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House of Lords

Wednesday, 2 December 2015.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Derby.

Housing: Office Conversions


3.07 pm

Asked by Lord Goddard of Stockport

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of how the policy to allow offices to be converted into housing has worked so far, and whether they intend to extend the policy beyond next year, when it is due to lapse.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, we announced on 12 October that we would make permanent the permitted development right for the change of use from office to residential use. From April 2014 to June 2015, 3,971 schemes have secured the permitted development right, which will deliver much-needed new homes.

Lord Goddard of Stockport (LD): I thank the Minister for that Answer. Is she aware that the British Council for Offices has estimated that 6 million square feet of office accommodation has been lost? In London, it is more disastrous than that: 834,000 square metres have been lost, 40% of which was due to evictions. They are thriving businesses trying to deliver for the economy, which have been thrown out by unscrupulous landlords trying to make profit from running around the planning rules. This is an unintended consequence of a policy that was right when it was brought in. We should look again because clearly that was not the idea. It was to create jobs and homes, not to create the complete opposite, which is what is happening.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank the noble Lord for that useful supplementary question. As he and I know, in Stockport and Trafford the policy has worked very well and has helped to deliver much needed footfall and population to some of our town centres. The British Council for Offices estimates that the right has resulted in 7,600 much-needed homes, including in London and the south-east. The office market continues to develop, as noted by the British Council for Offices, with modern office developments being brought forward, but where there is evidence that it is necessary to protect the amenity and well-being of existing business areas, as the noble Lord said, local planning authorities can bring forward Article 4 directions to remove the right and require a planning application. Twenty local planning authorities have already done this.

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Lord Spicer (Con): My Lords, is the unused office space that could be used for housing counted in the empty dwelling figures? If not, should it be as one indicator of what new build is required?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, as far as I am aware, it is not counted in the empty dwelling figures because at that point in time it is not dwellings.

Baroness Whitaker (Lab): My Lords, has the Minister made any assessment of the number of workplaces that have been destroyed when local authorities impose housing plans that do not take real account of the needs of the local economy?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The noble Lord, Lord Goddard, pointed out the figures in his supplementary question. That is why Article 4 directions are very useful in stopping some of that exodus of much-needed office space where it is not appropriate.

Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con): My Lords, I am slightly confused—perhaps my noble friend can assist. I am slightly surprised that this Question is being answered by a Minister from DCLG. Bearing in mind the exact wording of the Question, is this not something for the Home Office?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank my noble friend. I speak for the Government as a Minister. However, I appreciate my noble friend’s great sense of humour.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, has there been any assessment of the impact of the huge number of garages—petrol stations—all across London that are closing and becoming housing, and of the difficulty in finding somewhere to get petrol within London?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The noble Lord raises a very interesting question, and he will not be surprised to learn that I do not have an exact answer to it. I thought he meant garages attached to homes, as there is evidence that they have been used as dwelling space. However, I will get him that figure if it exists.

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD): My Lords, can the Minister say whether the Government are prepared to review the waiver on Section 106 contributions for office conversions for much-needed sports, arts and public realm contributions, and whether she feels that the absence of a requirement to provide car parking spaces is wise given the huge reduction in bus services in some areas of the country?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I can give the noble Baroness an answer on that in due course, if she does not mind.

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Lord Hamilton of Epsom (Con): My Lords, to put the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Goddard, in perspective, it is important that we know what is happening to demand for office spaces. I understood that with more people working from home, the demand for office spaces was waning somewhat.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend makes a very good point. My answer to the noble Lord’s first question is that it varies a lot across the country. In the north-west, where both I and the noble Lord live, there is a demand to build housing within town centres in an attempt to revitalise them. However, there is also a demand for housing nationwide; where that situation is distorted and reversed and office space is being lost, an Article 4 direction can be made.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, I declare an interest as an elected councillor in Lewisham, south London. For this great capital city to thrive, we need housing available to rent or buy for people on a wide variety of incomes who do all the jobs that need doing in the capital. Does the noble Baroness agree with the Housing Minister, Mr Brandon Lewis, when he said yesterday that Londoners had to make a judgment call about whether they could afford to live in the capital?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, we all have to make a judgment call on whether we can afford to live in the capital. It is certainly true that London has the highest house prices in the country. This Government’s aim is to provide more houses— 1 million new homes by 2020—so that the demand is met overall and people have somewhere to live.

United Nations World Humanitarian Summit


3.12 pm

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what priorities they have agreed for the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit taking place in Istanbul in May 2016.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Verma) (Con): My Lords, the UK has four objectives for the World Humanitarian Summit. Most importantly, we want a renewed commitment to the protection of civilians in conflict but also smarter financing, a new approach to building resilience to natural hazards before they take place, and a stronger focus on protecting and empowering women and girls. The global community—humanitarian, development and political actors—must come together to address these challenges.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): While the priorities for this summit will undoubtedly focus on financing and the immediate scale of the humanitarian

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crisis around the world today, will the UK Government do all they can to ensure that the summit also addresses the issue of child protection, particularly in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters, when human traffickers and others who would abuse and exploit children move all too quickly to trap and ensnare them, sometimes taking them across borders to carry out their evil deeds?

Baroness Verma: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his Question. He raises some very important issues around children given that 59 million children are growing up in the midst of humanitarian crises. I reassure him that we are committed to keeping children safe from harm, ensuring that they can access education and basic services wherever they are and that in health emergencies, such as we saw with Ebola in Sierra Leone, we are there on the ground to work not only with Governments but with local civil society organisations too.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, have the Government considered the merits of concentrating British and European aid on the Middle East and the northern half of Africa, both in our interest and that of the huge rising young generation, which is so badly in need of work?

Baroness Verma: Yes, my Lords. Again, the noble Lord raises some important points. One of the key things we want to be able to do from the summit is to bring together not just Governments but civil society organisations and people from academia to see how we can respond to the growing need to make sure that young people particularly are able to get trained, educated and engaged in employment. They need meaningful life skills so that we do not end up with a generation unable to respond to the ever-growing demands of the 21st century.

Lord Lansley (Con): My Lords, my noble friend the Minister will be aware that the United Kingdom’s commitment to 0.7% of gross domestic product as international development aid gives us the opportunity to give leadership at the World Humanitarian Summit. Can we use that and our commitment to predictable multiyear financing to lead in the development of training programmes for additional professionals capable of responding to humanitarian crises—not only trained but also available—since the use of additional financial resources depends on trained professionals in the field?

Baroness Verma: My noble friend again addresses a real, serious issue—one we recognised when we had to deal with the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Our ambition for the summit is one of radical change to humanitarian action. We need much more efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in our responses and the responses of others, including a much-strengthened professional humanitarian workforce.

Baroness Coussins (CB): My Lords, given what the noble Baroness said about the importance of protecting civilians in conflict, will Her Majesty’s Government

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think again about supporting a United Nations resolution to protect interpreters working in conflict zones, to put them on the same footing as journalists, who are already protected by such measures?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, I think the noble Baroness’s question has been raised before. I am not able to respond to her at this moment. Will she allow me to write to her?

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister agree that girls and boys must be part of the decision-making process, since children comprise 50% to 60% of the affected population in emergencies and suffer disproportionately from the effects? Can the Minister confirm that DfID will work with child-focused agencies such as Save the Children which have already focused on these issues and have compiled the views of more than 6,000 children in a range of countries?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, the noble Baroness will be aware from her time as a Minister in the Foreign Office that we work very closely with a range of civil society organisations and other groups, and it is really important that we get the views of everybody, including children. As one of the countries that has often taken the lead on this, we must get other countries and institutions to work closely with us where we feel more can be done. As my noble friend said earlier, we have committed the 0.7% and shown our commitment to it and are dedicated to ensuring that no one—children, women, or girls—is left behind in the discussions.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Oates (LD): My Lords, last month the UN Secretary-General warned that the scale and cost of humanitarian needs driven by armed conflicts threatened to overwhelm our capacity to respond. Does the Minister agree that the permanent members of the Security Council have an obligation to work jointly to resolve conflicts, rather than using them to serve their own geopolitical ends? Will she ensure that the UK Government lead by example in that respect?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that the UK has led and continues to lead by example. The summit next year will again bring a lot of different actors to the table to discuss these very important issues so that we have a joint, combined response that reaches out to more people.

Lord Collins of Highbury: My Lords—

Lord Soley (Lab): Will the Minster consider the United Nations duty to protect, and remind herself that at times non-intervention can cost far more lives than intervention?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, we have to do what the UK Government are doing, which is working very closely with our partners, making sure that we are

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there on the ground when we are needed and providing support where we cannot be present. Generally, I think that we are doing exactly what has been asked of us and we should be proud of the commitment that the UK Government have made.

Lord Collins of Highbury: My Lords, third time lucky, I hope. The noble Baroness made the very good point that humanitarian programmes have the potential to make the difference between dependency and development. Will the department and the Government look at examples of this, such as providing refugees with cash rather than in-kind goods so that they can stimulate the local economy and benefit host nations as well as themselves?

Baroness Verma: My Lords, as the noble Lord will be aware, these discussions are ongoing. I cannot give precise details of exact discussions with different individuals but, as the noble Lord will also be aware, these things are often done in case-by-case reviews.

Baroness Afshar (CB): My Lords, has the Minister considered that before being able to help the children, we need to have peace? What are the Government doing to secure peace in the Middle East?

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Verma: My Lords, that question is very wide-ranging but I think that the debate after Question Time will help to answer it for the noble Baroness.

Devolution: England


3.21 pm

Asked by Baroness Janke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for engagement and consultation with the people of England on devolution of powers in England in the light of the devolution settlements in the other countries of the Union.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, devolution of power from Whitehall is about handing power and decision-making responsibilities back to local areas. It is for local partners, not the Government, to decide on the best way to engage their communities and neighbourhoods. We have already seen this happen across the country. From city regions in our northern powerhouse to towns and rural villages in the south, devolution is igniting the spirit of localism in ways that we have not seen for decades.

Baroness Janke (LD): I am grateful to the Minister for her Answer, but is she aware that much of the discussion between leaders and the Government involves talking about bespoke deals? In the light of the work that has been done on devolution in the other countries

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of the union, is it not time that the Government engaged with the people of England to find out what they are looking for in terms of devolution and the future of the union as we move towards a much more federal system?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, leaders are nominated by their councils and are democratically elected. I do not think that the leader who did not discuss these issues with the members of the council would be leader for very long. These are the democratically elected heads who will then engage with government.

Lord Beecham (Lab): My Lords, given the votes on the creation of a mayor for London and on devolution to Scotland and Wales, and, at the Government’s behest, a vote in eight councils, only one of which resulted in support for an elected mayor, why have the Government set their face against the electorate having a vote on whether to have elected city mayors in the context of their devolution programme? Is their position by any chance related to the observation by Nick Boles—then, as now, a Minister—that the only chance of the Conservatives regaining Manchester was for the city to have an elected mayor? If not, how do they justify this apparently irreversible imposition?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the thought of Manchester having a Conservative mayor is a great one but, having lived there for some years, I am not sure that it is very likely to happen any time soon. Obviously the referendum some years ago on having a mayor was held under totally different principles from those that we have today, and local authorities can engage with their communities and their electors in any way that they see fit.

Lord Morris of Aberavon (Lab): My Lords—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, it is the turn of the Conservative Benches. I think it is worth me alerting the Labour Benches to the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, is trying to get in as well.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, could my noble friend explain the implications for public services in England and expenditure of the Smith commission proposals for a no-detriment principle?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend will not be surprised if I cannot answer that question.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords—

Noble Lords: Blunkett!

Lord Blunkett (Lab): Will the Minister discuss with her colleagues the fact that there is no structure whatsoever for any form of accountability or input by the electorate

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to the northern powerhouse because a framework does not exist to do so; and that, where there are combined authorities, unlike London, there is no assembly or direct democratic input? Without this, the legitimacy of the changes will not be sustained and people will become as mistrustful of what is happening at subregional level as they are of what is happening at national level.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, in terms of accountability with government, clear expectations will be laid out in the agreement between combined authority areas that have devolutionary agreements and the Government. This Government have absolutely no intention of revisiting the assembly model. It was made very clear in Greater Manchester that when it agreed to have a mayor, it did not want another layer of government but an eleventh leader.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, could I remind the Minister of the very low turnout for the police and crime commissioner elections? That resulted in part from very poor public engagement with those elections. Does she fear, like I do, that there will be a similar problem of a lack of consultation and engagement with the electorate when it comes to elected mayors and that there may be a similarly very low turnout, which would not help the new structure?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I refer noble Lords back to the process in London. When we first had an elected mayor in London there was scepticism, to say the least, about how effective the London mayor might be and how popular it might be as a concept. Fast-forward some years from that process, and we find that people are fighting to get that nomination and it has become one of the most sought-after positions in the country.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords—

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords—

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches, but I urge the noble Lords to decide between themselves whom they would like to give way.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords, is it right for a small country such as the United Kingdom to have four nations developing systems of government at different speeds? Do the Government rule out a constitutional convention, rather than allowing piecemeal development?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, a constitutional convention is not on the cards at the moment. However, the Government are clear that they will not impose any sort of identikit model on each area. It is up to each area to decide how it wishes to take forward devolution proposals, and to take those forward with government.

