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Column 179As my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) said, in March 1991, after years of protest by women and women's organisations, the Appeal Court declared :
"a rapist remains a rapist subject to the criminal law irrespective of any relationship"
In 1991, the Law Lords said :
"in modern times the supposed marital exception in rape forms no part of the law of England."
That decision is being appealed against in the European Court and therefore it is vital that Parliament, which has never taken a stand in supporting the right of wives to say no to their husbands, takes a stand now.
Parliament has done nothing, despite the fact that a Women Against Rape survey showed that rape in marriage is the most common rape of all and that one in seven married women have been raped by their husbands. In considering what the Law Lords have done, the Law Commission has said that rape in marriage should be made a crime on exactly the same basis as any other rape and that that should be achieved by deleting from the 1976 Act the word "unlawful". By adopting new clause 93, I believe that Parliament should delete that word today.
On the basis of my case work, I feel strongly that Parliament should ensure that immigrant wives are no longer forced to submit to rape as a condition of their right to stay in Britain. I have known of several women who have fled brutal rapist husbands and then been faced with deportation orders because they were no longer living with the rapist. That must be put right. Women should be given legal help to fight their cases and financial help to enable them to escape from rapist husbands.
As it is so late in the day I shall try to be as brief as possible. But I must say that it is absurd that in 1994 British law still does not recognise the rape of men and boys. It is clear that the distinction between buggery that is really consensual anal sex and buggery that is really rape must be clarified in law. That legal distinction is long overdue, both for women and for men. Consensual sex of whatever nature is not the business of the law, but it is the law's job to protect women, men and children from anal rape. 1.15 am
Men and boys, like women and girls, are raped by strangers, by members of their families, by their partners in gay relationships, by casual acquaintances or dates, and, especially when they are young, by men in positions of power and authority over them. Male rape is especially common in prison. It is time that the law addressed that problem, which could easily be done by changing the word in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act from "she" to "person".
My last argument is that the law must cover other forms of rape. The present definition of rape is confined to what is commonly known as "sexual intercourse". That definition artificially excludes many assaults that women experience and suffer as rape, such as forced oral or anal intercourse. Unfortunately, many children are sexually abused by means of forced oral intercourse.
Column 180Also excluded is the use of objects such as bottles, broom handles, knives and men's hands. There was a famous case involving a Queen's guardsman, Thomas Holdsworth, who was freed by the court on the grounds that a gaol sentence would ruin his Army career. In legal terms he had not raped the woman involved, although he had used his fist, full of rings, which tore her internally.
The distinction made by the law and by many men between penile penetration and other sexual assault has nothing to do with the trauma that women suffer, or with women's perceptions. As the law stands, extremely violent and serious assaults are categorised only as indecent assault, and thus receive a far lesser penalty. The maximum sentence for indecent assault is 10 years, whereas for rape the maximum is life. The new criminal compensation scheme gives compensation of £3,000 for indecent assault, but gives £7,500 for rape.
The present legal definition of the offence of rape is outdated and indefensible and creates gross miscarriages of justice. There can be no excuse for Parliament's perpetuating that situation for one more day.
Mrs. Roche : With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I welcome the contributions made by my hon. Friends the Members for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) and for Bow and Poplar (Ms Gordon). I am pleased that the new clause has had all-party support and I congratulate the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) on his excellent speech highlighting rape trauma syndrome.
Although I welcome the Minister's expression of the Government's sympathy over the discrepancy, I am disappointed that in such a wide-ranging Bill time could not have been found to deal with that area of the law. I hope that as the Bill makes progress, perhaps in another place, it may be possible to give the issue further consideration and to deal with it. But in view of what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Further consideration adjourned.--[ Mr. Andrew Mitchell. ] Bill to be further considered this day.
Mrs. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough) : I present a petition from 400 residents and parents of students at Bradfield school and other schools in the area about dangerous overcrowding on school transport.
The petition reads :
Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House in the interests of safety enact a change in the law regarding the transportation of school children by bus or coach so that school children may no longer be carried three to a seat. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
To lie upon the Table.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : On the last occasion that I raised the issue of sanctions against Iraq and Libya, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) was present. I am sure that it is the wish of hon. Members who are here to extend deepest sympathy to his wife Ann and a feeling of considerable pain and loss on the death of Bob Cryer.
