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11.33 am

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): As a leader of a parliamentary party, I regret that I did not have the opportunity to express my condolences when the other party leaders expressed their condolences about those who were done to death in these terrible atrocities. I wish to put it on the record that I have had an apology from the Speaker, which I accept, but I want to associate myself with those earlier remarks.

Great grief is never good at talking; the language of grief is not vocal. It is a tear, an anguish in which the depths of one human soul calls to the depths of another in agony. In light of what has happened, words are too weak to express how all nations feel about this moment. Coming from Northern Ireland, where ugly scars are still before us and where running wounds are still open, I find it interesting to note that republican terrorism was taking place there at the same time as the atrocities were being carried out in the United States; attempts were made to slaughter three

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police officers in the city of Londonderry. It was only providential intervention that has kept us from mourning those three police officers in the House today.

The whole world has been sent a fiercely highlighted message by this terrible atrocity, which brought the New York skyline to sea level and made its rubble the cruel sepulchre of thousands of unsuspecting victims. The rulers of western democracies must learn the lesson that criminal terrorism cannot be talked away; it cannot be engaged in dialogue because it is a lie incarnate. Its priests and acolytes are unchangeable liars. A demonstration of that is that a killer in one plane knifed young children to death. I welcome the Prime Minister's words today that this form of terror knows no mercy, no pity and no boundaries. I also welcome what was said by the shadow Foreign Secretary, which was in keeping with those words.

Terrorism has become a monstrous beast, which now rages forward to torment the whole world. A new and terrible dimension has been added to the terrors of our unknown tomorrows. We met in the House after the awful atrocity in Omagh, and heard strong words and strong language. However, those who mourn their loved ones in Omagh never got action in the courts and have had to bring a private prosecution against the suspects, for which they are raising money at the moment. For the Omagh people, therefore, we did not come up to the standard, and many people will wonder whether, after all that will have been said in the House today, we will really take on the enemy and be determined to have the courage to work to take away the oxygen from it.

Numbers of victims were quoted by the leader of the SDLP in the House; he is right. The atrocity in the United States, in comparison with those suffered by the population of Northern Ireland, is very minor. One knows that from the figures. We have endured such things, on the same level and higher, day in, day out. Yesterday, in the Stormont Assembly, we were not even allowed to table an amendment to the motion before the Assembly because of the desire to get some sort of consensus. I resent that; I believe that when anything is dealt with there, there should be opportunity to consider it thoroughly from every point of view. I am glad that the House has been given the opportunity, through the recall of Parliament, to state our views. We must have a grim determination that, come what may, we will act against the terrorists so that people throughout the world do not fear what will happen on the morrow. That is a tall order and will not happen overnight, but it must be the objective. Anyone who suggests that this is a war that cannot be won takes from the very heart of determination and hope among the people of the planet. This war must be won. This war must be pursued with all the activity of energy, determination and resolution.

I resent the remarks made against President Bush. I do not believe that he ran away, and I think it disgraceful that that should be suggested.

Those of us who are under police protection, as I have been for 30 years, do not like it. We are told that there are places where we cannot go, and we have to obey that. It is not that I would not want to go to such places: I have a great argument with my protection officers, who say "As long as we are protecting you, we will tell you where you should go and where you should not go." They have to watch themselves as well.

I think that the House should salute the President of the United States, wish him well, and join others in prayers that these sores and wounds will be eased and that some

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day soon we shall see the shining of a better sun on this world, and the sight of a beautiful rainbow over the awful valley of tears where we are at the moment.

11.41 am

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): May I have a quiet word with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, my friend of 35 years? He spoke of turning the other cheek, but it is not quite like that. We must make up our minds about whether we are concerned with "vengeance and eradication", or with preventing such ghastly happenings from ever occurring again. I am directed towards the latter.

We must ask ourselves this: where do evil organisations recruit people who are prepared to take planes into skyscrapers? I think I know part of the answer. In 1998, with the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, I went to Baghdad. We were invited one evening to the house of Tariq Aziz, who said rather movingly, "You may think that Saddam and I are extremists. We are as nothing to what will follow if these sanctions and this bombing continue."

