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Volume 462: debated on Monday 2 July 2007

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the weekend’s events. First and foremost, I am sure that all Members agree that our top priority must be the success of the investigation and any subsequent prosecution. For that reason, we will all want to avoid speculating about the details of what is still a fast-moving investigation.

The facts as they have been reported to me by the police and other agencies are as follows. In the early hours of 29 June, an ambulance crew reported a suspicious Mercedes vehicle outside a nightclub in the Haymarket in central London. The vehicle contained significant amounts of petrol, gas cylinders and nails. Explosives officers from the Metropolitan police counter terrorism command were called and manually disabled the means of detonation. During the course of their investigation on Friday, police learned of a second Mercedes vehicle that was issued with a parking ticket at about 2.30 am on 29 June. The car was parked in Cockspur street, London, close to the location of the first vehicle. The second vehicle was taken to a pound in Hyde Park at about 3.30 am that day. The vehicle contained similar materials to those found in the first, including a significant amount of fuel, gas canisters and a quantity of nails. As with the first device, the vehicle was swiftly made safe by explosives officers. Police soon confirmed that the vehicles were linked. Further examination will reveal additional detail about the damage that the devices might have caused if detonated, but at this stage police believe they were potentially viable devices that could have caused significant injury or loss of life.

At 3.15 pm on 30 June, a Jeep Cherokee drove into a front door at the check-in area of the terminal building at Glasgow airport and caught fire on impact. One member of the public sustained minor injuries in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Police have confirmed that the incident at the airport was linked to the vehicles discovered in London. Investigations into these incidents have involved police forces across the United Kingdom. To date, six individuals have been arrested in connection with the events: one at Glasgow airport, a further two in Glasgow, two in Staffordshire—north of junction 16 on the M6—and one in Liverpool. One further individual of interest remains in a critical condition in hospital. Searches have already been carried out in at least 19 locations, but as I have already said, this is a fast-moving investigation.

I am sure that the House will want to join me in thanking all those involved in the response to these incidents: the ambulance crew, whose vigilance potentially averted an attack; the police, particularly the explosives officers who manually disabled the device in the Haymarket; and the Security Service. In addition, the response from the public and the business community, including staff at airports, has been excellent in support of the police and other emergency services. I would also like to thank colleagues in Scotland and, internationally, in the United States and in Europe for their messages and offers of support.

Since Friday morning, the Government have held four meetings of Cobra, which were chaired by the Prime Minister and me and attended by ministerial colleagues from key Government Departments, and the police and intelligence agencies. Our priority has been to co-ordinate the necessary responses to protect the public.

Turning now to that response under way across the country, the police have substantially stepped up protective security measures, including: high-visibility patrols, including armed response vehicles; the increased use of stop-and-search powers for vehicles and pedestrians; and increased physical protection around airport terminal buildings, including tighter controls on access roads and the installation of new barriers, in conjunction with airport operators and the Department for Transport. As ever, these measures are designed to maximise public safety while minimising disruption to normal life. This action supplements the substantial programme of work already under way to protect high-risk locations. Police counter-terrorism security advisers have already advised a range of crowded places in recent months, including over 450 major sporting venues and around 400 shopping centres.

As the House will be aware, the UK national threat level was raised from severe to critical on Saturday 30 June by the joint terrorism analysis centre. JTAC sets threat levels based on a comprehensive analysis of all intelligence relating to international terrorism.

Terrorism is a serious threat to us all. We must ensure that our resources, capability and legislation support our common endeavour to defend the shared values of this country from terror. To that end, we have doubled expenditure on counter-terrorism since September 2001. Work as part of the current comprehensive spending review will further assess the expenditure necessary. We have started a full consultative review of counter-terrorism legislation, with a view to a Bill later this year. This process will continue. We have refocused the Home Office, developed the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism and established a weekly security board, which I chair, to co-ordinate the efforts of key Departments and agencies. Across Government, Ministers will work together to oversee the delivery of this complex package of measures.

Let us be clear: terrorists are criminals whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religious backgrounds. Terrorists attack the values that are shared by all law-abiding citizens. As a Government, as communities and as individuals we need to ensure that the message of the terrorists is rejected. I very much welcome the strong messages of condemnation that we have heard throughout the weekend from community leaders across the country. It is through our unity that the terrorists will eventually be defeated.

In closing my statement, I would also like to express my admiration and thanks to members of the public in this country, in all our communities, for their patience and measured response to these events. My aim as Home Secretary is to allow the British public to live their lives as they would wish, within the law. The fact that people have been prepared to go about those lives as normally as possible this weekend sends the strongest message to those who wish to destroy our way of life and our freedoms that we will not be intimidated by terror.

