Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

In full: Brown security statement

Here is the full text of Gordon Brown's Commons statement setting out the new National Security Strategy (the response from Conservative leader David Cameron is below):

The primary duty of government - our abiding obligation - is, and will always be, the safety of all British people and the protection of the British national interest.

So following approval by the National Security Committee and the Cabinet, the Government is today publishing the first national security strategy.

It states that while our obligation to protect the British people and the British national interest is fixed and unwavering, the nature of the threats and the risks we face have - in recent decades - changed beyond recognition and confound all the old assumptions about national defence and international security.

As the strategy makes clear, new threats demand new approaches.

A radically updated and much more coordinated response is now required.

For most of the last half century the main threat was unmistakable: a Cold War adversary.

Today, the potential threats we face come from far less predictable sources: both state and non-state.

20 years ago the terrorist threat to Britain was principally that from the IRA.

Now it comes from loosely affiliated global networks that threaten us and other nations across continents.

Once, when there was instability in faraway regions or countries, we had a choice - to become involved or not.

Today, no country is in the old sense far away when the consequences of regional instability and terrorism - and then also climate change, poverty, mass population movements and even organised crime - reverberate quickly round the globe.

So to address these great insecurities: war, terrorism and now climate change, disease and poverty --- threats which redefine national security not just as the protection of the state but as the protection of all people --- we need to mobilise all the resources available to us: the hard power of our military, police, security and intelligence services; the persuasive force and reach of diplomacy and cultural connections; the authority of strengthened global institutions which, with our full support, can deploy both 'hard' and 'soft' power; and not least, because arms and authority will never be enough, the power of ideas, of shared values and hopes that can win over hearts and minds -- and can forge new partnerships for progress and tolerance, involving government, the private and voluntary sectors, community and faith organisations, and individuals.

Mr Speaker, the foundation of our approach is to maintain strong, balanced, flexible and deployable armed forces.

And I want to pay tribute to Britain's servicemen and women - and those civilians deployed on operations - who every day face danger doing vital work in the service of our country --- and in particular to remember today the sacrifices made for our country by all who have been injured or lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres of war.

To raise recruitment and to improve retention we will match our new 2 million pound public information recruitment campaign launched this week with the Government's first ever cross-departmental strategy for supporting our service personnel, their families and veterans, to be published shortly.

In the last two years we have raised general pay levels and introduced the first tax-free bonus of nearly 400 a month for those on operations, as well as a council tax refund.

And today the Secretary for Defence is announcing new retention incentives for our armed forces.

There will be increased commitment bonuses of up to 15,000 for longer serving personnel.

And starting with a new 20 million pound home purchase fund we will respond to the demand for more affordable home ownership.

Mr Speaker, I can also inform the House that to meet the threats ahead, after a trebling of its budget since 2001, the security service will rise in number to 4000, twice the level of 2001.

I can also inform the House that we will be increasing yet again, this time by 10 per cent, the resources for the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre - which brings together 16 departments including the police and intelligence agencies - and giving it a new focus on the longer-term challenge of investigating the path to violent extremism.

I can confirm that to meet future security needs we have set aside funds to modernise our interception capability; that at GCHQ and in the secret intelligence service we are developing new technical capabilities to root out terrorism; and that the new Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure set up last year will provide a higher level of protection against internet or cyber-based threats.

And the strategy published today will be backed up by a new approach to engage and inform the public.

Two years ago we removed from being classified as secret the information on threat levels for the UK.

We will now go much further.

Starting later this year, we will openly publish for the first time a national register of risks - information that was previously held confidentially within Government - so the British public can see at first hand the challenges we face and the levels of threat we have assessed.

To harness a much wider range of expertise and experience from outside government and help us plan for the future we are inviting business, academics, community organisations and military and security experts from outside government to join a new National Security Forum that will advise the recently constituted National Security Committee.

And having accepted the recommendations of the Intelligence and Security Committee to separate the position of Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee from policy adviser to the Government, and appointed Mr Alex Allan as Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, I can confirm that - as proposed by the Butler Review - his responsibility will be to provide ministers with security assessments formulated independently of the political process.