The truth is that there is a generation in Iraq and, indeed, elsewhere in the middle east which—whether we like it or not; unpalatable though it may be—is growing up absolutely to loathe the United States and Britain. It is a "pool of talent" from which people can be recruited to do desperate and evil things. We must ask ourselves, as a candid friend of the United States—candid friends can, of course, be a great nuisance—to what extent the hatred of America is due to very aggressive American foreign policy.

Reference was made to Libya and Lockerbie. The Prime Minister has a letter from the Rev. John Mosey of the Lockerbie relatives, a very balanced, decent man, who says that it was American aggressive foreign policy that killed his daughter. That is a matter of record, and his opinion.

I think we must be very careful about assuming that a great many people in this country want vengeance. They want this to be prevented from ever happening again.

I have one concrete suggestion, which may be very unpalatable: I ask the Foreign Secretary to look again at the whole Iraq policy. I happen not to think—I may be wrong—that the Government of Iraq had anything to do with it. What one suspects is that there are people from all over the middle east—a very tightly knit group—who, because of what they have seen happening in Palestine and elsewhere, are prepared to go to desperate lengths. Unless we address that problem, this will happen again. I simply ask the Foreign Secretary this: for God's sake, look at 10 years of bombing of Iraq and sanctions.

11.45 am

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): The House always listens with great interest and respect to what is said by the Father of House, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), and we all hold him in high and affectionate regard. We can understand why he spoke as he did, but I think—as I have said, with great respect to him—that he underestimates the anger that is felt throughout the world at this despicable series of atrocities.

I have rarely found the House more united in grief and in anger, or in resolve. This debate recalls in some respects the debate we had on a Saturday morning in April 1982, just after the Falkland Islands had been invaded. The Opposition of the day gave virtually unqualified support to the Government, and on the back of that a successful expedition to the Falklands was launched.

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Of course it is crucial, as we give support to the Government—which we do unreservedly—for the Government to use their influence in the councils of the world to ensure that any response is measured, accurate and properly directed. We do not want to compound this appalling series of dreadful deeds by the making of more innocent orphans. The House will, I think, be united on that as well.

In the brief time that I have—and it is right for all our speeches to be restricted—I want to direct the attention of the Foreign Secretary, and that of the Secretary of State for Defence, who will respond to the debate, to one suggestion. Of all the talk of international co-operation, we can say, "So far so good"; but out of that must emerge something definite and specific.

What we need is an international convention akin to the Geneva convention. What we need is a convention to which all members of the United Nations are obliged to subscribe: a convention that says that the harbouring of terrorists and the nurturing of terrorism will never be accepted, and that nations refusing to subscribe should forgo any rights to United Nations assistance—and, indeed, to votes in the United Nations General Assembly. They should know that they would be regarded by the other nations of the world as legitimate targets should they indeed harbour terrorists.

These people, evil and motivated as they are, cannot succeed without some state in which to base themselves. I do not know whether the speculation that bin Laden is responsible is right; I do not know whether the speculation that Saddam Hussein is very involved is right. I regard both as entirely plausible theories, and it is perfectly possible that both are right. If they are, it is entirely right for those countries to feel the wrath of the international community—but it must of course be done in a measured way, and we must be as careful as possible that the innocent are not slaughtered in the process.

We must root out this cancer of terrorism from the world. It will be a long, long job. There is, as someone has said, no absolute and ultimate defence against the suicide bomber who is hell bent on mayhem and destruction; but we must make his task as difficult as possible, and our intelligence services must be as sophisticated and alert as possible. One way of ensuring that—it is only one suggestion, but it is a specific and particular thought—would be to create an international convention, as I have said, to which every member of the United Nations would be required to subscribe. It must be detailed and specific. The Geneva convention is rarely broken when it comes to the way in which almost all nations treat prisoners of war, and so on. There should be such a convention binding the nations of the world as a partial step towards overcoming and eventually eradicating this monstrous evil.

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