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3.44 pm

John Barrett (Edinburgh, West): Although our thoughts are with the victims and the families and loved ones of the 7,000 who died in New York and Washington, we should give some thought to the victims of terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, refugees on the move and in camps, starving, eating grass or nothing. It is not only in the west that terrorism is ruining lives.

We heard earlier who is responsible and that the evidence points clearly to bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime. I look forward to as much of that evidence being published as possible but accept that not all of it will be in the public domain. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) said, we have to take on trust what we do not see published. It is important that we convince not only hon. Members and our allies, but the general public and the general public in other countries that what we are doing is right. We must be believed.

We have identified who is co-ordinating the training for terrorism in Afghanistan and the regime that allows that to go on. Who allows it is culpable and must be stopped but serious problems will arise. Winter is about to set in and there are dangers, which have been mentioned by many hon. Members, in entering into an alliance with the Northern Alliance.

It will require resolve by all our allies. International co-operation is vital and is developing further today, but we must not allow strains on that international alliance, if and when military action starts, to affect our attempts to deal with the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding and the aid that is already arriving in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We must give humanitarian and military objectives equal priority.

We have had difficulty establishing the exact number of victims in New York and Washington and we do not know the number of victims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is good to see aid beginning to get through. In my constituency, many Pakistani families have friends and relations in Pakistan, particularly in Islamabad. They have contacted me about the crisis. I have received no letters arguing that we and our allies should move forward more quickly, but dozens of letters arguing caution. I agree with a number of points that have been raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) in the House and elsewhere.

On the domestic front, we must give greater consideration to the risks in this country. There has already been an attack on a mosque in Edinburgh, but one of my greatest concerns is the threat that exists to nuclear power stations, among other installations, in this country. The hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Simpson) mentioned the ability of terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. Since 11 September, things have moved on. Weapons of mass destruction can be domestic airliners. Petrol tankers have been mentioned in connection with a potential attack on the Sears tower. We must look at

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security at home. We in the House are aware that security measures have increased. I would like security measures outside to increase too.

3.47 pm

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): I would like us to look beyond what will happen in the next six weeks to six months and examine institutions that we currently call world which may not be global. The globalisation of the financial markets in the 1990s happened without any Government aid. It was a decision by big banks. They went 24 hours a day, seven days a week uncontrolled by us, the elected Members of democratic western states. When we talk about the globalisation of politics, what does it mean? I wonder whether we could reflect on that for a minute or two.

Most of the institutions that we call world—the World Trade Organisation, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank—reside in America. They were born in the early part of the war in 1940, 1941 and 1942. They may not reflect where we are in world politics today. Perhaps the issue among the non-western democratic states is that they have a problem with that culturally, politically, economically and socially. Perhaps one of the things that we will have to give some thought to is whether those institutions can stay in America and whether the way in which they are run, the boards are run and the directors are controlled have to open up.

An early definition of the globalisation of politics may be: one country, one vote. That might mean looking again at the United Nations and a Security Council that has a veto. Could that be the right way to proceed if, out of the terror of the past few weeks, we are to develop new systems of global organisations? I leave that question with the House.

This matter is compounded, too, by that small thing of the 1990s called the internet. I receive daily e-mails from people in Kabul, Islamabad, Bombay and Delhi urging us not to invade or bomb because we have no idea how bad things are. I imagine that that will continue during the next six months. Thus we have an extraordinary ability to communicate with people whom we are trying to destroy, albeit not deliberately. The process is far more complicated socially because of the way in which we are able to interact as global citizens. I do not believe that the world organisations fully comprehend the pace at which the world has moved against the institutions that we currently call "world".

We have had a half discussion about the laundering of money. This House has always been critical of the moving of money by Swiss banks in Geneva and Zurich, but we are just as guilty. London banks have laundered many billions of pounds and we have allowed it. It simply cannot be right that the boards of directors get away with that scot free. We must look again at our banking regulations in the City. If banks such as HSBC and Citibank are global, as they say they are, there must be a global way to regulate, organise or restructure them. Given that we will not get it from the World Bank or the IMF, we as politicians must give a lead.

