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Column 1106number of people who die from the effects of smoking. Yet every Christmas there is a massive campaign, with all the chief constables hurling hundreds of policemen on to the streets to stop drunken driving. Two wrongs do not make a right, and I am not criticising that, but 110,000 people are killed every year by smoking. There are few warnings of the dangers of smoking, except on tube posters or the bottom of a cigarette packet.
Mrs. Gorman : Surely the hon. Gentleman admits that there is a difference between people choosing to smoke, which may harm their health, and a drunk driver who kills other people. How does he draw a comparison between that?
Mr. Ashton : Obviously there is a difference. I am saying that 110, 000 people are killed by smoking, yet 1 per cent. of that figure are killed as a result of drunken driving. I am comparing the different emphasis in newspapers, on television and in interviews with the police. Something has got out of line somewhere when 110,000 deaths are not publicised as much as drunken driving is.
Mr. Stern : I am worried that the hon. Gentleman might inadvertently be confusing the House with bogus statistics. The 110, 000 deaths from smoking include anyone who is known ever to have smoked and is therefore assumed to have died from smoking. Deaths from drunken driving are those that are proved to have related directly to a drunken driver. Is not the likelihood that both figures tend to meet in the middle?
Mr. Ashton : The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The statistics on deaths from drunken driving include drink-related accidents. Any drunk who staggers out of a pub and falls under a car that is being driven by a sober driver is a drink-related accident. Statistics can be used in many different ways, but we are talking about the wide disparity between 1,000 and 110,000 deaths.
Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South) : Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman get off the hook by reminding him that it is widely accepted that smokers damage other people's health, to the point of causing their deaths as well.
Mr. Ashton : I am delighted that the hon. Lady said that because it takes me on to my next point. I introduced a Bill to provide for no-smoking areas in public houses. At that time, the hon. Lady was a Health Minister. Although it received a majority of 99 to 90, the hon. Lady did nothing to try to enforce it. No doubt she will answer that later.
Everybody accepts that there is a related smoking problem. It is amazing that, although smoking was banned on tube trains following the King's Cross disaster, and is barred on many aeroplanes, in restaurants and in many parts of the House of Commons, pubs do not have no-smoking areas. Pub landlords refuse to have them. I do not know why breweries refuse to have them, because all that happens is that people drink at home. They go to the off-licence, buy a six-pack of lager, sit in front of the television in their smoke-free house and drink it. Pubs are losing cash because of that, but for some stupid reason they refuse to introduce no-smoking areas in pubs. This is an admirable Bill. As the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) said, there will be problems defining its small print. The Minister probably remembers me accompanying the Parents Against Tobacco campaign to see him and our discussions on the problems with the
Column 1107European Community's rules on advertising. How he can be against the European Community introducing a measure that helps to prevent death or illness, or even prevent crimes, I do not know, but we shall have to consider that in Committee.
As many other hon. Members wish to speak, and as there is a statement at 11 o'clock, I shall curtail my remarks. I thank Parents Against Tobacco for its magnificent campaign, which received the support of almost half the Members of the House and of nationally known figures, except the tobacco companies. I welcome the work that it has done and the support that it has given my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East, me and the other sponsors.
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North) : It is surely the duty of this House to seek to protect the health of its people, especially children. I agree that older people must make up their own minds about this issue, but until children come to the year of accountability it is our responsibility, in so far as it lies with us, to protect them.
The appalling figure of 110,000 deaths a year from smoking-related diseases, taken with the fact that, as has been said clearly today, usually people who start smoking young are chained and hooked to that ill, is alarming. The House is therefore wise to hold the debate. I congratulate Parents Against Tobacco and the sponsors of the Bill on their excellent campaign.
I am glad that the sponsors have extended the Bill to Northern Ireland, and I am sure that my colleagues in the House will join me in welcoming that fact. I draw the sponsors' attention to the fact that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland are defined, but in Northern Ireland are not. Perhaps that could be put right in Committee so that there can be no doubt but that the local authority would be the district council, as that is the only local authority that we have. I trust that the sponsors will consider that, because too many people want to get out of their enforcement responsibility. The hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) put his finger on the heart of the problem--enforcement. We have heard strong condemnation today of the cynical attitude of shopkeepers. Everything that has been said in denunciation of those who would sell cigarettes to children and defy the law is fully justified. Those who have responsibility for these matters in local authorities and the Government should be condemned for not forcing the pace. As the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) said, the Government have taken the lead in dealing with drunken driving and have advertised the fact that the police intend to nail people who break the law. It is time that local government and central Government authorities made it clear that they intend to nail these offenders.