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Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, as one of those who voted against having a directly elected mayor in London in the referendum, every time I get into my car I wonder whether I was not right?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I think others might disagree with my noble friend.

Lord Harris of Haringey: The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, reminds the House, which the Minister did not, that there was a referendum in London and a two-thirds majority voted in favour of having an elected mayor. That was different from the election of police and crime commissioners, when there was no such referendum. Of course, the date was selected by a shabby deal done inside the coalition with the Liberal Democrats, which meant that we ended up with those elections in November. But why is it not permissible for the new combined authorities to have a referendum on their governance structures and how that process will happen? Surely that would buy in support—as it did in London, for everyone with the exception of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack—for the principle of having a directly elected mayor.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the Conservative Party made explicit in its manifesto its intention to have mayors for large cities which agreed to that. For that reason, the principle was outlined before the election. The people engaging with the Government are themselves elected members.

Banking: Financial Crime


3.30 pm

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they expect senior managers to be held to account following the imposition of a £72 million fine on Barclays Bank for failing to minimise the risk that funds might be used to facilitate financial crime.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Lord Bridges of Headley) (Con): My Lords, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 prescribes the regulatory framework under which action can be taken by the regulators against firms and individuals. Under this framework, decisions on whether to take enforcement action are for the regulators, and it is entirely right that they should be independent of government.

Lord Sharkey (LD): The fact is that so far we have not managed to hold any senior managers to account. That is because the regulatory regime does not work, and it is precisely why we were due to replace it next April with a tougher regime. However, the Government are about to scrap the new regime before it starts and to go back to a lighter-touch regime. Can the Minister explain how the lighter-touch regime can do what the current regime cannot?

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Lord Bridges of Headley: Clearly, this was an appalling case of mismanagement on the part of the managers at Barclays at the time, and the record fine that Barclays has faced reflects that. I agree with the noble Lord that financial regulatory change is needed, as well as a change in culture of many financial firms. Key to this is ensuring that senior managers’ responsibilities are crystal clear. I stress that the most important task is to find out who is responsible for such failings as we have seen at Barclays. Up till now, regulators have sometimes found it difficult to hold senior managers personally accountable for management failings in the area for which they are responsible because there is such lack of clarity about who is responsible for what. This is precisely what the new senior managers regime addresses. The Government think it perfectly reasonable for the regulator then to show that the senior manager failed to take reasonable steps to avoid the failings.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate (Non-Afl): My Lords, on the wider point of strengthening corporate governance, and given that most employees know what is going on in a company, what plans do the Government have to safeguard whistleblowers in the financial sector?

Lord Bridges of Headley: The Bill does not change any existing obligations on individuals working in the financial services industry to report wrongdoing whether within their own firm, to regulators or to other authorities. To address the noble Lord’s question directly, the FCA published in October a package of rules designed to encourage a culture in banks where individuals feel able to raise concerns and challenge poor practice and behaviour. Those rules will also constitute non-binding guidance for other financial services firms.

Lord Flight (Con): My Lords, does the Minister agree that the new senior managers regime imposes extremely detailed requirements for dealing with both accountability and responsibility—it is virtually micromanaged and reported on—and that the suggestion that the new arrangements have gone soft is completely wrong?

Lord Bridges of Headley: I entirely agree with the noble Lord. The new system will be robust and proportionate.

Lord McFall of Alcluith (Lab): The £2 billion deal on behalf of Qatari clients saw Barclays deliberately breach its own rules on money laundering and financial terrorism, bringing the total fines that it has paid from 2010 to £500 million. The FCA judgment was very clear: it was done to generate revenue and new business. The FSA has neither named people nor taken action against them. Given that the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, comprising individuals from this House and the House of Commons, said in its primary recommendation that individual executives have to be personally accountable, when will the Government implement this sensible recommendation from an all-party committee?

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Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, I cannot comment specifically on this case; the noble Lord, who is much more experienced than I am in these matters, will understand that. On the reverse burden of proof, the regulators could use that only once they had established that there was a regulatory breach and that the senior manager was responsible for the area of the firm where the breach occurred. It was only at that point that they could ask the individual to prove that they took reasonable steps to prevent the breach occurring. Under the proposed statutory duty, the new statements of responsibilities will make it much easier for the regulators to establish quickly who is responsible. The regulator will then simply need to establish that the senior manager did not take those steps.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, why is it that the American regulatory authorities frequently prosecute and we do not?

Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, I echo the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McFall: the financial companies face severe financial penalties. Furthermore, a new criminal sanction was created by the previous Government for those who manage firms in a reckless manner.

Baroness Kramer (LD): My Lords, the sophisticated and complex money laundering scheme for nearly £2 billion of Middle Eastern money is unlikely to have been a one-off. What assurances can the Minister give the House that this transaction and others like it were not using funds from terrorism or that the funds generated were used for terrorism?

Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, I am sorry but I cannot go into greater detail on that point. However, I draw the noble Baroness’s attention to the fact that, under the FCA’s rules, money laundering reporting officers will have to be senior managers. The FCA will also require firms to allocate overall responsibility for the firm’s policies and procedures for countering the risk that the firm might be used to further financial crime to an approved senior manager, who could be the MLRO but does not have to be. This will ensure that there is accountability for financial crime matters at the top executive level.

Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab): My Lords, the problem with the regime so far is that there have not been successful prosecutions. Perhaps I may pick up on the point that my noble friend Lord Davies has been pressing in Committee on the Bank of England Bill. The Government have yet to provide a rationale for their change of heart on the code for senior managers, having moved from the reverse burden of proof to a duty of responsibility. The senior managers and certification regime is not due to come into force until next year so something must have changed their mind. We on this side of the House would like to know what that was. Will the Minister give an assurance that, before Report, noble Lords will be given access to the minutes of the

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meetings that the Government have had with banks, their lawyers and whoever else they met when coming to this conclusion?

Lord Bridges of Headley: My Lords, it is no secret that a number of banks did not believe that the reverse burden of proof was a good idea. This is public knowledge. Why are we making this change? Because we are rolling out the more rigorous SMCR regime across all authorised financial services firms. We want to do so in a way that is proportionate but robust and which delivers a level playing field for competition across the industry. The new approach does just that.

Immigration Bill

First Reading

3.37 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Syria: UK Military Action

Motion to Take Note

3.38 pm

Moved by Baroness Stowell of Beeston

That this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s proposals for military action against ISIL in Syria.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, it may be helpful if I make a brief business statement regarding our proceedings this afternoon. There are 64 Back-Bench Members who wish to speak in our debate today. If contributions are limited to four minutes each, we would expect the winding speeches to start at about 9 pm. This would allow the House to make its contribution to the debate before the House of Commons vote on the Government’s proposals, which is expected to be at about 10 o’clock. I remind noble Lords that the clocks are set at zero when they rise to speak and that when the clock shows “4” the full four minutes will have elapsed—so if you see “4”, your time is up. The Whips have been instructed to deal firmly with noble Lords who exceed the speaking time. In the circumstances, I therefore ask noble Lords to be restrained in intervening on speakers.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, if speeches overshoot, what will happen at 9.30 pm?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think I can count on this House to show good sense in the way in which it deals with a very important subject. We all have a collective interest in allowing everyone who has indicated a wish to do so to have their say. The whole purpose of this statement is to encourage the House to exercise self-restraint in doing so.

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3.39 pm

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, the issue before the House today is how we keep the British people safe from the threat posed by ISIL. As a Government, we are not pretending that the answers are simple. The situation in Syria is incredibly complex. We are not overstating the contribution that our incredible servicemen and women can make, nor are we ignoring the risks of military action or pretending that such action is any more than one part of the answer. We are absolutely clear that we must pursue a comprehensive strategy that also includes political, diplomatic and humanitarian action. We know that the long-term solution in Syria, as in Iraq, must ultimately be a Government that can represent all of their people and one that can work with us to defeat the evil organisation of ISIL for good.

Notwithstanding all of this, there is a simple question at the heart of the debate today. We face a fundamental threat to our security. ISIL have brutally murdered British hostages. They have inspired the worst terrorist attack against British people since 7/7, on the beaches of Tunisia, and they have plotted atrocity after atrocity on the streets here at home. Since November last year, our security services have foiled no fewer than seven different plots against our people, so the threat is very real. The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us? In answering this question, we should remember that, 15 months ago, facing a threat from ISIL in Iraq, the House of Commons voted by 524 to 43 to authorise air strikes in Iraq. Since then, our brilliant RAF pilots have helped local forces to halt ISIL’s advance and recover 30% of the territory ISIL had captured.

On Monday, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke to the President of Iraq in Paris, and he expressed his gratitude for the vital work our forces are doing. Yet when our planes reach the border with Syria—a border that ISIL itself does not recognise—we can no longer act to defend either his country, or indeed our country, even when we know that ISIL’s headquarters are in Raqqa in Syria and that it is from there that many of the plots against our country are formed. We possess the capabilities to reduce this threat to our security, and my argument today is that we should not wait any longer before doing so. We should answer the call from our allies. The action we have proposed is legal, it is necessary and it is the right thing to do to keep our country safe. I hope that Parliament as a whole today will support us taking up our responsibilities rather than passing them off and putting our own national security in the hands of others.

Since the Statement last week, the Prime Minister has spoken further to our allies, including President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and the King of Jordan, and I know that my right honourable friend has listened carefully to the views expressed by Members in both Houses in recent days. That was reflected in the case he set out in Parliament and the Motion laid before the other place by him

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today. In opening this debate, I want to focus on some of the key questions raised about the case that we have made.

First, could acting increase the risk to our security by making an attack on Britain more likely? This is one of the most important questions we have to answer. Paris was not just different because it is close to us or because it was so horrific in scale; it showed the extent of terror planning by Daesh in Syria and the approach of sending people back from Syria to Europe. I should point out to noble Lords that I am using the term “Daesh”; it is a conscious decision by me and by the Prime Minister because ISIL is neither a true representation of Islam nor a state. From now on, in as many cases as possible, we will be referring to it as Daesh.

This was, if you like, the head of the snake in Raqqa in action, so let me be frank. If there is an attack on the UK in the coming weeks or months, there will be those who try to say that it has happened because of our air strikes. We do not believe that that would be the case. Daesh has been trying to attack us for the last year. The terrorist threat level to the UK was raised to “Severe” last August in the light of the threat from Daesh, meaning that attack is highly likely. Some 800 people, including families and children, have been radicalised to such an extent that they have travelled to this so-called caliphate. Noble Lords should be under no illusion: these terrorists are plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now. They attack us because of who we are, not what we do. That is why all the advice that we have received—the military, diplomatic and security advice—is very clear. When it comes to the risks of taking military action, the risks of inaction are far greater.

Yet some people ask whether Britain conducting strikes in Syria would really make a difference. We believe that it would. In repeating the Prime Minister’s Statement last week, I talked about our dynamic targeting—our Brimstone missiles, the RAPTOR pod on our Tornados, and the intelligence-gathering work of our Reaper drones. I will not repeat all that today, but there is another way of putting this that is equally powerful. Typically, the UK represents between a quarter and a third of the international coalition’s precision bombing capability over Iraq and Syria. We also have about a quarter of the unmanned strike capability flying in the region, so we have a significant proportion of higher-precision strike capability. That is one reason why members of the international coalition believe that British planes would make a real difference in Syria, just as they are already doing in Iraq.

In many ways, what I have just said helps to answer the next question some have raised: why do we not simply increase our level of air strikes in Iraq to free up other coalition capacity for air strikes in Syria? We have these capabilities that other members of the coalition want to benefit from. It makes no sense to stop using these capabilities at a border between Iraq and Syria that Daesh simply does not recognise or respect. In fact, there was a recent incident in which Syrian opposition forces needed urgent support in their fight against Daesh. British Tornados were eight minutes away, just over the border in Iraq, and no one

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else was close. But Britain could not help, so the Syrian opposition forces had to wait 40 minutes in a perilous situation while other coalition forces were scrambled. This kind of delay endangers the lives of those fighting Daesh on the ground and, frankly, does nothing for our reputation with our vital allies.

But there is a much more fundamental answer to why we should carry out air strikes in Syria ourselves, and it is this. Raqqa in Syria is the headquarters of this threat to our security. It is in Syria where they pump and sell the oil that does so much to help finance their evil acts, and where many of the plots against our country are formed. So we must act in Syria to deal with these threats ourselves.

