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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, for what he has said. I am particularly grateful, given that his remarks come from such a distinguished former Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office. I know that his words will be read with great gratitude by a number of diplomats and locally engaged staff around the world.
I also thank the noble Lord, whom I know has very strong and well known views about the situation in Palestine-Israel, for what he said about the remarks of President Bush this week. I returned from Beirut only this morning. I cannot help observing that Beirut was a byword for terrorism and criminality 10 or 15 years ago. Now it is a city which, for all its difficultiesand there are so many difficulties in Lebanon
When news came through, as it did yesterday evening, of the unanimous passing of the United Nations Security Council resolution on the road map, there was, among the group of Lebanese people whom I was with at the time, an enormous feeling of upliftment. They felt that there was at least some way in which the world had tried to pull together on the crucial issue of Palestine and Israel.
The noble Lord exhorts us to keep reminding the President of the United States that he has to live up to the remarks he made at Hillsborough. I remind your Lordships that this is not just a role for the United States of America. Yes, of course the US has a particular role and a particular relationship with Israel, but we all have our responsibilities in this matter. The quartet is a group of four that signed up to the road map, not just the United States, as it is so often described in our media. There were four signatories, and it behoves the United Nations, the EU and Russia to play their part in this.
Lord Jopling: My Lords, we all perfectly understand that the Minister cannot go into any sort of detail about security measures which have been taken with regard to our embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world. She spoke a little earlier about recommendations which have been made on a continual basis with regard to improving security. Does she think it would be wise at this stage to look at those recommendations for improving security which have not been followed up or not yet implemented? Having that urgent review might avoid a similar occurrence elsewhere.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, as I know that he wants to be as helpful as possible. These issues are taken very seriously. On the very few occasions when I have felt that some security issues may not have moved as fast as I would have liked them to move, and have followed up the situation with officials, I have found them extraordinarily responsive. I would like the noble Lord to put out of his mind any thought of what he suggested, given the circumstances of what we know so far of what happened in Istanbul this morning. This was a brutal act of terrorism, and those who perpetrated it did so in an indiscriminate way that would probably have resulted in some loss of life in any case.
We must be very careful in considering what we are doing to protect not only British lives but also other lives around the world. Let us not lose sight of the stark and terrible fact that the people responsible for these deaths are the terrorists. No effort to spread blame
Lord Elton: My Lords, nobody would dissent from that. I subscribe to all the views expressed by noble Lords of horror and revulsion about what has happened. However, we have to look at the wider picture, and this is part of a series, which is not concluded, of violent activity that is going to kill a lot of people. We have already heard of one causative factor from the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond.
I ask the noble Baroness and her colleagues to consider another, which was raised in the debate on Cancun and again yesterday in a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I refer to the extraordinary disparity, not only in trade but also in wealth, between different parts of the world. We live as members of a very small minority of the world's population who enjoy a very large majority of its wealth. It is not just compassion that is needed; self-interest says that we have to address that disparity if the world is not to be a ready recruiting ground for terrorists. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, referred to disaffected youth, and that is one reason why they are disaffected.
I repeat what I said beforethat merely adjusting terms of trade is not going to be enough to alter such a gross imbalance. If anything is going to be effective, it is going to cost us. That will be a subject of political contention. I still believe that political parties in this country must agree a wise programme that will not be competitively reduced over successive general elections.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for his remarks of horror and revulsion for what has taken place this morning. I agree with much of what he says about the nature of terrorism; indeed, when we have had more leisure to discuss the matter in debates on the nature of terrorism, the point that he raised has been made on all sides of your Lordships' House.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am advised that, on a Statement, the noble Lord's intervention is not in order. However, as I was agreeing with him, I am not sure what he wanted to correct me on. I do believe that poverty provides the fertile soil. I do not, however, believe that we should overlook the fact that many millions of poor people around the world lead decent, law-abiding lives and would never dream of being drawn into this sort of carnage and horror.
Lord Judd: My Lords, this has been terrible news. I would like to associate myself, as, I am sure, would many of my colleagues, with a sense of real feeling for those who have suffered, their families, and the rest. Would my noble friend agree that, in refusing in any way to begin to excuse what has been done, or the ruthlessness and manipulation of those who have done it, we must rememberas she herself has just saidthat extremism and terrorism breed in an atmosphere of injustice? Therefore, it is essential that, in our response to terrorism, we constantly redouble our efforts to demonstrate that we have the highest commitment to human rights and justice in all that we do. Unfortunately, situations such as that in Guantanamo Bay add fuel to the arguments of extremists who want to recruit terrorists.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Judd for his condolences. Of course, I agree that we cannot in any sense begin to excuse those who perpetrated the terrible act this morning. When faced with terrorism, I believe that there are some very interesting questions about human rights and civil rights to be considered. It is a very difficult question, and it is not enough simply to say that we must uphold those rights at all costs, if, in doing so, we allow terrorists to circumvent the human rights of others. We may allow a situation to develop in which terrorists find it very easy to take other people's lives.
The question is difficult, and we must consider it realistically. Sometimes something has to give, particularly on civil rights, to ensure that the fundamental right to life for citizens going about their normal everyday business is upheld. Of course, I agree with my noble friend that such issues all hang together. However, when we assess those positions, we have to be very careful not solely to consider one side but to take into account the effect that that will have on the vulnerability of citizens who are simply going about their normal daily lives.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister's noble friend asked her whether it was essential that we should have a clear understanding of what motivates the young people who commit these terrorist acts. We have had three different explanations, from the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, of what underpins the motivation of those young people.
Does the noble Baroness recall that, in a recent debate on religion and terrorism, it was suggested that the Government should conduct research on those matters? In particular, it was suggested that they consider the ideologues of the Salafist school of Islam and its two principal ideologues, Qutb and Maudoodi,
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