Shopkeepers break up packets of cigarettes, encouraging children to buy one or two. In Northern Ireland, shopkeepers cut cigarettes in half to make them cheaper so that children will buy them. We must deal with that. I welcome the fact that the Bill clearly spells out what it will do.
Mr. Cryer : In ensuring enforcement of the law through the Bill, is not it important for the Government to encourage these provisions, not only by supporting the Bill but by ensuring that local authorities have sufficient funds to ensure that environmental health officers, who carry out an important range of tasks, carry out this one, too?
Rev. Ian Paisley : I was coming to that point. It is no use saying to local authorities, "This is your responsibility", but not giving them the cash to meet it. They must have the cash to do the job that the law says they should do. It is ridiculous to ask local authorities to carry out a task but not give them the necessary funding. I could not agree more with the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer).
Mrs. Gorman : I listened to the hon. Member's story about evidence that shopkeepers cut cigarettes in half. As it is illegal to sell single cigarettes, why are not those people prosecuted, as the law insists? These are often apocryphal stories, manufactured by people who are trying to make a bad case stand up.
Rev. Ian Paisley : As the hon. Lady knows, I do not believe in apocryphal writings. The local authorities will not take action on this matter, just as they will not in dealing with Sunday opening. It is no use the hon. Lady saying that these are apocryphal tales--they are true. Nothing has been done because the local authorities will not take action. They should be pushed to do so. The Sunday trading laws have been violated in Northern Ireland and little action has been taken. I am sure that the hon. Lady would not be so foolish as to say that there was no violation of those laws over Christmas. That is not an apocryphal story. It is a fact, but nothing has been done.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Bill shows the mind of the nation on this matter and the determination to deter this behaviour through sentences and fines? Local authorities and others have not been prosecuting because they have discovered when they go to court that it is a waste of time.
Rev. Ian Paisley : The hon. Member makes a vital point. What is the use of taking action when there is no deterrent? I welcome the fact that fines have been increased in the Bill. They should be substantially increased. I hope that the Minister does not knock that point, because it is a vital part of the deterrent.
Rev. Ian Paisley : I do not think that I have the right under the law in Northern Ireland to bring a case. If the hon. Member would like to help me to finance cases, I shall enter into a partnership with him. I come from Ballymena, which is the Aberdeen of Northern Ireland. I should appreciate having a financial partner to help me in such cases.
Vending machines put temptation in the way of children, who can get around the law by using them. I welcome the fact that that matter is taken care of in the
Column 1109Bill. It is right that the House should pay attention to this crying shame in our community and that we should all rally in support of our children and do everything that we can to protect their health, well-being and future.
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire) : I endorse the comments of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and support everything that he said. I should like to pick up two points to introduce my speech. First, as a former solicitor, I know that it is notoriously difficult to get corroboration to prosecute. The hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) rightly said that if the law is breached, the matter should be pursued in the courts ; but the courts can deal with prosecutions only if there is substantial evidence that the law has been broken. The House should bear in mind the fact that it is difficult to establish that evidence.
Secondly, I am sure that the hon. Member for Antrim, North did not mean to suggest that all tobacco retailers are bad people. I support the Bill as strongly as anyone and I should not like us to make this a campaign against tobacco retailers. There are many such retailers in my constituency and they tell me that it is difficult to determine the age of some young people. I hope that we will keep that balance in mind.
Rev. Ian Paisley rose --
The Bill is long overdue. Honourable attempts have been made by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) and by my constituent, the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson)--who would have liked to be here but had pressing constituency engagements--to tackle this problem. The statistics have persuaded me over several years that the House should do so.
