CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

'FOREST MP PRAISED FOR FIGHTING RACISM'

Lymington Times – 17 April 2004

The Leader of the House of Commons, Peter Hain, has praised the work of New Forest East MP Julian Lewis in fighting racism and supporting the stance of moderate Muslims.

In an exchange in the Commons, Dr Lewis endorsed comments by Mr Hain about the importance of the letter from Iqbal Sacranie to the imams urging respect for law and order and peace and security in this country, and asked for 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,"

said Dr Lewis.

"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?"

Acknowledging Dr Lewis's "consistent work in fighting racism", Mr Hain said he very much agreed with him about Iqbal Sacranie.

"As for counter-terrorism, I know from personal experience that ... the Home Secretary and his team have that firmly in their sights. Indeed, [the Home Secretary] is involved almost daily in counter-terrorism work ... 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."

Speaking later, Dr Lewis said:

"Peter Hain knows that I have been trying to work with moderate Muslims and have argued that their role will be crucial in helping MI5 to outwit the extremists. It was encouraging to receive his acknowledgement of this work which I intend to continue and intensify."