May I start by welcoming the Home Secretary to her new post, especially in these uniquely difficult circumstances? She has handled this entire affair to date with a calmness and dignity on which I congratulate her.

I join the Home Secretary and offer the thanks and congratulations of the Opposition to our emergency and security services for their actions in stopping these evil acts, which were planned with the clear aim of taking possibly hundreds of innocent lives. Without the keenly observant eye of one ambulance crew and the rapid response of our police force and bomb disposal crews, we could have been discussing a major tragedy today.

I wish to single out for praise the civilians who intervened to support the police at Glasgow airport. Without their action in helping to subdue a subject, in circumstances of violence and extreme risk, there might have been a much worse tragedy. In these days, when the word “hero” is bandied around for the most minor of achievements, a real hero is someone who runs towards danger while others run away, and who puts their life at risk to help others. These people did that, and I formally ask the Government to consider recognising their action appropriately.

All that being said, we have been very, very lucky: only the actions of a few people, fortuitously in the right place at the right time, prevented us from facing more than one major loss of life in the past three days. Today is a day for unity, not for criticism, so I have only two questions—of which I gave the Home Secretary notice over the weekend.

On 22 April, a newspaper carried a report produced by JTAC that predicted a high risk of an attack at the handover from the previous Prime Minister to the current one. Despite that, the threat level was not raised above severe, which is the level at which it stands most of the time. Why was that, and what were the implications for the police forces and security agencies of that lower level?

Once alerted to the threat, it is clear that the agencies responded remarkably quickly. Although numerous threats have been foiled, on which they deserve our heartfelt congratulations, we must face the fact that three attempted atrocities have occurred without warning. That means that the Home Secretary will have the difficult task of reviewing the strategy and resourcing of the entire counter-terrorist effort. If that leads to a significant increase in the size of the single intelligence budget, and associated police budgets, in the current comprehensive spending review, that decision will have the Opposition’s clear support.

Over the weekend, the Prime Minister said:

“The message that’s got to come out from the British people is that as one we will not yield, not be intimidated. And we will not allow anyone to undermine our British way of life”.

We agree. But we should remember that the liberty of the subject is the defining characteristic of the British way of life. So we should not give it up without very good cause indeed.

I am very pleased that the current Prime Minister and the current Home Secretary have not reacted to this very real threat with hasty or knee-jerk responses. Handling this enemy will take very cool judgment, very careful analysis, and very thorough planning if we are to defeat them without giving up what we all hold dear. This will take a long time, and will need co-operation between the Government and Opposition—a process that has already started.

Let me conclude by repeating what I said on 7 July 2005. It was true then, and it is true now, and I see the Prime Minister nodding. Whatever the origin and whatever the motive of the terrorism that walks our streets,

“our response will be the same—the British people will not be cowed and the terrorists will not win.”—[Official Report, 7 July 2005; Vol. 436, c. 466.]

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his words of welcome and support. I very much appreciated, too, the support he showed me as I briefed him over the weekend. I strongly agree about the bravery of members of the public, alongside members of the emergency services, and I shall certainly look carefully at his suggestion about how we can recognise that bravery.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a particular point about press reports of JTAC analysis. Just as we must avoid speculation about individual details of this operation, so too must we resist the temptation to draw conclusions from leaks of individual bits of intelligence analysis. It is JTAC’s job to look at all available intelligence from home and abroad over a period of time to assess the threat level. The fact that the threat level for the past year has been severe is a symbol or representation of the serious level of threat that the intelligence suggested we face.

I would have a small disagreement with the right hon. Gentleman about it being a routine threat level—it is not; it represents a sustained level of threat and police and other activity has been commensurate with that.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman expressed support for increased funding. The doubling of such expenditure since 9/11 has of course enabled us to double the number of agents in the security services and to provide important support for counter-terrorism work in the police force, too.

Once again, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his words; it is most certainly my intention to continue this important work in co-operation not only with Opposition Members but with everybody else in the country who can help us to tackle the threat of terrorism.

I am grateful to the Home Secretary for advance sight of her statement and for the updates she provided over the past few days as events unfolded. I welcome her to her new position and recognise that she had to deal with some early challenges within hours of taking it up.

I wholeheartedly join the right hon. Lady in recognising the vigilance of the public and the intelligence services, and the valour of members of the public, emergency services and police. That vigilance and valour, combined with an almost uncanny stroke of good luck, appear to have helped to avert the worst this time. Naturally, I, too, am delighted that neither she nor the Prime Minister appears, at the moment at least, to be invoking the events of recent days as a reason to argue immediately for new legislation. Does she agree that legislation is only ever a small part of our collective response and that excessive or ill-considered legislation can increase feelings of alienation and resentment, within precisely the communities we need on our side?