The introduction by the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) was exemplary. Everyone knows what a henpecked character he is. I am sure that if he were prepared to expand in Standing Committee on the dispute with his wife, we might be able to sell tickets and have hon. Members and members of the public queuing to get in. I, for one, should like to hear himá describe that confrontation in detail, although his introduction did not leave much to be added. It is difficult to oppose the Bill because no new legislative concepts, themes or principles have been brought before the House. The statistics are frightening--we have heard that one in five children is addicted to tobacco, involving expenditure of £90 million. Those who oppose the Bill should make clear the direction from which the dissent comes. We must be honest. I hope that those who oppose the Bill because of legitimate constituency interests--for example, substantial employment which may be affected by the Bill--will say so honestly. I hope that those who oppose the Bill because they are close to the tobacco industry will be honest about that and say so. There is much at stake in the Bill in terms of money. We must be honest about where the objections are coming from. Rev. Ian Paisley rose --
Rev. Ian Paisley : The largest tobacco company--Gallaher--is in my constituency. I made my attitude clear to that company. I hope that the Government will also take into account the fact that they should now start to encourage diversification and the creation of other jobs for people in the tobacco industry. It is no use for us to say today that we support the Bill and then not to take care of the people employed in the tobacco industry by getting them alternative employment.
Mr. Kirkwood : I appreciate that intervention as the hon. Gentleman has made a very positive point. I hope that the Government will take that point on board. We cannot just abandon employment prospects. No one who supports the Bill would want to do that. We are not in favour of destroying employment prospects, but we believe that steps can and should be taken to address that point.
The Bill is concerned with closing loopholes, with enforcement and with the fact that such tobacco sales are already illegal. The Bill merely seeks to provide strengthened powers for the enforcement authorities so that proper enforcement can be carried out. The Bill is also useful in its clarification of the confusion about who is responsible for enforcement. There are conflicting priorities and genuine confusion. The Bill goes a long way in attempting to clarify those confusions. Costs are, of course, involved and I agree with what the hon. Member for Antrim, North said about that. The Government cannot ignore the point.
If the Bill is enacted, it will send a powerful signal. It will give a signal not only to children that it is a daft idea to get hooked on tobacco and nicotine at an early age, and to local authorities that the House wants them to do something about the problem, but to retailers that this is a serious matter and not a minor issue that they can trim round the edges. The Bill will show that we are clear in our message to retailers that we will not put up with such tobacco sales. It is important to send that signal to the rest of the community.
The Parents Against Tobacco campaign has been rightly congratulated on its approach. It is a very professionally run campaign. The point that has impressed me more than anything is the way in which the campaigners have gone out of their way to go down the voluntary route. They have tried to get the voluntary co-operation of local authorities and they have gone a long way in establishing that voluntary co-operation. However, they can go no further and that is why we now need to consider the additional legislative powers that will be necessary. The voluntary approach has done as much as it can be expected to do.
We must persuade local authorities to tighten controls and procedures. We have established a high level of public support in the campaign and we have established considerable support among hon. Member of all parties. The Bill introduces a sensible list of practical steps which are necessary. The law is at present more observed in the breach than in the enforcement and we must put that right.
The Bill contains a combination of elements, all of which are important in themselves. The Bill is a preventive health measure. It would take pressure off the hard-pressed national health service and off other community services that look after our people's health. It would protect children against an addiction--for it is nothing short of that. I believe that it is a personal disaster
Column 1111for some of our young people to become hooked on nicotine. It would also save the taxpayer money in the long term.
I understand that there may be some difficulties about the additional upfront costs which will be necessary immediately to get the enforcement procedures right. However, if the spirit of the Bill prevails, if it reaches the statute book and if it is enforced sensibly and expeditiously, it will save the taxpayer enormous sums in the long run and it will throw a lifeline to youngsters who might otherwise be afflicted by this terrible addiction. For all those reasons, it will be a great disaster if the House objects to the Bill. I hope that we will give it a Second Reading and get it on to the statute book as soon as we can.
Sir Trevor Skeet (Bedfordshire, North) : I congratulate the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) on his opportunity to introduce the Bill. I accept his argument in principle, although I believe that there is such an abundance of legislation at present that the Bill is not really necessary. I do not consider it appropriate that children under 16 should smoke. When I was at college we got six of the best if we were discovered smoking. That does not happen now, so we have to use other methods of persuasion to try to ensure that children do not smoke. That is in their interests.
