of the World Trade Centre. I also sampled the mood and feelings of the American people. Let there be no doubt that the thousands of parents, spouses and friends of the victims of terror will not wish to share the patience of the kith and kin of the Lockerbie martyrs. They will want to see tangible punishment of the perpetrators and--I stress this point--those who have sheltered and succoured them.
If the war aims so inspiringly proclaimed by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister can be achieved, it will have to mean that in the course of the conflict systemic changes in countries ruled by cynical tyrants must occur, through evolution and implosion in preference to bloody revolution and invasion. Still, how can we here tolerate regimes which in defiance of the international community continue to build arsenals of weapons of mass destruction? Will we have a ready answer if those tyrants employ their armoury as bargaining chips for blackmail or indeed for practical use?
If we have clarity of purpose and a robust will to persevere, we may free the world not only from the worst excesses of terrorism, but also bring freedom and prosperity to the downtrodden masses misruled and degraded by self-serving despots. But, as the American President and the British Prime Minister have made so abundantly clear, there is no half-way house between victory and abysmal failure. I believe that that victory can be achieved only if we aim at both the head and limbs of a worldwide monster, refuse to waver and show no mercy.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, I find myself speaking in the gap due to an administrative error which left me off the Speakers' List. But I will follow the traditions of the gap and speak for a very short period.
For those of us who watched the church service of remembrance at St. Thomas' Episcopal, it was a moving event. Even more moving, Peter reported, was the time that the Prime Minister and his wife spent with the relatives and those representing relatives in the room at the side afterwards, along with Kofi Annan and the Mayor of New York.
I also record my thanks to those companies that have gone the extra yard. I can think of a number of companies with employees feared dead, and to the best of my knowledge, every one has shown generosity in looking after their kith and kin. I might also add, as an aside, a thank you to my youngest son who spotted that according to the Sun all our nationals were dead. He rang the editor and pointed out that they were feared dead. A correction appeared the next morning.
I know Pakistan reasonably well. I learnt to fly there. At that time, which is some time ago, I knew the border areas of Peshawar and Quetta quite well. It is a forbidding and very difficult part of the globe. It is desperately hard to control one way or the other--out or in. However hard we try, we should not forget that the Pakistan Government are a fragile ally, not because they wish to be so, but because of the nature of the Government and the situation that they face. My noble friend Lord Desai made some relevant points about that.
I refer again, as I did on the previous occasion, to the Tamil Tigers, known as the LTTE terrorists from Sri Lanka. They are the masters of suicide in the world today. They learnt their art from Hezbollah, and it is now reported from reliable sources in India that the LTTE is training some of the Al'Qaeda units in Afghanistan.
Returning to London, it is thought that there may be as many as 20,000 illegal immigrants from the Tamil community, many of whom sadly have links with the LTTE. They run petrol stations in London and are involved in extortion, drugs and money-changing rackets. The Government are right to investigate the money-changing boutiques and all the other sources of moving money around. But they must recognise that they must not confine their investigations only to Arab front organisations. I applaud what they have done so far and their announcement of new laws to deal with terrorists. Asian and Arab terrorists--indeed, all terrorists--have enormous patience, great cunning, great skill and, on the surface, incredible plausibility. We must be on our guard. We must be equally patient, very thorough and a little creative in rooting out the financial mechanisms that fuel terrorism. The tap of funding must be turned off.
Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I shall make my first winding-up speech, in which I am standing in for my noble friend Lord Avebury. He had an accident on his bicycle on the way to the House this morning. Although he completed the journey, he was in severe pain, went to hospital, was detained there for some hours, and has now been released and has gone home.
We have had a sober debate, and even a sombre one. There has been little disagreement. Indeed, there is wide support for the Government's action and wide recognition that the terrorists of 11th September were not representative of the Muslim community. There has been wide recognition of the desperate position of the Afghan people and the need to provide relief. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out the importance of not destroying the infrastructure as far as it still exists. It was agreed that it was not for the coalition to try to impose its own choice of new government for the Afghan people.