I strongly agree with the Home Secretary that unity is essential, not only to thwart criminal extremists themselves but to help to enhance a feeling of solidarity between and within our various communities. Does she agree that the long-term dilemma facing us all is how we can deal with the grievances of terrorist extremists without in any way legitimising them? Although there is never any excuse for such violence, does she agree that we need a calm, candid approach to our policies at home and abroad, to work out how best to bolster moderate Muslim opinion and successfully isolate the views of the criminal extremists, as the Prime Minister suggested this weekend?

Finally, in the light of the attack at Glasgow airport, will the Home Secretary confirm that pilot studies are under way for installing new vehicle access barriers at Victoria and Waterloo railway stations? In February, I asked what steps were being taken to roll out those pilots at other stations and airports and was told that a report would be completed in April, but I do not think it has yet been published. Can the Home Secretary confirm that the report is now complete and that it will be acted on with redoubled urgency?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments and the support he showed during our conversations over the weekend for the response of the emergency services.

I made it clear in my statement that I certainly do not see legislation as being the sole way in which we will tackle the threat of terrorism. Nevertheless, it is a very important way to address terrorism. That is why, as I suggested in my statement, I will take forward my predecessor’s proposals with respect to the counter-terrorism Bill that we hope to introduce later this year.

On the hon. Gentleman’s comments about the way in which we deal with extremism, I supported his second point, but I did not support the argument that it seemed that he was nearly making—that somehow or other a grievance, real or otherwise, could ever justify a murderous activity. If he was arguing—as I think he was in the second part of his remarks—that the task for us all, in all communities, is to isolate the extremists who propagate and carry out terrorism, I strongly agree with him. That is why work has already started in the Department for Communities and Local Government. Working with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Foreign Secretary, I want to renew and bolster that work, which will be crucial in addressing the threat of terrorism.

There is not a single solution to terrorism. That is why I emphasised the need for resources, capability and legislation and the need to win the battle of ideas in order to tackle terrorism. On the specific point about security in train stations, some additional protective security measures, especially high-visibility policing, are being taken in some of our major transport hubs. I will certainly go back to the report that the hon. Gentleman mentions, pursue it, and perhaps contact him on the issue.

Twenty-three hours and 59 minutes after the horrific attack on Saturday, Glasgow airport was fully operational. No doubt that is down to the hard work of the staff, the management and the emergency services, but it is also down to the general public, who were extremely tolerant and understanding. Many of them will be denied compensation for the loss of their holidays, so will my right hon. Friend use her good offices to encourage the insurance companies and the travel agents to look sympathetically at any claims that may come from those people?

Finally, I travelled through Glasgow airport today and the public and the staff there had a clear message for the people of the UK and beyond. It was a simple request: “Will you all come back again?”

I completely agree with the points that my hon. Friend makes about the considerable hard work and stoicism shown by the staff and others at Glasgow airport, and I join him in congratulating them on that. I have no doubt that both the travel and insurance companies will have heard the plea that he makes on behalf of his constituents and others and I am sure that they will bear that carefully in mind. His point about returning to Scotland is important. I know that Visit Scotland is working hard to demonstrate that Scotland is open for business as usual. Given what a very beautiful country it is, I am sure that many people will want to take the opportunity to visit it as soon as possible.

May I associate myself with the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) in relation to the Home Secretary? It must be a tumultuous time to be taking over the post. For my part, I think that she and the Prime Minister have spoken constructively, with a firm eye to the future—we obviously need to look at these things in an entirely different light, given some of the mistakes that have been made over the past five or six years on community matters.

Both the Haymarket and Cockspur street lie in my constituency, which also contains many of the country’s highest profile terrorist targets, and we must not forget that many residents live cheek by jowl with the embassies and other establishments in central London that are possible targets for car bombers. I appreciate that it is still very early days, but is the Home Secretary giving serious consideration to setting up a ring of steel to protect residents and businesses in the west end similar to that which has operated in the City of London over the past decade and a half?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I commend his constituents who live and work in that area of London for the way in which they responded to this weekend’s events. Of course, I would be happy to listen to any of his or his constituents’ ideas about how we can ensure their security. Immediately following Friday morning’s events, the police increased what they call protective security with high-visibility policing in the area. On threat levels, we will need to keep what is appropriate under review. High-visibility policing, the sort of measures that are already in place and vigilance, which is an important role for those who live and work in the area, are the most appropriate ways to address the threat.

