HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
Perhaps there are no greater challenges in our age than that of Islamic terrorism. The horrific attacks in Paris on November 13th, which killed at least 129 people and left hundreds more with life changing injuries, were the worst acts of violence in France since the Second World War.
The terrorists murdered innocent people attending a concert, dining at a restaurant and watching a football game. Had the suicide bombers at the French national football stadium succeeded in entering the Stade de France we may have been talking of a death toll in the thousands.
These sickening attacks are a reminder of the fragility of civilised life, the vulnerability of societal wellbeing. It was, to quote from John Buchan, the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps, a reminder that while we may “think a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism … the division is a thread, a sheet of glass.”
Britain is not immune from such savagery; David Cameron recently revealed that our intelligence agencies have foiled seven plots in the UK over the last year. The security services are working relentlessly to prevent attacks taking place here; the police have increased their presence in high profile locations, we are stepping up co-ordination with our international allies, and Border Force is intensifying checks on people, goods and vehicles entering the UK.
In my role as Security Minister I am acutely aware that the intelligence agencies need greater powers to protect the public, which is why the Investigatory Powers Bill that the Government is bringing forward matters so much. We are also hiring 1,900 extra intelligence staff, and doubling funding for aviation security.
The Prime Minister has been clear that the police have the right to use lethal force in the event of a terrorist attack here. The terrorists show their victims no mercy, and we must respond with absolute resolve – indulgent pious debates about the legality of such a shoot-to-kill policy are of no interest to me.
Revelations that some of the attackers in Paris had been fighting with the so-called Islamic State must also stiffen our determination to eliminate their self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Just as we must defeat their barbarism in the Middle East, the siren call of their poisonous Islamist ideology which has drawn young men and women from across Europe –including, of course, Britain – to their cause must be drowned out by the angelic sound of virtue.
As Thomas Mann said, “tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil” - and so we must never appease, excuse or tolerate those who wish to do us harm and destroy our way of life.
The British people stand shoulder to shoulder with the French in the aftermath of the atrocities in Paris. I marked my own sorrow and sympathy by signing the book of condolence at the French Embassy in London. Tackling the generational threat of Islamic terrorism will require strength, unity and certainty. Together, we will defeat this evil.