BUSINESS QUESTION – COUNTER-TERRORISM – 1 April 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: In endorsing what the Leader of the House said about the importance of the letter from Iqbal Sacranie [Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain] to the imams urging respect for law and order and peace and security in this country, may we have a statement soon from the Home Secretary about the future role of the Minister with responsibility for counter-terrorism?

It is not sufficiently appreciated that the Minister with responsibility for counter-terrorism is one and the same as the Minister with responsibility for immigration. Given the difficulties – I put it no higher than that – that attend immigration issues at present, is it not time now for the Government finally to recognise that we need a separate Minister with responsibility for counter-terrorism, as we on the Opposition Benches have argued all along?

[The Leader of the House (Mr Peter Hain): First, I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's consistent work in fighting racism. I very much agree with him about Iqbal Sacranie. As for counter-terrorism, I know from personal experience that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary [David Blunkett] and his team have that firmly in their sights. Indeed, my right hon. Friend is involved almost daily in counter-terrorism work. That is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question. The Cabinet Minister with responsibility for fighting terrorism is on the case on a daily basis and is taking some tough decisions to protect us. I hope that he will have the hon. Gentleman's support when he does that.]