I turn to the question of whether there will be ground forces to make the operation a success. Those who say that there are not as many ground troops as we would like and that they are not all in the right places are correct. We are not dealing with an ideal situation. But there are some important points to make in this respect. First, we should be clear what air strikes alone can achieve. We do not need ground troops to target the supply of oil that Daesh uses to fund its terrorism, or to hit Daesh’s headquarters, infrastructure, supply routes, training facilities and weapons supplies. It is clear that air strikes can have an effect on its ability to plot attacks against us. Indeed, the strike on Hussain and Khan, in Syria, played an important role in degrading Daesh’s network. So, irrespective of ground forces, our Royal Air Force can do serious damage to Daesh’s ability right now to bring terror to our streets. We should back the RAF to do that.

Secondly, the full answer to the question of ground forces cannot be achieved until there is a new Syrian Government who represent all of the Syrian people. It is this new Government who will be the natural partners for our forces in defeating Daesh for good. But there are some ground forces that we can work with in the mean time. Last week we set out that we believe there are around 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters who do not belong to extremist groups and with whom we can co-ordinate attacks on Daesh.

Noble Lords will appreciate that there are some limits on what I can say about these groups, but I can say this: the 70,000 is an estimate from our independent Joint Intelligence Committee, based on detailed analysis that draws upon a wide range of open sources and intelligence. Of these 70,000, the majority are from the Free Syrian Army. Alongside the 70,000, there are some 20,000 Kurdish fighters, with whom we can also work. We are not arguing that all of these 70,000 are somehow ideal partners, but some left the Syrian army because of Assad’s brutality and they clearly can play a role in the future of Syria. Let me be clear: our figures exclude those in terrorist groups, so the 70,000 figure does not include a further 25,000 extremist fighters in groups which reject political participation and co-ordination with non-Muslims. Although they fight Daesh, they cannot, and will not, be our partners. Therefore, there are ground forces who will take the fight to Daesh, and in many cases we can work with them and assist them.

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Thirdly, if we do not act now, we should be clear that there will be even fewer ground forces over time as Daesh will get even stronger. Therefore, we simply cannot afford to wait. We have to act now. By doing so, we can reduce the ability of Daesh to attack us and pave the way for the political transition in Syria that can lead to a new Government and the long-term destruction of this evil terrorist threat.

I turn to our overall strategy. Again, I set this out in the House last week in repeating the Prime Minister’s Statement, but let me say a little more about each of the non-military elements—counterterrorism, counter- extremism, the political and diplomatic processes and the vital humanitarian work. First, our counterterrorism strategy gives Britain a comprehensive plan to prevent and foil plots at home and address the poisonous extremist ideology that is the root cause of the threat we face. As part of this, the Prime Minister announced in the other place this morning that we will establish a comprehensive review to root out any remaining funding of extremism within the UK. This will examine specifically the nature, scale and origin of the funding of Islamist extremist activity in the UK, including any overseas sources. It will report to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary next spring.

I know that some suggest that military action could in some way undermine our counterextremism strategy by radicalising British Muslims, so let me take this head on. British Muslims are appalled by Daesh. Far from the risk of radicalising British Muslims by acting, failing to act would actually betray British Muslims and the wider religion of Islam in its very hour of need.

The second part of our strategy is our support for the diplomatic and political process. Let me say a word about how this process can lead to the ceasefires between the regime and the opposition that are so essential for the next stages of this political transition. It begins with identifying the right people to put around the table. Next week, we expect the Syrian regime to nominate a team of people to negotiate under the auspices of the United Nations. Over the last 18 months, political and armed opposition positions have converged. We know the main groups and their ideas. In the coming days, Saudi Arabia will host a meeting for opposition representatives in Riyadh and the United Nations will take forward discussions on steps towards a ceasefire, including at the next meeting of the International Syria Support Group, which we expect to take place before Christmas. The aim is clear: a transition Government in six months and a new constitution and free elections within 18 months. The key elements of a deal are emerging, with the key players—America, Saudi Arabia and Iran—all in the room together. Hitting Daesh does not hurt this process; it helps it, which is the eventual goal.

Turning to humanitarian relief and longer-term stabilisation, the Statement I repeated last week set out our support for refugees in the region and the broad international alliance that we would work with in the rebuilding phase. However, we should be clear: people will not return to Syria if part of it is under the control of an organisation that enslaves Yazidis, throws gay people off buildings, beheads aid workers and forces children to marry before they are

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10 years old. So we cannot separate the humanitarian and reconstruction action from dealing with Daesh itself.

Let me turn in more detail to the plan for post-conflict reconstruction to support a new Syrian Government when they emerge. The Prime Minister has said that we would be prepared to commit at least £1 billion to Syria’s reconstruction. The initial priorities would be protection, security, stabilisation and confidence-building measures, including meeting basic humanitarian needs such as education, health and shelter, and of course helping refugees to return home. As we said last week, we are not in the business of trying to dismantle the Syrian state or its institutions.

Let me conclude: this is not 2003. We must not use past mistakes as an excuse for indifference or inaction. Let us be clear: inaction does not amount to a strategy for our security or that of the Syrian people. Inaction is a choice. I believe it is the wrong choice. We face a clear threat. We have listened to our allies. We have taken legal advice. We have a unanimous United Nations resolution. We have discussed our proposed actions extensively at meetings of the National Security Council and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister has responded personally to the detailed report of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and, during his Statement last week, which lasted over two and a half hours, has taken more than 100 questions from MPs.

There are debates happening right now in both Houses of Parliament. Later tonight there will be a vote in the other place. I hope the result will be to give support to Britain playing its part in defeating these evil extremists and taking the action that is needed now to keep our country safe and protect our way of life. I beg to move.

3.57 pm

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Leader for her comprehensive comments. When she repeated the Prime Minister’s Statement last week, she made a commitment that, should there be a vote in the House of Commons on extending military air strikes to Syria, there would be an opportunity for debate in your Lordships’ House. I thank her because it is clear from the number, range and expertise of speakers that this has been welcomed across your Lordships’ House. As I said last week, I hope that the Government will seek to make use of that expertise beyond this debate.

I am sure the whole House will welcome the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Hague, has chosen to make his maiden speech today. I have to say that choosing this particular issue is perhaps the parliamentary equivalent of making an entrance, but I look forward to hearing what he has to say and we are grateful that he has chosen this debate for his maiden.

First, I will share some thoughts about our colleagues of all parties in the other place who are grappling with this issue and will be voting tonight. I occasionally envy those who at the outset of any debate or consideration of serious, important issues have absolute confidence and certainty about their decision, because for most of us it is just not like that. Unless we are expert in a particular field, we want to hear the arguments, analyse information, take advice, give thoughtful

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consideration and examine our consciences before reaching a judgment. Many MPs with the same information will come to different conclusions. Across the Commons there are those who continue to have doubts, but that does not make them weak on ISIL/Daesh or security. Those who are convinced should not be attacked for supporting action they believe to be part of a process to attack ISIL and better protect UK citizens. For many, it will be a marginal decision in weighing up the considerations. We must support MPs who we trust to make such decisions and condemn those who abuse, intimidate and threaten them.

All party leaders are entitled to seek to persuade their MPs of their views through information and argument but reported comments that those who vote differently are a “bunch of terrorist sympathisers” or have “no hiding place” are offensive, wrong and of no help in allowing proper decision-making.

We are not debating today whether to engage with allied forces or to attack ISIL/Daesh militarily. We are, rightly, already doing so. The proposal from the Prime Minister is about extending that military force with air strikes into Syria. In some ways, it would be a relatively marginal increase. Today, the Prime Minister has to provide the information and arguments to convince not just MPs but the country as a whole that the extension of air strikes against military targets will be effective and that it is part of a wider strategy—a strategy that comprehensively addresses not just military aspects but, post air strikes, the humanitarian and diplomatic issues and the reconstruction of post-conflict Syria.

I am grateful for the briefing on intelligence and military issues that I had on Privy Council terms. But no briefing is needed to understand the vile evil of ISIL. They are murderous fanatics, despised and condemned across the world not just for the incomprehensible attacks on Paris but, as we should never forget, the murders of British holidaymakers in Tunisia; the beheading of British citizens; the bombing of a Russian airline; the mass murder of women too old to be sold as sex slaves; and the murder of gay men by throwing them off buildings. The list goes on. We also know that the threat here at home is real and severe. So for all those reasons, there can be no doubt that action against such evil is necessary and justified.

As I said last week, we are not an isolationist party. We recognise wider international obligations and responsibilities. Last week, I cited military and humanitarian examples—I will not repeat them—of intervention by UK forces under a Labour Government that had helped to secure peace and stability. That is why we are part of the allied forces in Iraq and Syria already. We are part of a campaign that shows solidarity with those who also recognise the threat of ISIL and we are playing our part militarily, diplomatically and on humanitarian issues.

UN Security Council Resolution 2249, unanimously passed on 20 November, calls on member states to use,

“all necessary measures … to prevent and suppress terrorist acts … specifically by”,

ISIL/Daesh; and to deny them “safe haven” in Syria and Iraq. Chapter VII, Article 51 of the UN Charter is clear about the inherent right of individual or

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collective self-defence until the Security Council has taken necessary measures to maintain international peace and security.

We clearly should be part of that coalition, seeking to weaken ISIL and to be a credible and authoritative voice in the Vienna talks to bring some peace and stability to Syria and the region. But on the specific Motion before the House of Commons that we are discussing here, there remain issues to be addressed in judging the effectiveness of the new action proposed. The Government are going to provide further reassurance on whether additional air strikes are the best way to achieve our common objectives, on the difference and impact that the extension of our military involvement in Syria will have, and on how it will contribute to the wider strategic aims, including the Vienna peace process.

We also want to know more about the wider comprehensive strategy, including the humanitarian implications and support that the noble Baroness referred to. I was glad that she referred to this because it is extremely important that there is greater engagement with moderate Islamic communities, working with them here in the UK to combat and prevent home-grown violent radicalisation. All of us will also want guarantees that every conceivable action will be taken to avoid innocent civilians being casualties or being killed.

I have a few questions which it would be helpful if the noble Earl, Lord Howe, could respond to when he winds up tonight. The first is on the military assessment of the difference that our extended involvement will bring, given the current level of engagement we already have in Syria and Iraq and the amount of bombing that has already taken place in Iraq and Syria. As we have heard—and I was grateful to the noble Baroness for her considered response on this today—only so much, however valuable, can be achieved by air strikes alone. There has been extensive debate over the last week about the potential of moderate ground forces, post air strikes, and what action they will be able to take. I am pleased that the noble Baroness referred today to the fact that a number of MPs and experts have questioned the reliability of the 70,000 estimate provided by the Prime Minister, and the ability of those ground forces to mobilise in a way that is deemed necessary, given that there are not the military command structures, weaponry or communications between air strikes to co-ordinate those land and air assaults.

I was pleased that the Government understood those concerns and that the noble Baroness provided more information today. When the noble Earl responds, can he say something more about the numbers? My information is slightly different, so I would like some clarification, including on when ground forces would be needed and how operations would be co-ordinated. Also, what consideration has been given to diplomatic initiatives to build up a larger coalition of regional ground troops?

There are significant and considerable encouraging developments at the Vienna peace talks, which we welcome and support. I appreciate the update from the noble Baroness today but, as encouraging as that is, we still seem to be a long way from developing more than a process, as important and crucial as having a

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process is. The statement from the International Syria Support Group last month set early timescales for objectives to be met. Further meetings soon will evaluate progress, which will be a key diplomatic priority—for without progress in those talks, the strategic case fails. Can the noble Earl reassure your Lordships’ House of the Government’s confidence in the process and the advances that are being made?

I know that the Government understand that in terms of both the short-term and longer-term future of Syria, there are serious concerns about Assad. The noble Baroness was very clear last week about there being no role for Assad in a post-conflict Syria, but it remains uncertain how that will be achieved. The future of Syria, and the ability of Syrian refuges to return to their homeland to be part of the reconstruction, is dependent not just on removing ISIL but on removing Assad. Are the Government confident that the military action and objectives are adequately strategically linked to and co-ordinated with the diplomatic efforts that are taking place?

Obviously, to seriously combat ISIL/Daesh, as the noble Baroness said, we need to end or significantly limit its finances and funding. I find it absolutely extraordinary that, according to government estimates, it is funding its activities with around $1.5 million each and every day from oil revenues, as well as from other sources. Is this part of the Vienna talks, and what immediate political and diplomatic efforts are being employed now?

