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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): My hon. Friend will recollect very well the terrible sights in the hospitals that he and I have visited in and outside Baghdad. Does he also recall Denis Halliday writing in Middle East International on 13 November that 6,000 children were dying each and every week?

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Mr. Galloway: I remember it vividly. This week's Tribune reported that Denis Halliday, a former UN Under-Secretary-General, also said:

Those are the words not of me or my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), but of the former humanitarian co-ordinator for the UN in Baghdad.

I fear that someone was talking to my right hon. Friend the Minister when I asked whether Her Majesty's Government shared Mrs. Albright's view that the 500,000 children who, according to Lesley Stahl, had died as a result of sanctions, were a price worth paying. Perhaps, unlike Mrs. Albright, the Government contend that children are not dying as a result of sanctions--that is the position that some Ministers seem to have adopted in the bellicose days of late. Do the Government accept that any Iraqis have died as a result of the sanctions? If so, how many, and how many would they consider a price worth paying?

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): The hon. Gentleman may be surprised to know that we have common ground on this issue, but does he have any estimates of the number of Iraqis who died in the Kurdish area before and after the Gulf war as a result of nerve agents? How many Iraqis--and, indeed, Iranians--died in the Iran-Iraq war, which was stimulated by Saddam Hussein? Although many of them were soldiers, they were all, as he rightly pointed out, some mother's son. How many people in the marsh areas have died as a result of the actions of Saddam Hussein? Most people estimate that Saddam Hussein has killed more than 500,000 of his people, so does not the hon. Gentleman believe that Saddam Hussein bears some responsibility for the situation in Iraq?

Mr. Galloway: The figures are, in fact, rather worse than the hon. Gentleman suggests. The Iran-Iraq war was a lunatic and disastrous conflict, but it was encouraged by the west, which armed both sides, and had a vested interest in its continuing for as long as possible. The numbers who died were perhaps a million on each side, so I am in no doubt about the disastrous consequences of those eight years of war--or, indeed, of the gas attacks on Halabja. However, the Conservative Government continued to do business as usual with the Iraqi regime after the Halabja tragedy was brought to their attention, not least by Labour Members when they were in opposition. If the hon. Gentleman does not believe me, he can read the Scott report for elucidation of that point.

It is scarcely credible that a Member of Parliament should seek to justify--if that is what was being done--our killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on the grounds that the Iraqi dictator was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Are we saying that we are morally equivalent to the Iraqi dictatorship?

Mr. Dalyell: Those who have seen the war memorials of first world war proportions in Iran will know that, in the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranians suffered a terrible loss. However, the Iranian Government have made it absolutely clear that the last thing they want is a British-American military strike against Iraq. Given our better relations with Iran, could not Ministers at least talk to the Iranians about the matter?

Mr. Galloway: My hon. Friend is absolutely correct, and I shall deal with that point later.

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The House will now be familiar with Mr. Denis Halliday, whom, I assume, my right hon. Friend the Minister will not want to accuse of ignorance or bad faith. Halliday is a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and was an official of the UN for more than 20 years. He is a respected Irish official, who formerly served as the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Baghdad.

Last July, Dennis Halliday resigned his post, saying that he could no longer defend a policy which he described as "bankrupt." As my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow mentioned, Halliday has said that between 5,000 and 6,000 Iraqi children every month of every year are dying as a result of sanctions. Is Halliday lying? Is Halliday wrong? If he is not lying, and if he is not wrong, is the Minister really saying that we are prepared to kill more than 200 Iraqi children each day of every month of every year in pursuit of our ethical foreign policy and our non-quarrel with the Iraqi people?

It ought not to be necessary to describe in detail the suffering of the Iraqis under sanctions, given the acres of detailed reportage by fine British journalists in some of the finest newspapers in the world--people such as the incomparable Robert Fisk, Alexander Coburn, Maggie O'Kane, Ron McKay and Felicity Arbuthnot. Again, I ask the Minister--are these people lying? Are they wrong?

Was Martti Ahtissari--the then UN Under-Secretary- General, and now the President of friendly Finland--lying when he said:

Was the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation lying when it said:

    "the continued sanctions have virtually paralysed the whole economy and generated persistent deprivation, chronic hunger, endemic malnutrition, massive unemployment and widespread human suffering . . . with the vast majority of Iraqis simply engaged in a struggle for survival"?

Was the UN World Food Programme lying when it reported:

    "Alarming food shortages are causing irreparable damage to an entire generation of Iraqi children . . . a fifth of Iraq's population is at severe nutritional risk . . . we are the point of no return in Iraq . . . the social fabric of the nation is disintegrating . . . people have exhausted their ability to cope"?

Was The Lancet lying in 1995 when it said that, since 1990,

    "567,000 children in Iraq have died as a result of sanctions"?

Mr. Ivan Lewis (Bury, South): Notwithstanding any differences that hon. Members may have about where the responsibility lies for the suffering of the Iraqi people--whether it is economic suffering, or suffering due to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein--does my hon. Friend agree that there have been times in history when he and other hon. Members have no doubt advocated sanctions against repressive, tyrannical regimes because that was the only way to influence those regimes? For example, did my hon. Friend advocate sanctions against South Africa during the time of apartheid?

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): And Iraq.

Mr. Lewis: And Iraq. If so, what is the difference now?

Mr. Galloway: There is no dispute about the quotations that I have given the House, which unequivocally place the

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responsibility for the massacre upon sanctions. The UN World Food Programme, the UN children's fund, The Lancet, the president of Finland--all say that those deaths are being caused by sanctions.

The tyranny of Saddam Hussein is another question, to which I shall return. I was on the demonstrations against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein when British Ministers were inside the embassy, signing trade deals. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) was with me in the 1970s when we formed the Campaign Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq. Perhaps he was there, and I just did not know him then. However, nobody in this House has a longer record of opposition to the Ba'ath dictatorship in Iraq than me. That I can unequivocally state.

Mr. Lewis: I was at school in the 1970s. More seriously, will my hon. Friend answer my question? Has he personally ever advocated sanctions against the Iraqi regime, or any other tyrannical regime, because he believed--as the Government believe--that that was the only way to bring the political leadership of that country to its senses and to democracy? If so, has not he understood the inevitable consequences of those sanctions? Why is the situation now so different?

Mr. Galloway: I was coming to that point. I, too, was at school in the 1970s--I look older than I am.

Mr. Lewis: Not at the same school.

Mr. Galloway: Probably not, no. However, that did not stop me demonstrating or getting involved in political work. I reiterate my point, because I suspect that there is a sub-text. No one in the entire House has been active in political campaigns against the dictatorship in Iraq for longer than me--although some have been active for as long.

I was in favour of economic sanctions against South Africa.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: And Iraq.

Mr. Galloway: I was in favour of sanctions, rather than war, against Iraq in 1990. I have not changed my mind about that. If I have a choice--either Iraq is bombarded with cruise missiles tonight, or sanctions continue--of course I will choose sanctions. To do otherwise would be to call upon the visitation of missiles, bombs and weapons of horrific destruction against the people of Iraq. Why is that the choice being offered me by my hon. Friends' intercessions? I want to develop the argument for a policy that does not rely upon sanctions or upon war.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South talked about sanctions bringing a regime to its senses. Is the Iraqi regime coming to its senses after eight years of appalling carnage? As the bodies are stretched end to end--the hundreds of thousands, the million or more dead Iraqis--is the Iraqi regime, in my hon. Friend's terms, coming to its senses?

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