Three weeks ago our debate took place in the immediate aftermath of the murder of 7,000 in the USA. Today we have the opportunity of a more reflective debate. I am afraid that there is no reason to believe that there will be no further attempts by terrorists, some of which will succeed. It seems likely that one has succeeded today with the crash of an El-Al aeroplane into the Black Sea.
It is good that the USA has shown unexpected patience, restraint and a recognition of the need to apply force in a targeted and proportionate way. What is less good is that the passage of time makes it ever more obvious that there is no easy solution. We are not dealing with people with whom we can talk and reach a compromise agreement. Indeed, we may well be facing a hydra-headed monster and if we cut off Osama bin Laden and Al'Qaeda we may be faced with other organisations equally dangerous and equally malevolent.
It has been a long debate and therefore I want to touch only on a few contributions. We have had four distinguished contributions by maiden speakers. I mention a few of the others because the points they made were outside the mainstream of debate. My noble friend Lord Ashdown displayed a knowledge of Afghan geography, history and tribal politics matched only by that of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Indeed, I was a little surprised at my noble friend's knowledge because I thought he was in the Special Boat Service and I did not think that Afghanistan was much of a country for boats. But he made the correct point that the Afghans are not fundamentalists and that the terrorists in their midst are foreigners.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford gave us a serious warning that needs to be heeded about the dangers of closed windows and of the grave hostility of the Muslim population in Bradford. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, were the real voices here of the Muslim community and they spoke with firmness and with good sense.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, and my noble friend Lord Ezra warned us of the danger to energy supplies; oil in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and gas in the case of my noble friend Lord Ezra. Those are potentially serious consequences which may not be immediately obvious but which plainly exist and present a threat to our economies that is far more serious than those serious ones that have already occurred.
My noble friend Lord Alderdice gave a powerful and almost apocalyptic speech about the nature of terrorism. He said that it was not a matter of poverty but of belief. We heard alternative views from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who emphasised his belief that it was a matter of poverty, and from the noble Lord, Lord Desai, who spoke of ethnic nationalism. I believe that my noble friend Lord Alderdice is right as regards the leaders, but it is also true that leaders can succeed only if the soil is ripe for them to do so, and that requires a discontented population among whom they live. Otherwise, like the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany, where the soil was poor for them, they simply fizzle out. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, presented a powerful analysis and a very interesting and important four-point plan as regards a solution to the problem we now face.
My father was born and brought up on the island of Manhattan. I have many friends and family members who live in New York; fortunately none of them was a victim. I regard New York as my second home city and I always have a sense of thrill when I drive into New York from JFK, cross the Triboro' Bridge and see the magical skyline of Manhattan.
Those who bear the responsibility for this atrocity or have assisted must be hunted down and brought to justice. Nothing, but nothing, justifies what they have done. As one commentator said, they have been attacking the best of the USA not the worst of it. They have been attacking the energy and enthusiasm which makes the USA the powerhouse of the world economy. As the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, said, James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, told us that those who will suffer most from the economic consequences of the attack will be the people in the poorest parts of the developing world.
I am also a strong defender of human rights and that is what I want to concentrate on for the rest of my speech. I see no conflict between the effective punishment and prevention of terrorism and the protection of human rights in this country. I disagree with those who call for the modification or the limitation of the Human Rights Act. That Act and the European Convention on Human Rights contain their own mechanisms for dealing with crises such as those we now face. Several of the convention rights may be subject to restrictions which are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Rights which may be subject to such restrictions include, under Article 8 of the convention, the right to respect for private and family life; under Article 10, the right to freedom of expression under Article 10; and, under Article 11, the right to freedom of assembly and association. Furthermore, under Article 15, there is a right of derogation. It states:
There is no doubt, on the basis of existing decisions on the interpretation of Article 15, that we are now facing a public emergency threatening the life of the nation. There are some provisions from which no derogation can be made. One is Article 3 of the convention. That prohibits torture or cruel or inhuman treatment. I believe and expect that the Government would not wish to contravene Article 3.