We will immediately go ahead to introduce a resolution of both Houses - in advance of any future legislation - that will enshrine an enhanced scrutiny and public role for the Intelligence and Security Committee.

This will lead to more Parliamentary debate on security matters, public hearings on the national security strategy, and - as promised - greater transparency over appointments to the Committee so that the Committee can not only review intelligence and security but also perform a public role - more akin to the practice of Select Committees - in reporting to and informing the country on security matters.

Mr Speaker, emerging from all the experience and lessons learnt of the last decade is the clear conclusion that we are strongest when we combine the resources of our military, police and security and intelligence services with effective diplomacy and when we work closely with international partners to confront the new global challenges and bring about change.

This approach emphasises the importance of strengthening our key diplomatic and military alliances - with the United States our strongest bilateral partner, NATO the cornerstone of our security, our central role at the heart of an outward-facing Europe - and our long lasting and deep commitment to the Commonwealth and to working through international institutions.

I can tell the House that Britain will be at the forefront of diplomatic action on nuclear weapons control and reduction, offering a new bargain to non-nuclear powers.

On the one hand we will help them and we have proposed the creation of a new international system to help non-nuclear states acquire the new sources of energy they need, including through a global enrichment bond ---- and we are today inviting interested countries to an international conference on these themes later this year.

But in return we will seek agreement on tougher controls aimed at reducing weapons and preventing proliferation.

First, ending the stalemates on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Second, achieving after 2010 a more robust implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the aim of accelerating disarmament among possessor states, preventing proliferation and ultimately freeing the world from nuclear weapons.

And as a new priority to meet the dangers both of proliferation to new states and of material falling into the hands of terrorists, tougher action not just against potential proliferators such as Iran but also new action against suppliers: seeking to strengthen export control regimes and build a more effective forensic nuclear capability in order to determine the true source of material employed in any nuclear device.

And having already reduced the numbers of our operationally available warheads by 20 per cent - and made our expertise available for the verifiable elimination of nuclear warheads - I can confirm that we, Britain, are ready to play our part.

As great a potential threat as nuclear weapons proliferation - and as demanding of a coordinated international response - is the threat from failing and unstable states.

Again the national security strategy proposes a new departure, again a lesson learnt from recent conflicts ranging from Rwanda and Bosnia to Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia: to create a standby international civilian capability so that for fragile and failing states we can act quickly and comprehensively by combining the humanitarian, peacekeeping, stabilisation and reconstruction support they need.

So in the same way that we have military forces ready to respond to conflict, we must have civilian experts and professionals ready to deploy quickly to assist failing states and to help rebuild countries emerging from conflict, putting them on the road to economic and political recovery.

I can tell the House that Britain will start by making available a 1000-strong UK civilian standby capacity - that will include police, emergency service professionals, judges and trainers - for this work.

And I am calling on EU and NATO partners to set high and ambitious targets for their own contributions.

Between now and 2011 Britain is offering 600 million for conflict prevention, resolution and stabilisation work around the world, including in Israel and Palestine, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Kenya and the Balkans.

And as we assume our Presidency of the UN Security Council in May, we are proposing an appeal by the UN Secretary General for a coordinated crisis recovery fund to provide immediate support for reconstruction -- and to which Britain will contribute.

Specifically, because we know the importance of peace in Darfur I am announcing today more help from Britain to train, equip and deploy African troops for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping operation.

Because of the importance of peace in Somalia I can announce that Britain will help pay for 850 Burundian troops as part of the African Union peacekeeping force.

Because of the critical importance of economic and political reconstruction complementing military action as the elected Afghan Government face down the Taliban, an integrated civilian-military headquarters - headed by a civilian - will now be constituted in Helmand.

And in Iraq - where we have already brought electricity and water supplies to over one million citizens - we are stepping up our contribution to the work of long-term economic reconstruction by supporting the Basra Development Commission - led for the British by businessman Michael Wareing.

And in order to maximise our contribution to all the new challenges of peacekeeping, humanitarian work and stabilisation and reconstruction, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary for Defence is also announcing this afternoon that - as part of a wider review - the Government will now examine how our reserve forces can more effectively help with stabilisation and economic reconstruction in post-conflict zones around the world.

