To go to Basra and the green zone, as the Prime Minister has done today, in relative safety is not to visit Iraq. I would like to have seen the Prime Minister talk to some of the refugees. Where are the estimates for the number of dead in Falluja? The battle in Falluja is the battle that we have not been allowed to seethe hidden battle. It is the battle that was going to bring democracy to Iraq, so I have a few questions. What is happening there? Where are the 200,000 or 300,000 refugees who have left the city? Why are there no pictures of the people still living in Falluja, some in extremely bad conditions? What kind of weapons were used in Falluja? The Americans admitted using a substance similar to napalm when the invasion began and we have heard stories from certain people and bodies, including Reuters, who have been in the city that such dreadful weapons have been deployed there. I have tried to get answers here, but to no avail. Al-Jazeera was banned before the second battle for Falluja, so one reliable source from which we got information before has gone[Interruption.] It is a reliable sourceat least we saw pictures. Where are the sources now? What reports are we seeing about the injured? All we see now is extremely sketchy reports from Reuters.
"The chilling reality of what Falluja has become is only now seeping out, as the American military continues to block almost all access to the city, whether to reporters, its former residents, or aid groups like the Red Crescent Society."
"Checkpoints will be established at . . . the five entry points, manned by US troops, and everyone entering will be 'photographed, fingerprinted and have iris scans taken before being issued ID cards.' Though Sattler reassured American reporters that the process would only take 10 minutes, the implication is that entry and exit from the city will depend solely on valid ID cards".
It will be compulsory for citizens to wear a badge. This is equivalent to creating a ghetto. It has sinister overtones for someone of my generation who read and learned a great deal about the ghettos that the Nazis established. This is not bringing democracy to the people of Falluja. It is an insult to anybody who thinks about Falluja. Captain Paul Batty of the 3rd Battalion of the Marines has said that people might be returning on Christmas eve. Only male citizens will be allowed in, in limited numbers.
The US is offering $500 for every house that has been destroyed. There are suggestions coming from the general responsible that there should be compulsory work details and that people will have to clear the rubble that now is Falluja, if we are to believe eye-witness reports.
Who will take over when the Americans pull out? They say that they want to do so by 15 February. Will the under-equipped and demoralised security forces, who are mainly Shi'a in Sunni areas, take over? What has happened to the refugees? I dug out a little information from Reuters. It appears that 13,000 refugees have set up camp on the bank of the Euphrates, at a place that was a resort. Apparently they are sheltering there. They are trying to keep warm but they are left without warm clothes because they had to leave quickly, and there is very little heating. Reuters managed to get out that information.
The Red Cross reported that bodies were piled up and decomposing and that there was widespread structural damageno power, no water and raw sewage. It reports that no hospitals are functioning and that houses have been flattened. It would have been good if the Select Committee and the Prime Minister had visited some of those areas.
I asked about Falluja before the battle. I asked whether what has been described was equivalent to a strategy to democratise Iraq. Is it the strategy to bomb the Iraqis of Falluja into submission and leave behind a flattened city? If it is, it did not work. The uprising moved to Mosul. All the police stations were shut down while the so-called allies were bombing Iraq.
We need some answers about what has been done in our name in Iraq. We need to know what is happening with the elections because clearly the citizens of Falluja will not be able to participate meaningfully in an election. I believe that the answer is to call a special emergency United Nations conference with every member country being present. Appeals should be made to the Muslim
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countries to participate in Iraq. We should set a timetable for the coalition to come out of Iraq because we now represent the problem rather than the solution.
After seeing the deliberate execution of an unarmed combatanta wounded Iraqion my television screen, I believe that some sort of war crimes tribunal should be set up. Let us swap what the Americans did in Falluja with what it was claimed the Serbs were doing in Kosovo, where the media were present and we could see things. In that instance a war crimes tribunal was set up. I hear nobody screaming for justice for innocent Iraqi civilians who have been killed in large numbers.
Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon), who has given us a well-informed analysis of what is going on in Iraq. I am sure that we appreciate what she has had to say.
I want to take up not a fairy story but an every-day story of life under a Labour Government. Last Saturday morning, at 3 am, one of my constituents, Suzanne Millera feisty young lady living on her own in a rural part of the Christchurch constituencywas disturbed by her dog barking. She went to the top of the stairs and saw an intrudera total strangerinside her house. She dialled 999. The intruder made to climb the stairs. She made it clear that she had a knife, which she would not hesitate to use. The intruder eventually left the house.
The police arrived and caught the intruder at the end of the driveway. He was questioned. The police who attended spoke by phone to the desk sergeant. He apparently decided, on the basis of what they told him, that the individual should not be arrested or questioned. He said that the person concerned should be given a free lift home to his house. Apparently that is what happened.
Mr. Chope: The hon. Gentleman says that but this is not a laughing matter. My constituent is beside herself with anger. She has regaled the story to her local councillor, who happens to serve on the police authority. The councillor tried to raise the matter over the weekend with the police. She was told, when she got through to somebody working for Dorset policeshe told her the story"What I would be concerned about is that this is a lady who sleeps in her bedroom with a knife." It was almost as if that person was working to a script. It seems that the Government have created a police force that is more concerned about people having a knife in their bedroom than about arresting people who intrude into somebody's house in the middle of the night.
