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12.38 p.m.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean) rose to move, That this House takes note of the situation with regard to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the central issue before the House today is straightforward, solemn and serious. It is how the international community can make Iraq comply with its clear obligation to abandon its weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has those weapons. He can use them, and we believe that in time he will do so.

His obligations were set out, as my noble friend the Leader of the House has said, in UNSCR 687 of 1991. That was the resolution that suspended the military action endorsed by the United Nations after Iraq's unprovoked invasion of its neighbour Kuwait. UNSCR 687 required Iraq unconditionally to engage in,

of its chemical and biological weapons and to abandon its nuclear programme. The UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) was tasked with chemical and biological weapons inspection, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with ending Iraq's nuclear weapons programme.

The briefing paper that we have placed in the Library of the House today shows that Iraq has continued to develop terrible weapons of mass destruction. It shows that Iraq has the means to deliver those weapons in armed conflict. It illustrates Saddam Hussein's record of unprovoked aggression in invading two sovereign states and his brutal suppression of internal and minority groups. All that adds up to compelling evidence that he would not hesitate to use the weapons if he saw the need.

As the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister makes clear, our briefing paper cites example upon example of Iraqi efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. To an unprecedented extent, the paper draws on intelligence material and leaves no doubt that Iraq's growing arsenal of such weapons can no longer be tolerated. It demonstrates that the Iraqi regime is increasing its capacity to terrorise and intimidate through the amassing of chemical and biological weapons. The regime has developed command and control systems to use those weapons, and we know that, under those systems, authority rests with Saddam Hussein and, perhaps, with his equally unsavoury son, Qusai.

The dossier goes on to show that Iraq is seeking components and uranium to take forward its already advanced nuclear programme. The dossier highlights the fact that the regime has developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents. It shows that Iraq is developing longer-range ballistic missiles to deliver such weapons further afield. Moreover, it reveals that Iraq continues to use

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revenue from illicit oil sales to support those horrific programmes, in defiance of explicit UN resolutions, rather than buying food, medicine and other civilian goods for the long-suffering men, women and children of Iraq.

The dossier brings out clearly the assessment of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which brings together the heads of the three intelligence and security agencies. That assessment is that the Iraqi regime could, in certain circumstances, produce a nuclear weapon in a period of between one and two years. To the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, I say that that is a short time in international relations. The same committee has evidence that Iraq has sought to buy the significant quantities of uranium that it needs from Africa, at a time when Iraq has no civil nuclear power programme and, therefore, no legitimate reason to acquire uranium. Appallingly, the report shows that intelligence indicates that the Iraqi military is already able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so.

The evidence from the Joint Intelligence Committee adds up to a terrible catalogue of actual and potential weaponry. We have a duty to face up to the responsibilities created by that evidence. How do we force compliance—not for its own sake, but in the knowledge that the weapons are being built for a purpose? That purpose is the domination of the Gulf, to achieve which Saddam Hussein will not hesitate to use the weapons, if he sees fit. We know that because he has already done so.

Lord Waldegrave of North Hill: My Lords, will the Minister confirm the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, that the impressive dossier that the Government have put before us does not show evidence of the distribution of the weapons to terrorist organisations or to Al'Qaeda? That is an important point. We would be here debating the problem of Iraq whether or not the atrocities of 11th September last year had taken place. It is extremely important that we keep the issues separate.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I can confirm that the dossier does not show a link with the events of 11th September; nor does it show any direct link with Al'Qaeda. There is a view that some members of Al'Qaeda have escaped to Iraq and have been harboured by the Iraqi regime. However, I agree with the noble Lord that the issue of Iraq stands by itself: we would be debating it irrespective of what happened last year. None the less, the events of last year taught us many dreadful lessons about the failure to deal with threats staring us in the face.

