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The Prime Minister: First, what the hon. Gentleman says about Zimbabwe is absolutely right. This is a very serious situation indeed; that is clear. It is difficult to see how there can be any proper security and prosperity for people in Zimbabwe while the country continues to be run in the way it is. I entirely agree with all that. The question is, what do we do about it? In the conversations that I had with the African leaders at the G8 summit, I impressed upon themand I believe that they understand thisthat this is now affecting the whole region of southern Africa. In the end, they will be the people who are best placed to take this forward, if indeed they are committed to ensuring that the changes in Zimbabwe happen. There is a limit to what we can do, but within that limit, we will do everything that we possibly can. That is why we put the matter on the agenda at the G8 summit. We had a discussion, and we discussed it with the African leaders, too. In the end, however, I believe that the most powerful force for change in Zimbabwe will come from those surrounding countries.
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax): On the discussions on the reconstruction of Iraq, may I draw the Prime Minister's attention to the report just published by Human Rights Watch, "Basra: Crime and Insecurity under British Occupation"? It concludes:
The Prime Minister: There are undoubtedly real security problems in Basra and elsewhere, and they are being tackled by the British troops and the authorities. The British troops are doing a fantastic job in improving the situation there. Of course it is going to be difficult, although I think it is sometimes possible to exaggerate the difficulties. In relation to Basra in particular, they have made huge steps forward. On the human rights front, my hon. Friend should not be in any doubt. This is not a case of a countryIraqwhose human rights record was superb and which has now been pushed into chaos by the British and American forces. The very
Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): I am delighted that the Prime Minister and the French President are chums again, but may I ask why that did not extend to the Prime Minister strongly supporting President Chirac's proposal for the European Union to suspend subsidies on farm exports to Africa, provided that the US did the same? Is the right hon. Gentleman just afraid of the other President across the pond?
The Prime Minister: I thought I had said that I supported the French proposal on this issue. With the greatest of respect, however, we have to go further than either the US or France is going at the moment. We have to get rid of export subsidies in relation to agriculture altogether. The French proposal is an important step in that direction, but the hon. Lady should not be naive about it. We still need to go much further. That is also true in respect of America; it has the same obligations. Our position, therefore, is that we need to push further than both of those countries are doing.
Denzil Davies (Llanelli): My right hon. Friend has made much of the survey teams that will look for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but is he not concerned that the failure of the coalition to look for those weapons as a matter of the highest priority in the immediate aftermath of the war could well have provided the opportunity for many of the weaponsif they are thereto find their way into the hands of the various terrorist groups that are operating in and around the middle east?
The Prime Minister: What the survey group will do is conduct a thorough investigation over a significant period of time, because these weapons have been concealed. After Saddam was got rid of, the first priority for the troops had to be the humanitarian situation and the reconstruction of the country. It is obviously a different situation from when Saddam was in charge of Iraq and had weapons of mass destructionnow that he has gone from Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction are concealed. I am not saying that this is not a crucial issueit is, which is why a team of 1,300 or 1,400 will go in to investigate it. But I do not think that it is wrong for the coalition to have said that our first priority at the end of the conflictwhich, after all, ended only six or seven weeks agohad to be reconstruction and the humanitarian position of the Iraqi people. Indeed, we would have been criticised roundly if we had not done so.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): During the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, I, like many of my colleagues, wrote to my constituents saying that if the American President and the British Prime Minister were telling us that there was a serious national danger, I was inclined to believe them. I am inclined to believe the Prime Minister, but he must realise that great questions
The Prime Minister: First, the position that we set out is the correct position. The reason why we took the action that we did was for the reasons stated. As I said earlier, I stand entirely by the dossier that was put out by the Government based on the intelligence that was authorised by the Joint Intelligence Committee. It was not made up by the Government; it was not overridden by the Government in any shape or form at all. In relation to what is happening in America, that is the normal way in which the Americans deal with congressional oversight of the Government there. I think that they would be quite surprised at how much prominence has been given to this issue by our media here, when in America it is simply seen as part of the normal way in which congressional hearings work. In relation to us, we have a particular way of dealing with these issues, and that involves the Intelligence and Security Committee. It was voted for by both sides of the House of Commons. It can look at all the Joint Intelligence Committee reports, it can interview the intelligence people concerned, and it can give a judgment. I have said that that judgment will be published for the House. Frankly, if it looks into those Joint Intelligence Committee reports and interviews the intelligence people, it will get to the truth about the 45 minutes, and so forth. The reason I am speaking so confidently about this from the Dispatch Box today is that I am quite sure of what it will find.
Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): Since President Chirac has been mentioned today in relation to overseas trade and development, will the Prime Minister reiterate his welcome for the fact that the President has altered his position on the common agricultural policy in relation to export subsidies to Africa? Will he confirm again that an agreement on the so-called TRIPS question will be signedor that there is a commitment to a signaturebefore the Cancun conference in September? Does he agree that the opening up of world trade would be of the utmost interest to the developing worldthe third worldso that it might avail itself of the prosperity to which we have become accustomed?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There are two really big outstanding issues for the WTO round in Cancun in September. One is the issue relating to pharmaceuticals and TRIPS; the other is to do with agriculture. We did not reach agreement at the G8, but I think that the atmosphericsif I can put it like thatare now much more positive towards reaching agreement. My hon. Friend is quite right; we should welcome the fact that France has taken a step forward on the issue of export subsidies, but we have to go further, and that then has to be echoed by other
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): The Prime Minister has referred to the question of what we do about other brutal regimes. Did he discuss with the international leaders the much-needed development of international principlesthe sort that we have tried to develop in regard to genocideto establish when it is right for states to intervene militarily to remove brutal regimes? After all, we intervened in Sierra Leone to restore an elected Government, the Americans intervened in Grenada, andmuch more controversiallythe Prime Minister now rests much of his case relating to Iraq on the removal of that ghastly regime.
Is it not very difficult to see what separates those suffering under brutal regimes in Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea from those suffering in the other countries that I have mentioned?