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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007, 14:33 GMT
Lord West interview transcript...
On the Politics Show, Sunday 04 November 2007, Jon Sopel interviewed Lord West

Lord West
National identity cards will play an important part, a very important part in countering terrorism
Lord West


JON SOPEL: I'm pleased to say that Lord West is with me now. Thank you very much for joining us on the Politics Show. Is it fair, as Gillian was there characterizing part of your Report at least as less on killing the bad guys, more on winning hearts and minds.

LORD WEST: I would put it slightly differently to that. You've mentioned already though, those four pillars, the four 'P's' We've put a lot of expenditure already in to areas like Pursue, which is now trying to tighten up our borders, which is actually tracking these people down.

Money spent on the security service and things like that. Prepare, which is actually running through scenarios and exercising police, emergency services, all our command structures, to do various things. In terms of the prevent bit, this is the piece that has not really been developed as much as it should have done in the past and the other things can, you know, we can build up and make ourselves tougher and tougher in terms of protecting all our infrastructure, protecting our people, and I'll come on to, I hope, later, my study.

But at the end of the day, the only way we'll excise this cancer of terrorism is an ideological thing and to stop our young people, actually being radicalized.

JON SOPEL: When they see that no-one is held responsible for the death of Jean-Charles de Menezes, how does that help in the battle to win hearts and minds.

LORD WEST: I think that's a slightly different issue, if I may say so. And what is marvellous I think, within our society, within this great country of ours, is actually the huge effort we have gone to already, in terms of seeing what went wrong, what things happened that shouldn't have happened, but I think if you look at that incident, and I'm - in a way I'm glad you mentioned that incident. It's slightly separate from my task in security but... (interjection)

JON SOPEL: But people would say, well surely someone had a moral responsibility. If you were head of the navy and something terrible happened, you would feel a sense of responsibility for it, wouldn't you.

LORD WEST: I think there are huge complexities in any operation like that and what I, what I always think is when you sit on a calm summer's day, reviewing over a period of a week or two weeks, an incident that happened, where people were absolutely in fear of their life, where these police, and our police do a wonderful job, actually thought this was someone who might be a terrorist, who might blow himself up, they were very - and they have split seconds to make judgments, I think we need to be very, very careful, when we actually make judgments against people who are acting very short time scales, when adrenalin is flowing, when one's frightened, all of these things, and yes, all right, there were mistakes, we need to rectify those and I'm sure that will be done, but I think we need to be quite careful about that.

JON SOPEL: Okay, you said, you hoped to be able to talk about your study, so give us a glimpse of some of the things that you're going to be recommending.

LORD WEST: Well clearly, I can't give you the recommendations, but what I looked at was really critical national infrastructure, transport security and security in crowded places and this stemmed out of the incidents that happened when I just went in to post. What I was very pleased to find was that in terms of critical national infrastructure, we have a, we have an organization, CPNI, that's been looking at this for some time.

A lot of it involves a lot of money and actually, an awful lot of very good work had been done. And I found there are certain things I think we can do to make, to speed up and make that a bit better and critical national infrastructure is things like huge liquid national gas plants, power, all these sorts of things, nuclear stations. In terms of transport security an organization called Trans-Sec, again, has done a lot of very good work and again, there were things that could be done and I've identified and Patrick Mercer, who was working with us - a number of things have been done there. But the big area where we can make most improvements is crowded places and without, one doesn't want to, you know, frighten and terrify the British public, because we mustn't do these terrorists jobs for them. You know, we need to live our life as we normally live it.


LORD WEST: And we mustn't panic but there were things that could be done there.

JON SOPEL: One key part of the Blair strategy was the introduction of identity cards for everyone. Now there are reports that the government may be going cold on that. Can you enlighten us.

LORD WEST: I'm not aware of that at all. I mean what I particularly like in my counter-terrorist role is the fact that we're going for two biometrics, for passports for people coming in to this country and our passport holders - that will help without a doubt, in being able to pin down the terrorist movement and who terrorists are and actually identity cards for all the other debate about other things, in a purely counter-terrorist role, will be of help, there's no doubt about it. And I'm not aware that Number 10 are looking at that at all.

JON SOPEL: Right, so national identity cards for everyone. You still believe will play a vital role.

LORD WEST: National identity cards will play an important part, a very important part in countering terrorism, there's no doubt about that. I mean I can, one can think of all sorts of reasons one might not like them, but actually, in terms of counter-terrorism, they will be extremely useful.

JON SOPEL: Right, okay, that's important. What about detaining terrorist suspects for longer than twenty eight days which it's clear that the government wants to do. What's your own view on that.

LORD WEST: Well I didn't think I'd say the government wants to do. I mean, what...

JON SOPEL: Feels the need to.

LORD WEST: I mean there is always this balance isn't there, between freedom of the individual, which is one of the great things in our country and I have to say, you know, if you're put in prison and you haven't done anything, the thought you can be stuck there for a length of time is a terrible thing. But what we have found is the complexity of some of these cases is such that we really do need more time to look in to them. We've got the extension up to twenty eight days, which is a very long time, let's face it, twenty eight days is a long time. But we needed that for, I think six people so far have been taken up to there, three who've been charged.

And the sheer complexity in terms of numbers of computers, the sort of giga-terror bits of information that need to be looked at. The number to? make us feel that maybe this needs to be longer. Now clearly, that is a very difficult issue and what we're looking at very closely and in consultation is, how can we take this forward. We're trying to talk with everyone, because it isn't an easy thing. It's something we don't like doing. Let - what safeguards can we put in, how can we do it, and I'm not quite sure how we're going to go about this because the 90 days, I have no doubt whatsoever, was far too long. I think when it was tried, I think it was done in the most appalling way. And we need to make sure we don't make that sort of mistake again.

JON SOPEL: Fifty six days.

LORD WEST: I don't know what the figure will be. I just don't know what it will be. (interjection)

JON SOPEL: How does that sound.

LORD WEST: I don't believe we should have an open-ended one. I don't like the thought that even though we've got lots of safe-guards in place, it's open-ended and I'm sure parliament wouldn't agree to that.

JON SOPEL: Sure. But fifty six days, you think, might be something that people could (interjection)

LORD WEST: I think around fifty days are the sort of figures people have been talking about. Exactly how we get to that I'm not sure. And I think we have to show absolutely that we really do need this, and we have to show absolutely we have real safeguards in place, and they're... (interjection)

JON SOPEL: So judicial oversight... (interjection)

LORD WEST: Certainly judicial oversight. Parliament would have to be told or the judicial oversight I think is more crucial for the individual and there may be other mechanisms we can do, to look after people. And actually, fundamentally, I have to say, I hate the very thought of doing it.

JON SOPEL: Okay. Lord West, thank you very much for being with us on the Politics Show.

LORD WEST: Not at all.

JON SOPEL: Thanks so much.


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NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.

Because of the possibility of miss-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for their accuracy.

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The Politics Show Sunday 04 November 2007 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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