Over the past few weeks, I have heard several commentators remark that we cannot prove that Saddam Hussein would use the weapons. I heard that view expressed again this morning on the radio. It is said that, even if the weapons exist and the means to use them are growing greater, the essential factor—the intention to use them—cannot be proved. That is true, of course. However, we can consider Iraq's record on

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the issue. Iraq is the only country to be condemned by the United Nations for breaching the Geneva Protocol on the use of chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime has fought wars of aggression, in which millions have died, against two neighbours and has launched missile attacks against five of its neighbours.

Saddam Hussein's brutal disregard for human life is directed not just at those outside Iraq. He has used poison gas against ordinary Iraqis, deliberately murdering unarmed civilians. Halabja has become a terrible by-word throughout the world for the horror perpetrated there. Elsewhere in Iraq, the fate of 100,000 Kurds and 200,000 Shia Muslims is evidence enough of Saddam Hussein's callous disregard for innocent life. In all that, Iraq has not just persistently mocked the authority of the United Nations but has done more than any other country to undermine the global consensus against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As the dossier makes clear, the brutality continues. There is routine murder, rape and torture, some of it personally supervised by Saddam Hussein and his sons.

Of those who say, "Prove that Saddam will use the weapons", we ask, "What more proof do we need than his record?". I will ask another question: how would we—any of us—justify doing nothing while such a man ran such a regime, in defiance of the United Nations, until it was too late? Edmund Burke famously said:

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

We have all heard it argued that, once Saddam used the weapons, the full force of international community would be used against him. But how many innocent lives would be lost in his first strike? How, in the days after those lives were lost, would we justify having done nothing to prevent him?

Our objective is the UN's objective. It is clear: it is to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. We have tried to do it peacefully and methodically under UN auspices. After the liberation of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein had no alternative but to admit UN weapons inspectors. Then, over a period of seven years, he systematically deceived, obstructed and intimidated those inspectors. Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has ignored 23 out of 27 separate UN obligations. Even more tellingly, Iraq has not, in that entire period, complied with any of the 14 separate obligations relating to weapons of mass destruction.

In refusing to comply over and over again, Saddam took a calculated gamble. He calculated that divisions in the Security Council would render the UN unable to enforce its own resolutions. We are now at a crossroads: the UN must deal with the growing, flagrant threats to international peace and security. Otherwise, its ability to protect our security against present and future threats from any source will be undermined and irreparably damaged by the will of one regime. Dictatorship and force will override the work of the international community and the rule of law.

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Last week's tactics were of course to be expected. First, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister declared that inspectors would not be readmitted—then, two days later, the Foreign Minister said that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. That was a blatant lie. He went on to say that inspectors might return to Iraq. We are all too familiar with those distraction techniques. The same promises were made by the Iraqi regime in November 1998—and Iraq did not deliver on that promise. Indeed, the inspectors were forced to leave only one month later. So the latest offer must be treated with deep scepticism.

We must not let Iraq sidetrack the United Nations. Now is not the time to let up on any pressure on the Iraqi regime. In light of experience, we need a tough, uncompromising, all-encompassing inspection regime. It should be embodied in a United Nations resolution—and that resolution should carry the implicit determination to use force if there is further non-compliance.

Some of your Lordships may ask why this is so pressing now. After four years without inspections, all the indications are that the weapons programmes are growing again. As many of your Lordships will have read in the paper in the Library, the intelligence assessment published today shows that Saddam Hussein regards his chemical and biological weaponry as more than weapons of last resort. In the four years since we last had an inspectors' report, all the evidence is that Saddam Hussein is continuing to add to his biological and chemical arsenals and is once again at work on his nuclear programme.

Some of your Lordships may ask why this regime is uniquely dangerous. There are other countries developing terrible weapons too. Are they as bad or worse proliferators? What are we doing about them? Yes, there are others. There are other threats to the international consensus on non-proliferation. The difference is that with the other countries involved, we have a working relationship through which we can effectively urge restraint. In each case, we are endeavouring through active diplomacy to encourage the governments concerned to come fully within the ambit of the international regulatory systems, and meanwhile to ensure that those systems are kept safely and not used.