As I told the Prime Minister when, most courteously, he saw me in his room in the House of Commons on Thursday 3 March ; as I told the Foreign Secretary when he most courteously saw me in his room in the House on the first parliamentary day after I returned from Baghdad in May 1993 ; and as I twice explained to Sir Michael Burton when, most courteously, he saw me first in June 1993 and again with Riad El Taher last month, I was indelibly appalled to see the lines of infants in the children's hospital in Baghdad and at the Um Kasr hospital on the Kuwait border, some of whom were expiring in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) and myself.
This summer, unless something is done, the human tragedy is likely to be compounded. That something is the supply of the pharmaceuticals on the list that I handed to the Prime Minister, and the supply of water filters and water pump equipment to process the disease-ridden waters of the Tigris river, supplying the staff of life to a city of 4 million people.
Where there were three pumps in happier times, despite Iraqi technical ingenuity, there is now probably one. If a few pumps seize up in sweltering May, June, July and August, water-borne disease will be rife.
In so far as policy is dictated by the alleged persecution of the Shia and the so-called marsh Arabs, I believe that Her Majesty's Government are plain wrong.
There are more Shia than Sunni in the city of Baghdad. I saw the breathtaking shrine at Kerbala being skilfully rebuilt by specific order of Saddam Hussein, who went there soon after the western bombing.
The supposed evidence of burning marsh Arab villages that was shown to me in the India room of the Foreign Office by Ministry of Defence officials on 23 March, as a result of the courteous initiative by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), seems to be worthless. Those who briefed me simply did not know that reed huts are regularly burnt for reasons of sanitation, and have been burnt at intervals for 5,000 years for the same reasons of hygiene.
I recommend the article in Middle East International entitled "Letter from Qurna" by Tim Llewellyn, the veteran middle east correspondent of the BBC, who accompanied me on my visit to Iraq in 1993. Knowing that this debate would start late at night, I gave a copy to the Foreign Office first thing in the morning, which I hope the Minister received from his office. I quote that article : "Strangely, all seems calm, everyone seems happy. It is true the cheerleaders are from the Ba'th party, but that musky aura of death and fear is not in the air. Dare I say it, these Madan actually like being modernised. A burgeoning drainage and irrigation scheme has brought a man- made river sweeping south east, canals shooting off from it, other similar projects under way or planned. The Marsh Arabs can still live near the water, but out of it now,
Column 182with electricity, clinics, financial help, government food rations and clean water to drink, the land washed clear of salt and reclaimed for wheat, barley and rice.
They keep their reeds, their hunting, their water buffalo and way of life, and--yes--it has to be said, they are more manageably arranged for Saddam's supervision. Progress disciplines everyone.
This phenomenal water endeavour is not new. The Marshes' drainage was planned in the 1950s, started in the 1970s and written about with tentative approval by Gavin Young, Thesiger's protege, in 1976. It is quite ludicrous to suppose that such a complex project has been designed simply to exterminate an ancient people."
It is against this background that I ask the Government yet again what on earth they intend to do, in this sweltering summer, about a terrible human situation and implore them to think again about whether sanctions should not be lifted.
Turning to Libyan sanctions, I am driven to the conclusion that Her Majesty's Government simply do not want either to find or to stumble on the truth of the Lockerbie crime. The truth, if it were established, would be altogether too awkward, too inconvenient, too embarrassing to Britain and the United States. I have been ever more curious about Lockerbie since those last days of December 1988, when a constituent friend and police officer told me that it was extraordinary how Americans, swarming round the wreckage, were interfering with evidence within hours of the crash.
Extraordinary, too, was the fact that the then Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Southend, West (Sir P. Channon), whom I have known in the House since he was the late Rab Butler's Parliamentary Private Secretary, appeared so confident that he knew what had been done, and who had done it, that he was prepared to say as much about the case to selected journalists in January 1989.
The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) is in the Chamber. I should like to put on record my belief that his efforts in relation to Libya have been totally sincere, were undertaken in good faith and would have represented the best chance of resolving the problem had he received from a number of authorities in Britain the backing that he deserved. I applaud his efforts.