I, too, welcome my right hon. Friend to her new and awesome responsibilities and congratulate her on the calm and effective way in which she has carried them out over the past few days. I also welcome the fact that she continues to review counter-terrorism legislation. May I express the hope that should it prove necessary to extend the time for which a suspect may be held for questioning, she will bring measures forward without any hesitation?

I thank my right hon. Friend. As my predecessor made clear at the beginning of June, we want to take forward proposals for the counter-terrorism Bill on the basis of consultation. He and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear that there might well be a case for examining the amount of time for which we are able to detain people pre-charge so that we ensure that there is the very best opportunity to bring successful convictions. However, if we were to go down that route, we would do so on the basis of consultation, a careful examination of the evidence, and ensuring that there was appropriate scrutiny.

Whatever the circumstances of present events, is the Home Secretary aware that in serious criminal cases involving terrorism that have recently concluded, there has been a strong connection between serious offences and the influence and transmission of extreme ideological religious views? Will she make countering that baleful influence a priority?

I agree that, in some cases, the transmission of what I would call extreme views—full stop—has led to at least part of the ongoing terror threat. As I suggested earlier, it is the responsibility of not only the Government but community leaders and others to isolate those extreme violent views, wherever they occur, and to ensure that we bolster the vast majority of all our communities who share British values, a respect for law in this country and all our concerns about countering terror.

If an important part of being British is agreeing about how we disagree, does the Home Secretary agree that we must ask the British Muslim community to condemn this barbarism without any equivocation or caveat—without any ifs and buts—because it is our only real ally against it?

I think that the support from our communities has actually been very positive. Whoever was involved in these attacks—of course, we do not know who that was—I acknowledge that those in our Muslims communities may feel that they are under the spotlight. In fact I was encouraged by the reaction from the Muslim community over the weekend. For example, Khurshid Ahmed, the chair of the British Muslim Forum, expressed

“support to the Government in raising the threat level”,


“pledged full support and co-operation…in tackling this menace”.

Haras Rafiq, the chair of the Sufi Muslim Council, called for communities to

“make a concerted effort to root out the dregs of society who commit such horrific actions, whose aim is nothing but to terrorise innocent human beings”,

and asserted that

“such actions have nothing to do with Islam.”

Those are strong positive messages and we need to work with members of the Muslim community who express views like that to isolate the very small minorities in any community who want to propagate hate and terror.

Is the Home Secretary aware that extremist fundamentalists have described the attack on the “Tiger Tiger” nightclub as an attack on slags? My daughter was there that night at a party of 18-year-old girls from a convent school who were celebrating the end of A-levels and an 18-year-old girl’s birthday. Dealing with a mindset that describes people enjoying themselves in London in such a way shows the challenge that this remarkably steady Home Secretary has to face. Does she share my utter gratitude and that of the parents of all the girls from St. Mary’s school, Ascot, whose daughters would not be with them today if it were not for the outstanding bravery of the bomb disposal officer who manually tackled the bomb? It is difficult to comprehend that bravery and it is even more difficult to express our thanks properly.

The hon. Gentleman does a very good job of expressing our thanks and the concerns and fears of those who had family, or knew of other people, involved in any of these incidents. He rightly identifies the need for us to be able to continue whatever we want to do in our everyday life, whether that involves attending nightclubs or going on holiday, free from the fear of terrorism and refusing to be intimidated by it.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her new post and on all the steadfast work that she has done over the past few days. She will know that yesterday the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Hazel Blears), and I were in Birmingham, where 5,000 people from more than 250 mosques have congregated over the past two days. At that meeting, all of them unreservedly condemned this absolutely barbaric attack. Does she agree that that is the attitude of the majority of the Muslim community, that any policy grievances that anybody might have are not an excuse to carry out such an attack, and that we must tackle those people who continue to say otherwise?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I understand that it was a very good event that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and my hon. Friend attended. That is precisely the sort of positive work between and within communities that is an effective way to tackle terrorism, and I thank my hon. Friend for his comments today.

I represent the largest number of Muslim voters of any official Opposition Member of Parliament. Following the point just made, the Islamic religious institutions in my constituency condemn terrorism absolutely. Does the Home Secretary agree that the main driver of the threat that faces us is not foreign policy, as some have intimated, but the perversion of a great religion into a separatist political ideology? Does she also agree that that ideology must be challenged, confronted and rooted out in all our communities if the challenge to our way of life is to be defeated?

The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point from what is obviously a position of knowledge. I welcome the points that he makes about the strong message from the Muslim community; he is precisely right. Any attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong, and needs to be denied. That approach needs to be supported by all right-thinking people in the community—Muslim and otherwise.

