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Mr. Dalyell rose--

Mr. Campbell-Savours: I would like to give way to my hon. Friend, but I am conscious of the time.

I want to move the debate on, to the position of the Iraqi National Congress and what has happened in Washington. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kelvin knows, $95 million has been allocated to the INC for operations. The Americans have managed to find a way to justify that within their constitutional and legal arrangements. Congress has enacted legislation and has found a way. It recognises that the use of those weapons would inevitably undermine the regime in Baghdad, which must be the preoccupation and objective of all of us. The question is, what is the British position on the matter?

My hon. Friend the Member for Kelvin set out a perfectly reasonable argument, outlining the international legal framework as he understands it, which in his view prohibits the INC in the United Kingdom from being involved in particular exercises overseas. I want it to be involved in such exercises. I want the Baghdad regime to be brought down. I believe that the civilised nations of the world have a responsibility to break down a dictator who threatens international stability and, in particular, stability in the middle east.

Without wanting to criticise my right hon. Friend the Minister--I support the Government's position, as he knows--I want to know why the Americans are prepared to be a little more robust than the British in the way in which they advocate their support for INC activities. We seem invariably to use the terminology, "It is not our role to be involved in bringing down a foreign leader." I think that we have a responsibility, and I want us to take a more robust position.

Finally, on sanctions busting, which I mentioned recently, I do not understand why we cannot block oil exports to Turkey from Baghdad by lorry. Information on those freight movements is well documented and those revenues, along with those secured by the sale of oil through Shatt al 'Arab and the port of Dubai, are funding the regime in Baghdad. I cannot see how it would be possible for Saddam Hussein to survive if those revenues were cut off. That is another approach, and we should be adopting it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kelvin spoke eloquently for 50 minutes but, despite promises, did not offer us a way forward that would resolve the crisis, apart from suggesting that certain UNSCOM officials should be removed. That was his only recommendation.

Mr. Galloway: That is not true. My hon. Friend cannot have been listening.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: I listened carefully to my hon. Friend's speech, and that was the only recommendation that

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I could identify. I do not believe that it will resolve the problem. We need to be far more robust and to take positive action.

12.3 pm

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East): I think I am the only Member of Parliament who was born in a country in the Arab world--Yemen--and I simply want to make a brief point to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. Will he assure the House that he has had the fullest possible consultation with our allies in the Gulf?

I recently returned from a visit to Bahrain, where some of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) were related to me informally--obviously, the formal position remains that all the Gulf countries fully support the actions that are to be taken by the United Kingdom. However, the House and the rest of the Arab world should be assured that we are consulting our allies and keeping them informed of what is happening, and that we will take no action unless we have their support.

There is a view that we are acting on our own, without consulting others. It is important for the Minister to use this opportunity to reassert the fact that we are going with the co-operation of countries that have always shown Britain good will and which want to continue to trade and invest in Britain and to remain our firmest and strongest allies.

12.4 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On the final point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), about stopping lorries crossing the Turkish border, the economy of Jordan is entirely dependent on the oil lorries, which go all the way from the Iraqi oilfields to Oman. The Iraqis sell the oil to Jordan at 60 per cent. of cost. The Jordanian economy refines it and pays in kind. It is entirely geared to what happens in Iraq. Therefore, there will be real problems with stopping the oil lorries.

As it is more important that the House hears the Minister than hears me, I shall make one request, which is that, before any military action is taken, a group of American and British officials should at least go to Baghdad to talk in depth to people such as Dr. Riyadh al Quasi. Many points of fact are in dispute. I understand many of the difficulties, not least with Israel, but one hears Iraqis say that there is a synagogue in Baghdad although there is not one in a number of other Arab states. I realise that the Jewish community there may be small and ancient.

There are many matters to be discussed--and before any precipitate military action is taken, for God's sake let us send a delegation, preferably with some Arab speakers, to talk things through properly.

12.6 pm

Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe): I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) on obtaining this debate. It is even more timely today than it might have appeared to be when he applied for it. He made a powerful speech. At the heart

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of his position is concern for the future of the Iraqi people. That is a proper cause and basis for anxiety, but it is a concern shared by the international community and reflected in the fact that, notwithstanding the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi regime, it has the facility to sell $10 billion of oil a year with which to finance the purchase of food and medicine for the Iraqi people. Alas, it is not a concern shared by that regime. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, Saddam Hussein chooses instead to spend that money

    "on weapons of war and the luxurious life style of his entourage".--[Official Report, 16 November 1998; Vol. 319, c. 611.]