Within that framework, and taking into account the power of derogation, I believe that the Government can make all the changes of law which they reasonably could need to make to meet the situation that has now arisen.
There has been a discussion about ID cards. Some noble Lords have called for them, notably the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Davies of Coity. Others, including my noble friend Lord Phillips, have rejected the idea of ID cards. It is clear that no immediate decision will be taken. They will not be included in the first tranche of legislation. There will be a consultation paper and in due course we shall have a proper opportunity to consider the merits and demerits of ID cards. Our position is that we shall need to be persuaded that ID cards will serve a useful purpose before we can agree to that proposal.
We strongly welcome, as a number of noble Lords have already indicated, the strengthening of laws against money laundering. We welcome the extension of laws against incitement to race hatred and to religious hatred. Indeed, previously we have argued that it should be extended to all hate crimes.
We see no problems about requiring air and sea carriers to give copies of their passenger lists to the police. There are problems with our present extradition laws which were shown up in the Pinochet case. There is no doubt that our extradition law needs simplification. Where that law can be simplified without undermining the necessary protection of the individuals who are threatened with extradition, we shall support it.
We see some problems with the automatic rejection of asylum to people with convictions for terrorism or suspected terrorism. The Geneva Convention on Refugees gives a right for those with a well-founded fear of persecution in their own country to claim asylum. The European Convention on Human Rights contains no right of asylum as such. However, deportation to a country in which the deportee would be likely to suffer torture or cruel or inhuman treatment has been held to be a breach of Article 3.
It may well be, however, that we should consider giving the United Kingdom courts a wider power to try charges of terrorist crimes against anyone found in this country, wherever that crime was committed. There is universal jurisdiction in the Prevention of Terrorism Acts but that applies only to offences of bombing or chemical or biological warfare. There may be a good case for widening that provision, to give UK courts jurisdiction over all terrorist-linked offences.
The Home Secretary appears to be trying to water down the right of judicial review. The fact that there is a crisis does not prevent a Minister from taking a decision that is ultra vires, in breach of natural justice or irrational. Ministers' decisions should continue to be subject to judicial review. In times of crisis, it is at least as important as in times of calm and peace for there to be a right to judicial review.
In closing, I do not wish to give any impression that we are hostile to what the Government have done and are doing. The Government's policy of international action against terrorism has our full support.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I admit that I approach my task this evening with a deep sense of humility. I have listened throughout the day to many speeches by those who clearly have a deep understanding of, and expertise in, matters related to the subject under debate whereas I profess no specific expertise whatsoever and feel somewhat inadequate for the task before me.
I was in the south of France on 11th September, enjoying what I thought was a well-earned rest. In the middle of the afternoon, my daughter came on the phone and said, "Dad, have you got your television on?" I thought that was a strange question. I said no. My daughter said, "Put it on. Terrorists are attacking New York". There before us, in all its ghastly horror--all the more poignant for the beautiful scenery outside the window--was a monstrous attack in full view, for us all to see. That coverage on French television of a horrific and developing situation was available for 72 hours. I mention that because if such coverage was available in France, those events would almost certainly have been seen in every country of the world. One of the impacts of that amazing piece of modern technology which occasionally gives one frightening insights into what is happening in the world is that exposure to that horrible event by everyone everywhere brings the realisation to all national communities that they are vulnerable to acts of that kind.
Therefore, it is with considerable pleasure that one is able to offer the absolute support of our party to both the President of the United States and, indeed, the Prime Minister of this country for the tremendous work that they have been doing since that time. I hope that it will not be misunderstood if I say that we must use the horror from that dreadful event to build a world-wide alliance to try to counter the menace which has appeared within our midst. We need to appreciate that what has appeared within our midst is just that.