May I also congratulate the police on the speed of their response? In my area that includes Staffordshire police, who have been working with the west midlands counter-terrorism unit and the Metropolitan police. I visited Chesterton in my constituency this morning, where two of those arrested rented a property. I spoke to the police yesterday and again today, and I know that Staffordshire police are holding various meetings with the local community throughout north Staffordshire tomorrow. My understanding is that none of those suspected originate from our local communities. May I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that at this difficult time the police and all agencies continue the balanced approach, firm but not alarmist, in the interests of community cohesion in north Staffordshire and everywhere else in the United Kingdom?

It is, of course, not possible at present for us to know the origins or details of those who have been arrested, but I strongly agree with my hon. Friend in the approach that he identified. If there is anything that I or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government can do to support communities in his constituency at this difficult time, I would be happy to do it.

At this difficult time, may I commend the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister on their new responsibilities and for the excellent co-operation between the UK Government and the Scottish Government? Since the attack in Glasgow and the attempted attacks in London, nobody should be in any doubt that terrorism is completely unjustified. The Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru join all other parties in condemning the attempts to kill or maim innocent people and undermine our democratic values. In recognising the integral, important and positive role played by the Muslim community in modern Scotland, does the Home Secretary share my appreciation of the strong condemnation across society as a whole of the latest outrages?

Yes; I join the hon. Gentleman in thanking the Scottish Executive and other officials in Scotland for the co-operation that there has been on what is clearly a pan-UK incident, which we need to work together to tackle. My conversations with the Justice Minister and the First Minister have been important in developing that understanding, and I entirely agree with the point that the hon. Gentleman makes about the strong condemnation from the community, and welcome it very much.

May I add my appreciation to the Muslim community in Scotland and its representatives for their immediate and unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attack on Glasgow airport? I welcome the doubling of resources for counter-terrorism since 2001. What resources specifically have been allocated to Scotland, and have there been resources in addition to the block grant through the Barnett formula?

The responsibility for counter-terrorism is not devolved, so the doubling of those resources, particularly through the resources that have gone to the security service will, rightly, have benefited my hon. Friend’s constituents and those throughout Scotland.

The Home Secretary rightly said that there must be compliance with the law, but the question is: which law? I am sure she will understand that the root trouble in many cases—for example, with control orders, with seven terror suspects having disappeared under what are described as ineffective control orders—has led to a position in which the judiciary is making basic and fundamental public security decisions and has effectively taken those away from the Home Secretary on behalf of the Government. Will the Home Secretary, in her consultation and possibly earlier, please legislate to make certain that human life comes before human rights in this context, and that we legislate at Westminster, irrespective of the Human Rights Act, in order to ensure that we put the public safety first?

I very much look forward to the hon. Gentleman’s contribution to the consultation on anti-terrorism legislation. It is a full and open consultation and all views will be welcomed. The hon. Gentleman is, I think, referring to the European convention and he is, of course, aware, because I have heard it described from the Dispatch Box relatively recently, of the action that the Government are taking in the context of some cases currently being pursued, to make the case that it is possible both to fulfil the conditions of article 3, and alongside that, to recognise the need for national security and public safety, as he put it.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that because even a primitive car bomb can inflict colossal carnage, and because those responsible are clearly going for centres where there are large numbers of people, there are major implications for how we organise, manage and design major airports and railway stations in the future?

My right hon. Friend is right that we need carefully to consider the design of major transport hubs and other crowded places in both the short term and the longer term. The need to think about protective security is why the police have already begun to offer advice not only to large transport hubs, but as I have suggested, to sports stadiums, shopping centres and other places where there are likely to be large numbers of people. He is undoubtedly right that as methods of terror evolve, so must the means by which we protect our people against them.

In his major speech on terrorism last October and again over the weekend, the Prime Minister drew a justified comparison between the successful efforts to isolate and undermine the ideas of militant communism during the cold war and the effort that needs to be made now in respect of the doctrines that motivate such attacks. Will the Home Secretary tell us whether the research, information and communications unit, which it was announced in March would be set up for such purposes in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, is in fact up and running, and whether the new Minister with responsibility for home security, Sir Alan West, whose appointment I warmly welcome, will have a role in connection with that unit?

I can confirm that the RICU, to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, has been set up. It is in its early days, but it has been set up within the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. My hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter Terrorism and Police, Admiral Sir Alan West, and I will take responsibility for security and counter-terrorism. We will push forward on the need to counter the destructive ideology which the hon. Gentleman has rightly mentioned, and on all other elements of our counter-terror work, too.

