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Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): If I understood correctly earlier, the leader of the Liberal Democrats argued for a greater demonstration of the intelligence information. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what his party's position actually is?
As my right hon. Friend said, if further evidence can be published without prejudice, it should be published. The Prime Minister accepted that himself when the point was put to him. I am saying that in the absence of publication of that further evidence, relying on the faith of what the Prime Minister has told the country and the House I am prepared to take the Prime Minister on trust. I do, however, raise a question to which I am sure the Foreign Secretary has addressed himself. That may not be enough for some members of this coalition, and it may be that some form of independent scrutiny or verification will be required. No doubt, along with his officials, the Foreign Secretary will give some consideration to how intelligence beyond what has been published here today may be made available to those whose presence in the coalition is of such fundamental importance.
The Prime Minister also made it clear that, if military operations were embarked on, it was axiomatic that there must be clear aims. I accept the aims set out in the Prime Minister's statement, in which he said:
It is also the case that the coalition might well be under strain if action taken were other than proportionate to need. Let us try to deal with that word "proportionate". "Proportionate" does not mean "equivalent". Indeed, I think it was the Foreign Secretary himself who said, emerging from a meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers, that we were talking about "proportionate to need"and "need" means no more than what is necessary to achieve the aims set out by the Prime Minister in his statement, and to neutralise the threat. The maintenance of the coalition will undoubtedly require careful observance of those principles. Of course, this also meansin contradistinction to what was done by those who perpetrated the atrocitiesavoiding civilian casualties as far as humanly possible.
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): The Prime Minister impressed on us the importance of humanitarian aid and the need to ensure that it is in place. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that women in Afghanistan are particularly at risk? They are already subject to cruel,
Mr. Campbell: It is a sad fact of the conflicts in the Balkans, more recently, and also in Afghanistan that civilians, and women in particular, now bear the brunt. The hon. Lady has a long and distinguished record of bringing such matters to the House's attention and I agree with all that she has said.
If we are to make forces available, we must also make resources availableresources to meet the cost of the massive humanitarian effort required to feed, clothe and shelter millions of refugees throughout the region. I think we have a moral obligation to do that, but we have a pragmatic compulsion as well. Instability in the region would hardly be in our interests, and instability in a Musharraf Government unable to cope with a sudden influx of refugees would be directly against our interests.
Geraint Davies (Croydon, Central): Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that our aims and objectives should perhaps go beyond getting rid of bin Laden and providing aid? Should we not aim to renew and reconstruct Afghanistan? Will not and should not the price of peace be much greater than the cost of war?
The Musharraf Government may well be at risk unless we provide the necessary resources for the humanitarian effort, but millions of Afghan citizens will not survive unless we do. If a military response is justified, a parallel humanitarian response is obligatory.
We should even now be considering how Afghanistan can be brought back from the clutches of the Taliban. I think the principle we should adopt is this: how can we best assist the Afghans to clean up their own country? As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway) said, it would be too simple just to pile resources into the Northern Alliance. The suspicion and envy of the Tadjiks in the north and the Pushtuns in the south is legendary, and it would make no sense whatever for us to substitute for the Taliban a different kind of civil war. I was encouraged by the extent to which the Foreign Secretary acknowledged that there may well be a role for the United Nations in the reconstruction period to which the hon. Gentleman was referring. It might at least be worthy of consideration on another occasion whether this is a suitable opportunity for a UN protectorate.
The Home Secretary is to introduce new measures in response to the events of 11 September. I have no doubt that there will be points of agreement between him and us. The extradition process can be torturous, as we discovered in the case of General Pinochet. Surely it is not beyond our wit to fashion a system that is both fair and expeditious. If these are the principles that guide the alternative proposals that are to be made, they would most certainly have our support. In this area, justice delayed is justice denied, as much as in any other area of the law.
Mr. Campbell: If the international court were in existence, I would be wishing it to exercise its jurisdiction. It is not in existence because an insufficient number of countries have been willing to ratify the statute that would establish it. I cannot fail to point out that the United States is one of those countries. Perhaps the events of three weeks ago will cause some reconsideration of the United States position in that matter.
If we are to believe what we read in the newspapers, the Home Secretary appears to have backed away from introducing compulsory identity cards. If the proposal were to come before the House, I and others on the Liberal Democrat Benches would require considerable persuasion that it was necessary action to take.
We will examine with particular care any proposals that have the potential to penalise genuine asylum seekers. The pathetic men and women who try to cross the channel in inflatable rubber dinghies seem to me to be improbable terrorists. As we now understand, terrorists are much more likely to arrive in London in the first-class cabins of scheduled flights.
I, too, will say a word or two about the middle east. Israel has an unchallengeable right to her existence. However, as the Prime Minister said to his party conference, the Palestinians have a right to justice and to land. That has been echoed by the Bush Administration. We do not need another UN Security Council resolution to implement that approach. Resolutions 242 and 338 set out these principles, as does resolution 435 which condemns the policy of settlements in the occupied territories.
We must recognise that when the Foreign Secretary and I argue that resolution 1373 gives authority for actions of the sort that we are contemplating, there are some people who ask, "Why do you see more efficacy in some resolutions than others? Why do you attach more importance to the implementation of some resolutions rather than others?"
The continuing dispute between Israel and the Palestinians was not the cause of the terrible events of 11 September, but it is used as an excuse. If we are determined to eliminate or at least diminish the terrorist threat, let us ensure also that we eliminate the excuses for terrorism. I thought that the Foreign Secretary was right to visit Iran. I would not necessarily have chosen the language that he used in his article, but those of us who know him and those of us who have had robust political differences of opinion with him were outraged on his behalf when an official of the Israeli Government saw fit to describe him as anti-semitic. It was a disgrace. I hope that he received the apology that he undoubtedly deserved for that intemperate language.