May I start by stating that I entirely appreciate your frustration with the public display of Hezbollah flags in the UK. It is currently a criminal offence for a person to wear clothing or carry articles in public, which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation and it is for that reason that so many people were appalled by the Al Quds rally of last year.
Hezbollah's external security organisation was banned in 2001 under the Terrorism Act of 2000 and I am pleased to report that this ban was then strengthened in 2008 when it was extended to a ban on the party's entire military structure.
However, it is important to ensure that Lebanon's institutions and civic life reflect the diversity of Lebanon, which is particularly vital in the aftermath of the devastating civil war of the 1980s. I can therefore appreciate why the UK Government believes that it has to acknowledge the significant level of support that Hezbollah enjoys amongst elements of Lebanese society. Indeed, they hold eleven seats in Lebanon's Parliament.
I can assure you that the Government is firmly committed to tackling all forms of extremism and have published a counter-extremism strategy, with plans to tackle the whole spectrum of extremism, violent and non-violent, ideological and non-ideological, Islamist and neo-Nazi. A key part of the Government's strategy is also to encourage all communities to work to prevent the extremism and radicalisation of individuals.