There has been intensive diplomatic effort in that regard with India and Pakistan. It is raised regularly with Israel, which can be in no doubt of our very clear views. In respect of North Korea, the Foreign Secretary has authorised an upgrading of our diplomatic representation; similarly with Libya. My honourable friend Mike O'Brien visited in August—the first British Minister to do so in 23 years. Iran potentially has a key strategic role in the region and beyond. We aim at deepening our relationship with that country and to encourage the forces of democracy within it. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has visited Iran twice in the last 12 months and hopes to do so again in the near future.

Of course we should always try the path of diplomacy to resolve potential threats and conflicts for international security—but that requires reciprocity,

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an acceptance of norms and standards of behaviour. Those norms, those standards and that reciprocity are wholly absent in the Iraqi regime.

When we have discussed the issue in the past, some of your Lordships have suggested that by threatening to enforce international law in the case of Iraq, we are guilty of double standards with regard to Israel and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Those resolutions did indeed place certain obligations upon Israel, which have not been met. The resolutions also imposed on all Israel's Arab neighbours the obligation fully to recognise and make peace with Israel. Those obligations have not been met either. The critics who say that we cannot deal forcefully with Iraq because we are not equally dealing with Israel fail to address how we can deliver freedom and statehood to Palestinians and lasting security to Israel.

There is progress. It is slow and painful—and it is halting—but progress now is seen in the growing consensus that peace and security in the Middle East will come with the creation of a viable Palestinian state and an Israel within its borders and at peace with its neighbours. In the past few months, that shared recognition has been set out by the President of the United States and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. We remain committed to that policy and to pursuing it through the early resumption of negotiations in the United Nations Security Council.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will take that message with him when he visits the Middle East in a few weeks. Of course we recognise that the Middle East conflict is not an integral part of the problem with Iraq but, like many of your Lordships, we cannot ignore the importance of the issue itself and in the context of the politics and international relationships of the region. The truth is that there is widespread scepticism among many of our Arab friends about the willingness of the West to address those issues. My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have done so consistently, patiently and diligently. They will continue to do so—as the Prime Minister's statement made clear.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary will also leave no doubt in the minds of all his hosts in the region, when he visits them, about the threat posed by Iraq's weapons. We shall continue to deny Saddam Hussein's attempts to portray our confronting that issue as an attack on Islam. We shall continue to make it clear to our own Islamic communities in the United Kingdom that our argument is not with Islam and not with the people of Iraq but with a pernicious and brutal regime.

Our objective must be to force that regime to abandon its weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam Hussein is toppled from power in that endeavour, so be it—we would welcome his departure. Neighbouring countries would welcome his departure. The world would welcome his departure.

But our objective is to disarm Iraq through rigorous and determined United Nations inspections. To achieve that, we need to be ready to use force if

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necessary. The experience of the past decade demonstrates that Saddam Hussein shows no respect for negotiation, no respect for UN resolutions and no respect for international law. He responds only to force or the intention to use force. Any United Nations resolutions need to be backed up by that intention—an intention upon which we must be ready and willing to act.

That is a terrible eventuality to contemplate. The prospect of armed conflict, inevitable loss of human life and the individual suffering of innocent people caught up in events that they can neither influence nor understand is an awesome responsibility. But awesome too is the responsibility of failing to deal with the threat that is now so clear. If the Security Council does not press for unconditional and unrestricted access for UN inspectors, we must prepare for the eventuality that a uniquely aggressive dictator will ultimately use the monstrous weapons that he is developing. The threat would then be beyond our control and beyond that of the United Nations.

Many will ask what will happen next if there is armed intervention. How will it be done? When and how would those undertaking such action withdraw from Iraq? What is the exit strategy? The truth is that discussion of those questions in detail is not for today. If it comes to armed conflict, we shall need our forces to be as secure as possible. As always, the security and safety of our Armed Forces is paramount. As my right honourable friend's Statement made clear, the Government will keep Parliament in touch with all developments—particularly any that would lead us to military action, as we did over Kosovo and Afghanistan.