I want to look at some of the cultural implications. We have two of the most magnificent external organisations in the world: the BBC World Service and the British Council. I was pleased to find in my mail this morning the "open minds" commitment from the British Council.

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An additional £1 million is being given from today to establish much greater contact in the Arabic and the Islamic worlds. It is strange that that has not happened already, but we must give much more consideration to the cultural implications of the relationship between, in a crude sense, Christians and Muslims. That is one of the fundamental issues.

The BBC World Service has done a phenomenal job. It is the only trusted service in Afghanistan—indeed, it is the only radio service in Afghanistan, extraordinarily. It has done amazing translations and has broadcast 24 hours a day in the past three weeks, and we should be truly proud of it. Its staff have worked heroically to bring that about.

To build on that, the House must consider whether we could establish something between a Nobel prize and an Oscar. We have awarded achievement scholarships for 100 years or so; is there not a way in which those could work the other way round, so that British young people between the ages of 18 to 30 could study in non-Christian countries and better see the relationship between the west and the middle east? It would be good to work on that idea.

Four weeks ago, I was with three other hon. Members in Tunisia. In a serious discussion with the Tunisian cultural Minister, he explained, "We are Arabic and Muslim, but we were also French. We have two languages, Arabic and French, but the internet is 98 per cent. English. In one generation, written Arabic is disappearing from our culture because of the implications of English." We take it for granted that people will speak English, but we do not understand the cultural power of English and how it is affecting the middle east and the far east. The power of the English language has deep cultural implications, and we should consider them carefully.

3.54 pm

Mr. Andrew Selous (South-West Bedfordshire): I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister's statement and that of the Leader of the Opposition, and the remarks made by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

We must in due course use our influence with the United States of America to urge them to address the reasons for the hatred of America and the west that is prevalent in the middle east. I think in particular of the several thousand militant madrassas that are training underprivileged children in Pakistan. Last week, one of the students of those madrassas was quoted as saying, "We will come after you. We will come into your schools and your playgrounds. We will get your children."

It will avail us nothing if we manage to dispose of Mr. bin Laden and his network if his place is taken by hundreds of others with similar views. It is extremely important that we urge on the US the extreme importance of a fair and even-handed foreign policy, particularly in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. The US must also pay more attention to the positive promotion of the American image and to showing what good humanitarian and development work the US does in other parts of the world.

To avoid charges of hypocrisy against the US, it is absolutely vital that we urge the US to take all further possible steps to stop the funding of terrorist organisations

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within the US itself. This country, among others, has been the recipient of funds of terrorist organisations, which have been used to ill effect against our own people. Our constituents are entitled to ask that we urge the Government to stress the importance of that to America.

Several hon. Members have spoken about the importance of civil defence, which needs to be urgently addressed. The Government need urgently to consider issues such as the safety of our food and water supply. Speaking as a former Territorial Army soldier, I hope that the Government will look carefully at using our reserve forces in a much greater civil defence capacity. The US national guard is now mobilised to a huge extent. Our reserve forces are extremely capable and could shoulder a great deal of civil defence responsibility at little cost to the public purse.

Before I came to this House I worked in the London insurance market, and I have friends and colleagues who work in tall, prominent buildings in our financial district. It is perfectly reasonable for any employee working on the upper floors of a tall building to ask their employer what steps they are supposed to take for their own safety, should an aircraft crash into the middle of the building. I urge the Government to speak with employer organisations and City authorities to ensure that some thought is given to the safety of employees who work at the top of tall buildings.

Many of my constituents have told me that they are extremely pleased that Parliament was recalled three days after the events of 11 September and has been recalled again today. We do not know how events will unfold over the next few days. Calls have been made already in this debate for Parliament to return again next week, perhaps on Thursday or Friday. If we are to establish this House as the prime place in which important debates about the international situation take place, I urge that the House be recalled again towards the end of next week.

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