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6.2 pm

Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth): I apologise to both Front-Bench teams for being unable to be present for the winding-up speeches owing to a prior private engagement.

I was in New York last week; I got back on Sunday. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude), who might have been the shadow Foreign

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Secretary but for one vote, I experienced the very strange atmosphere in the city, especially the strange smell which once experienced is never forgotten. I add to that the sound at night of empty and loaded trucks carrying masses of rubble and remains from the city. To grasp the scale of the catastrophe, we must remember that only one fifth of the rubble has been removed and that those trucks will be rolling for at least a year. That is a staggering thought.

One lesson of the conflict is that we must not alter our lives for terrorism. I say that having had some experience serving in Northern Ireland at the start of the troubles. The Government should try to persuade us to maintain our life styles wherever possible. When we change them, we give in to the terrorism and give the terrorists what they want. Maintaining our life styles may not be possible in all circumstances, but there has been much panic and it is unnecessary.

Let us consider that, since the troubles in Northern Ireland began in 1969, terrorism has claimed 3,000 lives—very few on the mainland—yet every year there are between 1,600 and 1,900 accidents involving buses and pedestrians in Britain. So, the chances of being hit by a bus are infinitely greater than being involved in a terrorist incident. The Government should try to stress that.

I was at the NBC studio on Sunday when the issue of anthrax was discussed. Indeed, I met someone who had been in contact with the gentleman who had been diagnosed as having contracted it. I spoke to some of the medical specialists present. They stressed that cases of anthrax had been quite common among textile workers in America. I represent what used to be a textile constituency—we have lost so many factories—but we have never had a case of anthrax in Hinckley. The medical specialists stressed two points: first, that one should not take an antibiotic if one has not contracted the disease, and secondly, that the medicines for treating it are potent and effective. We must try to avoid being frightened to death, which is exactly what the terrorists want.

Another impression from the United States was the worry—it was present in the United Kingdom last week, too—about public relations, how we are carrying our cause and whether we are effective. We have made one glaring error in talking about crusades. Such talk was probably instinctive for those of a particular religion, but it was unfortunate.

This morning I was talking to somebody who is very close to a broadcaster on an Islamic radio station in Britain about the mistake of linking the words "Islamic" and "terrorism". We are dealing not with Islamic terrorism but with terrorism that is perpetrated by a very small proportion of a particular community. We must not talk about "Islamic terrorism", which tends to bring the whole of Islam into the matter.

We have heard the eloquent comments of colleagues such as the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) about the concerns that we all feel over the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan. My right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham highlighted the difficulty of conducting military campaigns without the loss of civilian life. However, the Government must keep pointing out that what happened on the site of the World Trade Centre, which is now called Ground Zero, was the

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worst single civilian massacre in living memory. There was no military target. The massacre included victims from the Greek, Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities; every religion was represented in that catastrophe.

We must at times take very determined action against terrorists. Such action had to be taken against Colonel Gaddafi, and we did not hear much from him afterwards. We had to take tough action in the Gulf. I was then secretary of the Conservative Back-Bench foreign affairs and defence committees. We were a little wobbly at times; we felt very concerned about what was going on. It was not pleasant. The situation in Bosnia has been mentioned. How would we have brought Mr. Milosevic to book had we not taken action? What awful ramifications would there have been for Macedonia and the whole theatre if we had not acted?

We must not just wield a big stick but carefully consider the carrots. I say that sincerely. We must get across in a much more concise and understandable way what the west intends to do to help not the rich countries in the theatre but some of the poorer ones. We need to come up with a few phrases that catch on, such as "Aid to Arabia" and to get across the fact that we are concerned about the nations in the area, that there is a western plan measurably to improve the standard of living, and that that is an integral part of our strategy.

America's history of war and reconstruction provides telling evidence of the two processes going hand in hand. The last great shock to strike America before the catastrophe occurred at the World Trade Centre was Pearl Harbour. The Americans talk all the time about that shock attack by the Japanese, and there was great hatred in the United States for the behaviour of the Japanese during the second world war. However, at the end of that war, General MacArthur went to Japan not to demand the emperor's head, but to reconstruct Japan. Why do the Japanese now love playing golf? Why do they wear American baseball caps? Why do they play in the American baseball league? It is because they could not comprehend the United State's kindness in coming to their defeated nation and reconstructing it.

Other examples include the Marshall plan in Europe and the reconstruction of the southern confederacy after the civil war. The book that President Bush is currently reading is "April 1865", which is about events in the month preceding the conclusion of the American civil war. It tells of the reconstruction planning and attempts to find a solution that would ensure stability in the south. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Defence is thinking as a doctor and wondering how we can treat the patient—although we might have to adopt a rather tougher approach than he takes in his surgery.

Mr. Salmond: He is a psychiatrist.

Mr. Tredinnick: I had better not take up the opportunity that that comment provides, lest I be called to order.

In the emergency debate a couple of weeks ago, I stated my belief that what we needed was a United Nations solution for Afghanistan. I believe that even more strongly now, especially when I consider that if the Northern Alliance take Kabul, it will be extremely hard to get rid of them. Think about what happened in Berlin at the end

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of 1945: the Russians surged across the lands of the Third Reich and did not hand control of Berlin to the four powers until they had thoroughly sanitised and bugged it. It took lengthy negotiations before our forces got to Berlin, which made matters extremely difficult.

We have to look beyond Afghanistan. Many hon. Members have spoken eloquently about the problems that confront us in that theatre, and I do not propose to repeat their remarks. I think that there is a momentum toward change in many places, and when drawing up a settlement after the war in Afghanistan ends—however it ends—we should include other troubled areas. Pressure should be exerted to resolve the Kashmir conflict, and to end the troubles in Sierra Leone. We have an opportunity to change our relationship with Iran, which was once our staunchest ally in that region. However many Chieftain tanks Iran bought from the United Kingdom, they are still there. In the old days, Iran was a great trading partner for us. There is work to be done, but great opportunities to change things for the better arise out of tragedy.

In all our debates, we hear about Israel and Palestine—whatever we are supposed to call it. I know that the Government got into some difficulties with descriptions of Palestine. I met Yasser Arafat many years ago in Tunis, when he was still classified as a terrorist. Like the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham), I thought that that was an important mission that we had to undertake if we were to build bridges.

Currently, there are two fundamental problems in the region that must be resolved. The first problem is the settlements. It has caused problems throughout the Arab world. I checked the figure in the Library: there are 200,000 settlers in approximately 150 settlements and according to current reports settlements are still being built in contravention of existing arrangements. Another problem, left over from the Yom Kippur war, is that there are 607,000 registered refugees in the west bank and 852,000 in Gaza—displaced Arab people who have never found a home. Those two problems form a double powder keg in the region. Having visited the region, I think that the settlements have to be stopped. Peace will never be possible unless that happens.

I strongly believe that the greater the disaster, the greater is the potential for good. Now is the time for the Government—whom I commend on their handling of much of the crisis—and the United States Administration and all brave men to stand up and try to resolve as many of the conflicts in the world as we can. That might sound rather grandiose, but it is something to bear in mind, even though we are faced with an extremely difficult struggle. We have one ghastly statistic in common with the former Soviet Union: we both lost about 16,000 men in Afghanistan. That region will never be an easy theatre—

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