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25 Nov 2002 : Column 100—continued

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. The hon. Gentleman has had his time allocation.

8.9 pm

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): I refer hon. Members to the amendment tabled by Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National party, which seeks to clarify the situation in much the same way as the Liberal Democrat amendment.

Despite the complete unacceptability of Saddam Hussein's regime in any right thinking forum, there is no provision in international law to enforce regime change. Indeed, not only is there no provision, but it appears that regime change would be directly in conflict with resolution 637, which confirms

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It would therefore be astonishing if such provision were used as the justification for any impending aggression against Iraq. If the US and the UK acted unilaterally and without UN sanction, they would be acting outside the law. They have said that if resolution 1441 had not been adopted, there might well be a case for unilateral action. The Prime Minister has not ruled that out and on several occasions we have heard remarks similar to what the Foreign Secretary said even on 7 November:

That leads us to consider under what rule of international law the use of force against Iraq could be justified. I should like to refer to the opinion given by Rabinder Singh, QC, and Charlotte Kilroy, dated 15 November 2002, a copy of which I was kindly sent by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In referring to the right within international law to use force, the Foreign Secretary seems to rely on Security Council resolution 1441, the existing body of UN Security Council resolutions and the UN charter and/or customary international law. However, the opinion states:

Clearly, that situation has not arisen, and there appears to be a difference of opinion about whether resolution 1441 authorises the use of force. The proponents of military action suggest that it might do so, but in my submission it does not authorise any member state to use force.

Previous Security Council resolutions, such as resolution 678, have adopted clear and strong language to authorise the use of force. States are authorised to use Xall necessary means" or take Xall necessary measures". Those are not merely issues of semantics. Undoubtedly, the consideration of such words took a lot of time when resolution 1441 was discussed. It is known that the UK and US sought an express authorisation, but such authorisation is manifestly lacking in the final wording. Security Council permanent members Russia, France and China made their position clear: they did not want the resolution to authorise force.

Instead, resolution 1441 provides at paragraphs 4, 11 and 12 that, in the event of non-compliance, the matter will be referred to the Security Council, which will convene to consider the need for full compliance and so on. That clearly means that it is for the Security Council to decide on any further action that might be taken against Iraq. Would it not be extraordinary if the UK and the US, having failed to obtain an express authorisation for the use of force, having incorporated minute changes to the final draft whose sole purpose was

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to exclude the possibility of automaticity and hidden triggers and to preserve the role of the Security Council, and having publicly agreed in their explanation of the vote for adopting resolution 1441 that there was no such implied authorisation for the use of force, nevertheless regarded the resolution as providing such authorisation?

Of course, the UN charter refers to implied authorisation for conflicts. The implied authorisation arguments of the US would permit states to make unilateral decisions on the use of force, but that is exactly what chapter VII and the charter as a whole are designed to avoid. Furthermore, it is only the Security Council that has power under article 39 to determine whether there has been a breach of the peace or a threat to peace, and to decide whether to take action under articles 41 and 42. It is only with an express delegation of that power that a member state may use force against another member state to force it comply with a Security Council resolution. Professor Colin Warbrick, an expert in this matter, stated in a recent opinion:

He develops his argument, but there is no time for me to quote the rest of it. None the less, I commend that opinion to the House.

Some reports have suggested that Government officials are asserting that resolution 1441 contains no language that explicitly rules out the use of force, so force would be covered and the UK and the US would not be handcuffed in any way. It is unnecessary to insert wording into a resolution expressly requiring member states to obtain an authorisation to use force when the charter makes it clear that the only exception is the inherent right of self-defence, which is dealt with in article 51. On the self-defence argument, the dossier submitted to the House on 24 September will surely be recorded as one of the least persuasive documents in recent political history. Rather than persuade opponents of the necessity of military action, that threadbare document assisted the case against war. Furthermore, it assisted many waverers in this place and the general public in the view that the imminence of a threat was a mere perception and not a reality. In that regard, I pay tribute to CND for its tireless efforts to bring common sense to bear on the issue and for its invaluable briefings.

I trust that the Government will await referral of the weapons inspectors' reports to the Security Council and not allow themselves to be part of an illegal attack on Iraq, with all the awful repercussions that might ensue.

8.17 pm

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby): When I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne), in which he extolled the virtues of President Bush, I thought to myself, XCome back, Neil Hamilton, all is forgiven."

I want to refer to two groups of people in relation to the issue of possible military action against Iraq. The first are those who will suffer most as a result of military action. They are the sort of people whom I saw last May when I visited hospitals in Basra. I saw cancer patients, including a pretty 25-year-old girl, who had a huge tumour around her neck that made her head almost

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double its normal size. A tiny child sat on her bed. She will never see the child grow up; indeed, she is probably already dead. Many others are in the same position. Incidence of cancer has increased by 10 per cent. in the areas where bombs that contained depleted uranium were dropped.

Our troops have suffered from what we call Gulf war syndrome. The number of children who are born deformed has increased. The photographs have to be seen to be believed. Leukaemia has also increased. That is the reality of war. When people, especially those who have never experienced war and do not, for example, remember the second world war, talk lightly of bombing Iraq, it makes me freeze. They do not understand what war means. I am not a pacifist and I accept that sometimes we have to defend ourselves. We had to do that against Nazi Germany. Saddam Hussein, evil monster though he may be, has not the capability of an Adolf Hitler. It is nonsense to claim that he has.

The sanctions that have been imposed on Iraq have not weakened Saddam Hussein but they have hurt the people with whom, we claim, we have no argument. How often have I heard Foreign Secretaries say, XWe have no argument with the people of that country", when we are about to bomb it? Yet the sort of people I saw are affected. I wish that my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister would arrange to see for themselves the reality of war. They have never experienced it, but they should go and see what they are letting people in for.

The bombing did not stop in 1991. It continued in the so-called no-fly zones, which no UN resolution sanctions. Sometimes people cite resolution 688, but it does not refer to no-fly zones. They are not covered by any UN Security Council resolution.

Let us consider the second group of people, who will be most pleased if we bomb Iraq. It is a secular state, which is not administered by extreme Islamists, and those who will perceive bombing Iraq as marvellous are therefore the members of al-Qaeda. We should fight the genuine international terrorists. Saddam Hussein does not threaten us through the London Underground or on our street corners, but that applies to al-Qaeda.

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