A few months ago, I tabled questions in support of moves by the British Compressed Gases Association to try to restrict illegal sales of gas cylinders, which are usually second-hand sales, particularly on auction sites such as eBay. Unfortunately, such sales are not policed, and the association wanted to tighten the regulations surrounding such sales for a number of reasons, including the prevention of the use of such cylinders in terrorist attacks. Will the Home Secretary meet me, any colleagues whom she feels are appropriate and the chief executive of the association to try to move that issue forward?

My hon. Friend has made an important point. As I have suggested, once the immediate investigation of the incidents is successfully concluded, it will be important to examine in detail the lessons that we can learn, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and I will want carefully to consider my hon. Friend’s point.

The Home Secretary is probably aware that some press reports have indicated that at least one of the people involved in those attempted atrocities was subject to a control order and that they are one of several people in that category who have absconded. Does she share the view of my constituents and many hon. Members that it is puzzling that the British judiciary tends to interpret the Human Rights Act 1998 in a different way from its counterparts elsewhere in Europe, particularly the French? Even when there is the prospect of deporting people to a jurisdiction that is prepared to guarantee that those people will not be subject to torture, the death sentence or anything like that, it is still not carried out. Does there not need to be consistency in how such multinational legislation is interpreted, and should not the Government take steps to ensure consistency of interpretation across signatories to the European convention on human rights?

I started my statement by emphasising the need not to speculate at this time on the nature of those involved in the incidents. I shall stick by that self-denying ordinance, which I think is correct, but no doubt there will be ample opportunity during my time at the Dispatch Box for us to discuss control orders and a whole range of other issues.

My right hon. Friend is no doubt aware that hundreds of passengers at Glasgow airport were confined aboard aircraft on taxiways and runways for up to seven or eight hours. According to reports, they included children from a school for those with special needs, elderly and disabled people and very young children. While recognising the demands of security, will she consider what more can be done to alleviate the distress caused to such passengers in any similar situation in the future?

Although I am very sympathetic about what must have been a very difficult situation for those passengers, the authorities were absolutely right, certainly in those very early stages, to put the security of people travelling into and out of Glasgow airport at the heart of their response.

I thank the Home Secretary for her statement. Will she enlarge on the timetable for future legislation? Would that be a Bill in the new Session, and would it leave time for draft legislation to be presented to the House, perhaps even before the rising of the House this month? May I reinforce the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis)—that we do not want to finish up in opposing Lobbies on measures of such importance, but that that depends on a proper understanding of what the Government are seeking to achieve, a proper understanding of the threat, and proper legal coherence in the legislation presented to the House?

I am recently enough a business manager not to upset my erstwhile colleagues by making rash statements about when legislation will or will not be introduced. I repeat that it is my intention—as my predecessor as Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid), announced at the beginning of June—to introduce counter-terrorism legislation later this year, but that will be after a process of consultation and after the Select Committee on Home Affairs and the Joint Committee on Human Rights have had an opportunity to examine our proposals. That will include an ability to share the detail of those proposals with Opposition parties and others. I certainly intend to continue with that commitment made by my predecessor.

I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend to her new post. Is she aware that, despite the shrill voices to the contrary, her resolute approach to the possibility of introducing new counter-terrorism legislation and to ensuring that that is done in a thoughtful and careful manner is also warmly welcomed?

I thank my hon. Friend for those words. It is certainly my aim, as it was having re-read the statement that my right hon. Friend made on 7 June, to carry forward plans for new counter-terrorism legislation on the basis of building consensus, as far as possible, and consulting as widely as possible on that.

I, too, congratulate the Home Secretary and all those involved in dealing with all three incidents. I wish to raise a narrow issue of airport security, on which I have had a series of exchanges with BAA. Queues of people waiting for security apparatus are choice targets in Iraq and a number of other areas. With the holiday season almost upon us, may I urge the Home Secretary to tell airport operators that allowing large queues to develop at security apparatus represents a huge threat to public safety?

I am sure that airport operators will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s point. As we have introduced increased security around airports in this short period, it has been important to work closely with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. Work is also under way, alongside the Department for Transport, to examine the details of our implementation of security arrangements in airports. I shall bear the hon. Gentleman’s comments in mind as we take that forward.

May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend on her appointment? I lived through the terror of the Blitz during the second world war and I remember the stalwart courage of the British people in defying the Nazis. They went about their lives as normally as possible. The current generation of Britons will defy the present terrorists, just as their forebears defied the Luftwaffe’s terrorism. The message that the House must convey, primarily to those who are our enemies now, is that we will not tolerate the sort of activities in which they are involved and that we are as one, irrespective of our politics, in opposing them. We will support our people’s indomitable spirit in opposing terrorism.

My hon. Friend and I did not always see eye to eye in my previous job, but I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments today.

