Here is the column I wrote for Oswestry and Border Chronicle two weeks ago. Did not have time to update my blog until now.
As writing my column this week, I can only reflect on the terrible events of the last few days in Paris. Readers of the Chronicle will share my overwhelming sense of shock and horror at the scale and brutality of the terrorist attacks. Over 130 innocent people, out in the city for an evening's enjoyment, murdered by cold blooded killers. The people of Britain have shown huge sympathy for France as she responds to the terrible events that have taken place.
These terrorist attacks in Paris have brought home to us in the UK how instability in the Middle East has an impact on our safety at home. It's but a few years since we had a bomb outrage in London where many innocent people were killed as travelling on public transport in the city. And we are told there have been several terrorism plots targeting the UK which have been frustrated by our security forces over the last year. What has happened in Paris, and recently in Tunisia reminds us of the threats and that first duty of any Government is to protect the people from outside attack.
Inevitably, there will now be debate about how we respond to these threats. I will touch on two issues which MPs will be deciding very shortly. Firstly will be the capability we allow our security forces to access communications data. There is a proper concern that it's not 'British' to allow unnecessary surveillance, but surely it's no longer safe to allow the criminals and terrorists a free hand to operate by modern communication methods which shackling those charged with the responsibility to defend and protect us. Montgomeryshire has an interest in this debate. The most high profile campaign for more effective surveillance is Lord Carlile, my former neighbour and presseccor as the local MP. Despite being instinctively 'libertarian' I am with Alex on this.
The second important decision before MPs is whether we should become more engaged with cutting off the poison of terrorism at source. Much of the world will come together to destroy Daesh, an evil force which refers to itself as an ‘Islamic State’. It's not a 'State', and I will not refer to it as such. At present the Prime Minister is considering asking MPs to consider joining the air attacks on Daesh forces in Syria, where it has its base. I expect him to come to the House of Commons before Christmas asking MPs to join other countries in acting to rid the world of the evil we witnessed in Paris over the last few days. Even though it's no more than an extention of current military action, across a line in the sand, that Daesh does not recognise, it will be an important debate.