As a novice I am capable of misinterpretation. However, If I understand the security situation correctly we have to assume that cells of these terrorists are likely to be within our own communities now. That is not a comfortable thought. I shall not grace such terrorists with a religious connotation. I am not an historian but my view of history is clear; that is, that groups of people over the centuries and millennia have corrupted religious purposes for their own means and ends.
We need also to be aware of the dreadful economic impact which that single event may have. The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, and my noble friend Lady Cox touched on that point. The world's economy was already slowing. It is estimated that this event will slow it further and that that could mean that an additional 10 million people, probably largely in Africa, could fall below the poverty line. I do not refer to the rather rich and soft poverty line that we discuss in this country in relation to our affairs, which I believe is 50 per cent of the national minimum wage, or some such figure. We are talking of an income of a dollar a day. That is a harsh existence indeed.
Therefore, that is a matter which should concentrate the minds, not only of ourselves but of countries across the world. For the sake of all the less well-off people in the world, we cannot afford to have such an event repeated. That is the fundamental lesson that we need to learn.
What will be much more significant over time is that this will be a war of legislation, of justice, of bringing people to court; it will be a war of intelligence. As has been said by many Members, it will be also a war of politics. There have been many speeches reminding us that if you cannot win the hearts and minds of men then you cannot win. Therefore it will be a battle for hearts and minds.
As far as concerns the immediate effects in this country, we will of course require to look now at our own legal structures. I am not an expert on that. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, made such an expert resume of the laws that will be immediately looked at and those which have been promised, either through the Labour Party conference last week or subsequently through the press, it would be pointless for me to go over the detail of those laws. The detail will be revealed when we get a legislative package before Parliament in the near future, but it seems to me that there are perhaps one or two questions I should invite the Minister to consider about that package.
If we are to win this war of politics--and other countries will face the same problem--we have to carry with us all the British people. The British people are aware that they are involved in a war and are ready to accept, if necessary, some sacrifice of their human rights in order to win it. But if this is a war and we hope to win it, then it is a temporary situation. Therefore I suggest that the laws we bring in should be temporary, to at least the extent that they have provisions within them for a regular review to ensure that it is still necessary for them to continue on the statute book; a kind of rolling sunset clause. I ask for an assurance that the Government will consider this in the Bills that they bring forward.
It would be interesting to know whether we will be seeing legislation which consists of free-standing Bills in their own right or we will simply be amending existing legislation. Finally, it would help all of us if we knew the timescale in which these proposals may be brought forward.
For our part, we have offered our backing for the Government in what they wish to do. However, it must be said that the backing is not completely unconditional. Everyone in this Chamber has sufficient experience to know that no government is a complete repository of all correctness, rectitude and knowledge, and it may be that there will be occasions when we need to dissent on points of detail--it would be remarkable if anyone expected us to do anything else.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, I start by thanking all noble Lords who have spoken in the debate. I nearly always agree with what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, says but when he said that all we had had were two short debates I had to disagree with regard to today's debate. If the noble Lord considers that this is a short debate, I should hate to think what he considers a long one. However, more seriously, as I say, I thank those who took part in the debate. I wish to make a couple of preliminary points in that regard.
First, on behalf of the House, I wish the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, well. He made it to the House, which was bravery in itself. We hope that he will be back in his place soon. I should not let the moment pass without congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on his first appearance on the Front Bench opposite in a new guise. His speech was interesting and full of good points that we took on board. I congratulate him on his new post.
I should also thank and congratulate the four maiden speakers tonight. All four of them, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours, Lord Temple-Morris and Lord Ouseley, spoke with huge experience and expertise. I tried to add up the number of years that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Temple-Morris, had spent in another place. I could not calculate the total for the three of them, but it must be close to 100 years. All three have tremendous experience of the other place and of government. Their remarks were challenging and of great value. We look forward to hearing all three of them speak again. The noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, does not have previous experience of Parliament but he has enormous experience in the race relations and other fields where he has performed admirably for many years. We look forward to him playing an important part in our debates.
