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18 Mar 2003 : Column 860—continued

Lynne Jones: I refer back to my hon. Friend's comments about Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, whose testimony has often been cited to aid the case for war, but in the transcript of the evidence that he gave, which has not been publicised, he is alleged to have said that Saddam Hussein destroyed all his stocks of chemical and biological weapons before 1993.

Caroline Flint: I know whom I would give the benefit of the doubt to—it certainly would not be Saddam Hussein. It is interesting to note from reports this week that Saddam Hussein's regime executed Khalis Muhsin al-Tikriti, an engineer who supervised the burial of chemical weapons in the days before the inspectors arrived last November. Indeed, there are now reports that members of Saddam's special security organisation who took part in hiding weapons have already been killed by the regime for fear that they may disclose their whereabouts to the UN.

We are not dealing with someone who can be trusted. We are dealing with someone who has a track record of betraying his own people and lying to the international community. Take our Prime Minister's track record of doubling international aid, fighting repression in Kosovo and supporting people in Sierra Leone. If I were in a room with Saddam Hussein or Tony Blair, it is Saddam Hussein—[Interruption.] It is the Prime Minister I would back.

7.9 pm

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): I was going to say, "How can I follow that?"

Underneath the debate lies the burning question of the power of the sword and where it is vested. I happen to believe that it is an ordinance of God given to

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mankind, and we have a responsibility to exercise the same. The scriptures make it clear: it is vested in proper authority. I believe that the proper authority for this debate is this House, and I welcome the fact that this debate is taking place. Today, the House has redeemed itself before the whole nation: this is the place where the issue should be settled and decided on. It will strengthen Parliament. I welcome the fact that the Government decided to have this debate and to keep their promise that the debate would take place. It is healthy to have this debate. I prefer this House to make the decision and not the UN. This House should say to the British servicemen whether they are to go to war or not, and not someone else who does not know the ins and outs of the situation.

I trust that, tonight, when the debate ends and the votes are taken, a message will go out from us all to our servicemen, who are already prepared for battle in the Gulf, that we will be backing them all the way as they do the task that we have appointed them to do. The main town in my constituency is Ballymena, which is the headquarters of the Royal Irish Regiment. The Royal Irish Regiment is in the Gulf at present, and members of the Irish Guards are there, as well as many people from Northern Ireland who are in various other regiments of the Army. All of us tonight are thinking of them, and not only of them, but of their wives and families. We sit here and have our debate in relative comfort, but they do not know what the day will bring forth. After we have had this debate, and after the voting is over, I would like to think that there will be a clear message: no matter what opinions have been expressed, the House will back those men, as they do the task to which we have appointed them. My prayers are with them and with their families, which I am sure that all can echo.

The Prime Minister stated at the beginning of the debate that some things cannot stop a tyrant. That is very true. Diplomacy cannot stop a tyrant. We can try to buy off terrorists, but they will not be bought off. As Churchill said, if we appease them they will come back for more: it only feeds their appetite. We need to remember that. When we are dealing with a tyrant, as we are doing in this instance, we are dealing with someone who has no conscience, no law and no faith: he cares only for himself. We have seen the sorrows, troubles and calamity that he has brought to his country: the woes of the people, the cries of the people and the broken homes and families. When talking to exiles here, they tremble when they are asked to discuss Saddam and where they were brought up: the fear is on them. We should ensure that that is dealt with. It should have been dealt with long ago.

None of us in the House tonight are responsible for what previous Governments sold to Iraq. We had nothing to do with that. People cannot come back and say, "Your own Government did this." It was not done with our votes. I am sure that many of us were not even in the House when some of those things took place. We had no responsibility for what happened. It was wrong: the Government should not have had such a relationship with Saddam; we should have had nothing to do with him, but it happened. That should not tie our hands tonight, however. We need to face up to one thing only: if he is not dealt with now, he will never be dealt

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with. Things have gone too far. The troops are in the Gulf, and if they were withdrawn, he would have a great victory. That victory would spread, and others would be encouraged to follow in his wake. Let us not bluff ourselves about that.