There is an assumption that the Bill will succeed. I want to refer to clause 1(1G). We know what local authorities do and we have seen how vigilant they have been in enforcing the Shops Acts. That is true in my constituency. I can imagine how diligent local authorities will be in conducting periodic surveys and in investigating every complaint that is made. They would have to have an enormous number of people to do that. To bring a case, they would have to be satisfied that there had been a failure to comply with the law and they would then have to bring proceedings or, as it says in the Bill in a get-out phrase,
"to take such other steps as may be necessary to ensure compliance."
I am not certain that the Bill will be any more successful than previous legislation. The House should recognise that legislation is already available--for example, the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the Children and Young
Column 1112Persons Act 1963 and the Protection of Children (Tobacco) Act 1986. I accept that enforceability is the main point, as the hon. Member for Warley, East, said. We are concerned not with penalties, but with whether the law is enforceable. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that under the common law, if there is an illegality, it is open to anyone in the street to conduct a prosecution. Anyone can bring a prosecution and can prevent people from falling into bad ways, but, as has been said earlier, people do not want to foot the bill. Have we overlooked the fact that while we are trying to lambast the retailers, the people who should be disclosing information and do not do so, we should be considering the duty of the parents and the education system? Teachers spend considerable time with their students at schools and colleges and they can instil into them the undesirability of smoking. Children spend most of the rest of their time at home. What are the parents doing about this? Are they trying to persuade their own children that they should not smoke? There is a health problem involved, so enforcement is not entirely for the courts ; it is also for the others involved.
I emphasise, as other hon. Members have, that simply hitting the retailer hard--and many of them are perfectly reasonable and good--is an unfair way to proceed. It is well known that one can chase human nature out of the back door, but it will come in the front door. Human nature is extraordinary. I dare say that some retailers sell tobacco to children because they think that they can get away with it. If they can get away with it under present legislation, it could reasonably be argued that if the local authorities were in charge of such matters, the retailers could probably get away with it in similar circumstances.
We should not merely make full use of the judicial system and improve the law as it already exists on the statute book, but make full use of the sociological consequences to ensure that parents, religion, schools and all the other agencies for inculcating the right ideas into children, are fully utilised.
While it was indicated today that smoking among youths is going up, figures from the report of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in July 1989 show that the percentage of boys who smoke at least one cigarette a week were, in 1982--
It being Eleven o'clock, Mr. Speaker-- interrupted the proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings).
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : Earlier this morning, seven Scud missiles, fired fromobile launchers in Iraq, struck Israel. They are reported to have landed at or near Tel Aviv, in Haifa and near Nazareth. The missiles carried conventional warheads.
The Israeli Government have shown great restraint over the past five and a half months, restraint which we warmly applaud. Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister issued a statement saying that he was appalled at the Iraqi attack. The House will want to join the Prime Minister and myself in condemning this outrageous attack on Israel's civilian population. It will be seen in all parts of the world as a reckless ploy to widen the conflict. The House will note that the attack was wholly indiscriminate, and it is a miracle that no one was killed.
During the night we were in close touch with the United States Administration and with the Governments of Israel and certain Arab countries. I have spoken this morning to the Israeli Foreign Minister and to the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
We understand fully the anger of the Israeli Government and people and their responsibility for the defence of their own country. We have asked them to understand in turn the need to retain the greatest possible support for the military action being undertaken against Iraq, including among the Arab nations who have joined us in that action or who support it. Israel has the right of self-defence, and no one can take that decision from them ; but we believe that restraint by Israel at this time would be interpreted as strength not weakness, given the powerful military operation now under way against Iraq in pursuit of the objectives laid down by the United Nations.
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) : I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for his statement. The House would appreciate it if the right hon. Gentleman or a relevant colleague would continue to provide statements to the House whenever appropriate.
The Opposition totally condemn the missile attack on Israel, an attack entirely without provocation on a country which is in no way involved either in the Gulf dispute or the current hostilities. It is a wanton act of aggression, based on vicious prejudice. I share the relief that there were no serious casualties.
While I understand completely the sense of outrage of the Israelis at the deliberate provocation, I trust that they will not be provoked. Their restraint so far has been exemplary. Saddam Hussein has taken this action cynically to set a trap for the Israelis. I hope that the Israelis will not fall into that trap by making a military response. The cause of ending Saddam Hussein's aggression will more likely be damaged than enhanced by an Israeli military response.