In order that noble Lords may not be too scared I should say that I do not intend for a moment to attempt to answer all or even most of the questions that were put. I do not intend to answer them orally. Many of the questions that were asked by, for example, the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, my noble friend Lord Turnberg and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, to mention just four, were important. It would be foolish to try to answer them at this time of night. I shall write to them in the normal way.
A little over three weeks ago we all witnessed the appalling act of terrorism where four civilian airliners became flying bombs in the hands of quite brutal and ruthless men. As we know, three of them crashed into their targets in New York and Washington but the fourth came down in a field in Pennsylvania after some of the hostages, with true heroism, fought back and almost certainly, as has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, who was not far away in Washington at the time, they saved the lives of many more innocent human beings and in doing so, of course, sacrificed their own lives. If that is not a good example of true heroism I do not know what is.
It was not just America's tragedy; it represented one of the worst losses of British lives since World War II. That, together with our strong historical and enduring friendship with the United States--our closest ally--means that we have an obligation to play a leading role in responding to these appalling acts. So we now share the resolve and determination both to ensure that such events should not be allowed to occur again and that those responsible for them should be brought to account. No one in this House is in any doubt that we are fully committed to those goals.
The lack of any immediate response by the United States should not be taken by this House or by the world to indicate that there is any lack of resolve. This is a complex crisis and we are confronting a dangerous and ruthless enemy, closely linked, as we have heard today, to organised crime, to illegal arms trafficking, to money laundering on a large scale and to the movement of illicit and lethal drugs. That does not lend itself to quick or simple solutions and it would be grossly irresponsible to suggest that such options exist. It would be equally irresponsible to suggest that a narrow military action would be appropriate.
A proportionate and measured response takes time. The House has already paid due tribute to the restrained, dignified and responsible way in which the American Administration and its people have acted since 11th September.
The attacks on America have brought home once again the degree of mutual dependency in today's world. The global community must now turn that unity to its advantage and as a force for good. That means that the machinery of terror must be destroyed and greater understanding must be fostered between nations and faiths. It means further working together to tackle injustice and poverty. In all those issues, our national self-interest is inextricably linked with the mutual interests of countries around the world. They are one and the same.
Our own response to the events of a few weeks ago is being taken forward on a number of interrelated fronts: diplomacy and intelligence, as well as economic and military assets, will all have a vital role to play. Earlier my noble friend Lady Symons spoke of our role in building international co-operation for the fight against terrorism in partnership with the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and many countries around the world. The House has been generous in its praise from all sides in regard to the
One of the most striking developments over the past three weeks has been the way in which countries that have had their conflicts, wars both ancient and modern, have now come together to support joint action against this common evil. These include Arab leaders and those from other Muslim countries who understand that this is an argument with terrorism and not with Islam. The point is that these acts represent an appalling violation of the true values and humane ideals of Islam. It is a point which cannot be made strongly enough or often enough. I think that we were fortunate to hear in today's debate my noble friends Lord Ahmed and Lady Uddin make that point as strongly as it is possible to do.
Here at home, many people are deeply concerned about the prospect of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom; in particular, the spectre of attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical or biological agents, looms large. Of course we must always take such threats extremely seriously. Any responsible government would do so. But I wish to emphasise to the House once again that there is no evidence of a specific threat against this country. It is important that people should remain vigilant, just as they did when responding to the threat from Irish terrorism. However, there is no reason why people should not carry on their daily business as normal. Indeed, there is every reason why they should.
The possibility of such attacks has existed for many years. For more than a decade we know, for example, that the Iraqi regime was prepared to use chemical weapons against its own citizens. Saddam Hussein's immediate response to the events of 11th September did no more than remind us once again of his total disregard for all human life other than his own. The House will recall--it has been referred to already--that the ruthless and indiscriminate nature of mass terrorism was demonstrated when sarin gas was released in the Tokyo metro six years ago in March 1995.
