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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 February 2008, 11:02 GMT
Tories look to America
On Sunday 17 February Andrew Marr interviewed Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones

Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones
Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones

ANDREW MARR: Thank you very much indeed for coming in this morning.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Morning Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: You've got in front of you this RUSI - Royal United ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yeah.

ANDREW MARR: .. Services Institute Report which at one level is quite apocalyptic. It says essentially we're falling apart as a country because of multiculturalism. But it really is very vague on what should be done about all of that. Now first of all do you agree with the report generally speaking and ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: .. can you be less vague?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: I think that it's not so much of you know a great big analysis. What they do is to put their finger on two or three things that they think are rather important about our current situation. It's not just they complain about multiculturalism. They also say there's been a decline in public confidence, in our institutions. And that there's a loss of sense of direction in the country which goes to the whole question of leadership.

And they're I think in a sense they're making quite a cogent argument where we are now. I don't partic... I mean their idea is that we have a couple of advisory committees. Personally I think we need to be a lot more active than that. We need a proper national Security Council. We need an over all approach.

And we need a declared, understood, you know fully, fully developed national security strategy from the government. And I do wish that the prime minister having said last July that he was going to publish one in the Autumn would actually do so. And it keeps on being delayed.

ANDREW MARR: Well we think it's coming ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yeah, we think it's coming.

ANDREW MARR: .. quite soon.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: At the moment the government's got a National Security Committee.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: You want a Council.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: What's the real difference?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: What's the real difference? Well I think apart from we don't know exactly what the Committee actually does cos again it's not been spelt out, what we would like to do is, is something which certainly takes its inspiration from the American model of a National Security Council. But we will include, unlike the Americans, all the aspects which they call Homeland Security, all the internal stuff as well.

And what we want to try and do is to bring foreign policy, defence policy, internal security issues which of course dominate you know so much of our consciousness now, and also the sort of things that, that really go to the underlying causes that lead people into the paths that might, that might you know take them off into terrorism which are all the issues connected with national sec... national cohesion.

Which is you know it's, it's, and it, and there the RUSI Report I think you know does put its finger on something. Others have as well, that we have it from you know the head of MI5 that actually the radicalisation in this popu... in the, in the country it's actually increasing. We have been very slow to grasp the underlying causes.

ANDREW MARR: So apart from committees and groups of ministers getting together and advisors getting together, what can actually be done? I mean if multiculturalism has been the problem, what's the answer?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Well I think first of all what does multiculturalism mean? I think it was intended you know to be respectful other people's cultures. What it's turned into over time is people being favoured because of their particular characteristics.

And in fact what it's become is differentiation and being treated differently because different rather than being treated equally despite difference, being given equal opportunity despite difference. And we've got to swing it right back to the notion that you have equal rights, you have equal responsibilities. There's a single law and you operate within that. Doesn't mean to say that you can't have your own, your own practices provided they're in conformity with UK law. And you uphold those values as well.

So we need, we need really to, to, to grasp the notion of what it is you know to be British. What kind of institutions we share, what kind of heritage we have in common. We need to start treat, teaching history differently in our schools. There are a whole series of things which are long term in nature. There's no silver bullet here. There's no single, there's no single thing you have to do.

ANDREW MARR: And what sort of things, what sort of things are we doing at the moment that we shouldn't be doing?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Well I think we have, until relatively recently - and Hazel Blears has been part of the change - that on the whole we've been taking you know separate groups and treating them rather separately and giving them special status.

And instead of saying you've actually, all of us you know got to be part of the same single framework of law and habit. And getting at some of the separatism that's been going on. I mean there's a lot going on you know in our, in, in, in the Muslim community that we need to get at.

ANDREW MARR: So ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: And which we need to, we need to dialogue with Muslims. And Muslims themselves - and I think they're beginning to understand this - do actually need to grasp some of these issues.

ANDREW MARR: So for instance one of the issues we discussed on, on this show in the past is the fact that if you've got several wives you get social security for each wife. Is that the kind of thing which should stop?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes. Absolutely it should.