This action emphasises the basic evil of the Iraqi regime, from which the Iraqi people, the Kurds and, most recently, the Kuwaitis, have suffered. Now that military action by the coalition, under United Nations authority, is under way, it is more essential than ever that it be brought to a speedy and successful conclusion.
Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that the statements appearing to emanate from the Israeli Government that they are prepared not to take action in retaliation are one of the most hopeful signs that have emerged from the conflict so far? Does he agree that, if they are seen to follow the precept set out by Shakespeare in Act 4 of "The Merchant of Venice"--that "The quality of mercy is not strained"--
they will materially contribute to a successful conclusion to many of the problems in the Gulf?
Mr. Hurd : When I spoke to Mr. Levi, this morning, the meeting of the Israeli Cabinet was still proceeding, and he courteously came out to speak to me, so I cannot confirm what my hon. Friend said. I laid before Mr. Levi certain considerations. The Israelis have a difficult decision to make, and we understand fully the difficulty in which they are placed.
Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber) : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this happening underlines the luck in war, because there could have been hundreds of dead instead of seven slightly injured? We pay tribute to the restraint that the Israelis have shown.
A rumour is circulating : will the Foreign Secretary assure us that despite the fact that to avoid hitting civilian targets, 20 per cent. of our attacks are being aborted, there will be no loosening of the excellent precision bombing that is a yardstick of the battle plan? Does he agree that, while many in the House have not, as we have, accepted the necessity of hostilities, in these circumstances those people should also recognise that, even had there been no hostilities, at some not-too-distant time, those Scud missiles would have landed in Israel in any event? That is a fact.
Mr. Hurd : The hon. Gentleman makes a shrewd point. As regards his first question, I certainly say--my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence is sitting beside me--that there is no question of the operation being loosened. It is tightly controlled. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday, instructions are given to minimise the civilian causalties wherever possible, and the targets that our forces have been instructed to attack are, without exception, military targets or targets of strategic importance.
Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield) : The attack on Israel is an unwelcome development which the whole country will totally deplore, but is not it clear that, however difficult, restraint from Israel is not only in the international interest but in the national interest of Israel?
Mr. Hurd : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I shall add a piece of information that the House may have already had from other sources --it appeared that Israel was not the only country to be attacked by Scud missiles last night. Apparently, there was also an attempted but frustrated missile attack on Dhahran in Saudi Arabia.
Column 1115about restraint, it is for their Government, as the democratically elected Government of the country, to take such steps as they regard as necessary to protect their citizens? In recognising that that is an anguished decision, does he not see that it is far easier to urge restraint from here than to accept it after a citizen, his family and friends--innocent civilians--have been bombed, and when restraint may be taken by Saddam Hussein as an indication of something else?
Mr. Hurd : Yes, I think that I recognised that fully in the answer that I gave, as we have in everything that we have said to the Israelis who have a difficult decision. Their pressures and anxieties are immediate and strong. The account that I was given by Mr. Levi of the anxieties and fears of the night, when people felt that they might well be under chemical attack, are perfectly understandable. We must understand that as the background against which the Israelis have to take their decision.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath) : May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his wise and extremely appropriate statement on this new and dangerous development? Will he confirm that five Arab countries are supporting the coalition with military means, and that the vast majority of the 22 Arab countries support the coalition? Does he agree that the allies have at their disposal all the weapons required to deal with the problem?
Mr. Hurd : My hon. Friend is right on his first point. In relation to his second point, it will come as a surprise to no one that the allied commanders are well aware of that particular problem and are anxious to deal with it.
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport) : I am sure that the Foreign Secretary's well-judged statement has the support of everyone in the House, and I do not wish to add to it. However, will he consider how we counter Saddam Hussein's propaganda, and in particular how we use every possible mechanism to show the world that this is still essentially an inter-Arab conflict?
Mr. Hurd : I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and we have spent a lot of time on that. As he said, it is essentially for Arabs to put their point of view forward, as it comes convincingly from them. That is why the Egyptian Government and all our friends in the coalition have done a great deal--we have done our best to help them do a great deal--to make that point. The idea that Saddam Hussein is accepted as a spokesman or champion for the Arab world does not stand up to examination.
Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : Does my right hon. Friend accept that we are asking the people of Israel to exercise self-restraint on a scale that no other democracy in the world would be willing to exercise? Will my right hon. Friend guarantee that he will show understanding for the people of Israel in whatever decision they take, because they have been attacked for no good reason? The fact that there was no loss of life was due to the intervention of the Almighty and not to the deeds of Saddam Hussein. Those missiles were sent to kill rather than simply to maim and injure.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the successful prosecution of a just war requires conduct so far as possible that is conducive to obtaining a just peace? Since the preamble to the United Nations charter allows the use of force only when peace and security have been broken, is not it therefore wise to remember that the peace in that whole area was uneasy and that security was tenuous for many? Because of that, will he charge all his colleagues and everyone concerned in this unfortunate affair that the successful prosecution of the war is as important as the successful prosecution by the United Nations in a new era of those underlying causes and incidents of which we are all aware?
Mr. Hurd : Certainly the area has become much more unstable since the aggression on 2 August. Our aim is to reverse that aggression as the United Nations has authorised and required. We must then go on--in that the hon. Gentleman is right--to try to work again for answers to the different problems in the middle east on the basis that the hon. Gentleman describes.
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North) : While I agree with the Foreign Secretary's statement and the opinion expressed in the House calling on Israel to exercise restraint, would not it be well for the Secretary of State to assure the House and to assure Israel publicly that the allied forces will do everything in their power to seek out those missile sites and deal with them, so that such an incident will not recur?
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) : Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the media and the world at large should contrast the difference between the precision bombing against military targets by the international force and the indiscriminate attack on civilian targets by Saddam Hussein? While I welcome the statement, and as I come from a Province in which we know what it takes to try to exercise restraint in the face of terrorism, we urge Israel to depend on the international forces at this time to defeat Saddam.
Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital for the prosecution of the war and for the negotiations for peace that Israel shows great restraint in retaliation on this matter? Does he also agree that it is important that, in the face of future provocations that may well occur from the Iraqis, Israel should remember that it is important that any retaliation to which it may resort is in proportion to the attack from Iraq?
Column 1117for Saddam Hussein's victory, and about friction on certain factory shop floors yesterday? In view of that, will he ask the Prime Minister to arrange an urgent meeting with the president of the Council of Mosques, and perhaps one or two newspaper editors, before a potentially difficult racial situation arises?
Mr. Hurd : We certainly are anxious to show everyone in this country and Muslims across the world that this is not a question of the west against Muslims or the west against Arabs. I have seen much evidence to make me believe that many Arabs and a great majority of Muslims repudiate the idea that Saddam Hussein is in some way their champion. However, the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) has a good point. We must pay particular attention to making that point effectively to our fellow citizens.
Mr. James Arbuthnot (Wanstead and Woodford) : Does my right hon. Friend recall that, several years ago, Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear- weapon-making potential? That action was condemned at the time by many countries, including this one. In view of what happened last night, would my right hon. Friend care to reflect on what might have happened had Israel not taken that action?
Mr. Hurd : I do not want to go back on that, because the present situation is different. Israel is not alone in facing the present circumstances. A very powerful military action is under way, which has begun favourably, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has reported. There can be no doubt in the minds of the Israelis about the determination with which the allies, including the more important Arab states, are conducting that operation.
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) : In spite of the undoubted outrage that the Israeli Government and the Israeli people feel about that unprovoked aggression, the Government of Israel know that that is part of Saddam Hussein's political strategy to involve them in the war and therefore--as he believes--to strengthen his particular cause and gain support. They know that, but is not the major concern in the minds of the Israeli Government likely to be whether last night's attack is likely to be repeated and whether, next time, it might comprise a chemical weapons attack?
Mr. Hurd : Indeed, they will have that thought in their minds. I sympathise for once with what the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) said about that. It is much easier for us to make such points, and I made the same point as the right hon. Gentleman about the attack being a reckless ploy to widen the conflict. That is what it obviously was. However, it is easier for us to make such points in the Chamber than it is for the Israeli Cabinet to reach a decision.