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Hugh Bayley (City of York): May I associate myself with the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) about my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short)?

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What obligations are there on the interim Iraqi administration and what obligations will there be on the full Iraqi Government to repay debts—some would say odious debts—incurred by the Saddam regime? Can my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary give the House an assurance that the Iraqi assistance fund may not be used to repay the cost of weapons buying by Saddam's regime and that he will resist pressure from, as well as the case that may be being made by, other Security Council members which are owed large sums of money by the Saddam regime for arms to block or resist a further Security Council resolution until they are repaid? We must consider the needs of the Iraqi people first, and I hope that that is what the Government will take to the Security Council.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Before the Foreign Secretary answers, I have to tell the House that I must have brief questions. We cannot have long questions.

Mr. Straw: I accept the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), and I say to him that in the text, not least in operational paragraph 20, there is legal protection against, for example, revenues from the sale of oil, or the physical product of oil itself, being arrested in a third country to provide security for unpaid debts to third parties, which may include some countries that he has in mind. We are certainly seized of that. At the same time, we are also seized of the need to ensure that some compensation claims—for example, in relation to those in Kuwait—are honoured over time.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield): Does the right hon. Gentleman understand why there is some scepticism on the Conservative Benches as to why he chose to make this statement today? For example, can he tell the House whether he was planning to make it at 9 o'clock this morning? Will he give the House a straight answer to the question posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) from the Front Bench as to what we are to make of the statement of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) that the Prime Minister's assurance on the establishment of a legitimate Government in Iraq has been breached?

Mr. Straw: As it happens, I decided on Saturday that it would probably be a good idea to make a statement to the House. One was drafted. I spoke to the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip on the telephone yesterday, and suggested that I should make a statement. However, as ever with statements, we decided to wait until this morning to see whether there was a clear demand for one. As it turns out, there was such a demand.

I do my very best to keep the House informed of these matters, as I have done previously.

As for the other point that the hon. Gentleman raised, I am afraid that I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Clare Short). The undertakings given by the Prime Minister at Hillsborough and elsewhere are reflected in this draft in every particular.

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Mr. Tom Harris (Glasgow, Cathcart): I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have welcomed the comments from the French and German ambassadors to the United Nations. The French ambassador said:

and the German ambassador said that

In welcoming an emerging UN consensus on this issue, will the Foreign Secretary reassure the House that the United Kingdom's commitment to the immediate lifting of sanctions will not be allowed to be diluted in the negotiations on this draft that are to follow?

Mr. Straw: My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the welcome that this draft has received publicly in those quarters, which would have been unexpected a few weeks ago. We have worked hard with our partners. We are not suggesting that this is the final word on the matter, but we are pleased about the constructive atmosphere in which the negotiations are taking place.

As for the lifting of sanctions, they were imposed because of the bad behaviour of the Saddam regime and its failure to comply. Now that the Saddam regime has gone, the case for sanctions goes. However, that does not remove the case for us to be satisfied about the disarmament of Iraq, which is another matter.

Mr. John Maples (Stratford-on-Avon): Baghdad fell into coalition hands on 9 April, and fighting was over five days later on 14 April. After an unexplained delay of two weeks, General Garner finally arrived in Baghdad following his leisurely progress via Kurdistan on 21 April. Five weeks after the fall of Baghdad, there is apparently still no water in large areas of the city. Does the Foreign Secretary understand that many of us, and no doubt many Iraqis, find it incomprehensible that with a magnificent display of military competence we can win the war in four weeks but we cannot get the water switched back on in five?

Mr. Straw: I understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration. As I said, the situation in Baghdad is not satisfactory. He asks what we are doing about it. We are doing a great deal to turn it around.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): What is the legal basis for contracts that the Americans signed with Halliburton and Bechtel before the offer of this new UN resolution? Is not the world's image of what is happening that in reality it is the creation of an American colony in Iraq with British support?

Mr. Straw: As I understand it, the legal basis of those contracts was US domestic law, because they made use of US tax dollars and not of any Iraqi revenues. The use of Iraqi revenues in that way would be outwith international or domestic law.

Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle): Does the Foreign Secretary understand that there will be a widespread feeling on both sides of the House that in the months ahead the Secretary of State for International Development ought to be a Member of this House and

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answerable to us? As the United States is in the process of dismissing its two most senior administrators in Iraq, and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) has just resigned, on whose expert advice is this draft resolution based? Presumably, it is on the basis of the draft resolution that the British Government will try to put things right in Iraq in the weeks ahead?

Mr. Straw: Highly qualified though those three people are, they are not the only source of advice available to the United States and United Kingdom Governments.

Ian Lucas (Wrexham): Is my right hon. Friend aware of early-day motion 946, signed by 106 hon. Members, which calls for the reconstruction of Iraq to be built on the broadest possible base? Does he accept that that can be achieved only by securing for the United Nations a leading role in the reconstruction of Iraq? Will he agree to include that amendment to the draft resolution?

Mr. Straw: I am not familiar with the full text of early-day motion 946. I apologise for that, and I shall look it up. The leading role in the rebuilding or building of the new Iraq must be taken by the people of Iraq. We seek a partnership in support of that between the United Nations international community and the coalition on the ground.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): May I associate myself fully with what the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) said about the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short)?

I welcome the reference to lifting sanctions, but the statement unfortunately made no mention of the Kurdish people. What consideration has been given to preserving the integrity of the northern lands where they currently reside?

Mr. Straw: Every consideration is given to that. The very first preliminary paragraph of the draft resolution reaffirms the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. Within that, we fully recognise and respect the need for proper autonomy for various peoples in Iraq, including, obviously, the Kurdish people.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): Will my right hon. Friend explain how giving Iraq back to the people of Iraq is accomplished by transferring the governance of Iraq to a crony of Donald Rumsfeld, and handing over a contract to a company with which Donald Rumsfeld has been associated? Does he accept that Members who voted in favour of military action did not do so, and the British forces who behaved with such immense decency and dignity did not risk and in some cases give their lives, to turn Iraq into a colony of the United States Republican party and to turn Iraq's reconstruction into the playground of American corporate capitalism?

Mr. Straw: I understand my right hon. Friend's concerns, but I can give him the reassurance that he seeks. In the initial stages, the authority will be that of the United States and United Kingdom Governments

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and nation states as the "occupying power" under the Geneva conventions and the Hague regulations. I think I have already dealt with the issue of the contract let to Halliburton. It was, I understand, a domestic contract in the United States, to be paid for with US tax dollars. I can reassure my right hon. Friend that the oil revenues of Iraq and other revenues of the Iraqi people must be used and administered in a very different way.

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