I congratulate the Home Secretary on her appointment and wish her well, especially given the enormous task before her. Given the international perspective of the terror attacks, has she had any contact with overseas countries in the past three or four days? If so, which ones?

Yes, I have had the opportunity to speak twice to my United States counterpart, Secretary Chertoff. I have also spoken to the deputy commissioner of the European Union and my Spanish counterpart. I have plans to speak to other European representatives later today and early this week. In all those conversations, the consistent messages of support and the absolute commitment to working together throughout the international community to tackle terrorism have been very encouraging.

May I echo the comments of hon. Members throughout the Chamber to my right hon. Friend, and say that the calm and confident way in which she appeared on television has reassured the British people throughout our land? Everywhere I have been over the weekend, people have praised that. In her statement, she said that expenditure on counter-terrorism had doubled since 2001. Some of us believe that there should be a substantial increase in expenditure on counter-terrorism preparations. She will have much support from hon. Members of all parties in her discussions on the comprehensive spending review to secure that necessary funding.

I thank my right hon. Friend. The increase in resources that the Government have already put in place for counter-terrorism is symbolic of the priority that we give that work. I am sure that that will continue as we go through the next comprehensive spending review.

The attack on Glasgow airport suggests that ports and airports throughout the country are likely to continue to be terrorist targets. In the circumstances, does the Home Secretary agree that it is essential that police forces throughout the country should be able to maintain full complements of dedicated security posts? Will she work closely with police forces and police authorities to ensure that the funding regime is in place to secure that?

Yes, I can give that commitment. It is obviously important that chief constables can make appropriate operational decisions for their areas. However, given the increased investment and reviews that are already going on, I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman that commitment.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. Friend on the manner in which she has reacted in her first few days in office. Does she agree that we all have the responsibility to remain united—as united as we are today—against these murderous psychopaths who want to bring death and destruction to our country? Will she reject once again any idea whatever that these fanatics have any genuine grievance whatever to justify inflicting such terror on our people?

I thank my hon. Friend and I wholeheartedly agree with what he said. I am very encouraged by the clear views expressed around the House today that there is no justification for terrorism. That will continue to be my strong view.

What links this event to that of 9/11, Bali, Madrid and indeed 7 July is the very sad fact that all these terrorists were trained on the Pakistani-Afghan border. Does the Home Secretary agree that until we eradicate these camps, we will continue to have threats not only from home-grown terrorists but from abroad? If she does agree, what steps is she willing to take to achieve that?

I know that the hon. Gentleman has personal experience relating to this issue. I agree that there will continue to be a need to deal with the elements that fuel terrorist activity—either domestically or internationally. There is a whole range of ways to deal with that problem, from rooting out the radicalisation of people who are likely to commit terrorist acts, through to action that we need to take with our international partners to ensure that the international inspiration for terrorism in this country is also addressed. That is why there is such strong commitment across the Government—including all my ministerial colleagues—to ensuring that we address every cause of terrorism. We are committed to achieving that.

May I follow up that particular question? Does the Minister recall that during the IRA bombing of this country, the then Government placed restrictions on the freedom of movement of people both ways across the Irish sea? Is she considering similar measures to restrict people from this country going to those countries where there are known terrorist training camps and—even more importantly—to prevent them from returning to these shores?

I can tell my right hon. Friend that we do not have specific plans for putting those sorts of restrictions in place, but it is important to keep all those measures under review. That is part of what we are doing both in reviewing legislation and other work that we are taking forward.

Is there a danger that placing restrictions on car access to Heathrow will divert travellers and terrorist attention to the tube, where there are no body or bag searches and where there cannot be restrictions on vehicle proximity to stations?

It is obviously the case that those people who are expert in protective security—I believe that we are very fortunate in this country in having such considerable expertise, particularly in the Metropolitan police—need to keep under review where the immediate threat is most likely to come from and the most appropriate methods for dealing with it. We also have to continue, as I suggested earlier, to adopt the most appropriate and suitably robust approach to protecting the public, while also enabling life to go on and business to be able to carry out its operations.

I, too, commend the Home Secretary for her response—and, indeed, the response at all levels—to this incident. Does she agree that, apart from the murderous intent to inflict pain and injury on innocent victims, the intention of terrorism is also to disrupt people’s everyday lives and to disrupt the economy of our country? In that respect, while there must be a review of security, will she assure the House that it will be proportionate and risk based and that we will send a very clear signal to terrorists that we will not give in to terrorism at any level in this country?

I strongly agree with my right hon. Friend. He is absolutely right that, as I suggested in my statement, the strongest response to the terrorist threat is for the public to be vigilant but to carry on living their lives as law-abiding citizens, which they have the right to do in this country. All the measures that we adopt with respect to protection will take that important balance into account.

