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The Prime Minister: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support. I think that to people here, in America and around the world, the message sent by the sight of the main political parties standing together on this issue will be welcome and immensely reassuring.
As for the methods that we will attempt to devise at international level to deal with terrorism, the agenda will be taken forward in every international forum. Discussion is under way on a new convention on terrorism on which we have been working with other countries for some time. The G8 will of course have a role to play, as will other bodies of which we are a member.
It is most important not to forget the sheer horror of the events. Let that inspire us to take the action that is now necessary. We must realise that other methods and other forms of terrorism could become increasingly open to terrorist groups. Now is the time to put in place the measures that will give us the best chance of stopping them.
Obviously, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the Muslim community, and I certainly do not rule out the further recall of Parliament in circumstances in which that becomes necessary.
From the outset of this terrible event, which should be brought home to us because of the large numbers of our own citizens who have been killed, I have tried to make one thing clear. We can only imagine what would happen if 100 or many more of our own people were killed by an act of terrorism in this country; yet it makes no difference whether such an act happens in New York, Britain or anywhere else. Our interests are directly engaged. I believe that in order to protect the world from further terror it is necessary to take action. We will, as we always do, take action in a considered, calm and careful way, but action will have to be taken.
Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann): On behalf of my colleagues in the Ulster Unionist party and, I think, of the people of Northern Ireland in general, may I first associate myself with the Prime Minister's comments expressing our condolences to the American people and to all those who have been bereaved and injured in the events of the past few days? May I also underline and agree with the Leader of the Opposition's comments, in which he pointed out that we have seen the worst act of terrorism inflicted on the British people since the last war? It is quite right, therefore, that, along with our allies, we should seriously contemplate what the appropriate action is.
One other comment comes very much to mind. I recall reading in the media after the event a number of commentators quoting the rather macabre words issued by an Irish Republican spokesman after the IRA had attempted to wipe out the Cabinet, when he said, "You have to be lucky all the time; we only have to be lucky once." I found it unfortunate that some people were quoting that as if it were an accurate comment, which of course it is not. It was a deliberately crafted statement intended to amplify the terror and to give people the sense that they were helpless and that terrorism would inevitably succeed. That is quite wrong and it is important, in all we say and do, that we underline the fact that it is wrong.
Terrorism will not succeed. It can be beaten, although not easily. It requires careful intelligence. The Father of the House was right to point out that, as far as possible, we want to avoid inflicting injury on any innocent people, and that is why intelligence is crucial. However, we need the correct application of that intelligence, which has to be taken over time. We will, of course, entirely support the Government when we come to take what the Prime Minister calls appropriate action. He is right to underline the fact that that action has to be determined, and that it will take time and be continued over time. There will be no quick fix, but it is important that the menace be dealt with properly and, as he says, that the machinery of terrorism be destroyed.
I want to underline one other specific aspect of the statementthe need for us to look again at how we deal with terrorism and, in particular, at how terrorist groups are financed and their money laundered. We need to consider the links between terror and crime and between terrorist organisations. We will have to examine that
Mr. Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr): Will the Prime Minister accept my unreserved condemnation of the atrocities carried out in the United States? Will he also accept that that terrible act of terrorism claimed the lives of many people of many faiths, including Muslims? In addition, will he assure the House that it would be quite wrong for British Muslims to be tarred with the same brush following that dreadful act of terrorism?
The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for his words. He speaks on behalf of many Muslims in this country when he says that they share the shock and horror at this outrage. The fact that the Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement of such strength and so quickly indicates what we know to be true: that those who truly follow the religion of Islam are decent, peaceful and law-abiding people. Like us, they have often been victims of terrorism and, like us, they want it stamped out.
Mr. Michael Mates (East Hampshire): Referring to what the Prime Minister said about future co-operation, does he agree that it is almost inconceivable that intelligence or security agencies somewhere in the world did not have wind of an event in which so many people were involved and which took so long to plan? Are we not, here in Britain, with our historical ties with the middle east, the far east and the Indian subcontinent, perhaps uniquely placed to lead a crusade for better co-operation among all the security and intelligence organisations in the free world? They must realise that every country is as much at risk as we have been and the Americans are now.
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman has a great deal of experience in these matters. I cannot comment on the speculation in his first question, but his point is absolutely right. One thing that has been brought home to people as a result of this atrocity is the need for far better co-operation between countries. There is also, I think, a recognition of the fact that the threat to the world today has changed since some of the sharp ideological divisions of the cold war declined. The threat comes from new forms of terrorism and fundamentalism. On one level, such terrorists might appear to be utterly irrational in what they do, but on another, the methods that they pursue appear coldly rational. There needs to be far better co-operation between nations, and not just in terms of intelligence and security. It has been interesting to see the reaction to this from every corner the world and every nation with an interest in order and stability, rather than disorder and chaos. We need to build on that now.
Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside): Does the Prime Minister accept that, when the initial horror of the atrocities subsides, sophisticated attempts will be made to limit the action that can be taken by trying to link what some regard as just causes with the atrocities? Does he agree that such approaches will ignore both the fanaticism of those who have carried out these grotesque acts and their unlimited objectives?
One value for which we fight is the democratic right to disagree. People are perfectly entitled to have their causes and feelings about any regime, Government, system or way of life, but it is up to us to ensure that they are not allowed to pursue those causes in anything other than a peaceful and democratic way. When we are under threatand we are under threat from these eventsit is important that we react and do not allow the passage of time to make us weak in the face of that threat.