I have spoken twice in Parliament about the attack and murder of hostages by terrorists linked to Al Qaida in Algeria.
On Friday 18 January I told David Cameron: May I thank the Prime Minister for his statement and ask him to reiterate the importance of the economic relationships between Algeria and this country? Many homes in this cold winter—not just in this country but in other parts of Europe—are heated by gas that comes from Algeria. Surely the key message is that we will not allow terrorist organisations to break or undermine that economic relationship, which is not just in Algeria’s interest but also in ours.
The Prime Minister replied: I think the hon. Gentleman puts the point extremely well. One of the most important things about our country is what an open, trading, investing country we are. British citizens live and work all over the world and, as I thought the Leader of the Opposition put particularly well, they are working hard to do the right things and we should support them in that. We must recognise that, as a result, that puts particular emphasis on the importance of our foreign and diplomatic policy, and also our military co-operation with other countries. Part of the role of government is to try to keep our citizens safe wherever they are, and in those terms the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the economic relationship between us and Algeria. We have many companies with huge expertise in the exploration of oil and gas. They are a major part of the British economy and we should be supportive of them. The work they do in Algeria is vital for Algeria and it is also vital for us.
On Monday 21 January I asked David Cameron: The Prime Minister said that he was going to push the issue of terrorism on the agenda for the G8. Will he also raise it with the EU 27 and the NATO 28, and try to get better co-ordination between the United States Africa Command—AFRICOM—in Stuttgart and the European security and defence policies?
The Prime Minister replied: I will certainly take the hon. Gentleman’s advice, and he makes a good point. The reason for specifically mentioning the G8 is that in that slightly smaller forum it is possible to have an in-depth conversation with American, French, Italian, Canadian and other partners about what more we can do to thicken our various defence, security, political and diplomatic relations with countries in, for instance, north Africa, making sure that we do not all fall over each other in trying to do the same thing in the same country. We should be recognising that in some cases there are very strong British relationships that we should build on, but in others the relationships may be French, Italian or American.