I can tell the House that cross-government contingency plans are in place to deal with these threats. I shall not comment on the details of our plans, but they are wide-ranging and are exercised regularly. The police, fire brigade and ambulance services stand in the front line of the fight against terrorism, just as they did so bravely in New York. The health service would be responsible for managing the results of any attack. Local government would have an important role in marshalling resources. All the agencies would work together to ensure that we are as ready as we can be to face any threats.
Industry, too, has an important part to play. We should not overlook the prompt action taken by the airline industry to enhance the security of aircraft and passengers. They are not alone in their response. Increasingly the greater awareness of the threat of terrorism produced by these events is turning not to
Noble Lords asked questions about the aviation industry. In the light of the severe repercussions for the global aviation industry, governments may well be asked to provide financial or other assistance to help airlines to cope with the crisis. We are monitoring that situation closely to ensure that any assistance offered does not place UK airlines at a competitive disadvantage.
Just as important is the determination of every citizen not to be intimidated by the ruthless acts of the terrorist. As has been said in this debate, the greatest victory that we could give to our enemies would be to allow our way of life to be undermined by terrorism. This House has shown today that it believes that we are and will remain a democratic, free and diverse country, not divided by race or creed.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford made three specific suggestions in relation to his proud city. The right reverend Prelate's personal commitment and work for inter-faith understanding is a matter of public record and admiration. Of course, the Government will consider his imaginative suggestions sympathetically. I or my noble friend Lady Symons will write to him soon.
When the Cold War ended 12 years or so ago, we recognised what that represented. It was a revolution in the nature of international affairs. We no longer face that immediate threat of world war and the possibility of massive nuclear destruction. We knew that the future threats to international stability were likely to come from ethnic and religious conflicts, population and environmental pressures, competition for scarce resources, drugs, crime and, of course, terrorism.
Here in this country we accepted that the world had changed and that we needed to change as well. That assumption formed the basis of this Government's Strategic Defence Review, designed to ensure that our Armed Forces were restructured and re-equipped to operate and succeed in this quite new and challenging environment. We believe that events thus far have shown that we were right. The past decade has witnessed terrible ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Balkans. We have seen vicious internal conflict in Sierra Leone, for example, driven by competition to control the diamond fields, and in East Timor.
The process of implementing the defence review is still under way. We shall, of course, scrutinise recent events very closely to see whether lessons are to be learnt there. However, since we are already seeing the fruits from the Strategic Defence Review, we do not at present envisage the need for a further major defence review.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, properly asked about the purpose and extent of any defence review. The best way in which I can answer him is to refer to the comments of my right honourable friend the Secretary
Some 2,000 British troops are, as we speak, returning from Macedonia, where, as part of Task Force Harvest, they have successfully completed their difficult mission to collect weapons from the National Liberation Army. Of course we wait for the final completion of the ongoing constitutional process in the Macedonian Parliament, but already that country looks to be more stable and peaceful than it did earlier this summer. That is a great credit to our British troops. Again, the Government were grateful for the support that we received from the Opposition parties for that expedition.
We believe that acting in this manner, sometimes in concert with our allies and sometimes by our own independent efforts, has materially added to the stability and prosperity of the international community. It is that sense of common values, common goals, and common action that the terrorists are seeking to challenge and destroy. We are now faced with a new and dangerous situation. While we accept that our response must be made up from a diverse range of efforts acting together, there is a high likelihood of it involving military action by UK Armed Forces acting in concert with our allies and our American friends.
As the Prime Minister has emphasised, any such action will be proportionate. It will be carefully targeted at the military infrastructure of bin Laden's terrorists and at the military hardware, funding and support of the Taliban regime that harbours and--this expression will be familiar to lawyers--aids and abets them. The Prime Minister made it clear that we will do what we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties and that the humanitarian response must be every bit as well planned and as thorough as the military response.