The die is cast. It is imperative that this matter goes forward. It is imperative that we do our best to ensure that the bloodshed is not as grievous as it might be, but that is a very difficult task. We are going into a country where the dictator and his four generals will, it seems, fight to the end. If they are going to fight to the end, they will not mind whom they destroy. They will not mind the havoc that is left. If some country has already made an arrangement to take them in, as may be the case, of course, I totally disagree with any suggestion that any Government in the world should make a deal with them and say that they will never be brought up for the crimes that they have committed. They should all be in the dock, and they should all be tried for their crimes against the people.

I regret that the Prime Minister is not in the House to hear this, but I have said it to his face, to which I am sure that he will be glad to testify: it is a shame that the Government do not take the same view in relation to the terrorist situation in our country. I do not think that there is any difference between an IRA-Sinn Feiner who has killed, maimed and taken a screwdriver and driven it through a man's eye and the type of character that we are discussing tonight. I am sad at heart that in Northern Ireland we have reaped the dark harvest of attempting to appease terrorism. Where has it got us? With our so-called peace process and all our agreements, the Assembly has had to stop four times—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman has had his time.

7.17 pm

Mr. Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley): I wonder whether we would be having this debate if Iraq had no oil wells. American companies will be running the oil wells once the war is over—if it happens, and I am sure that it will—and a trust will be set up that will be given money for the Iraqi people. If we look at the evidence in America, at its companies, and at President Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, we see that every one of them has been a board member if not a chairman of an oil company in America. The evidence also shows clearly that the biggest contributors to President Bush's election campaign were oil companies.

If one puts all that together, one begins to wonder: is it a question of oil? We have been told by the Prime Minister and by many others that that is certainly not so. As the Prime Minister said a few weeks ago, if it were, we could cut a deal with Saddam Hussein. But I am not sure. I think that when the Chilean President suggested a resolution asking for another three weeks, and the Americans did not want it, the Americans had the war all set up. I know that I am being anti-American, but other Members have had a good bash at the French this evening, and I am going to have a go at the Americans. I wonder whether it is all for the oil. I am sure that, by this time next year, it will have been proved that oil was

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the issue. I honestly believe that we would not be discussing the motion and the resolutions were there no oil in Iraq.

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge): Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the often heard argument that America intends to take all the oil for itself is simplistic and wrong? The real argument is that by ensuring a continuous supply from a compliant country, America can keep the price of oil down. That is where its interest lies.

Mr. Campbell: The two ideas go together and the hon. Gentleman takes us deeper into the argument, but I look at the problem from the perspective of an ordinary Member of Parliament, and that is the way I see it. The Americans never wanted a diplomatic or peaceful solution. They wanted to go ahead with their plan and did not give the inspectors enough time to find the arms and the so-called weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. George Osborne: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Campbell: No, I have just given way and want to get on.

What are weapons of mass destruction? They include, of course, chemical weapons because they can kill a lot of people, but so can nuclear weapons. So let us consider who has nuclear weapons in the middle east? Iran might have a nuclear capability, but we are not sure, in the same way as we are not sure that Saddam Hussein has such a capability. Pakistan, India and Israel have nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a dictatorship with a general in charge. The country is unstable and there could be an uprising at any time. That is why members of al-Qaeda hang out in Pakistan. Even bin Laden might be hiding there. Although I do not think that India could fall at any time, Pakistan might and it would become a dictatorship with a regime in the same mould as Saddam Hussein's regime. Then what? Would we send our forces there?

Let us go across the water to North Korea. Its Government have told us that they are testing and developing weapons of mass destruction. What are we going to do about that? Will we have to fight a war there? I have news for hon. Members: the North Koreans will not wave a white flag and give up. They will stand and fight, and we will have a job on our hands. Once we go down the route of taking out tin-pot dictators, wherever they might be, we have to take them all out. There might be no oil in North Korea, but I gather that there is plenty of coal. The big fear is that America is saying to the United Nations, "You're useless. You're hopeless. We're going to be the guardian—the sheriff—of the world and take these people out wherever we see them."

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