Although we do not vote tonight, we bring consideration and thoughtfulness to this issue. We are extremely fortunate in having a number of noble Lords with considerable experience in diplomacy, in the military, in security, in aid and humanitarian work, in government and in Parliament. Their experiences may not lead them all to the same judgment at the same time, but I urge the Government to make use of that expertise.

I thank the Government for their commitment, in the statement that they issued to the House of Commons today, to provide quarterly progress reports. However, I just want the noble Earl to confirm later that this House will also receive those reports and that, should there be significant developments, additional statements will be provided and brought to your Lordships’ House.

Finally, whatever the outcome of tonight’s vote in the other place, we entirely concur with the final paragraph of the government Motion and offer our wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

4.07 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness (LD): My Lords, I, too, thank the Leader of the House for ensuring that your Lordships’ House has the opportunity today, concurrently with the House of Commons, to debate this very grave and profound issue. It is right that this Chamber has the opportunity to express its views to the Government. Although it will be the responsibility of Members of another place to vote on the specific question that is before them, it is nevertheless important that your Lordships’ House can consider the wider questions and proffer such constructive advice to Her Majesty’s Government as we can. Looking at the speakers list, I see a vast reservoir of experience and expertise here

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on which to draw. We look forward, not least, to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hague of Richmond.

From these Benches, we unequivocally condemn the atrocities that continue to be perpetrated by ISIL/Daesh. No matter where in the world these horrific acts of terror have taken place, its actions are reprehensible. ISIL’s evil is apparent to the world: we have seen it behead journalists and aid workers for a worldwide audience; we have heard of the rape and enslavement of Yazidi women; we have seen the summary execution of gay men and women; and we have seen ISIL’s brutal occupation of vast tracts of Iraq and Syria. Day in, day out, we witness the sheer fear of thousands of ordinary people as they risk their lives fleeing from its terror.

We on these Benches have recognised that in defeating an enemy such as ISIL, the use of military force will be necessary. We have supported air strikes in Iraq, but the decision to use, or extend the use of, lethal force is never easy. It is important to take a balanced judgment, based on evidence, after careful consideration. That is precisely what the Liberal Democrats have done in the past, and precisely what we have done today. I was proud to be a member of a party that stood alone in 2003 in opposing the war in Iraq. I was equally proud to support my noble friend Lord Ashdown when he alone called for military intervention to stop the massacres in Bosnia. That is why, as I explained to the House last week, we wrote to the Prime Minister setting out five considerations by which we would judge the words and actions of the Government when they were making their case for military action. We have also deliberated on the case for military action from our position as a liberal, international and humanitarian party.

The first consideration is whether military intervention is legal. In 2003, there was no UN resolution to legitimise action. That was therefore the crux of my party’s argument against the war then. Therefore, the role of the UN Security Council in Resolution 2249, which it adopted unanimously on 20 November, is extremely important. The resolution has already been quoted. It calls on member states to,

“take all necessary measures … to eradicate the safe haven they”—


“have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”.

We know that so far this year, seven terrorist attacks by ISIL against the United Kingdom have been prevented. Daesh, or ISIL, is a direct threat to the United Kingdom, to our allies and to international peace and security. Our closest neighbour and ally in Europe has just suffered the most brutal of attacks on its capital city, and the request from France that we give military support engages the right of collective self-defence under Article 51.

A second consideration is whether a wider diplomatic framework is in place, including efforts towards a no-bomb zone to protect civilians. We have consistently called for a diplomatic effort to put together a wider coalition, including those who have an interest in the defeat of jihadism, notably Russia and Iran. Any military action by the United Kingdom must be part of a wider international effort involving all those who have an interest in defeating ISIL.

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Therefore, we welcome the diplomatic process in the Vienna talks, aimed at ensuring that the world remains engaged with Syria through this period of conflict and beyond, supporting the Syrian people to rebuild in a post-ISIL, post-Assad Syria. We recognise that these talks are still at a fairly embryonic stage and that the international coalition remains fragile, so we urge the Government to continue to be an engaged member of this process and to be at the forefront in ensuring that the Vienna talks succeed in bringing together the broadest possible support for action to end the war in Syria and to effect a political transition.

The third consideration we have set out relates to the Government’s response to our call for the United Kingdom to lead a concerted international effort to put pressure on the Gulf states to stop the funding of jihadi groups within the region and worldwide. We believe that the United Kingdom should press the Gulf states to do much more to assist in the effort to defeat ISIL, to establish peace in Syria and to help with refugees. Such states, we feel, are currently doing very little. However, ISIL is not just a western problem. It is a travesty to suggest that this is a battle between the West and the self-proclaimed caliphate. One way to prevent Daesh framing the situation in that way would be greater involvement by other countries within the region. I therefore repeat some of the questions I asked the noble Baroness last week during the Statement: what pressure is being put on our coalition partners in the Gulf to rejoin air strikes? What are the Government doing to ensure that they play their part? Are the Government confident that some of our coalition partners are doing enough in their own countries to stop the funding of ISIL and other extremist groups? It is surely critical that the Gulf states are vocal in their condemnation of ISIL.

Fourthly—the noble Baroness gave us some indication of this—the Government must map out what kind of Syria they wish to see post-ISIL and what post-conflict strategy they will propose to give the best chance of avoiding a power vacuum in the immediate post-ISIL Syria. This is, of course, linked to the diplomatic discussion and framework to which I have already referred. The future of Syria after any action must be at the forefront of the minds of all those asking for support for air strikes, both here in the United Kingdom and among our international partners.

The fifth strand of our consideration regards the Government’s plans domestically. The fight against Daesh is not just in the Middle East; it is within Europe and it is here in the United Kingdom. We had urged the Government to conduct an investigation into foreign funding and support of extremist and terrorist groups within the United Kingdom. We very much welcome the Prime Minister’s positive response to that call when he addressed the other place this morning. We also want to know, and be reassured, that the Government intend to take steps to engage fully with Britain’s peace-loving Muslim community, to ensure understanding of the action and strategy that the Government are proposing.

My party leader, Tim Farron, has spoken very movingly indeed of his visits this year to Calais and Lesbos. I know he was profoundly affected by what he witnessed there: thousands of people who have made

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the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean, through Turkey and the Aegean, to flee from Syria, Iraq and, in particular, from ISIL. I therefore echo his call for the Government to step up their acceptance of Syrian refugees and, in particular, to opt into the proposal from Save the Children for the UK to give a home to 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from within Europe. In his reply, will the Minister say whether the Government recognise, as has been highlighted by Save the Children, that several thousand refugee children have disappeared after arriving in Italy? Will the Government accept that there is a responsibility on all European nations, including us, to protect such children from further exploitation?

Concern was expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith—and, indeed, was addressed by the Leader of the House—about the army of 70,000 ground troops, which we are told can commence effective ground action in Syria. The noble Baroness herself said that it was far from an ideal situation. Over time, we will want to be reassured, and seek a commitment, that Ministers will regularly update the House on the inevitably complicated twists and turns of the various alliances on the ground. Will the Minister give clarity about how they will cut off the flow of finance, fighters and weapons to ISIL?

Let us not kid ourselves: there are no quick-fix solutions for dealing with ISIL. Nor is there is an easy, simple route to peace and stability in Syria; it would be wrong to pretend otherwise. Nor should we pretend that doing nothing further is a risk-free option. My party has come to a difficult and very finely balanced judgment. I agree with the assessment of my party leader that air strikes alone will not resolve the hugely complex political situation in Syria. Tonight we are lending our support in the House of Commons for military action only because it is part of a wider strategy. We are clear that that must be done only in a political and diplomatic context.

I recognise, and respect, the considered and sincerely held views of many others who have reached a different conclusion. At this point, no one can be sure whether the action that the Government are taking and asking the other place to support will succeed, but I personally believe that unless something is done to remove ISIL from Syria, there is no hope whatever of progressing towards the goal of a safe and stable Syria.

This is clearly not the end of the debates and discussions in this House or the other place on this country’s role in Syria. It is the duty of Parliament—I hope your Lordships will see it as our particular duty—to scrutinise closely the actions of the Government in the weeks and months ahead, paying particular attention to the quarterly reports promised by the Government. We will not be uncritical if we believe the Government are making mistakes as the situation progresses. We on these Benches will continue to do what we can after today to hold the Government to account for the steps they should be taking to chart a diplomatic way forward, as well as contributing to future reconstruction in Syria, so that those people currently living in despair in Syria and the refugee camps can have a secure and stable future in their own country.

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4.18 pm

Lord Dannatt (CB): My Lords, I am sure I am not alone among noble Lords in almost losing track of the number of times in recent days that someone has asked the question, “Are we right to bomb Syria?” Although that is a very fair question, asked by many concerned people, it is, however, fundamentally the wrong question to ask. Although more long-winded, the real question is whether the United Kingdom is willing to become a fully committed member of the international coalition in pursuit of the strategic objective of defeating ISIL/Daesh, the so-called Islamic State. To that question, there must be the unequivocal answer yes, on the basis that the biggest threat to our security today indeed comes from ISIL/Daesh.

It is my sincere hope that Members of the other place will vote in significant numbers in favour of the Motion that they are currently debating. To do otherwise would send an appalling message that the UK has pulled up the drawbridge, is no longer an ally that can be trusted and has lost its appetite to be a significant positive influence in Europe and the wider world. However, this is of course more than just about sending the right message, as important as that is. It is about being part of an effective coalition that is not only clear about its strategic objective but has a credible and coherent plan that takes us from where we are now to the defeat of so-called Islamic State and on to a more secure and stable Syria and that wider region. It also has to be accepted that the defeat of the so-called Islamic State will not come about through diplomatic pressure or economic sanctions; they are not susceptible to those measures. Defeat will come about through military reverse for them on the battlefields in Syria and Iraq. This will involve co-ordinated air and ground operations. However, those operations will make sense only within a coherent diplomatic and political framework.

The immediate challenge in front of us is to create the diplomatic framework within which military operations can sensibly be conducted. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 was an important step in the right direction, and so are the continuing talks in Vienna, but we need a constructive dialogue with the Russians, Iranians, Turks and other key interested parties in the region to work out common objectives and then create a co-ordinated plan. Then there is the Syrian regime itself. Western Governments are determined that President Assad has no role in the future. His transition out of power is therefore an urgent imperative, but many Syrians do not wish to see the throwing over of the complete Syrian regime. They saw the vacuum that was created in Libya after Gaddafi and they do not want that to happen to Syria—and I suggest that we do not wish to see that either. As the Prime Minister seemed to suggest in his opening speech in the other place earlier today, we need to work with the Syrian armed forces against ISIL/Daesh rather than see those armed forces fighting against their own citizens.

The bottom line is that if we do not want to see western international boots on the ground, yet we accept that the defeat of ISIL/Daesh will come about only through successful action on the ground, albeit

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supported from the air, we have to find enough local ground forces that are well enough led, equipped and trained to be successful. The apparent 70,000 Free Syrian opposition forces are not reliable nor good enough to achieve the success needed. A reinvigorated Iraqi army, the Peshmerga, the Jordanians, possibly even the Turks and the Iranians, are all needed to play a significant part in the ground operations, as is the Syrian army itself. Without this level of local participation on the ground, we may have to face again the unpalatable option of deploying western combat units on the ground at some point in future.

4.22 pm

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I add to the welcomes given to the noble Lord, Lord Hague of Richmond, and note his perfect timing in bringing his immeasurable wisdom and experience to our debates. I look forward very much to his contribution.

To my mind, the “just war” criteria have been met. However, while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind, where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing. To my mind, there are three components that currently need more emphasis and are to some extent missing. In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican communion, through the constant contacts that we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region, as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace, I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue to which we are applying local solutions.

First, ISIL is but one head of the hydra; religiously motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world. Secondly, our bombing action plays into the expectation of ISIL and other jihadist groups in the region, springing from their apocalyptic theology. The totality of our actions must subvert that false narrative, because by itself one action will not work. If we act globally only against ISIL, and only in the way proposed so far, we will strengthen their resolve, increase their recruitment and encourage their sympathisers. Without a far more comprehensive approach, we confirm their dreadful belief that what they are doing is the will of God.

Thirdly, it is as essential to defeat the narratives of ISIL and other extremists. The Prime Minister’s strategy and the Minister’s speech rightly recognise that military action is only one part of the answer. There must be a global theological and ideological component, not just one in this country, to what we are doing. It must be one that is relentlessly pursued and promoted and it must include challenging Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose promotion of a particular brand of Islamic theology has provided a source from which ISIL has drawn false legitimation. It must also show clear support for global mainstream Muslim and other religious leaders.