Of course we understand the need to ensure that our efforts against terrorism are correctly targeted. However, there is compelling and incontrovertible evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden. The trail to bin Laden leads unambiguously back to Afghanistan and the Taliban regime. Two UN Security Council resolutions require the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. There can be no negotiation about that. The first and most immediate priority is to bring him and his associates to account. We call, even at this late hour, on the Taliban to comply with the will of the UN and the whole international community. Otherwise, the regime must be prepared to face the consequences.
Those responsible for the acts of 11th September are not people who can be reasoned with. They are cold-blooded fanatics who despise dialogue and democratic procedures as signs of weakness and decay. I take this
As noble Lords know very well--it is often said in this House--the United Kingdom is privileged to have the finest Armed Forces in the world. It so happens--noble Lords also know this--that we have some 20,000 members of our Armed Forces already in the Gulf region as part of exercise Saif Sareea 2, which is our long-planned joint exercise with Oman. That effort includes the "Illustrious" carrier group, 3 Commando Brigade, five squadrons of Challenger II tanks, some 50 fast jet aircraft and many other force elements. They are demonstrating our support for our friends in the Gulf as well as honing their operational skills. However, they are also available for other contingencies, should they be required.
The Taliban will be alive to the real potential of that powerful force. Its mere presence--and that of the build-up of a powerful US force in the Gulf region--will have sent a clear message to the Taliban about our capabilities. There are signs that the firm international response is already having an effect. Dissent, disputes and disharmony are surfacing within the regime as the pressure of international isolation bears down.
However, it is worth repeating--as has been said in this debate--that the people of Afghanistan are of course not our enemy. They, too, are the victims of the Taliban. Years of war, famine and neglect have reduced them to the state of desperation so well described by noble Lords today. We must also mobilise against that evil. That is why, in addition to building the international coalition against terrorism, we are leading international action to address the growing humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people. We have provided £36 million extra in support since 11th September on top of the £35 million provided since 1997. As the House knows, the first shipment of 400 tents arrived in Iran yesterday and more are on their way.
Moreover, the belief that terrorism can be defeated only by armed force is as wrong as the belief that it can be defeated without ever using military force. Terrorists indulge in criminal acts and we must have the legal framework in place to deal with them and their crimes. Earlier this week, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out the new measures that we intend to take to ensure that no bank
Much discussion has taken place today about measures that may be taken by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to deal with terrorism. I take this opportunity to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, for his contribution today. It was a masterful speech setting out his experience over many years of reporting and assisting the Government to get the Terrorism Act 2000 about right. His compliment to the Act is of great importance to us; we think that we got it right and we want to ensure that it is actually working to deal with the present threat.
Many noble Lords are concerned that we may not have been tough enough on those who, it could be argued, abuse our hospitality. They may well be right, and we are at present carefully considering what steps may be appropriate, but we will always bear in mind the fundamental liberties that are so important to the British people. The biggest and most fundamental of all freedoms is the freedom to live in peace and without fear--something that may, perhaps, have been a little forgotten during the course of the past 20 or 25 years.
The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, properly asked some questions about the legislation; I shall briefly try to answer him. Will the legislation be new or amending? Some will involve amendments; some will be new. When will it appear? At present, we believe in early November, but that is yet to be finalised. He will not be surprised to hear that my answer to his third question about sunset clauses is that no decisions have yet been reached.
I shall not go into any more detail about that legislation. It will come before the House in the normal way and, no doubt, the House will consider it with its usual critical faculties fully at work. But these are special times and it is important that the House bears that in mind when considering these matters.
The evil of international terrorism urgently needs to be confronted and defeated. If there was any doubt of that prior to 11th September, there cannot be any now. We need to confront it together because it potentially threatens us all. As has been said, it will not be quick and it will not be easy. But this country is determined to play a leading role in that response. Let me assure the House that the Government are working endlessly and hard both nationally and internationally to that end. In doing so, we will take the necessary action to protect our people and our interests both at home and abroad.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|