I can say that the government of Iraq is a matter for the Iraqi people. They deserve a better government—one based on the rule of law and respect for human rights; economic freedom; and a return to full membership of the international community. For its part, the international community has the right to look forward to an Iraqi regime that co-operates with the United Nations and plays a normal and peaceful role in the region and the world.

Hoping that things will get better is no answer. Delay will only worsen matters. Delay will allow Saddam Hussein to amass more anthrax, more VX, more sarin. It will allow him to develop the range of his missile systems. It will allow him to acquire fissile material to incorporate into his nuclear weapons and to integrate into his programmes. It will allow him to manipulate the UN, the very organisation on which we all depend to uphold the peace, security and international rule of law. That cannot be allowed to happen, for the sake of this generation and for our descendants. We have to be able to rely on the United Nations to uphold its ideals in principle and in practice.

The Government fully accept the gravity of the present moment. Today's recall of both Houses of Parliament is a clear testament to the seriousness of the threat facing us. But let us be equally clear that the message of the document the Government published

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today is a compelling and dreadful one: that in Saddam Hussein and his development of weapons of mass destruction, the man and means form a unique and terrible combination. It is a combination which is a threat to his own country, to his region and to the world. We now all look to the United Nations to have the determination to dismantle that threat.

As my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary made clear—unflinchingly, to all our friends as much as to others—the United Nations is the right place to pursue our determination. We believe that the time may be coming when we all have to turn that determination into action.

We do not seek this conflict. But we shall not turn our faces away. We shall confront this threat; and we shall continue in our determination to secure peace and stability for all countries of the region and the world. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the situation with regard to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.—(Baroness Symons of Vernon Dean.)

1.2 p.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am sure all noble Lords will be grateful for the full way in which the noble Baroness set out the Government's approach to this crisis. We all look forward to the debate to come and I shall do my best not to stand in the way of that debate moving ahead given the huge expertise and experience upon this matter that will be mobilised this afternoon and evening—expertise and experience unequalled in any other forum.

We on these Benches, as we have already made clear, are not opposed—indeed we support it fully—to the Prime Minister's approach to a complex, fast-changing and extremely dangerous situation. But we reserve the right to ask a number of questions—indeed, my noble friend Lord Strathclyde has already put a number of them—and to be kept fully informed as the situation unfolds. In that I echo my noble friend; that it is difficult to be kept informed when we are presented with the dossier only a few hours before the debate on it.

I have read the dossier from cover to cover. But I cannot understand why it could not be published earlier. Though it brings together a good deal of fascinating detail—the intelligence people have done an excellent job—much of it already appears in a whole range of technical journals, on websites or in other intelligence reports. I cannot understand why it was not published last Friday. It would have made matters much easier for us.

In relation to the Prime Minister's and the Government's policy, the decision to take the UN route is the right one. That is not to say that we regard all the members of the UN, not even of the permanent members, as having impeccable records on human rights. Some of the component members in fact are far from that position. But taking the matter to the United Nations has brought the Arab countries and many others on side. That is a good thing. It is strongly to the Prime Minister's credit that, through his efforts at

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Camp David, that is the way the American administration is now going when a number of voices were being raised in Washington—they still are—saying that it was the wrong way to go.

Taking the issue to the United Nations raises a crop of new questions. How tough is the resolution we are now seeking? Is it the same as that put forward by President Bush or are we elaborating on that? Is the aim to help the inspectors identify in this enormous country—Iraq is huge—the weapons of mass destruction or to insist on the total, visible and verifiable destruction of those weapons? Or are we supporting the doctrine of coercive inspections which is now being vigorously developed by our opposite numbers in America and a number of other countries? Where do we stand in the end on the call for regime change and the rebuilding of a different kind of Iraq, which is the declared policy of a whole range of senior government officials in America? It is not just the talk of academics; regime change is their demand and their policy.