And with this year the 100th anniversary of the Territorial Army, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the servicemen and women in our reserves who are such an essential element of our nation's defence.

Mr Speaker, the security strategy published today also makes clear that, as well as being able to respond to crises as they develop, we need to be able to tackle the underlying drivers of conflict and instability ---- in particular: Poverty, inequality and poor governance - where focusing also on areas where poverty breeds conflict we have quadrupled Britain's aid budget from 2.1 billion in 1997 to nearly 9.1 by 2011, and are pushing for bold international action in 2008 to meet the Millennium Development Goals; Climate change and competition for natural resources - where we are leading the way in arguing for a post 2012 international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a new global fund to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, including in the areas most under stress and therefore most likely to suffer instability as well as humanitarian disaster; and disease and global pandemics - where with the world health organisation the priority is to improve early warning systems, increase global vaccine supplies ----- and to help put in place a more coordinated global response, Britain will bring together all interested parties to agree new international action.

And because of the importance of building stability and countering violent extremism in the Middle East and South Asia, we are increasing the number of Foreign Office staff in those regions by 30 per cent.

Mr Speaker, among all the security challenges to citizens of this country covered by this new strategy, the most serious and urgent remains the threat from international terrorism - with today Britain facing 30 known plots, and monitoring 200 networks and around 2000 individuals.

There have been 58 convictions for terrorism in just over a year.

And the Home Secretary is announcing today that we will now have four regional counter terrorism units and four regional intelligence units, significantly increasing anti-terrorism police capability in the regions.

Since the events of September 11th, on suspicion they are a threat to national security or fostering extremism, 300 people individuals have been prevented from entering the country.

Now, backing up our unified border agency, compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals and our proposals in the Counter Terrorism bill that in unique circumstances we can extend detention to ensure full investigation of terror threats, the Government will match stronger action against those we suspect of stirring up tensions with collaborative work with our European partners to strengthen the EU rules on deporting criminals ---- a matter I will be discussing with President Sarkozy next week.

For action against terrorism and also organised crime it is important also to strengthen Europol and Eurojust, ensure rapid and secure exchange of information, and speed up both the extradition of criminals and the confiscation of their assets --- where starting with the United Arab Emirates we are signing more agreements so that once the assets of a convicted criminal are seized in one country with the assistance of the other, both countries will get a share of the proceeds.

Mr Speaker, our new approach to security also means improved local resilience against emergencies, building and strengthening local capacity to respond effectively in a range of circumstances from floods to possible terrorism incidents ------ not the old cold war idea of civil defence but a new form of civil protection that combines expert preparedness for potential emergencies with greater local engagement of individuals and families themselves.

And the Home Secretary and the Communities Secretary will report next month on additional measures we propose for young people, in colleges and universities, and in prisons, and working with faith communities, to disrupt the promoters of violent extremism - all building upon the support of the vast majority of people, of all faiths and backgrounds, who condemn terrorists and their actions.

Mr Speaker, the national security strategy shows a Britain resolute in the face of an unstable and increasingly uncertain international security landscape and demonstrates the lessons we and other countries have learned in recent years --- that we must: expand our policing, security and intelligence capacity, do more to prevent conflict including by more effective international control of arms, strengthen the effectiveness of international institutions to promote stability and reconstruction, and always be vigilant, never leaving ourselves vulnerable --- supporting, and at all times and wherever necessary strengthening, as we do today, our defences and civilian support for national security.

And I commend this statement to the house.

Here is the full text of the response by Conservative leader David Cameron:

I thank the Prime Minister for his statement.

First I would like to put on record the huge debt of gratitude that we owe to the police, the security services and our armed forces for the work they do to keep our country safe.

The Prime Minister has made a wide-ranging statement, and there is much in it we support.

Can I tell him that we welcome the idea of a stand-by civilian capability so we can act quickly in fragile or failing states, an idea we have long supported.

We support the idea of a cross-cutting manifesto for Forces' families.