We are outraged about this situation. How is it that Miss Miller's intruder is not facing any penalty? When I discussed the matter with Miss Miller on the phone, she said, slightly facetiously, that if the intruder was drunk,
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which is now being alleged, although he was perfectly capable of making a mobile phone call to his wife at home, apparently, why was he not given a fixed penalty notice, which we have been hearing about. Perhaps the Minister will explain what one has to do to qualify for such a notice, if someone does not get one when he goes, drunk, into a complete stranger's house at 3 am on a Saturday.
I hope that the case will be reviewed by the police. I have raised it in the Chamber with the authority of my constituent, Miss Miller, who is determined that something effective should be done as a deterrent to others and as a punishment for the person who came into her house and disturbed her peace, and in so doing caused her an enormous amount of upset.
The intruder got into the house through the back door. He certainly did not get in through the front door. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence. One of my constituents is a 63-year-old hotel night manager, who lives in Christchurch. The front page of the Daily Echo on 5 May 2004 reported under the headline "Man left in pool of blood" that this gentleman had been assaulted. He had suffered severe injuries. He had a broken nose and he had to have eight stitches put in his head. He was off work for two or three weeks. He was the victim of an assault in the early hours of the morning in a Bournemouth hotel, where he was the night porter.
Some of the other people in the hotel gave the name and address of the perpetrator to the police. Apparently the local police told the Metropolitan police to take some action against the assailant. Nothing happened. After many months my constituent came to share his concern with me. As a result of that, I put pressure on the chief constable to tell us what was happening. She admittedit was a female chief constable at the timethat the details were not put on the police national computer. It has emerged that although the assailant was living at a fixed address in the home counties, where he could have been arrested for this serious office, he is now believed to be living in Germany.
That is an example of another one who got away. Yesterday evening, I spoke to my constituent's wife, who said, "This is the first time in 40 years of marriage that we have had anything to do with the police. We are absolutely amazed. The police always expect us to help, and indeed we are very willing to help them, but as soon as we want some help from them, it doesn't seem as though there's any reciprocity." That is the impact of the incident.
There is another incident that I should like to share with the House. A garage proprietor in Christchurch was the victim of identity fraud. He lost about £1,500, which was one of the criminal offences that finally put him out of business. The perpetrator absconded, but this autumn was arrested for drink-driving. The complaint that the garage proprietor had made was linked with that criminal. As a result, the police contacted my constituent and said that they would like to re-interview him about the offence. But they never did that. He complained and has been told that the Crown Prosecution Service regards the matter as not worth bothering witha fraud that resulted in my constituent eventually going out of business.
I know it is trite and commonplace to say that the Government say one thing and do another, but even by their standards it is hard to equate what happened to
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that constituent with what the Solicitor-General told the House on 2 December, when she said that the House would welcome
"the new guidance on policing priorities for fraud cases that the Home Office sent out, which says that, even if the sum involved is small, if the effect on the small business victim is large, it should be a priority for police investigation and prosecution."[Official Report, 2 December 2004; Vol. 428, c. 779]
The same man was subjected to another crime earlier this yearhe has had a bit of bad luck under this Governmentwhen he was the victim of road rage on the road alongside Bournemouth international airport. He contacted the police by telephone while the road rage incident was taking place. When he arrived at the traffic lights at West Parley, he was still in conversation with the police, who said that he should stay firm in his car as the potential assailant got out of their car and approached him. My constituent decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and drove off, but having given the full details of the assailant to the police, he was pretty certain in his own mind that there would be a quick arrest and prosecution to follow.
No way has that happened. The police made some inquiries. The person who was driving the car at the time denied that there was a passenger present, so it was my constituent's word against theirs. That was the end of the matter until my constituent was at those self-same traffic lights a few weeks back and recognised the driver of the car in that incident. The driver gave him a V-sign, indicating that she and her friend had got away with a serious criminal offence.
The Government have a policy of driving people into crime. My constituent, Mr. Ali, is an asylum seeker who came to this country from Iran in June 2000. He has lost three appeals against refusal to grant asylum. He has been working as a welder, paying his own way and taxes. At the end of November he was summoned to the immigration and nationality directorate, given an ID card with his date of birth and reference number stamped on it and "Employment Prohibited" marked against it. He is not to be deported, apparently, but he is being forced into the black economy because he is not allowed to work. He is effectively being forced into a life of crime. What a ludicrous policy the Government are presiding over.
There is a gaping credibility gap between so much of what the Government say and what is happening on the ground. I could regale the House with many other examples but I do not have time to do so. The cases that I have highlighted show what a pig's ear the Government have made of policy on law and order, asylum and immigration since 1997. [Interruption.] The Deputy Leader of the House seems to be arguing from the Front Bench, but I cannot hear what he is saying. Perhaps I can give him a final example. Somebody who ordered a passport was assured by the Passport Office that it would be delivered by secure delivery. When the passport did not arrive, he complained and was told that secure delivery means that the passport is handed to a firm of couriers who will deposit it through the letterbox without identifying the recipient. So he is now likely to be the victim of identity fraud.
The Government speak about joined-up law and order, but they are presiding over a pig's ear of a mess. I would like to present the Minister with a pig's ear as a
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modest little Christmas present from the people of Christchurch. I will not throw it, as the Chief Whip threw a book from the Government Benches, but I will make it available to the Minister to chew over, so to speak, over the vacation.