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Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement on the Laeken summit and his words on the proposed United Nations peacekeeping force. If I may, I shall address the issues around peacekeeping first, as they perhaps have the most immediate significance for our troops.
The Prime Minister is right to talk about the success of the coalition against the Taliban. Events are still going on and clearly it is too early to say that the coalition has been fully successful, but so far it has been a dramatic success. Throughout, I believe rightly, we have supported the objectives laid out by the Prime Minister and by the President, and we remain committed to those objectives.
Our United States partners are cautious about deploying their troops in a peacekeeping role, as they think that that may be inconsistent with much of what they are doing in search and destroy on the ground in southern Afghanistan. The Prime Minister knows that I have deep misgivings about British deployment on a peacekeeping mission such as he described. My misgivings are based particularly on the reality that we already have troops on the ground with the Americans carrying out search and destroy against remaining elements of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. What concerns me and, I think, the House is that elements of
We have a number of questions for the Prime Minister arising from those deep concerns. Will he confirm the words of his official spokesman this morning that the initial deployment of a stabilisation force could be in Kabul before Saturday? Will he confirm to the House that any hurried deployment will overlap with British forces' involvement in search and destroy missions, as I have described?
Will the Prime Minister tell the House that military supportlogistical support, airlifts and air coverthat peacekeepers will receive from the United States will be substantial? There are reports that a precondition for deployment was that the force will be under overall US command. Has that now been finalised and agreed?
What conditions will be met before our troops are deployed? What particular exit strategy has been decided on? Is there a time limit for their deployment, or is that to be open-ended and the subject of future discussions about when it will end?
As so many people in Afghanistan have weaponspretty heavy-calibre weapons at thatwhat assessment has been made of the equipment necessary to protect the force? It may not be right to leave troops with the minimum equipment or light equipment, such as flak jackets and personal weapons. Heavy back-up support, even at the level of artillery, may be required.
Those serious questions need to be answered; otherwise the deep misgivings that Conservative Members and many others have about the deployment will remain. Our misgivings need to be assuaged, so that we can understand more fully that our troops are not being put into situations that they will be completely unable to control.
These decisions, I think, characterise a shift towards greater central authority; but there are three particular areas in which the Prime Minister agreed to things that the British people would not have wanted had they been at the table. First, he agreed to an EU-wide arrest warrant. That has done away with the principle of habeas corpus in regard to no fewer than 32 crimes, including crimes unrecognised in British law such as the ill-defined "EU crime"a real thought police crime which will no doubt be drummed up in the future by someone in Brussels. Then there is falsification of means of payment, and, of particular concern, xenophobia. What exactly does that mean? [Laughter.] Labour Members laugh at xenophobia, but our concerns are generous. After all, what would have happened if crimes such as xenophobia and racism had existed over the past few weeks? The Prime Minister's poor Home Secretary himself might even now be languishing in a prison in Brussels. It is very unjust.
Secondly, the Prime Minister cannot believe that he has moved the argument into a federal Europe rather than away from it in signing up to what is becoming a European constitution. "Towards a European constitution" are the words; it is not a case of whether there should be a European constitution, or whether it is relevant. The Prime Minister agreed to that in the declaration.
Not only has the Prime Minister signed up to a constitution; he has allowed the charter of fundamental rights to be made part of it. This is the charter that he and his colleagues assured us would have no more legal weight than the Beano. Is it really the charter that he is now allowing to go into the constitution?
Thirdly, there is the creation of the European security and defence policy, better known as the Euro army. If anything is more meaningless than that, it is the fact that at this time, after 11 Septembergiven the lack of any significant EU response to those troubles, in many sensesthe Prime Minister has gone ahead and agreed to further and deeper powers and control over defence at a European level. That will add absolutely nothing to the process of defending us against the evils that exist around the world, and will add everything to the lessening of our ability to do so by weakening NATO. What a time to agree to that! What a pointless exercise.
We witnessed an unedifying spectacle at the end. The only time the leaders gathered around the table became really exercised and excited was when it came to carving up the agencies that would go to their various countries. There were rows about what they would getwhether they would get enoughand disagreements over whether Parma ham looked better than Swedish women. That was what exercised the whole institution. How ridiculous! [Interruption.] It is all here. For the first time we have broken the code of secrecy applying to such debates, and can see what each leader was horse trading for. They were all rowing about ridiculous issues such as whether their countries should get 19 people or 1,000.
One issue that was never addressed was Ireland's veto over the Nice treaty. We still cannot go ahead with the treaty, because Ireland has rejected it. No doubt the Government will acquiesce in a drive to bully it into ensuring that it gets the vote right the second time, as ever.
As the Prime Minister said, the future of Europe does matter: it matters immensely. The Prime Minister has agreed to the establishment of a convention that is supposed to involve a balance of agreement about where we are going on Europe. Will he now say whom he intends to put on that body, from the national Parliament? We have already heard that the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Miliband) will be part of the praesidium, as they call it; and I read today that the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) might be on it. There seems to be no end of attempts to find a job for the right hon. Member for Hartlepool. Two weeks ago, he was going to be Mayor of London; now he will be on the praesidium in Europe. Is the Prime Minister prepared to open up the debate by offering such a post to somebody from the Conservative party, who would have a different view? [Interruption.] I challenge the Prime Minister: he says that he wants a decentralised Europe, so is he prepared to appoint to the praesidium somebody from the Conservative party who has a different view of the direction that we should take? If not, we know very well that he has no intention of seeing any change.