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Mr. Straw: The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked first about the transfer from Baghdad of ambassador Barbara Bodine and reports of the earlier than expected transfer of former General Jay Garner. The Barbara Bodine transfer is earlier than expected, but, as far as I know, that does not apply to the transfer of General Jay Garner.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether there was a failure to comprehend the complexity of the position on the ground. In the case of any military

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action, the circumstances on the ground are inevitably unexpected to some extent. That is the nature of warfare. In some parts of Iraq, matters have improved more rapidly than expected. However, I have been straightforward about the fact that the position in Baghdad is not satisfactory. We fully understand our responsibilities, as does the United States, to ensure that it becomes satisfactory quickly.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman claimed that there was no direct managerial role for the United Nations. Under international law, the fourth Geneva convention and the Hague regulations, the occupying power is responsible for managing Iraq in the immediate future. It would be wrong of us to try to hive off responsibility to people who do not have the power to undertake it. However, we are increasingly trying to provide a key role for the United Nations and, above all, the people of Iraq. Hon. Members who are worried about the matter should read the language of the text carefully—I do not suggest that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not done so. Of course, colleagues on the Security Council have comments about the draft, but the atmosphere in the informal discussions that took place at the weekend was constructive.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked about new arrangements for the oil revenues. They are needed because until now, they were tied into sanctions and the oil revenues were available only for the elaborate and rather bureaucratic oil-for-food programme, which the United Nations has run. We want the oil revenues to be used more widely to benefit the people of Iraq. That will initially have to happen under the direction of the coalition or the occupying powers because there is no one else to do it. However, it will be done under strict supervision and auditing, including by the board with nominees from the Secretary-General, the IMF and the World Bank and, in time, the interim authority. Over time—as quickly as we can manage—that will be done by a separate, permanent, recognised Iraqi Government.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman's last question was about separate arrangements for validating any finds of weapons of mass destruction. We continue to discuss that matter, not least with our United States allies and other friends on the Security Council. Resolutions 1441 and 1284 remain current and are not affected by the draft resolution. I am clear that any validation arrangements would have to involve external validation for the reasons that the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley): May I say that I share the Foreign Secretary's view that we have lost a redoubtable Secretary of State for International Development? I served as her deputy for four years and she will be missed in the job. However, she has a worthy successor in Valerie Amos, who was a brilliant Minister in the Foreign Office and will do a tremendous job, whichever House she stays in—[Interruption.]—serves in.

When was the draft resolution circulated in Whitehall? To which Departments was it sent? What comments did the Foreign and Commonwealth Office receive?

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Mr. Straw: I share the preliminary comments of my right hon. Friend. So far as Valerie Amos is concerned, I have seen her as a ministerial colleague in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and also answering for the Department for International Development in the House of Lords. She is a brilliant successor to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short), and someone who is very experienced. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) might recall that, when the previous Conservative Administration were in power years ago, it was possible to give up a title to a peerage in order to transfer down to this end, but I am afraid that a life peerage is now exactly that; it is a sentence for life. But that might change; you never know.

So far as the draft of the resolution is concerned, it was dealt with internally in the same way as resolution 1441 was dealt with. It was tightly held because we were discussing the details with a fellow member of the Security Council. In answer to my right hon. Friend's question, I orally briefed the Cabinet last Thursday—the Cabinet Committee was orally briefed by me last Thursday afternoon—and the draft was circulated at 9 o'clock the following morning.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): Beyond the cost of the military engagement itself, can the Foreign Secretary tell us what the estimated cost of the British involvement and presence in Iraq will be for this financial year and the next financial year?

Mr. Straw: No, I cannot, but I will arrange for the answer to that question to be provided to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and for a copy to be made available to the House.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Whatever the virtues of Lady Amos, at this particular moment the Secretary of State for International Development ought to be in this House and not in the other place.

Can the House of Commons be told why documents held by the Iraqi authorities at the time of the coalition's control of their offices were left unprotected, to be exploited by journalists and others, when those documents might have formed the basis for a prosecution, or been collected or destroyed to deny the probability of a prosecution, or gone unchecked for the insertion of forged documents? Why was there no proper custody of documents of such major potential importance, which might have thrown light on the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, or on possible links between the Saddam regime and al-Qaeda?

Mr. Straw: On the appointment of my right hon. Friend Baroness Amos, I think that everybody in the House recognises her exceptional qualities. [Interruption.] It is an exceptional appointment. I have said before that, while there may be some reservations on the Labour and Liberal Democrat Benches about having a Secretary of State appointed from the House of Lords, it does not lie in the mouth of Conservative Members to object to that process for a second. Many of us accepted the arrangements under which Foreign Secretaries and Trade and Industry Secretaries were

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Members of the other place. Perfectly satisfactory arrangements were made for them to answer through a Minister in this place, and the Prime Minister will make such arrangements in respect of the Department for International Development.

My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) also asked about the protection of evidence and the custody of documents. I cannot give him a direct answer to his specific question, but I can say that we are all seized of the need to protect all documentary and other evidence as far as is humanly possible, with a view to its use in future prosecutions of people responsible for the brutalities of the Saddam regime. If my hon. Friend is in any doubt about the evidence relating to Iraq's holdings of weapons of mass destruction, I refer him to two very public Command Papers that I have already published, including 173 pages of Dr. Blix's final report of 7 March, which sets out in forensic detail the nature of Iraq's holdings of weapons of mass destruction and its failure to answer questions about what has happened to those holdings.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex): While we are all pleased to hear that progress is being made at the UN, is the Foreign Secretary aware that the situation in Baghdad, which he is only partly right in describing as serious, is in fact potentially catastrophic; that our American friends, after a stunning military victory, have grossly underestimated the very difficult situation that they face; and that extremely heavy-handed policing by American troops will do nothing to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis for as long as there is poor security, the utilities do not work or even look like working, and there has clearly been no real progress on the civilian administration front?

Ambassador Bremer is an extremely competent diplomat, but it may not be enough that he will be the right person to run things. Would it not be sensible to suggest to our American friends that a British brigade should be put into Baghdad, as it would have much greater expertise at such policing, with a view to moving the whole thing forward much more quickly?

Mr. Straw: The hon. Gentleman is correct to raise concerns about conditions in Baghdad. I do not endorse the specific language that he uses, but I have made it clear that we regard the situation there as unsatisfactory. Our American allies and friends fully understand that it is unsatisfactory, that action has urgently to be taken and that they are in the lead on taking such action. Just before I came across to the House, I discussed that situation, as I do regularly, with the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and I shall continue to engage with him on that, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will with President Bush.

On the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that a British brigade should be put in, we are all very proud of how British troops have operated, not only in the conflict, but post-conflict, and I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

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