Indeed, it is an idea I set out in my Party Conference Speech some two years ago and I'm glad it is bearing fruit.

We very much welcome what he said about the greater co-ordination of our effort in Helmand Province, and anyone who has been there knows that is needed.

But I would like to focus my questions on the theory and the practice of a national security approach.

Because Mr Speaker, this statement has been a long time in coming.

At first sight, it looks rather and sounded, coming from the Prime Minister, rather more like a list than a strategy.

I think it would help that instead of announcing a series of things that the Defence Secretary or Home Secretary is going to announce that he actually just told us more clearly what he's going to change why it would be different and actually the tenure of this approach doesn't come across clearly.

It may be because it's had a very difficult birth.

According to sources in Downing Street say it has proved 'a bit of a disaster? its genesis has been marked by delays, indecisiveness at the top, a total lack of funds and some glorious Whitehall squabbling'.

We will study it in detail.

But the idea of a national security strategy is one we welcome, the need for a national security approach is clear.

The threats to our national security - from terrorism to climate change to energy security - are proliferating and government must adapt to deal with them.

That is why, in 2006, my Party said it was time not just for a national security strategy, but for a National Security Council.

Does the Prime Minister agree with me that a national security strategy will only work only if it is put in place and carried out properly? To achieve this, three things must happen.

First, institutions in the UK need to be properly organised to deliver a national security approach.

Second, we need to understand fully the connections between foreign and domestic policy and how they impact on our security.

Third, vitally, any strategy will only make sense if the government follows through and takes the necessary practical steps.

Let me take each of these in turn.

Can the Prime Minister explain why the government has decided to set up a national security forum - another 'talking shop' - instead of a proper national security council? Surely a proper national security council would have dedicated staff and decision making powers; it would be at the heart of government with all the relevant ministers and be chaired by the Prime Minister.

We don't have that; we should have that.

Can he explain how a forum and an existing cabinet committee will be able to drive the implementation of the national security strategy across all departments? Aren't we in danger of having a talking shop and confusion? On the connection between foreign policy and domestic policy, are we going to have a totally joined up approach? He's talked about a single security budget, will it genuinely cover all of the relevant areas? For instance I've asked him will the single security budget include special branch currently funded by separate forces.

That the United Kingdom must retain the power, properly funded, to intervene abroad militarily when necessary, as the strategy says.

But we must understand that military operations abroad have consequences for security at home.

As the Joint Intelligence Committee warned at the time, our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan which we supported, in the short term increased the threat of terrorism domestically in the UK and yet we have to ask was all the necessary action domestically taken at the time? And isn't it clear that the answer is no? This leads to the third issue: the importance of following through on the national security strategy.

Here the Prime Minister has a number of questions to answer.

First, why, despite government statements to the contrary, has he still not banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir? It is clearly a gateway group that seeks to poison young minds against our country and against our way of life.

The last Prime Minister said it would happen.

Why hasn't it happened? Why, despite rightly preventing the preacher of hate, Yusef Al Qaradawi, from entering Britain, which he did after our recommendation, why has he not followed the lead of the Irish government and excluded Ibrahim Moussawi, a spokesman for the terrorist organisation Hizbollah, who has recently conducted a speaking tour of the UK? Why has his government allowed public money to end up in the hands of extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood? Does the Prime Minister understand the damage done to our reputation by the perception that this country has allowed itself to become a terrorist breeding ground and a threat to others? And why, despite the urgent need to secure our borders, does he still refuse to create a proper border police force with enforcement powers? What is it that holds him back from these obvious and necessary measures? Can I end by asking this.

A national security approach will not succeed unless we learn from the mistakes made in the past about learning the lessons from conflicts such as he mentioned, Rwanda and Iraq.

With that in mind doesn't he think that it's now time to establish the promised inquiry into the conduct of the Iraq war? To say this cannot be done while our forces are still in Basra is effectively to kick this into the very long grass and it flies in the face of the fact that, in the United States, for instance, they have held such inquiries.

So when he gets to that dispatch box, can he answer that question about when we will have that inquiry, that in order to make a national security strategy really work is so clearly needed?

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