I should like to take the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) a little further. Two years ago, the tube was attacked, and I have no doubt that it remains a vulnerable and desirable target for our enemies. A series of recommendations was made to improve tube safety, not least relating to the ability of the police and emergency workers to communicate between surface and tunnel. That is still not in place two years later. Why not?

I know that the hon. Gentleman has considerable expertise in fighting terrorist activity. I understand that progress has been made, particularly in respect of the Airwave contract and the communications issues that he has identified. Given my relative newness to this post, however, I will write to him with more details, and talk to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport about this matter.

I welcome my right hon. Friend to her new post. Her measured tones, and those of the Prime Minister, over the past few days have been helpful in ensuring that British Muslims know that they are not on trial as a community. That is an important message. She has emphasised that consultation on these matters will, quite rightly, take place across the Floor of the House. Will she ensure that all sectors of the British community are involved in that consultation, to avoid the kind of knee-jerk reactions that can stigmatise whole communities of British Pakistanis, British Muslims and, indeed, anyone else?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. As I said earlier, regardless of who is involved in the individual incidents, I understand that, at a time like this, the Muslim community can feel under pressure as a result of the incident and the publicity around it. My hon. Friend is right to say that that places on us a responsibility to consult as widely as possible as we take forward any action, and particularly as we consider legislative options. I have emphasised the consultation that will happen in the House and in the political sphere, but he is right to say that it also needs to include representatives of all our communities and members of the public. We need to give some thought to how we can ensure that that happens.

I join other hon. Members in welcoming the sure-footed way in which my right hon. Friend is approaching her demanding new role. In the broader review of strategy, will she take a careful look at the advice that has been given about flights over certain parts of London, including the City of London and this House, and over other symbolic sites in the country, to ensure that it meets the level of threat that is now emerging?

It is obviously important, when considering the level of threat, to look across a whole range of sectors to determine the appropriate response. I am sure that that will be happening in the areas that my hon. Friend has referred to.

I should like to add my thanks, and those of the Muslim community leaders in my constituency, whom I met yesterday, for the calm and considered way in which the new Home Secretary has dealt with this issue. Will she join me in thanking the staff of London Luton airport and the Bedfordshire police for the speedy and effective way in which they have managed to achieve security and efficiency of flights out of that airport? She might be aware, however, that there has been a dispute over the payment of the policing of Luton airport. Will she look at that—

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend that the work in all our airports, and all our police forces, has been exemplary. I am sure that the work at Luton airport deserves congratulation. I will undertake to look at the point that she has raised about funding. If she would like to provide me with more information about it, I will look at it in detail.

Doubtless, consideration was given on Friday and Saturday as to whether Saturday evening’s concert at Wembley organised by their Royal Highnesses in memory of their mother should go ahead or whether it was too much of a target. Absolutely the right decision was taken to ensure that it went ahead. Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking Chief Inspector Mark Toland and the Wembley police force for their sterling work in ensuring that security was of the highest level while making sure that the inconvenience to my constituents in the local area was kept to a minimum? May I also say to her—

My hon. Friend is right. One of the tasks, of course, during the incidents was to look carefully at the events that were happening. I agree that the decision to carry on with that event, with the necessary security, was very important. It symbolised the fact that events carried on across the country, undeterred by the threat of terrorism. I was a little busy at the time, but I have the concert recorded at home and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to see it.

I join every other Member of the House in congratulating my right hon. Friend on the proper, measured and strong way in which she has dealt with the issue. She rightly said that the Muslim and Asian communities have condemned what has happened. Will she give us an assurance that she will consult them fully before any proposals are brought before the House? In particular, will she ensure that there is no adverse impact on the wider Asian community as a result of anything that she proposes in the future? Could she reiterate that this is a—

I strongly agree with my right hon. Friend. It will be a priority, as we introduce proposals and develop the legislation, to consult as widely as possible across all the communities of this country. It is precisely to be able to protect those communities that we will introduce this counter-terror legislation.

I join my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire, North (Jim Sheridan) in saying how wonderfully our emergency services conducted themselves for the people not only of Glasgow, but of London, Liverpool and Cheshire—it makes me proud to be British. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that when information is given out at such times of crisis, Members of Parliament, particularly when their jurisdiction is involved, are contacted by the relevant services and by the authorities in charge of places such as airports?

I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that, quite often, events move very quickly, and it is necessary to put measures in place as quickly as possible, but I will certainly undertake when such events happen to do my best to keep informed, and to ask the police to keep informed, civic representatives and particularly MPs.