What will happen if no resolution is agreed? That is possible. Is it the Government's policy for us to go along with force anyway on the grounds that the resolutions have been flouted in the past, that the case stands and needs no legal reinforcement? I have no doubts that America can win on the battlefield. I do not share the view of those who say the whole military exercise will become bogged down in the sand. They said that at the time of the Gulf War when Kuwait was invaded. They were wrong then and will be wrong again. But can America win the politics and exactly what help do they want from us in winning the politics that will inevitably be thrown open in the new landscape that will emerge if force is used?

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, had some nice comments to make on the dossier. She urged us to read it and I did so. It contains a number of interesting matters. But it does not mention, as the noble Baroness pointed out, terrorism and September 11 last year. That is rather strange because our American friends do not make that distinction. American policy-makers, from the topmost level down, refer to the issues of the new war on global terrorism in the same breath as they refer to the need to deal with weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein. The fact is that where weapons of mass destruction meet global terrorism paves the way for unimaginable catastrophe. When the new kind of terrorist mentality combines with new weapons technologies, we are presented with a threat unprecedented in the history of mankind. That must be part of the case for the action now proposed.

Secretary Powell put it extremely well when he appeared in front of Congress the other day. He said,

    "[at 9/11] the potential connection between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction moved terrorism to a new level of threat, a threat that could not be deterred . . . a threat that we could not allow to grow because of this connection between states developing weapons of mass destruction and terrorist organisations willing to use them without any compunction and in an undeterrable fashion. In fact, that nexus became the overriding security concern of our nation. It still is and will continue to be so for years to come".

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That states the broader case rather better than anything I have heard so far from the Government. If that is what is happening in Iraq, if there is a potential if not proven nexus between weapons of mass destruction and irresponsible hands that might use them, it makes the case for intervention even more overwhelming than it clearly is anyway.

We know that Saddam has biological and chemical weapons: botulinum and anthrax, gases, sarin and tabun—I believe he used tabun at Panjwin and at Halabja. I believe he used chlorine against the Iranians in the war and killed many thousands of Iranian troops in doing so. We know that he has been seeking nuclear weapons and trying to develop the infrastructure to complete and manufacture them. We know that Saddam Hussein is a homicidal and brutal individual who is ready to and has killed large numbers of Iraqi women and children. We know that he has a penchant for enormous palaces, which apparently contain not only domestic facilities but also all sorts of sinister weapons and other things.

We know that weapons of mass destruction are proliferating. The dossier does not provide an estimate, but it does not cover everything. However, it is estimated that 30 countries have the capacity to develop biological and chemical weapons and up to a dozen countries are seeking or trying to manufacture or already have nuclear weapons. If the BBC is to be believed—which is becoming difficult nowadays at times—this country is exporting to Iran parts of the component equipment necessary to develop its nuclear capacity.

A key question remains, even after reading the dossier: how does all this fit in with the dangerous new world of which we were given evidence on September 11th last year? And, if the case is to be well made from the proper moral high ground, how can we ensure that people understand that all these things are linked and that Saddam is part of a patchwork of enormous danger to us of a kind we have never faced before? That is the moral case for war and for putting a decisive stop to it all, by force if necessary, before it puts a stop to us. That is the case for the new doctrine of pre-emptive action; moving before and not after there are mass killings and mushroom clouds hanging over our cities.

I have some further questions for the Minister. What will happen later? Do we have a vision—I do—of a federal, democratic Iraq? The Kurds have said that they would like to go along with that; they do not want to break away from Iraq. Is there a possibility of a benign Iraq; a force for stability in the Middle East, instead of a force for evil and the culture of death? Is that wider vision in the Government's mind? We have not heard much about that, but it is important we should have such a wider vision. If we do, how is it to be secured? Should US troops, thousands of whom are already in the region, stay there for a long time and occupy the whole area? Are they ready to go into other areas that might be at risk?

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Those questions hang in the air. We must have from the Government some indication of where we are going. As Clausewitz said, you should not take the first step in military action or towards war unless you have thought carefully about the last step as well.

I turn to the British role. Can we be more precise about our purposes and interests? I do not believe that the Americans can go it alone. Many senior American officials and academics believe that they can go it alone and that if the UN and the Europeans do not come along, they will have to do the business themselves. That is a mistaken view. Condoleezza Rice may have her thesis about the great powers, but in this modern globalised world the smaller nations are a vital part of the jigsaw.

