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18 Mar 2003 : Column 863—continued

Mr. Sheerman: My hon. Friend is taking us on quite a tour of the world. I recall that he was against intervention in Kosovo. Is there anywhere that the international community, or the United States and the United Kingdom together, can intervene?

Mr. Campbell: Of course there is. Treaties and organisations have been set up to bring such countries on board so that they get rid of their weapons, but we

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cannot ignore the fact that Pakistan and North Korea are testing weapons of mass destruction. The problem is getting worse: everyone wants a weapon. With Russia in the state that it is, people can get hold of such weapons and proliferation is a danger.

I have just read a newspaper article on the new smart bombs. It even gave their prices and made me wonder, "Here are all these lovely smart bombs. They only kill so many people and leave the houses standing, all for £1 million." That newspaper article is a shop window for selling arms, and the biggest contributor to Bush's election was the arms industry. [Hon. Members: "We thought it was the oil industry."] Both industries gave a lot of money.

The new bombs can do all sorts of things. They all have names—the microwave bomb, for instance—and the newspapers act as a shop window for them. It amazes me that the Evening Standard gives their prices.

Hon. Members talk about how Saddam Hussein kills his people, but many dictators have killed their people. That is no excuse for us to kill his people as well. Two wrongs do not make a right. What happened years ago when Pol Pot murdered and plundered half his country? The British Government at the time—it was the Tories, I believe—had diplomatic relations with Pol Pot. So what do we do about dictators? We appease them. But we have a new order now and have to go to war with everyone who might have a weapon of mass destruction.

When the war starts, and it certainly will, moderate young Muslims will be told that that is what the west does to them: it invades a Muslim country and drops thousands of bombs on its people. By doing that, we will push those youngsters towards dictators, just as we pushed youngsters towards the IRA in Northern Ireland. Such action would make it much easier for al-Qaeda to recruit young people to become human bombs in this country. That is what I fear might happen. That is the worst scenario if the war goes ahead. Once we invade a Muslim country, the consequences here could be terrible. I am told that such weapons can be carried in a little container. In fact, two scientists carried a container from the Iraqi border, through Europe and Britain, and into America without being challenged.

There are problems if we push moderate Muslims into a corner. If the young ones see nothing but a big bully—in this case, the Americans and, unfortunately, the British—who bombs them and kills their families, they will be recruited to get into Britain or America—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

7.28 pm

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde): The hon. Member for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell) took us on his own unique tour of the world. Although he expressed many views, there was a grain of truth in what he said. He reminded us that if we are to embark on military action against Saddam Hussein, we must have a consistent approach to the way in which we deal with other rogue states subsequently. That was an important point.

I welcome the remarks of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) and agree with much of what she said. I, too, formed the same view that if over the past 12 years Saddam Hussein had complied with his obligations, as agreed by the United Nations, we would

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not be having this debate. Equally, if he had fully co-operated with Hans Blix instead of playing for time and making it ever more difficult either for him to show his weapons of mass destruction or for us to discover them, we would not be here this evening. Indeed, we would not be here if Saddam Hussein had not developed his unique and barbarous approach towards his people and weapons of mass destruction.

One interesting theme has emerged from many speeches, and it is that we should focus for a second or two on what comes next. It is vital—I say this to those on the Front Bench—that if military action is now embarked upon, as seems likely, we should ensure that the Iraqis are left in no doubt about what they can expect. If we are looking for help and acquiescence from the Iraqis, if we are trying to persuade their military that there might be a better life by laying down their arms and not fighting, they must have a clear idea of what will replace Saddam Hussein's regime.

No hon. Member will not have wrestled with their conscience in deciding how to vote this evening, worried about how they will explain that to their constituents, and considered whether they are doing the right thing for the country. Voting for or against war and conflict is never easy, but that is what we are sent here to do. The alternative to supporting the Government's motion, which was, if I may say so, outlined with skill, determination and clarity by the Prime Minister and supported by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, is the amendment. But the amendment appears to be a formulation for having one's cake and eating it, and that is not an option for us this evening.

The amendment talks about

but why do we not have that authorisation? It is because the French in particular, and the Germans and Russians, have made it extremely difficult for the United Nations to authorise anything. There is no guarantee that, if we went back to the United Nations, they would, as I might say, come to the party and agree some formulation that would, at some unspecified point in the future, resolve the matter.

One of the great mysteries about the diplomatic process has been the lack of seeming efforts by the French, Germans and Russians to use their so-called relationship and good offices with Saddam Hussein to persuade him to change his course of action. There is no sign whatever that Saddam is listening to anybody. If the Russians, Germans and French had been doing their bit behind the scenes, they might have found a way of opening up something in the United Nations with which we could have all agreed. I can only assume that, acting out of their own national self-interest, they are now denying the United Nations the opportunity to exert its power. Earlier, we heard concerns about the power of the United States, but the best counterbalance to that is a strong United Nations, and that, sadly, has been denied to us, in particular by the actions of the French.

One reason why I, after much thought, will be supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight and voting against the amendment is, bluntly, a question of conscience. How long can we in the international community walk by on the other side when people such

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as Saddam Hussein, and potentially other states, threaten the very peace that we have worked on as a group of international nations working through the United Nations since the second world war? We have enjoyed an unparalleled period of world peace, but, particularly after 9/11, rogue states and terrorist organisations, answerable to no one—no democracy do they report back to—pose a threat to all that we hold near and dear. We have a great deal that is good to contribute to the rest of the world, but if that is put at risk by the Saddam Husseins and al-Qaedas of this world, there comes a time when we cannot walk by on the other side.

I have often regretted that we never did anything about Rwanda where 2 million of our fellow human beings perished while we sat on our hands. If we talk of a new world order, let us not have such matters on our conscience again. If going into conflict against Iraq starts a new process, that has my support.

Today's debate is being broadcast by BBC Radio 4 and, somewhere out in the desert, members of our armed forces may well be listening to our deliberations. They will want to know whether the House of Commons supports the action in which they have been invited to participate. I shall strongly support that. The very Tornados that may be in action within a few hours were made in my constituency of Fylde. I am left in no doubt about the awesome fire power of that weapon system. I am also aware of those who work for BAE Systems out in Saudi Arabia who are potentially at risk. Such matters go round in one's mind when deciding what to do, but on this I have clarity.

We must no longer allow Saddam Hussein to play for time. Leaving him the open option with the United Nations, further discussions and more time, pushes dealing with him not back a few months but possibly another year. We do not have that option. Having read again this morning the article written by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) about the torture and loss of life, the use of gas weapons and the way in which Saddam Hussein deals with our fellow human beings, I am left in no doubt about the correctness of my decision tonight to vote with the Government.

7.35 pm

Mr. Bill Tynan (Hamilton, South): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituents this evening. I sought to speak in the previous debate on the subject, but I was not called. It is important to make the point that on that occasion 121 Labour Back Benchers, of which I was one, decided to support the amendment. I cannot be regarded as one of the usual suspects and I had no intention of voting in order to destroy the Prime Minister, but, as a matter of conscience, I felt that the case for war had not been made.

I welcome today's debate for two reasons. We have an opportunity tonight to decide whether to support the amendment or the motion, and it is proper that the House should have the opportunity. I congratulate the Government on the decision to have that vote in the House of Commons today because it was a hard choice. If our armed forces in the desert are listening, I join all hon. Members who have said that they will support them if the decision for war is taken.

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But I hope that the debate will create an opportunity to avoid war. To support the motion would be to give a green light to unleashing the weapons of mass destruction that the United States and the United Kingdom have lined up in the desert at this moment.

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