Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Second Report


The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:—


1. The Committee announced on 20 June 2000 that it would be inquiring into the role and policy of the FCO in relation to Iran. Written evidence was invited by the end of September. We decided to undertake this inquiry because of the strategic importance of Iran and because of encouraging evidence of a change in attitude in Tehran towards this country and the emergence of more pragmatic policies generally.

2. We saw it as essential to visit Iran as part of our work. Originally we had planned to do so in late October 2000, but this date was not convenient for our Iranian counterparts. We therefore embarked on other work in the Autumn, in particular an inquiry into developments in Yugoslavia—an issue which became topical with the full of Milosevic in October 2000.

3. We had hoped to return to our Iran inquiry immediately after the Yugoslavia inquiry. However, as it becomes more and more likely that the next General Election will be held on or before May 3 (an election on 3 May will require the dissolution of Parliament not later than April 5), we have reluctantly concluded that it will not be possible for us to do justice to the important subject of British/Iranian relations during the weeks of this Parliament which probably remain.

4. We have therefore decided to publish this short explanatory report, together with the written evidence which we have received. We are most grateful to those who contributed this written evidence. We hope that this evidence will be of interest and value to all who study or are otherwise involved with Iran.

5. If the election does not take place until the Autumn, we will ourselves undertake a proper Iran inquiry. If the dates of the election are as we expect, it will be for the Foreign Affairs Committee in the next Parliament to choose its own agenda. But we can express the hope that our successors will consider very seriously the desirability of conducting a full-scale inquiry into the important subject of British/Iranian relations.

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Prepared 13 February 2001