Extraordinary, too, is the fact that, in more than 800 pages of memoirs, Lady Thatcher should not so much as mention Lockerbie once. But, of course, the fact is that two American Presidents asked Downing street to keep a low profile on Lockerbie. Lady Thatcher does refer to the 1986 bombing of Libya, and she seeks to justify it on the grounds that Libya could no longer back terrorists :
"The much-vaunted' Libyan Counter-Attack did not, and could not, take place."
She, of all people in the western world, must have known what intelligence was saying about Lockerbie, and her memoirs cannot be squared with information that blames Libya.
Like the Maltese Government, the Maltese police, Air Malta, the Luqa airport authorities and, indeed, Dr. John Buon Tempo, the former Maltese ambassador to the Arab states, whose mediation efforts are, I hope, being taken seriously by the Foreign Office, I do not believe that a bomb was posted--yes, posted--in Malta to go through the Rhein-Main airport and Heathrow without detection. Nor--bluntly--do I, as the longest-serving Scottish Member of Parliament, with a history of respect for the office of Lord Advocate, believe that the Crown Office has the evidence that it claims to have and pleads that, for legal reasons, it cannot produce.
Column 183It was partly that raisons d'etat dictated that with a Gulf war situation looming, it was necessary not to place blame on Syria or Iran and that Libya was a convenient, smaller scapegoat. It was partly to do with some vociferous American relatives of the victims, and their lawyers, led by Lee Kreindler, in order to get their money, and to prove negligence by Pan Am and fix responsibility on Pan Am insurers--a case that depends on the bomb being posted in Malta, as does Vincent Cannistraro's venomous attack on Lestor Coleman and Don Goddard, whom I do not regard as con men and who ought to be taken seriously and ought to be seen by the Scottish police. It was, above all, because of the sheer embarrassment factor for George Bush that the United States Government warned its officials and cancelled places on Pan Am flight 103, while allowing kids, like Flora Swire and the students of Rochester New York, to travel.
If the Minister is angry with me for saying this, he might explain why Mr. Colin McEarchan QC for the Board of Trade at the fatal accident inquiry referred to the existence of public interest immunity certificates in relation to Lockerbie. Though the Minister has no ministerial responsibility, may I be forgiven for curiosity as to why the Department of Defence in Washington took the highly unusual step of claiming state privilege exempting certain documents from perusal by the lawyers of Pan Am insurers.
Just what negotiations have taken place between the State Department and the Foreign Office ? Bluntly, I believe that there has been a major conspiracy in Washington and London to obscure the course of justice. I beg the Minister at least to support the suggestion being put by distinguished Scottish lawyers to the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Boutros Galli, that a UN tribunal be convened to try the Libyan suspects.
Let me say to the Lord Advocate who, I understand, is on a jurisdictional Scottish legal high horse, that if there were a trial at The Hague of the suspects, the Libyan Government have agreed that it would presided over by Scottish judges, held according to Scottish law and adopting Scottish court proceedings. What the Libyan suspects must do must be up to them and their legal advisers, because a distinction must be made between the suspects and the Libyan Government.
Is the Foreign Office at all attracted--as I am--by the suggestion of Lord Macauley that the Lockerbie incident, which involved 16 nationalities, should be regarded as a crime against the international community, and that serious attempts ought to made at an international level to find an international forum acceptable to a multiplicity of countries ?
Sooner rather than later, sanctions against the Libyan people must be lifted. I may have gabbled this, but there is a very great deal more which could be said. I await the Foreign Office reply with interest in the knowledge that it had 16 hours--possibly not enough time--to consider these extremely serious issues.
Column 184but he has always shown a deep and continuing interest in the issues and I congratulate him on the fact that he has found yet another opportunity in which to raise them.
I thank the hon. Gentleman also for the fact that he sent my office a copy of his speech, and that has given me the opportunity to reflect on what he proposed to say. It would be helpful if I began by reminding the House of the circumstances in which sanctions were first imposed on Iraq.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990, the international community had no choice but to take resolute action. The action that was first taken comprised United Nations Security Council resolution 661, which imposed comprehensive economic sanctions on Iraq, and those were imposed on 6 August 1990. At that time, there was an exception to those sanctions for strictly medical products. Subsequently, UNSC resolution 687 was passed on 3 April 1991 which laid down requirements that Iraq had to meet in full before sanctions could be lifted. Those requirements have not been met.