Lastly, there is room and requirement for greater generosity in our nation’s hospitality to refugees, but hospitality must be accompanied by a clear strategy that reduces the need for others to seek sanctuary, which was mentioned in the Minister’s remarks and is welcome, and enables those who have fled to return. Communities that have lived there for 2,000 years

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should not simply be emptied from that region. The additional military force that we are bringing to this quasi-policing operation, which is already active over Syria, symbolically—and to some extent significantly—adds to what is happening there. Far more than that, it enables us to act where our resources and expertise are world-leading in the creation of post-conflict peace and nation building. Only a holistic, theological and global policy will achieve our aims.

4.26 pm

Lord Hague of Richmond (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it may be regarded as a perilous exercise to embark on a maiden speech and comment on a grave international situation in a matter of a few minutes but, as someone who led the Conservative Party at the time of the height of the power and success of Tony Blair, I am no stranger to perilous exercises—or indeed to time-limited exercises. It is a great honour to follow the speech of the most reverend Primate. Indeed, it is a great honour to be here at all and to find many old friends residing here on all sides of the House—and many old foes residing here on all sides of the House as well. I intend to use my membership of this place to comment on issues such as this but also to work on issues I am passionate about, such as the prevention of sexual violence in conflict and combating the illegal wildlife trade, matters on which I know I will find common cause in many parts of this House.

Like many former MPs, I am hugely influenced by my former constituents, and I am proud to bear the title of “Richmond” in this place. My former constituents are distinguished by many things. One is their common sense—after all, it is Richmond, Yorkshire, we are talking about. One is their ability to choose Members of Parliament—I am followed by a very able MP in Rishi Sunak. One is the huge military presence at Catterick Garrison and RAF Leeming, and that brings me directly to this debate because it means I spent a quarter of a century listening to and learning from people in the Army and the RAF. That has given me great confidence when we ask them to go into any action, but has also taught me never to take lightly any decision to extend their action, as is being debated today.

I want to make three points in two minutes about that. First, we should always be open to imaginative diplomacy, however difficult it may be. I can tell noble Lords that it is desperately difficult. In June 2012, I helped to negotiate the nearest we came to a resolution of the Syrian crisis. All the members of the Security Council and all the leading Arab nations agreed that there would be a transitional Government in Syria formed by mutual consent from the opposition and the Assad regime. Those of us with influence over the then Syrian opposition delivered it to the peace conference to implement that. Russia, with its influence over Assad, did not deliver the Assad regime to implement that. Had it done so, we would not be having this debate and Russia would not be embroiled in Syria today. However, every renewed effort must be made. We have heard about the efforts being made now and, if they do not work, we should be open to new solutions. In the end, if communities and leaders cannot live peacefully together in Syria and Iraq,

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we will have to try to have them living peacefully but separately in the partition of those countries, although I say that regretfully.

Secondly, while military force alone cannot defeat Daesh, it cannot be defeated without military force. That is a very obvious point. When it enslaves women, murders hostages and persecutes minorities, it is not seeking a negotiation. Since our security as the United Kingdom rests on our alliances, and our greatest alliances are with the United States and France, if our security is indivisible from theirs it would be extraordinary and we would need a very compelling reason not to act with them in this crisis.

Thirdly, if we are to take this action, it must be effective. That means that it has to be, sadly, against economic infrastructure that Daesh controls. It should not rule out, as the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, said, the use of perhaps small specialist ground forces from western nations in the future if that helps to tip the balance on the ground. However, on that basis, I believe that it is in the national interest of the United Kingdom to act with our closest allies in this crisis.

4.31 pm

Lord Jay of Ewelme (CB): My Lords, during my diplomatic career, my normal posture vis-à-vis Foreign Secretaries was for me to say a few words and then bow my head lightly while I was given a detailed and well-judged critique of what I had said. I cannot imagine a more appropriate moment to reverse that than to have the privilege of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Hague, on an expectedly brilliant maiden speech. The noble Lord is a very distinguished former Foreign Secretary, a very distinguished biographer—I cannot praise William Wilberforce too highly—and a brilliant orator. I cannot imagine a better conjugation of talents for your Lordships’ House than political experience, historical wisdom and oratorical genius. If the maiden speech that we have heard is a prelude of what is to come, we can only look forward with impatience, as the French would say, to further treats in store.

Having said that, I must rapidly regain my independence by recalling that I spoke against military action in Syria two years ago because it was not clear what the targets would be or what the objectives were. I spoke for military action against Daesh last year but argued that we should do so with our eyes wide open and recognised that when—and I believed that it was “when” and not “if”—the Government put forward proposals for action against Syria, we should have to accept that our allies would in some ways be unfortunate or unpleasant and include Iran, but more particularly that we would have to accept that action against ISIL—Daesh—must take precedence against action against Assad. We cannot have two conflicting objectives at the same time.

There is no doubt that Daesh continues to be a direct threat to the United Kingdom, as we saw in Tunisia and as others have seen only too clearly recently, notably in Paris, from which I returned this morning. There is in addition a clear and unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution authorising all necessary measures against Daesh and denying them a

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safe haven in Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, joining the United States, France and others by extending action against Daesh into Syria will add capability to that action and will strengthen our hand in pressing for effective diplomatic action to find a political settlement in Syria; for example, through the International Syria Support Group. Stepping up that search in parallel with military action is essential.

Equally, we have to be realistic about this. Getting those negotiations going, let alone completing them, is going to be fraught, complex and time-consuming and will not easily take place in parallel with the necessary military action. We cannot, as the noble Baroness said in introducing this debate, do no nothing while we wait for a long and drawn-out diplomatic process to continue; we have to try to do both at the same time. We have to take decisions on the basis of the judgments and evidence we have before us now.

I have nothing but respect for those who take a different view on the case for action against Syria and I see no advantage whatever in denigrating them, but I have no doubt, either, that extending military action against Daesh from Iraq into Syria is now the right thing to do.

4.35 pm

Lord King of Bridgwater (Con): My Lords, I recall that many years ago, as a young man of 16, the noble Lord, Lord Hague, stood up at a Conservative Party conference and said that some of us there would not be around in 30 years’ time. Well, I am one of those who is still around 30 years later, having listened to him from the platform. I remember also campaigning in Richmond 29 years ago, when I thought we had a promising young MP on the way who might do quite well. He made an absolutely outstanding maiden speech, which all noble Lords in this Chamber will remember. We look forward very much to hearing him again.

So much has already been said with which I entirely agree, and I am not going to emphasise the points about the obscenity of Daesh or the urgency and importance of the threat. I just want to say one thing. The duty of many noble Lords in this House is to bring any experience to bear on this debate. It is the value of this House, perhaps, over the other place. I spent a lot of years fighting terrorism. One thing I know about terrorism is that it needs money. One of the major challenges in Northern Ireland was trying to switch off the money coming from America—trying to stop the funding of the arms and equipment that was coming out of Libya, paid for by certain well-meaning benefactors who did not realise where their money was going. That is the background against which I approach this.

That is why I welcome the emphasis on dealing with economic forces in the speech from my noble friend the Leader of the House. I am not sure whether the figure she gave for daily income was in pounds or dollars, but whatever it was, it was a huge figure. There is also the amount of weaponry sloshing around in the world, particularly the large quantities from Slovakia, for some reason. Daesh is undoubtedly well equipped and does not seem to have any shortage of ammunition or weaponry, and no shortage at the moment, sadly, of markets in which to dispose of its oil. These are the

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areas we need to tackle—particularly oil, but also donations from unsuitable quarters that may be coming to it, and compulsory taxation of the populations in some of the towns it presently occupies.

The noble Baroness leading the debate for the Opposition said that, perhaps in some ways, just a marginal increase was being proposed. What we are talking about is doing in Syria what we are already doing in Iraq. Our allies have asked for our help in that respect. To hear some people talk, you would think we were proposing carpet-bombing the whole of Raqqa and the whole of Syria. Importantly, the beauty of Brimstone, which some noble Lords have talked about, is not just that it is extremely precise and accurate and can hit moving targets, but it actually has a rather small explosive charge. It is not a great bunker-busting bomb that sends shrapnel flying in every direction, killing men, women and children.

What have we learnt so far—what have we learnt from Iraq? The Minister has just been to Baghdad, and I know she will not mind me quoting the tribute that was paid to the RAF for its minimising civilian casualties. It has shown that it can do it there. This is what we need to do. This is not a major change, but it would be a very major change if we refused to support our allies.

I will say just one thing to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace. He said, “Get the Gulf Cooperation Council—the countries in the region—to play their part”. If we did not say yes today, it would be that much harder to persuade those countries to play their part. This is a step and, having taken it, we can then turn to them and say, “Right. We’re now all in this together”. That is the way we can really make progress against a very evil organisation that threatens us all.

4.40 pm

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale (Lab): My Lords, like everyone else in the House, I very much appreciated the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hague, and of course we all look forward to hearing him many times more on this and other topics.

When, in September 2014, this House debated air strikes against Daesh in Iraq, I said that these were very much more limited in scope and were being proposed much later than I would have wanted but that they were better than nothing. Well, here we are again. As many of us predicted, we are trying to extend the air strikes against Daesh to its whole footprint in the Middle East—in Syria as well as Iraq.

In the many lengthy debates in this House in 2003, I constantly maintained that three considerations—legal, moral and political—had to be involved in issues of military intervention. It was true then and it is true now.

On legality, we have UN Security Council Resolution 2249. Perhaps I may give a quick word of advice to the Government: do not be sidetracked by the legal validity of your mandate being questioned, because you will find that it probably will be. I speak as a lifelong UN supporter, but I tell noble Lords that no one now objects to the British interventions in Sierra Leone or Kosovo, where we did not have a UN resolution. In 2003, we had 16 Chapter VII resolutions to take military action against Saddam and everybody demanded a 17th.

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Morally, is anyone in doubt about the evil of this death cult, which beheads and crucifies the innocent, throws gays off roofs, enslaves and rapes young women and kills all the old ones?

Politically, all agree that all diplomatic, humanitarian and political activities need to be pursued—they already are in Vienna and elsewhere, as the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal enumerated when she made her presentation of the Motion—as well as cutting off the sources of finance. I do not think we need the details of what is being done about that because undoubtedly our intelligence and other agencies are doing that worldwide as we speak.

However, without military intervention as well, none of these will succeed, so we need not fool ourselves. If the UK wants to be in on the political solution process, it has to play a full part in the military component of the struggle against Daesh, along with our allies, who have asked for our help. No one argues that air strikes alone are a complete answer, but that is not to say, as some are doing at the moment in the public domain, that their achievements will be negligible. Try telling that to the Kurds who were desperately defending Kobane or to those who recently recaptured Sinjar. In both these operations, air support was absolutely crucial.

There is much talk of lessons to be learned from our past. As a veteran of government service in 1990-91, when a year of my life was taken up by Iraq and the first Gulf War, as well as a parliamentarian and a member of the ISC in 2003, which saw the overthrow of Saddam, the biggest lesson that I draw from the past is: if you do not in good time confront evil in its heartland, evil will come to you in your heartland. I support the Government’s proposals.

4.44 pm

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, it is a very great pleasure to welcome and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hague, on his speech. He was a doughty friend and supporter of all that we tried to do in Bosnia, and I thank him for that. He and his colleague the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, made a very significant contribution there.

I hope that today marks a watershed not just for the people of Syria but in our battle to remove the scourge and terror of ISIL and in the foreign policy of Her Majesty’s Government. In the last 10 years, since shock and awe, we have been obsessed by high explosives as our singular instrument of foreign policy. We have forgotten again and again and again the old dictum of Clausewitz that war is an extension of diplomacy by other means. So in Afghanistan we relied on high explosives: we did not build the relationships with the neighbours that we should have built, we did not build that diplomatic context, and we lost. In Iraq, we did the same. And we lost. In Libya, when it came to constructing the peace, we did the same. And we lost. And for the last three years we have been doing exactly the same. And we were losing. Maybe we will now give ourselves a chance to turn that around and make success.

The more alert Members of your Lordships’ House will recall that I have made the point over the last three years, in this place and in newspaper articles, that bombing alone would not succeed and that we ignored

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the diplomatic context—there was none. I remember saying, time and again, that to make the removal of Assad a cardinal principle of our policy when we did not have the means to make it happen was utter folly. If you will the ends, you must will the means, and we had none, since he was supported by Russia and Iran. I made the point, time and again, that this was not about the West but about the growing Sunni-Shia conflict, and we had to try and get in and unite those two groups; that we needed to create a proper coalition; that we needed to involve the Russians—I remember the rather derisory comments when I first made that proposition.

Now, we have that. At last, in Vienna, we have a proposition for a widening coalition between Sunni and Shia with the involvement of the Russians. To back that, we have a UN Security Council resolution, which, by the way, does not just legitimise action but lays a duty upon us to take action. That is what the words say. So all the ingredients that I sought to make some sense of military action are now either in place or in progress. How could I not back that?

