Mr. Speaker: I thank the right hon. Member for this display of civility. The House is satisfied.
Sir Charles Duncan (Ealing, Southall) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I am also grateful the right hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Daniel Stewart) for his fulsome retraction.
Mr. Speaker: Honour is served.
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Sir Robert Johnson (North East Hertfordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I seek your guidance. Yesterday, at column 654 in Hansard, I intervened on the Secretary of State for Defence (Alex Dunne) to ask him to confirm NATO’s position on our London predicament. He assured us that NATO was supportive of our nonintervention policy. Yet, in Paris that same afternoon, his French counterpart, Minister Poupart, said:
“Si Londres ne tient pas tête à cet envahisseur, la France, l’OTAN, ou le monde devra s’en charger.”
Loosely translated: “If London does nothing to confront this invader, France, NATO, or the world will.” Would the Defence Secretary like to amend his previous answer to put the record straight?
Mr. Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his translation, and equally impressed with his mastery of la langue de Molière. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman has the best interests of this nation at heart, but I am asked whether the Defence Secretary would like to amend his answer based on the French Minister’s comments. While it would be presumptuous of me to speak on behalf of the Secretary, I can say, with some certitude, that Minister Poupart does not speak for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and, with even more confidence, that he does not serve in any official capacity as representative of the world. As for France, the Premier ministre—loosely translated: the Prime Minister—said this morning that Minister Poupart’s statement was a figure of speech meant to convey the Minister’s disquietude, and that the French Government deferred to the sovereignty of the United Kingdom on the matter. The Defence Secretary should thus feel no need to amend his answer, as the record appears to be perfectly straight. Let us move on to the business at hand.
Business of the House (Today)
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London Evacuation and Safety
Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
Deborah Horsbrugh (Lewisham Deptford) (Con): I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State for Defence to order the evacuation of the area surrounding Regent’s Park and to deploy the Household Cavalry Regiment.
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was both unprovoked and unannounced, which prompted President Roosevelt to call December 7 “a date which will live in infamy.”
Unannounced. Attacks seldom come with a warning, as the attacker wishes to benefit from the element of surprise.
There will be no surprise in London. What we are facing today, what stands a mere two miles from this chamber, did not fire from the shadows. It did not sneak up on us in the middle of the night. It appeared in the centre of our city, at first light, and has been standing there, immobile, arrogant, for two days. If it were to attack London tomorrow, it would probably be the most telegraphed, the most well-announced attack in human history. And yet, we are totally unprepared for what may come. To this day, we have done absolutely nothing, made no preparations for what could be an imminent strike. Londoners living a few streets from the intruder are still in their homes, completely vulnerable. This building, this palace, which transformed over nearly a thousand years from royal residence to the home of a modern democracy, is defenceless. If we were the victims of an attack tomorrow, December 7 is a date which would live in idiocy, for we could not have been more warned.
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Londoners, for the most part, have not fled as they should have. They have stayed in part out of carelessness, but mostly because for ten years now, they have been indoctrinated by the EDC, led to believe that we live in a safe and peaceful universe filled with amicable creatures by an organization more concerned with justifying its own existence than with the safety of the people it is meant to protect. This government has done more than turn a blind eye to this propaganda; it has been active in its dissemination, complicit in its formulation.
I bring in this Bill so that the government can do the right thing. Evacuate Central London. Bring in the Household Cavalry Regiment, so that Londoners, the good people of the United Kingdom, the world, and the aliens standing in the middle of our great city all know that our sovereignty is not something you can trample on with impunity. Let everyone know that we are still a great nation, a proud nation. To do nothing is simply un-British.
Philip Davies (Shipley) (Lab): I rise to oppose the Bill, if only because the right hon. Member for Lewisham Deptford (Deborah Horsbrugh) introduces it on the basis of falsities. First, this building is not defenceless, nor is the city of London. There are nearly six thousand troops patrolling the streets. Last I checked, Combermere Barracks had not moved, and is still less than twenty-five miles from Central London. The Household Cavalry Regiment is on alert, and is less than forty minutes away. Second, I cannot stay silent while Londoners are called careless for not abandoning their homes. To the best of my knowledge, the right hon. Member from Lewisham Deptford still resides in London, which would make her careless herself, or a hypocrite. I will—[Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. I—[Interruption.] I will have order.
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The Secretary of State for Defence (Alex Dunne): Mr. Speaker, if I may add a few words to those of my esteemed colleague, I would like to comment on this most ridiculous analogy with Pearl Harbor. The attack was both unprovoked and unannounced. It would be nice if the right hon. Member for Lewisham Deptford (Deborah Horsbrugh) would listen to her own words. Unprovoked seems to be the operative one in that sentence. History would look upon a Japanese attack very differently had the Pacific Fleet been deployed near Tokyo Bay the day before. I am not reluctant to commit to action, but I will not provoke beings we know little or nothing about for the sake of posturing. I will not send soldiers on a grand-sounding mission to oppose an enemy they cannot fight. I will not start a war. That would be un-British.
Question put (Standing Order No. 23) and agreed to.
That Deborah Horsbrugh and Harry Gilbert present the Bill.