Just as it was Saddam Hussein who first caused sanctions to be imposed on Iraq, it is Saddam who is responsible for their remaining in place. However, from the very beginning the UN Security Council has been conscious of the effect of the sanctions on the ordinary people of Iraq. Just as many medicines were also exempt when resolution 687 was passed, the Security Council permitted shipments of foodstuffs and humanitarian goods.
The present position is that food and medicines are still exempt from sanctions, and humanitarian goods are permitted subject to approval by the UN sanctions committee. The role of that committee is to monitor the implementation of the embargo and to act as a point of reference in interpreting humanitarian and essential needs. The sanctions committee considers all applications to ship humanitarian goods to Iraq on a case-by- case basis. Our view is that basic human requirements such as clothing, toiletries, clean water, sanitation, shelter and agriculture fall within that definition and should be met.
We do our best to ensure that humanitarian goods are available to people who need them, but, at the same time, we have to ensure, first, that there is a genuine need and, secondly, that the goods are not diverted or exploited by the regime. For that reason, export licence applications should be supported by a United Nations agency report and each case is judged on its merits.
I accept that the process is sometimes slow, owing to the volume of applications received ; however, we think that it is necessary to maintain a careful scrutiny of the applications.
It has not been our intention to punish innocent Iraqi civilians for Saddam's crimes. We take the view that the responsibility for the hardship and suffering of the Iraqi people lies not with the international community but with Saddam Hussein.
One of the problems is that we are unable to make our own assessments of humanitarian needs, as we are repeatedly denied access to many parts of Iraq. However, we receive reports from various sources about the humanitarian situation. We do not underestimate the effect that sanctions are having on the ordinary people of Iraq and, for that reason, the British Government alone have given about £66 million in aid since April 1991.
I regret to say that the regime in Iraq does not make life easy for the agencies involved there. In some cases, they
Column 185are simply denied access. In others, they are unable to operate on the terms offered to them by the Iraqis. For example, the World Health Organisation spent months wrangling with the Iraqi authorities over the distribution of essential medical supplies. Aid workers in northern Iraq are under constant threat. There are reports that the Government in Baghdad have offered a reward of $10,000 for the assassination of foreigners on Iraqi soil.
Since 12 March, there have been six security incidents, including two deaths in northern Iraq. Some of the attacks have been deliberately aimed at United Nations guards. So Saddam's regime, which caused the sanctions to be imposed in the first place, has consistently frustrated the international community's attempts to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary people of Iraq.
It is not surprising that Saddam does nothing to alleviate the suffering of his people. In October last year, the Iraqi Government decided not to continue negotiations on the implementation of Security Council resolutions 706 and 712, which were devised to bring relief to Iraqi civilians. Under those provisions, Iraq would have been able to sell up to $1.6 billion worth of oil during a period of six months. The proceeds would have gone into a United Nations escrow account. Some would have been set aside to cover compensation claims arising from the invasion of Kuwait. The rest--an estimated $933.7 million--would have been used for UN operations in Iraq, especially for the provision of food medicines and humanitarian supplies. Saddam has also been engaged for many years in a sustained campaign of oppression against his own people. In 1991, the humanitarian situation in northern Iraq was so serious that the Security Council adopted resolution 688, which demanded an end to the brutal repression of the civilian population throughout Iraq and insisted that it allow access by humanitarian organisations to all those in need.
In his interim report of 18 November 1993, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Mr. Van Der Stoel, confirmed that the Iraqi Government were continuing their policy of repression. The internal blockade against the Kurds was still in place and the electricity supply was still turned off. The arbitrary killing of civilians had become part of daily life. Iraq denies the findings of Mr. Van Der Stoel, but has refused repeatedly to allow human rights monitors to be stationed in Iraq. If Iraq has nothing to hide, it should allow access to impartial observers.
The Shia in the southern marshes have also become a target of vicious oppression. The southern no-fly zone has a deterrent effect, but it cannot solve all the problems. The marsh lands have been drained in some places and flooded in others, causing an ecological imbalance that deprives the marsh Arabs of their homes and agricultural lands.