However, I want to make two points very clear. The first is that British bombing alone will not defeat ISIL. It might add something—a rather small amount, I think—to the weight of bombs that are falling, but it is the coalition being constructed in Vienna today that will first of all defeat ISIL and then move on to create, I hope, some kind of stable peace in Syria. By the way, those who want to get rid of Assad need to recognise that it is only in the context of that coalition that Assad will now be removed. So of course one would want to support that. With a coalition that comes up with a military strategy first—as in Dayton, when we had to bomb the war to an end to beat the Serbs—and then a strategy to create some kind of stability in Syria, how could it be the case that Britain would not play a part in that? So, yes, I support the Government.

Secondly, and finally, if you launch war, you launch unpredictability. The best that we are deciding on today is that, on the balance of probabilities, this is the best opportunity that we will have. There are no certainties. If we are successful in removing ISIL and creating some context of stability in Syria, it will be messy, conflict-ridden and inelegant. The peace that we may be able to create will not look very nice. In fact, probably the only thing to be said for that peace is that it will be better than the war that it ended.

I remember so well when the citizens of Sarajevo had to suffer four years of conflict. The Dayton peace agreement left a mess, but there was not one of them who did not say that that mess was better than the war that preceded it. I bet that there is not one person—

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con): My Lords, we have been very clear that we really need to stick to time. I would be grateful for the next speaker.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon: I will draw my remarks to a close. There is not one citizen—

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I am sorry, my Lords, but could we move on to the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins?

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4.49 pm

Baroness Hollins (CB): My Lords, little has been said about the psychological roots and psychological impact of war and terrorism, and I am grateful to senior colleagues at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society for their advice. How and why do young people choose to fight with a terrorist organisation? They started life needing the same things that we need: to be safe, to be loved, to have a future. What went wrong? Misguided idealism is an inadequate answer. Each started as an ordinary child whose life pathway took them to a place where they started doing extraordinarily evil things.

All children in growing up take time and need parental support to achieve the intellectual and emotional maturity that will allow them to modulate their behaviour and manage powerful feelings such as anger, impotence and despair. Children traumatised by violence or abuse are more likely to go on to inflict trauma on those weaker than themselves. The bully looks for the Achilles heel of his enemy before striking. Trauma is trans- generational, but its expression may vary from generation to generation and our primary task must be to try to break the cycle of trauma. Education and care are critical. Our schools pay insufficient attention to the emotional needs of their students; child and adolescent mental health services have been cut to the bone; and youth services have an inadequate reach. This is not good enough. We must invest in the mental health of future generations, not just in mental health services but in creating mentally healthy communities.

You might ask what I know of war. My father died of his war wounds 50 years after he was seriously injured on the day after D-day while leading a battalion inland from the Normandy beaches. He suffered post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life, but it was not diagnosed or treated. The ripples of war last for a long time. Many veterans of more recent wars still live with the psychological consequences of their military experience with shockingly little support for their mental wounds. It seems that we have still not provided the infrastructure needed to help our own veterans resume a normal life. Some civilian survivors of the London Blitz had nightmares for 50 years because they did not know they could get help. Even now, only one in seven people in this country seeking psychological therapy will get it. The Prime Minister says that the infrastructure needed to help Syria recover after the war is over will be provided, but has he factored in the psychiatric and psychological treatment and rehabilitation services that will be essential for peace to be secured?

As a psychiatrist myself, I know, and as most psychologists know, here in the west we are seeing a knee-jerk and “groupthink” reaction. Our horror at events in Paris and Tunisia has turned into a rush to violent retribution. It is inevitable that many people will lose friends and family members and be seriously traumatised as a result of British bombs, some of them going on to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated bereavement, depression and anxiety. They will stay awake at night, unable to forget the awful things that they have seen. What about children bereaved of parents or siblings, who will not have parents to teach them about forgiveness and about normal human

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relationships of love and trust? Some of the people whose families and friends we have bombed will join the original aggressors and the cycle will go on.

Syrian refugees settled in the UK are likely to have ambivalent feelings, including concern for relatives left behind. They will be directly aware of what is happening back home through social media. How much investment is being made in the communities from which British-born IS volunteers are recruited? By enriching their families’ lives and investing in the stable future of those societies, we would be investing in the whole world’s security.

Restoring peace, security and the rule of law, and freedom from arbitrary murder, persecution, rape and terror, would be one of the best mental health interventions there is, but does the Minister agree that attending to psychological trauma experienced by survivors will also be essential to break the cycle of violence?

4.54 pm

Baroness Helic (Con): My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on his powerful and timely maiden speech. I had the privilege to work with him for over a decade and it is my honour to be on the same Benches now.

When the Arab spring arrived in Syria, I was heartened by the support that many rightfully offered to its people. I was disappointed when that support ebbed away and, most of all, when the hands of our own Government were tied after the use of chemical weapons by Assad forces. Those who voted against military action then, when ISIL barely existed, said it could only make things worse. Today, thousands more people are dead, there are 5 million refugees and Lebanon, Turkey, Tunisia and Paris have been attacked. It is hard to imagine how it could have been any worse.

I supported the Government then and I support the Government now. Daesh poses a threat to the United Kingdom and we cannot rely on the others to defend our security. It is deliberately working to undermine the cohesion as well as the security of our societies by trying to create a clash of religions. If we simply wait, the poison will spread and we will have to pay an even higher price to confront it in the future.

It seems obvious that military action to disrupt Daesh is only a part of the solution, along with choking off its finances and external support, securing the border between Turkey and Syria and, above all, working on a political settlement. This means being clear about what kind of Syria we wish to see emerge and overcoming the question of President Assad that has paralysed diplomacy. We should not confuse the process of diplomacy, which will require dealings with Damascus, however unpalatable, with the outcome we are seeking—a stable, sovereign Syria, at peace with itself and its neighbours.

Like others in this House, I recall the ending of the war in Bosnia, after mass atrocities, mass displacement and the Srebrenica genocide. The person behind many of these crimes, President Milosevic of Serbia, was one of the main signatories of the peace agreement with the full blessing of the international community. It was a flawed and unjust peace, giving de facto recognition to ethnic cleansing. However, it stopped the killings, refugees went back and Milosevic ended his days in The Hague, exactly where he belonged.

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Assad has presided over the slaughter of his own people and the destruction of Syria. We cannot continue letting his sheer existence decide if, when and how the war ends. While there is no future for Assad in Syria, we today must find a way forward. We have faced such difficult moral, political and strategic situations before and found a solution through diplomacy and hard power. We must do the same for Syria for the sake of its people, peace and our own security. That, in my view, must start with military action against Daesh in Syria.

4.57 pm

Lord Berkeley (Lab): My Lords, I have been persuaded to speak by many friends and families who are questioning the need to bomb on its own. I was interested to see a poll in one of the papers this morning saying that the majority of the population was opposed to bombing. I see this as a debate about whether bombing will help the inevitable peace process that will come.

We are, to some extent, moving into a war situation of our own making. This is a religious war between different parts of the Muslim faith. However, we have had that before. We have had religious wars for the past thousand years, including one in Northern Ireland, as the noble Lord, Lord King, mentioned, and the Crusades. They were all highly destructive, as many noble Lords have said. So I question why we want to be in this one. Could we not be more useful being sympathetic bystanders supporting the diplomatic work that is going on? It is not as if one side—if there is one side; there are several sides at the moment—is better than others. We change our favourites rather too often for credibility. ISIL is a horrible organisation, but I am told that there were in fact 102 executions in Saudi Arabia in the first six months of this year while ISIL is recorded as conducting 66. I do not know whether that is right but it puts a balance on these things.

What good does bombing do? It keeps the people who make bombs happy, obviously, and other people may feel good, but what else does it do? It invites retaliation, which we have had and we may get more. The biggest question I have is this: who are we targeting? It is fine to say that we can pinpoint people with drones —we have seen that—but there are an awful lot of other bombs around and an awful lot of other people who are being killed or blown out of their houses. I do not accept the figure of 70,000 people being trained on the ground to support this. Again, I have seen a report which stated that training cost the US Government more than £1 billion but that only seven people actually turned up to fight the war.

I suppose my next question is: what is the effect of bombing? It destroys homes and businesses—something that we have seen everywhere—in a way that is miles out of proportion to the horrible things we have seen in Paris and other places recently. We have seen it in London in times past. People leave for a better life. They are now coming to Europe and to the UK—and why not, if we bomb them out of their homes? If it happened here, where would we go? We would want to go somewhere else. We would be refugees, like everyone else. So I see this as a rather nasty vicious circle. We make the bombs, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states

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buy them with their oil money, thus keeping alive the industry that makes them, and they pass on the weapons to their friends and neighbours for this war.

I think that there is a much better way of doing this, which is to encourage them to make peace through a massive co-ordinated and effective humanitarian peace mission. The noble Lord, Lord Hague, in his excellent speech talked about imaginative diplomacy. I think that that is what we should be doing now, and I am not persuaded that bombing will add anything to this.

5.01 pm

Baroness Jolly (LD): My Lords, recent research by Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, found after interviewing Syrians of all faiths and sects that they valued their pluralist society of old and wanted to return to the days when Christians and Druze were friends and all lived on the same street. The debate today allows us to debate whether the action proposed by the Government will contribute to this aspiration.

After much deliberation, Lib Dem MPs are supporting the Government based on five criteria or principles: that the action should be legal; that there should be a diplomatic framework; that we should lead pressure on the Gulf states and Turkey to re-engage; and that there should be a post-Daesh plan that includes an exit strategy. At home, we should look into foreign funding for British extremist groups, do better on refugees and adopting the Save the Children plan for child refugees, publish the report on the Muslim Brotherhood and, finally, work on all of this with our European neighbours to co-ordinate our action plan against Daesh.

Any military action by the UK must be part of a wider international effort involving all who have an interest in defeating Daesh, which is not an army but a collective mafia. This would be as a prelude to ending the conflict in Syria and Iraq. The effort must include Russia, Iran and Turkey. The Government should use all efforts to ensure that the Vienna talks succeed in bringing together the broadest possible support for action to end the war in Syria and effect political transition, as well as physical and economic reconstruction.

One thing that has not been mentioned so far but must be addressed is the appallingly high unemployment rate among young men and women across MENA: to be disenfranchised, educated and unemployed is just what appeals to Daesh recruiters. The UK should lead a concerted international effort to put pressure on the Gulf states to stop their nationals funding jihadi groups within the region and worldwide.

Daesh collects taxes, and even VAT, and a cash economy does not suit its way of working: it uses banks. Oil and gas plundered from Syria and Iraq is finding its way on to the world market and putting $3 million a day straight into Daesh coffers. Although I know that we all differ on that figure, whatever it is, it is an awful lot. At the moment it looks very much as if Turkey is complicit, allowing transit across its borders and then into the international market. We need to deny Daesh use of world banking systems and oil markets.

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Daesh is not short of arms and armour. It took American kit from Iraq and Russian kit from Syria, but, as I read in a new report yesterday, and contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord King, said, it needs ammunition. There will always be an arms trader who wants to make an easy dollar, renminbi, rouble, euro or pound. Is the Minister confident that no Daesh oil is finding its way into our markets? I would be grateful if he would also explain to the House the moves being taken to curb the sale of oil and ammunition, and the stops on banking, in particular in Syria.

At home, we call on the Government to step up their acceptance of Syrian refugees and to opt in to Save the Children’s proposal to rehome 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from within Europe. For politicians, your Lordships will understand that this works out at about five children per constituency.

My challenge to the Government is to ensure that debates over military intervention do not drown out the cries of those desperate for our help, and that we keep our eyes very much on the plight of the Syrians and plan for their future—a future of community, peace and growth. I support the Government in this and, along with my colleagues in the House of Commons, I very much hope that our support is not in vain.

5.06 pm

Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB): My Lords, I have always found the Christian just war tradition an essential tool for thinking about military action. There is nothing esoteric about it. It is simply a way of ordering one’s thoughts in relation to a well-established set of criteria.

In relation to the proposed bombing in Syria, the first three criteria are easily met. Is there just cause? Yes: Daesh is an evil that must be stopped. Is there competent authority? Yes: the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 calls on states to take “all necessary” means to overcome this threat to international peace. Is there just intention? Yes: to establish an ordered peace in territory now held by ruthless killers.

It is when we come to the last three of the six criteria that the issue becomes much more problematical. Have all other steps short of war been taken? No: there are clearly other actions that we should be tackling as a matter of urgency. One is working with Turkey to close the Turkey/Syria border to foreign fighters, who have in recent years made their way much too easily across it. The other is stopping the flow of arms to Daesh. Much stronger pressure must surely be put on those countries that are currently facilitating this.