The concern of the international community--and, I have no doubt, that of the hon. Gentleman as well--for humanity does not stop at the borders of Iraq. What lies at the heart of the anguished consideration that so many people have so often given to the questions that arise as a result of the activities of the Iraqi regime is concern for the people in the region as a whole, as well as and including the people of Iraq. We are dealing with a regime that has proved itself capable of the most brutal treatment both of its citizens and of others--a regime that would not hesitate not only to manufacture but to use weapons of mass destruction. We are dealing with a regime that has played fast and loose with the international community. It is a regime that poses a direct threat to humanity. If Saddam Hussein gets his way, countless lives will be at risk. That is what lies at the heart of our concern.

There is no lack of evidence to support that concern. Last week, the Prime Minister referred to the question marks that remain over 610 tonnes of precursor chemicals for the nerve gas UX; over material capable of producing large amounts of anthrax; and over missile warheads designed for chemical and biological weapons. Contrary to Iraqi assurances, traces of UX have been found in missile warhead fragments.

Reference has been made to the recent Iraqi defector, Sami Salih. I think that the hon. Member for Kelvin acknowledged that he was well placed to testify to the intentions of the Iraqi regime. Sami Salih has said that the regime never had any intention of complying with the terms of the United Nations resolutions on weapons inspections, and that he had seen

Another recent defector, Abbas al-Janati, told the BBC last week that rocket launchers are constantly moved between sites to outwit the UNSCOM teams, and that an army brigade was dedicated to undertaking anti- UNSCOM measures. The threat is real and appalling, and it has to be met with resolve. That real and appalling threat justifies the action taken by the United States Government and Her Majesty's Government, and it makes the most recent breach of faith by the Iraqi regime a matter of acute apprehension.

Last week, the Prime Minister told the House:

Saddam Hussein--

    "will co-operate, in which case inspectors will do their job, or he will fail to co-operate and . . . force will follow."--[Official Report, 16 November 1998; Vol. 319, c. 612.]

Within days, the Prime Minister and the international community had received their answer; within days, the work of the UNSCOM inspectors was again being thwarted; and within days Iraqi obstruction and prevarication were once again the order of the day.

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Of course, we are not arguing for a precipitate response. No doubt it is necessary for a cool assessment to be made of the latest crisis, and the head of UNSCOM may want to report to the Security Council on the latest position. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether there was such a report before the Security Council last night, and give us a more comprehensive statement on the outcome of that meeting of the Security Council than has so far become available.

What we must not have in relation to Iraq is a repeat of the lamentable saga that took place earlier this year over Kosovo. Dire threat after dire threat was issued against President Milosevic of Serbia, not least by our own Foreign Secretary. Time after time, Milosevic was given what was described as a final warning, and, time after time, nothing was done. That is a classic recipe for how not to conduct foreign policy, and the failure of that policy can, alas, be measured in the loss of life and intense suffering that took place in Kosovo. The lesson of Kosovo is clear: if a threat cannot be fulfilled, do not make it.

The whole House will want to resolve the crisis over Iraq, including this latest episode, without needing to take military action--but resolved it must be, and if it can be resolved only through the use of force, Conservative Members will support any action that is clearly related to achievable objectives.

I hope that the Minister will answer a number of questions. Will he clear up the confusion that evidently exists over Government policy towards the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power? Last week, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition suggested to the Prime Minister that a prime objective of western policy should be the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. The Prime Minister appeared to agree with my right hon. Friend.

Since then, we have heard a great deal from the Government about their efforts to help the Iraqi opposition--I hope that the Minister will tell us about any progress that has been made on that front in the past few days--but BBC news was reporting this week that neither the United States nor Britain has declared a new policy of trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Which is true? I hope the Minister will clarify this confusion.

Can the Minister be a little more specific than he and others have been about the precise basis on which they affirm that legal authority for the use of force exists? Will he confirm that the Government believe that no further resolutions of the Security Council are necessary? Which resolutions provide the necessary authority for action, in the Government's view?

Despite what the hon. Member for Kelvin said on the matter--I did not follow his argument at all--and in so far as resolution 687 is relevant, will the Minister comment on the references in that resolution to the return of Kuwaiti prisoners of war? He will be aware that those prisoners of war are widely thought to be still alive and that some of them have reportedly been seen in Iraq. What part does their fate play in assessing Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions?

Will the Minister also say what assistance, if any, the Government plan to give to the Kurds in northern Iraq? He will be aware that there appears to be evidence of a recent rapprochement between the two factions. Can he tell the House more about the situation in that part of Iraq? Can he tell the House about the support for a United

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Nations tribunal to try Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity, which he is reported to have announced on Monday? What action does he propose to take to implement that proposal? What time scale is involved? What support has there been from other quarters?

The world continues to face a threat to peace and humanity from the regime of Saddam Hussein. It is a measure of his success in the cat-and-mouse game at which he is so adept that Iraq is not the first item on our news headlines this morning, but its absence from those headlines should not lull either Saddam Hussein or anyone else into a false sense of security. I look forward to a robust and meaningful response from the Minister.

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