|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
26 Feb 2003 : Column 337continued
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): Like others who are waiting to be called to speak, I have listened to every speech and have tried to understand the way in which people have been reading between the lines. Although the sentiments of many hon. Members who spoke to the amendment are compatible with my own, I differ from them in my understanding of what the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have said.
Some hon. Members have had virulent words to say about George Bush but not about Saddam Hussein. I understand their fears and concernsperhaps not those to do with George Bush, but certainly those to do with people around him, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Some mornings, I have got up and thought, "My God. We're going to war today." There is tension because we could, at any time, find ourselves dragged into a war.
I shall vote for the motion this evening. I have been asked to take note of the Command Paper, which is a factual and straightforward document. It reminds us that the story began in 1991in particular with paragraphs 7 to 14 of part C of resolution 687. Had that resolution been followed at the time, the Government of Iraq would have reported in full on its weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Griffiths: Of course I will confirm that. Having read the resolution, I am not surprised by my hon. Friend's point. However, it was Saddam Hussein who launched an unprovoked attack on Kuwait, so the world community was justified in wanting to see his weapons of mass destruction destroyed. Under resolution 687, the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council were given 45 days to set up a special commission, and a further 120 days to lay out the process of verification of the report made by Saddam Hussein. We know that by 1999, after a great deal of harassment, the inspectors decided that they could not carry on with their work and withdrew.
In the meantime, there was the no-fly zone policy, which provided for containment. It seemed to me that Saddam Hussein was quite happy with that. It left him, his family and his collaborators in power, living a life of wealth and luxury that the vast majority of his citizens could not even begin to dream about; and it meant that he was able to terrorise and kill people as he pleased, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) graphically described. Thousands died every year in a state that did not comply with a United Nations resolution that could have solved the problem. The resolution could also have solved other problems in the wider middle east, by creating a nuclear-free zone. I think that all of us would like to see that.
At the outset of this debate, the Foreign Secretary reassuringly said that there would be another vote in this House at, or around, the time that the second resolution was being put to the United Nations. I also got a clear feeling that there would be a vote before we went to war. I will support the motion tonight, but there should be a second United Nations resolution and a vote in this House to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein. There is a possibility of sorting out this terrible démarche peacefully. However, there are moments when my heart begins to stop because of the actions of, in particular, the people around George Bush, who would lead us into a war.
Several speakers have deliberately overlooked a crucial point: the inspectors still have an important role in reporting to the United Nations about the credibility or otherwise of their efforts in Iraq. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said:
Like many people, I believe that the consequences of any war are incredibly difficult to judge. I have been involved in encouraging efforts to find a resolution to the Christian-Muslim conflict in Indonesia, where people are deeply fearful that a war in Iraq could result
There is a tremendous amount at stake in the debate and the votes that follow it. However, from what my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have saidparticularly from what the Prime Minister said yesterdayI believe that the inspectors will have the time to resolve the problem peacefully. In that context, I am very happy to support the Government tonight.
Mrs. Patsy Calton (Cheadle): The Prime Minister's position last July when he first talked of supporting President Bush in regime change in Iraq was followed by an apparent failure to recognise the growing public disquiet at what is effectively a headlong rush to a pre-emptive strike on Iraq. The world does not feel a safer place than it did last July.
I am disgustedI know that my constituents are, tooby the propagandist manoeuvrings to which we as a people and as a Parliament have been subject. It does not matter how often the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary mouth the words "weapons of mass destruction", "anthrax" and "VX"; so far, none has been found and no intent to use them has been displayed.
Yesterday, I asked the House of Commons Library for a briefing note. While the Prime Minister continues to speak of weapons of mass destruction, it is important that we examine the scientific evidence for the likelihood of their being there. The Library says that
Glen Rangwala, an Iraq analyst at Cambridge university, has compiled views on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction capabilities. His website examines the claims for each of the various weapons and makes very interesting reading. He says:
Mrs. Calton: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. I understand that the academic in question has a scientific background, but I would be very happy to ensure that she gets the full details of the information that I have. It would certainly be very surprising if he were simply an analyst without any scientific background.
Glen Rangwala goes on to deal with anthrax. I asked the Library about anthrax because the Government have always indicated that anthrax is measured in litres and I was interested in that point. It seems that Iraq has almost always deployed anthrax as wet anthrax. In those circumstances, it is extremely unlikely that that anthrax is still a weapons-grade material. There have been arguments about the storage of anthrax, which is why we need weapons inspectors to examine the situation. A report published on 9 September 2002 states:
The document goes on to deal with sarin and cyclosarin, and says that both those chemicals would have deteriorated rapidly. US experts have considered chemical warfare agents that are less than 50 per cent. pure to be militarily ineffective. Indeed, the CIA has said that it is extremely unlikely that those materials are more than 18 per cent. pure.
I understand that my time is short, so I shall make my point. We are talking about weapons of mass destruction that involve chemical and biological agents. The weapons inspectors must be in there to see whether indeed those materials still exist. If they do not exist, and