The next two criteria are very closely intertwined and are crucial in the present debate in particular, as noble Lords have made clear. Namely, more good than evil must flow from the military action, and there must be a reasonable chance of success. We need to think very seriously about what we mean by “success” in this context. It has two aspects, both crucial. One is the worldwide battle for hearts and minds. We must never forget that the aim of these terrorists is to alienate young Muslim minds from the values of the countries in which they live and to win them over to their extreme form of religion.

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There is a lesson to be learnt here from the liberation struggles in the 1960s against colonial powers. The guerrilla forces at that time knew that they could not win great battles, but their aim was to stay in existence long enough and be enough of a threat until the political battle had been won. That success depended on keeping the population for whom they were fighting on their side. Daesh must, and will, be defeated, but that would be worse than useless if military action resulted in thousands more disaffected Muslims joining its ranks worldwide. This could happen if bombing resulted in major civilian casualties. The problem now is that Daesh forces are clever enough to no longer present obvious military targets. They can and do very easily melt into the civilian population—a population that would be the main sufferers in any bombing campaign.

The second aspect of success means winning and holding Daesh territory and establishing stable government upon it. For this, as so many noble Lords have emphasised, ground forces are needed. But Syrian experts tell us that the Free Syrian Army, even if it numbered 70,000, is mainly in the south, with its fighters unwilling to fight outside their own provinces. As we know, they are very divided amongst themselves. Until there are ground forces in place ready to take territory—this probably means some prior political understanding with the Russians over the future of the Syrian Government, as the noble Lord, Lord Hague, so rightly stressed—I do not think that the criterion of a reasonable chance of success has been met. As the Prime Minister wrote, in response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee,

“Without transition, it will … be difficult to generate a Sunni force able to fight ISIL and hold ground in Eastern Syria”.

The Government are committed to a political and diplomatic process, which, of course, the whole House wholeheartedly supports. However, it is only the beginning of a process. It is premature to say that it is far enough advanced to have a reasonable chance of success on the ground, without which air strikes alone would be premature and could alienate the very people whom we want to hold to our side.

5.10 pm

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords, we are, I suspect, about to embark once again on the business of war. At this moment, above all else, we must remember that the objective of war is not to secure victory but to secure the peace.

It is understandable that so many are cautious. The failures of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya cast a long shadow. I have considerable reservations. We are told that IS represents “a fundamental threat” to our national security, yet we will not commit troops to the ground under any circumstances. That is militarily bizarre. What are troops for if not to deal with a fundamental threat to our national security?

Am I alone in having no clear understanding of what the specific political objectives of the Free Syrian Army are? Perhaps my noble friend Lord Howe will be able to tell us when he winds up. Yet alongside those reservations, and many others, I ask myself this: what would we be saying if the attack had been on London rather than on Paris and the French refused to help us?

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The headlines and the outpourings of insults and accusations would be appalling. Enduring friendships sometimes require us to swallow our doubts.

This will not be a war against Islam but against evil, butchers, beheaders and crucifiers. I have no doubt that we will win the military conflict, but what I fear most is that, in the aftermath of victory, we will throw away the peace, as we have done too many times before. If winning a war is a messy business, securing the peace can be far more difficult.

Peace in the land called Syria will not be the peace we hope for. We are going to get our hands dirty. It will involve deals with Russia and Iran. It will involve us finding a way of dealing with Assad, too, despite our reservations. Some will undoubtedly describe such deals as grubby. The end result will have little to do with democracy, human rights and fair play and everything to do with stability and practical things—grubby compromises. It might even involve an effective division of Syria or widespread and forced relocation of populations. Nothing can be ruled out. Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurd will demand autonomy and their own security, and how will we square our new friends the Kurds with our old allies the Turks?

In the end, we will do things that we would rather not do, and we will fail to do some of those things that we very much want to see done. If, and only if, we are ready to meet the challenges of that peace should we embark on this challenge of war. Let us not dare set out on a journey that we fail to finish.

5.14 pm

Baroness Taylor of Bolton (Lab): My Lords, my entry in the register of interests shows that I am a director of a large French high-tech company. That is not relevant to this debate but I thought it would be best to mention it. I start by mentioning something that was touched on earlier; namely, the amount of abuse that has been levelled at people on both sides of this argument. This is a serious matter and it was totally wrong of the Prime Minister to call those who intend to vote against him “terrorist sympathisers”. It was even more wrong of him not to apologise today. But it has also been wrong for those who are against action to threaten and abuse those who are voting in a different Lobby.

I am also very worried about the amount of abuse that British Muslims are getting at the moment. This is something that we all have to be extremely aware of. I represented a constituency in West Yorkshire which had the largest mosque in Europe and I know that the majority of my former constituents not only have no links with Daesh or terrorism but do not want any, and they are appalled that they are being condemned because of the actions of a very few.

There has also been a problem with the way in which the media have presented the arguments. The word “war” conjures up blanket bombing. “Bombing Syria” conjures up a different picture from “bombing Daesh”. We have to be realistic that we are talking about a very complex situation in a very complex region. Yet on one level the decision that the Commons is being asked to make today is very simple: to extend the action against Daesh that was agreed by Parliament—

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by the large majority that was mentioned earlier—just over the boundary into Syria, when no one there recognises that boundary at all. Yes, there are problems about ground troops, which have been mentioned. Yes, there is a difficulty in giving extra time to Assad. But no one is suggesting that there is a quick solution or indeed an alternative solution. The basic fact is that if we do not engage in this activity, Daesh in Syria will be stronger and we will all be more vulnerable.

I just want to say a word about the actual Motion that is before Members of the Commons today. It is not perfect but it is very well written. It says specifically that,

“military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy”.

It talks about,

“the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks”.

It mentions,

“the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria”.

It talks about cutting Daesh’s source of finance and weapons and the,

“continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support”—

not enough. It makes it clear that our proposed air strikes will be only a part of that strategy, albeit a very important part.

The Vienna talks have been mentioned. We have to include the whole region and make all the countries in that region face their responsibilities for funding and assisting Daesh and for some of the doctrinaire ideas that are being propounded by some of the larger countries. There are difficulties here but it would be wrong to ignore the United Nations resolution that says we should take “all necessary measures”. We can do more to help in this situation. Military action is only one part of the solution—if there is a solution—but it is certainly not something that we should reject.

5.18 pm

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): My Lords, I start by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Hague of Richmond, on the brevity and clarity of his fantastic maiden speech. It was an important speech and the House needed to hear his voice today.

I have spoken in 43 debates on Syria since 2011. In the intervening five years, more than 9 million people have been displaced, more than 1 million injured and 250,000 killed. It is important for us to recognise that. For most of this period, I have argued for intervention because it was evident that, poorly governed as the Middle East is, it was incapable of resolution on its own. The rise of ISIL was not a surprise. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have always mobilised in vacuums, as we know from Somalia and Afghanistan. As with AQ, so we have to deal with ISIL.

To those who have concerns about the UK’s belated engagement to degrade Islamic State in Syria, I say this: I am the first to admit that bombing cannot destroy an ideology, but it is undoubtedly true that the ownership of territory gives you the attributes of statehood. IS raises revenue from having 20 to 30 billion barrels of oil, pumped daily from captured fields in eastern Syria and northern Iraq and providing about

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$50 million a month. It raises taxes from the population trapped within its area of control and it administers summary justice—although on justice I say to the House that in our abhorrence of its justice, we seldom recognise that our ally in Saudi Arabia has similar and as barbarian punishments, some of which it is carrying out this week. The fact that ISIL runs like a state is what makes it attractive to other jihadis, including Western ones. To push back against its territorial gains therefore has to be an essential part of the strategy, and air power is already working in that regard. The Americans say that they have killed more than 20,000 IS fighters since August 2014, so to suggest that air power is therefore irrelevant is strange, to say the least.

There is also much concern that we do not have a developed strategy beyond air power. I do not want to get into a numbers game, but I will say that growing up in conservative Muslim societies, with 42 years in and out of the Middle East, has taught me one thing: that in the Middle East, allegiances shift in the sands as much as they ever did. The entire history of Islam—the Shia/Sunni schism and much more—is about shifting powers and then shifting allegiances. When the facts on the ground start to change as we join the campaign to degrade IS, so too will myriad fighters change sides. The US saw that in the tribal awakenings in Anbar in Iraq in 2007, and we may see it again.

Moreover, on strategy, we have seen in warfare that whatever the game plan was when you started out, a few months later it will not be what you expected. We cannot know how this will end; that does not mean that we are not right to try to shape events. I simply remind the House that the Islamic State’s motto is “Enduring and expanding”. That is their brand and their mission. We owe humanity a duty to try to prevent that.

5.22 pm

Baroness Deech (CB): My Lords, I do not claim to know the answer to the serious issue before us this afternoon; nevertheless, I have a point of substance to make. It is about the decision-making process and the royal prerogative. I have read as much as I reasonably can, but I do not believe that I—or most Members of Parliament, or even noble Lords—really know all there is to know about the pros and cons of military action in relation to Syria, let alone what might happen in the months and years to come. It may be that the noble and gallant Lords in our midst, or noble Lords with diplomatic experience—I was tempted to say noble and intelligent Lords, by which I mean noble Lords who are privy to intelligence—have the answer.

Having listened to ordinary voters giving their opinion in the media, I do not think they are very well informed, either. It is not sufficient to be pro-war or anti-war in a general way. It is a decision that might best be made by the Cabinet and the military experts. That is why there is much to be said for the historical practice of treating going to war as a matter of royal prerogative. For hundreds of years, and until very recently, the decision to go to war—however it was defined—was for the Crown to make: in practice, that is, for the Prime Minister. As far as I know, there was no vote when we entered the First and Second World Wars or defended the Falklands. Indeed, it has often been said that even

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to debate the issues in Parliament means giving the enemy, whoever he is, advance notice of our intentions and involves disclosing information that ought to be confidential and might relate to the protection of our Armed Forces.

Undoubtedly, if there was a sudden attack on this country we would expect—and it would be perfectly legal—to defend ourselves at once, without recourse to Parliament. Whether the proposed Syrian action could be called an emergency, a matter of self-defence, an extension of existing action or a war of choice is debatable. But it seems to be expected now that, if there is time, not only should Parliament be consulted but the House of Commons should have the last word on whether to go to war.

The new convention started with former Prime Minister Blair seeking parliamentary approval for the Iraq invasion, and since then it seems to be accepted that Parliament makes the decision, not the Prime Minister. The weakening of the royal prerogative and the growth of a new constitutional convention have been considered, with approval, by at least two parliamentary Select Committees. But of course, it would be surprising if Members of Parliament did not think that they should have the last word—that is democracy. Nevertheless, I am anxious that complete and confidential information may be absent from consideration when a decision to go to war is being made, for example, by polling party members or to serve party political ends or show solidarity. Least of all should the decision depend on a guess as to whether more terrorism might be unleashed on our shores. That would be giving the enemy the very control it wants over our foreign policy. There is, even today, much to be said for the royal prerogative.

Fortunately, this House is doing no more than offering its advice. The noble Earl may be able to reassure us of this in his reply, but I would submit that there is not yet a solid convention that going to war is a decision for the House of Commons alone. In my view, it is a decision for the Prime Minister, who will be accountable for it and take the credit for victory or—although I hope not—the blame.

5.27 pm

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, that was an extremely thoughtful and important speech, and I for one believe that what the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, said should be taken to heart by leading figures in all political parties. This debate will be remembered I think, above all, for the notable maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Hague of Richmond, who is a very special person in my life. I have served six Conservative leaders, and he was the only one who had the sagacity to put me on his Front Bench.

This is a crucially important debate, in which we are being asked merely to give our views. This morning, I sat in the Public Gallery of another place and heard the Prime Minister make a powerful, convincing speech. In answer to the very important point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Bolton, I would point out that he began by saying that he accepted unequivocally that however people voted tonight, they would be voting from sincere and honourable motives. It is important that that is firmly on the record.

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Some of us know what it is like to go against the grain. I had the very good fortune of being among a tiny handful of Labour and Conservative Members of Parliament who lined up with the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, in urging action in Bosnia. I have never regretted that, and eventually the Government came down on what I believe was the right side—without, I would say to the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, a vote in Parliament.

The Motion before us today and being debated now in the House of Commons is, as the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor, said, a well-written Motion, from which I will single out two phrases. It talks about,

“post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction”.

What a pity that the resolution that was before us when we debated going to war in Iraq—which I supported—did not have a similar sentence in it. It seems to me that there would be a wonderful potential role for your Lordships’ about-to-be-established external affairs committee here, because it could monitor that with a degree of expertise and experience that no other body could bring to such a task. I warmly commend that suggestion to your Lordships and to my noble friend Lord Howe, who is responding.