Recent imagery--I know that the hon. Gentleman has seen some of the film-- from aircraft deployed to monitor Iraqi compliance with UNSC resolution 688 shows that the rivers have dried up and the waters have been diverted away from the marshes. We also have evidence to suggest that Iraqi ground troops are systematically burning settlements. We do not believe that those things are the result of some agricultural project ; nor do we regard them as having some innocent explanation. Saddam's track record makes it clear that he is engaged in a systematic campaign against the Shia in the marshes. Our policy is clear. We are determined that Iraq should fulfil all its obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions. We will continue to do what we can to help the
Column 186Kurds, the Shia and the others whom Saddam continues to repress. We will continue to do what we can to help the ordinary people of Iraq. But the maintenance of sanctions is in Saddam's hands, not ours, and I hope that when the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) next has occasion to travel to Baghdad he will make that position quite plain to those whom he meets. That is perhaps the greatest service that he can render to the people of Iraq.
I turn now, if I may, to the question of Libya. The Security Council imposed sanctions against Libya following that country's refusal to accede to the demands of the international community contained in UNSC resolution 731 which was adopted unanimously in January 1992. It called on the Libyan Government to provide a full and effective response to the requests by the United Kingdom, United States and French Governments to co-operate fully in establishing responsibility for the terrorist attacks against Pan Am flight 103 and UTA flight 772.
Our position, together with that of the French and United States Governments, has been that the Libyan Government must surrender the two Libyan officials accused of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing for trial in Scotland or the United States, satisfy the French judicial authorities over the bombing of UTA 772, pay appropriate compensation and demonstrate by concrete actions their renunciation of terrorism.
When the Libyan Government failed to respond satisfactorily to these demands, the Security Council adopted a mandatory resolution, 748, requiring the demands to be met and introducing, in April 1992, an arms embargo, a ban on air links and on certain aviation-related trade, and a reduction in Libyan diplomatic representation. Continuing Libyan refusal to comply with UNSC resolutions 731 and 748 led to the adoption on 11 November 1993 of resolution 883 which introduced, from 1 December 1993, further sanctions, including a ban on exports of certain oil-related equipment, tightening of the aviation embargo and a freeze on Libyan assets. Libya is allowed free access to the proceeds of sales of oil and agricultural products, provided the proceeds are placed in separate accounts.
The intention behind the sanctions is not to punish the Libyan people but to increase the pressure on the Libyan regime to comply with the earlier resolutions and, in particular, to obtain justice for the victims of the Lockerbie and UTA atrocities. To this end, the new resolution adopts a carefully balanced approach. Thus, in addition to the stick of further sanctions, there is also a carrot : if the Secretary-General reports to the Security Council that the Libyan Government have ensured the appearance of those charged with the Lockerbie bombing before the appropriate US or Scottish court and have satisfied the French judicial authorities with respect to the bombing of UTA 772, the Security Council will review the sanctions with a view to suspending them immediately.
We see the suspension of sanctions as a preliminary to their being lifted immediately Libya has complied fully with UNSC resolutions 731 and 748. This new element, which was not present in resolution 748, is designed to make it clear that sanctions are not intended to punish but to bring Libya to compliance, and no more than that. Responsibility for the continuance of sanctions therefore rests squarely with the Libyan regime. The Government have repeatedly stressed that they have no interest in maintaining sanctions for their own sake.
Mr. Dalyell : I thank the Minister for being here so late at night, but I want to press him on two aspects of the matter. First, what is the objection to some kind of trial taking place under Scottish court rules and Scottish court procedures before Scottish judges at The Hague ? This, as I understand it, is an offer from the Libyan Government in so far as they can say what will happen, because I am told by the legal advisers that one cannot equate the Libyan Government with the two suspects.
I ask the Minister this. Is it because, as I put it in my opening speech, it is the Lord Advocate rather on a Scottish legal high horse, of pure jurisdictional law--incidentally, he may be right in that and I am not challenging his integrity as a lawyer--but taking a very narrow, legal position, or is it the will of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Government that there should not be any type of change in the jurisdiction ?
Secondly, on Iraq, is it understood how a whole generation will grow up simply hating us if these sanctions
Column 188go on ? People do not ask whose fault it was ; they ask who is imposing the sanctions here and now. As one with a deep interest in the Arab world, I am dismayed that this should go on and on, in a situation where a generation will grow up, rightly or wrongly, simply hating the west. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) wants to interrupt me or interrupt the Minister, but I very much welcome his presence, exactly because he has taken such an interest in Libya.
Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East) rose
Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at fifteen minutes to Two o'clock.
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