ANDREW MARR: We've, we've of course heard the Archbishop of Canterbury talking about the need to respect Sharia law when it comes to marital disputes. Is he wrong about that?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Well I respect the leader of the church to which I belong. But I don't think he's right on this. And he's not actually in saying, in the end you know it's simply a question of respect. He is in practice saying this would be the result that actually you would have two sets of laws. We cannot go down that road.

ANDREW MARR: The government has talked quite a lot about Britishness. It's bringing in ID cards which your party opposes. Do you oppose those?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: You do?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yes. Absolutely.

ANDREW MARR: There was some doubt about this. There was some doubt about it.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Well the more I learnt and the more I saw you know what was actually ..

ANDREW MARR: All right.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: .. likely implications the less attractive this idea looked.

ANDREW MARR: But, but when a government minister would say I would assume that well hold on a second, we're in favour of ID cards, in favour of forty two day detention because that's what the police are telling us. The Conservatives are soft on those issues. It's all very well for them to say let's have another National Security Council. But actually when it comes down to it they're soft on the difficult issues.

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: I don't think that's at all correct interpretation. If you say we are going to preserve the liberties of this country and the case for extending pre-charge detention which used to be forty eight hours remember - long time ago. Then it was seven days, fourteen days, twenty eight days, how many days? And the government have not made the case. And Mr McNulty in the Home Office says to us, you know, well imagine three 9/11s.

I cannot think if we got three 9/11s that anything other than a great national emergency. We have legislation for a great national emergency passed by the government called the Civil Contingencies Act. There is legislation in place. We're opposed to putting in, in, in place yet more restrictive pre-charge detention which actually is seen by the Muslim communities as bearing down on them when the case has not been made.

So that is not being soft on terrorism, that is being tough about the framework of law and the civil liberties to which we're all entitled. What we need to get at is the underlying causes which actually lead to people being led off and led down the road through gateway organisations like Hisbut Tahrir. And that's why we want to, we want to curb these organisations. Not just all, you know airy fairy stuff. We do actually need to put a framework of what's permissible and what isn't.

ANDREW MARR: One of your proposals in the Conservative Party is for there to be a sort of national emergencies and disasters unit of I think a couple of thousand soldiers ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Right.

ANDREW MARR: .. ready to be deployed ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Right.

ANDREW MARR: .. in terms of a terrorist or other kind of emergency. Given the pressures on the army at the moment. It's all over the papers again today. The army is much too thinly spread, doing too much. One of your colleagues calls the people going down, sending people down ..

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Yeah.

ANDREW MARR: .. to Kosovo demented. Isn't this just another you know draw on the army?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Don't you think, don't you think the domestic security and domestic safety comes absolutely first? I do.

I think you know if it means that you can't send troops to Kosovo that is I think a correct order of priorities. We're not actually suggesting anything very big. But what it would, would be able to do - not what we have at the moment it's not that the military don't perform. But they can't be, their presence can't be guaranteed.

So what we're saying is we must be able to guarantee them there. It isn't a question of "my goodness, what's available now." We have an emergency. The second thing is that it needs to be properly organised and integrated with the blue light services, the police around these things. And it, and at the moment it isn't.

ANDREW MARR: And do you think the government has treated the army unfairly and wrongly when it comes to finances and do you think more needs to be spent on the army?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: I think that we do have a serious problem. There is a very serious problem of overstretch now. And we're going to have to look at that.

I think it's very hard when you're, you know when you're outside government to know the exact state of the finances which are not particularly transparent. But we are certainly going to have to conduct a defence review. Cos we're going to have to bring much more of a defence along ..

ANDREW MARR: Which will mean more money?

PAULINE NEVILLE JONES: Well we have, what you have to do is to bring the defence assumptions in line with the amount of money that you're prepared to spend.

What we can't have is an increasing disparity between what's demanded of the armed services and what we're prepared to afford, to support them. Hence the safety of the men on the front line.

ANDREW MARR: Baroness thank you very much indeed for joining us.

INTERVIEW ENDS


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

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


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