The other part of the resolution that I would mention is the explicit commitment not to put in ground troops. I believe that that is extremely unwise. We have heard what my noble friend Lord King and the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, said. We should not rule out that option, but we have. Unless, as I would like, we go down the road marked out by the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, there should be an amendment with a reference to Parliament, because we cannot and must not rule it out. Those who will the ends must will the means.

As my noble friend Lord Dobbs, who explained why he has had to leave the Chamber, said a few moments ago, we cannot make this an unfinished journey. We have to ensure not only that the evil represented by Daesh is eliminated from the face of the earth but that we see a proper, stable, reconstructed Syria at the end of it. That will demand unpalatable truths. We will have to line up with the Russians in a way that we have not in the past, and we will have to fight one enemy, not two—and that means Daesh and not necessarily Assad.

5.31 pm

Lord Mitchell (Lab): My Lords, I have been a Member of your Lordships’ House since the year 2000 and there is not much that I regret about being here—but one thing still weighs heavily on me. It is that I did not speak in the Syria debate in September 2013. To me, that debate was a defining moment, just like the one before us today. “Use chemical weapons against your people”, was the clear statement made by the Prime Minister and the President of the United States, “and we will drastically reduce your capability”. Well, Assad did use them, and we blinked.

The then leader of my party, having assured the Prime Minister that he had Labour’s full support, abruptly changed his position and the Government were defeated. Seeing his closest ally bottle out, Obama lost his nerve and the moment passed. Assad had won.

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What were the consequences? Assad carried on as normal. With Putin’s support, he went through the charade of dismantling some of his chemical weapons but continued using those that remained and then graduated to barrel bombing. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed and many more injured. Thus was created the worst European refugee problem since the Second World War.

We in this Parliament could have stopped it or slowed it down but we turned our backs—all for the quiet life. The world saw our weakness and indecisiveness. It saw that we were paper tigers—none more than President Putin. He smelled blood in the water. Were we surprised that, just a few months later, Russia invaded Crimea? Putin knew that we would talk big and do nothing. He and others like him had our measure. Each time we back away in pursuit of the elusive quiet life, we store up a much worse fate in future.

Today, we face a similar dilemma. Doing nothing is an option, but it is a bad option. You cannot sit down with ISIL, have a cup of tea, a cucumber sandwich and a bit of a chat and reach an accommodation. ISIL members are not men of reason looking for a peaceful solution; they are vile terrorists in a quasi-state who will stop at nothing—no depravity is too great. We indeed crave that quiet life, but they will not grant it to us.

I look at my party’s leadership and I despair. Since when has Labour become a party of pacifists? Since when do we run away when confronted by danger? I listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, talking about the royal prerogative and I asked myself about NATO. Under the terms of the NATO agreement, we all have to come to each other’s defence if one is attacked. If there were an attack on Poland, say, do we join them immediately or do we have a debate in the House of Commons to work out how we are going to respond? I do not like this precedent of Parliament deciding these issues.

I believe that the Prime Minister is right, and I am sad to say that I believe that my leader is wrong. If I had a vote, I would support the Government.

5.34 pm

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): My Lords, I believe that there is such a divergent set of opinions about what to do and what not to do about the situation in Syria because, in some people’s minds, “Heads we lose and tails we lose”. Whether or not the UK takes action in Syria, in addition to current actions in Iraq, there are likely to be further terrorist incidents in Paris, London and elsewhere. Although Daesh is under constant military pressure, it shows no current sign of heading for defeat.

Western intelligence shows that, after the horrific attacks in Paris, Daesh has shown a shift from inspiring and inciting terror to being the guide and perpetrator. Are we about to see a contest between Daesh and al-Qaeda in attacking western targets? We and our allies are already active in Iraq, but Daesh does not recognise a border between Syria and Iraq. Up to now, it slips across the porous border into Syria and we

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have not been authorised to follow. Defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria will not solve all the problems, but surely it must be the start of the solution.

Noble Lords are right to ask whether the UK’s efforts can make a difference. My answer is that they can, by the very nature of our Armed Forces and weaponry, to which the noble Lord, Lord King, referred. Two extra Tornado aircraft, armed with Brimstone missiles, can seek out specific and very exact targets, and they have a fuse that can be delayed or even aborted. The local forces—Kurdish, Free Syrian Army, Southern Front and others—need to be equipped and trained with, for instance, the Exactor or Tamuz TV-guided missile, made in Israel and used by Britain successfully in Afghanistan. The Tamuz missiles are fired from an armoured personnel carrier from two launchers. The Brimstone and the Tamuz are but two examples of sophisticated weapons, and I hope that when he replies the Minister will give some indication of what sophisticated weaponry the UK forces can add to the conflict.

Quite rightly, we are not offering combat boots on the ground, but who can doubt that the ground war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, using local troops, will be better co-ordinated with a moral, British, logistical input? Other noble Lords have rightly asked what happens after we join in the attack in Syria. As other noble Lords have also said, I hope that we will concentrate on the humanitarian aspect after the conflict as well. This conflict is a complex one, where it is difficult always to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys”. Surely, therefore, we should accept that this conflict must be waged with short-term and longer-term targets.

I emphasise that the Gulf states must be brought on board at some stage—as soon as possible—and when they see the resolutions in the other place, I hope that they will come on board. The first target must be to weaken Daesh, which not only aims for local terror but has been seen to send its terrorists into our western heartlands. Then, and only then, we must turn to toppling Assad and replacing him—but not make the mistake of necessarily replacing his Alawite supporters, who may be needed post conflict to restore some order to this troubled land.

5.38 pm

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, last summer I said that it was illogical to attack Daesh by air in Iraq but not in Syria. I think that it is now right to add air strikes to our existing reconnaissance flights. I must warn, however, that the longer the bombing continues, the worse the adverse effects are likely to be. That is why the Vienna process, bringing together the major states with direct interests, is so important. We should use every diplomatic and other means to make it work.

Multilateral negotiations can produce good results, as we saw in Iran over nuclear weapons. Partial solutions, such as ceasefires, should not be rejected just because they do not solve everything. They will save lives and prevent greater flights of refugees. At the same time, we should start on long-term plans over perhaps 20 or 30 years to rebuild both Iraq and Syria. They deserve good government and reasonable prosperity, of which tyrants and wars have robbed them. We should identify

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the vital middle levels of leadership, both inside and outside the Middle East, and prepare them for the work of reconstruction that lies ahead.

As regards aid from us and from the EU, we should remember that Lebanon and Tunisia have sheltered huge numbers of refugees without using camps but with huge pressure on the stability of their societies. Above all, we should not forget the unresolved and worsening conditions of Palestine and Israel. Everyone in the Middle East and north Africa knows about it, even the illiterate. Failures on every side cast this country and the West in general as invaders, crusaders and oppressors. It is a constant spur to terrorism. We must use every possible channel, official and unofficial, for the crucial task of peace-building. Moral imagination suggests that new Palestinian elections after nearly 10 years might allow a younger and more united leadership to emerge.

I conclude by mentioning one area in which the Foreign Office seems to have failed—namely, the cantons of north and east Syria. Policymakers have swallowed whole the lies and half-truths put about by our Turkish allies and even by groups such as Amnesty International. The Kurds, Assyrians, Chechens, Turkmen, et cetera, of those cantons deserve better. They are our allies against Daesh; they can help their Syrian and Iraqi neighbours towards common citizenship, equality for women and democratic practices. When will the Foreign Office take the trouble to visit those cantons and see for itself?

5.42 pm

Lord Hutton of Furness (Lab): My Lords, I start my remarks tonight by expressing my very strong support for the Government’s policy with regard to taking military action in Syria. It is clear to all of us in this country, and increasingly clear to people around the world, that the international community needs to develop an effective response to the problems in Syria; we need a political strategy. With the Vienna process, that strategy is beginning to emerge. Members of the UN Security Council are fully engaged in that process, which is a positive sign. Many other measures need to be taken in that context; noble Lords have referred to the problems about financing and the open borders, and all those issues need to be addressed.

However, it is pretty clear now that, if we are going to defeat Daesh and bring its reign of terror to an end, we will need an effective military component as well. If there is one thing that we should all be clear about, it is that. The only question is whether what has been proposed by Her Majesty’s Government will help to bring that day closer—the end of Daesh terror. I firmly believe that it will, for a number of reasons. In the United Kingdom, with the Royal Air Force, we have important military capabilities, which we can bring to bear, that are missing at the moment. In the light of UN Security Council Resolution 2249, we should be prepared to commit that additional military resource. In fact, it is our duty to do so.

I fully accept the argument that we have heard tonight and elsewhere that airpower is not going to be enough for us to prevail in this campaign, but it can be an important part of that solution. As my noble friend

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Lady Ramsay said, if anyone doubts that, they should start by consulting the Peshmerga in Iraq, who are fighting Daesh as we speak. The struggle against Daesh is just as much our fight as it is the fight of those in the front line of the resistance to this evil force in the region. In the struggle and in this fight, I do not think that we can be bystanders. That is not the country that we are.

Also—and for me this is a hugely significant event— we must respond to the French request for assistance. Thousands of British football fans singing “La Marseillaise” at Wembley a few weeks ago was a wonderful thing to see, but sadly it will not be enough to discharge our responsibilities to one of our closest and historic allies. Solidarity with France and, indeed, with other nations that face this threat will require an additional commitment from us. It is important for your Lordships’ House to understand, and I am sure from the contributions today that it does, that if we are going to prevail in the struggle, it is important that we recognise tonight that we will have to mobilise all our diplomatic, political and military resources to ensure success.

Finally, let us spare a thought for the RAF crews who will be charged, I hope, later tonight with a new and very heavy responsibility. They are the people who should be at the forefront of our thoughts this evening.

5.46 pm

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords, I was hesitant to join a debate to which so many noble Lords had already signed up to speak. I wondered whether to contribute the thoughts of a humble Peer in the street. I hesitated to mix it with the big beasts of the foreign policy and defence establishments, but I was scandalised into putting my name down to speak last night by David Cameron telling his MPs that they should not be walking through the Lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a “bunch of terrorist sympathisers”. Those are not the words of a statesmanlike Prime Minister seeking to lead a unified nation to war. They are a disgrace, for which he has refused to apologise. He should be ashamed of them and I hope very much that the noble Earl will disown them when he comes to reply this evening. These are complex issues about which honest people can disagree and it is quite inimical to the spirit of rational discourse—which is, after all, one of the values that we are supposed to be defending—to brand anyone who takes a different point of view as a sympathiser with terrorism. That is to adopt the mindset of ISIL, not that of the leader of a free country.

I cannot enter the debate without saying something about how the issues appear to a humble Peer in the street. They seem to come down to a few quite simple propositions. What ISIL has been doing is an unconscionable outrage and an affront to human and civilised values. Paris is only the latest and worst excess. ISIL should be completely eliminated if at all possible, but this is not straightforward. ISIL is not like a conventional army. It is a hydra. Take one head out and two more spring up somewhere else. I am not a knee-jerk opponent of military action, but we should beware of falling into the trap of saying, “Something must be done; this is something, so it should be done”.

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What should be done has to be effective. The actions of the American-led coalition have been largely ineffective in degrading ISIL to date. No one believes that flying a few extra sorties over Syria will make a great deal of difference, as the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, who has great experience, confirmed.

The political build-up has been quite extraordinary for such a comparatively minor extension. This is just gesture politics. As several speakers have said, to mean anything there will have to be troops on the ground. The Prime Minister assures us that there are 70,000 ready and waiting, but this has attracted widespread scepticism. If there are 70,000, they are a bit like Falstaff’s army and do not always have very savoury credentials. The Iraqi army, if it can be called that, runs away whenever ISIL appears. The Kurds are the only ones who can be relied on, but they are already fighting to the limit of their ability. I am aware of the arguments about solidarity with our allies, but we can express solidarity without putting planes in the air. Canada does.

No one believes that military action against ISIL will make us safer in this country. I have never believed that that was a plausible expectation to have of foreign ventures against jihadist terrorist organisations—in fact, quite the reverse. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and intelligence and security chiefs all think that it will make us even more of a target.

This is the wrong action at the wrong time. As I was pleased to hear a moderate Syrian spokesperson confirming on the radio the other day, if we were to bomb Syria, it should have been in the first year, in support of the peaceful protests that President Assad was seeking to suppress, while they were still comparatively moderate and unified. Five years on, the situation has long since spiralled out of control and we should keep well out of it.

5.50 pm

Lord Crickhowell (Con): My Lords, I am speaking in this debate because this is one of those subjects about which individual Members should make their position clear, and this House should collectively indicate to the House of Commons where we stand.

Britain is already launching air attacks on Daesh in Iraq and carrying out reconnaissance around targets in Syria. To refrain from attacking Daesh’s headquarters in Raqqa, its supply lines and its most important source of wealth—the oil wells—across what for Daesh is a non-existent frontier, represents a very peculiar act of self-restraint.