Although I have not heard it from the Government, I believe that our Armed Forces and intelligence are crucial to the success of such a project, if force has to be used in the end. What about NATO? Do the Americans want NATO to play a part? We have conflicting views and reports from the United States. Do they want a rapid reaction force based on NATO as opposed to a European rapid reaction force? If so, who will go along with it? The French seem to be doubtful allies; the Germans are rudderless and have been stirring up anti-Americanism and vandalising the Atlantic alliance. They are now dependent on the Green Party, whose policy is to abandon nuclear power, encourage homosexual marriages and promote wind farms.

In my view all that makes nonsense of the common foreign and security policy, which I have always felt was a slightly dangerous illusion. Javier Solana has been trying to do noble work speaking for Europe on the Iraq crisis, but he cannot do so because there is no common basis. When he speaks, it is obviously not for the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister and for us.

There are questions about Saudi Arabia: is its support secure? If Saudi Arabia gets into difficulties, that will raise new crises and worries, many of which are currently in the minds of the oil and financial markets. What role will the Russians play? To begin with they sounded co-operative, then they began to be hostile about a new resolution. Now I am not sure where they stand, but their support is clearly necessary if the UN route is to be followed successfully. I presume they have some kind of price but we have not established what it is.

Field Marshal Montgomery once said that the first two principles of warfare are to identify the enemy and maintain your aim. President Bush, by being steadfast—as I believe he has been—has already moved Saddam a long way. We cannot trust Saddam; he has flouted every resolution, but there has been movement of some kind, which is good. But Monty also said—I use his phraseology—that "chaps must be kept in the picture". We and the public are the chaps in this case; the picture is fast changing and confusing. The Government direction is right and we are right to support it, but the Government and their allies must

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work much harder to keep the rest of us in the centre of the frame. That is where we all need to be as and when this perilous but necessary venture goes forward.

1.18 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, in her detailed speech, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, referred at some length and with great power to the vicious behaviour of Saddam Hussein. No one on these Benches would disagree with that. But we have to be careful about an element of hypocrisy that is creeping into the debate. It is worth remembering that the United Kingdom and the United States never condemned the use of chemical weapons against Iran and against Iraq's own civilians. The United States voted against a UN resolution intended to condemn those actions and the United Kingdom—not, if I may say so, very impressively—abstained.

If we are serious about the possibility of going to war, we cannot pretend that the United Kingdom and the United States and other western countries have not been profoundly involved in bringing about this situation. As many noble Lords will know, the United Kingdom, the United States and other European countries continued to sell conventional arms to Iraq for years after it was clear that she was using unacceptable weapons. We must not try to wrap ourselves in a totally white sheet, as if we had nothing to do with the terrible crisis that now confronts us.

Secondly, nobody is suggesting for a moment that we do nothing. With great respect to the noble Baroness, who repeated several times that this was not an alternative, let me make it as clear as I can that we on these Benches are not suggesting that we do nothing. Rather, we are suggesting that the possibility of inspection be given a real opportunity to work and we are saying as loudly as we can that this is the best alternative for us.

The noble Baroness quoted substantially from the Prime Minster's Statement and from the dossier. Let me quote two passages from the dossier that are important in establishing that inspection could well be a successful and viable alternative to military action. I draw the attention of the House to page 27 of the dossier. I shall limit myself to two quotations. Paragraph 23 says:

    "while sanctions remain effective Iraq would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon".

Paragraph 25 says:

    "The JIC"—

the Joint Intelligence Committee—

    "assessed that if sanctions remained effective the Iraqis would not be able to produce such a missile"—

one capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction—

    "before 2007. Sanctions and the earlier work of the inspectors had caused significant problems for Iraqi missile development".

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I provide a third quotation from the distinguished head of UNSCOM, Dr Rolf Ekeus, in an article called, "Yes, let's go into Iraq with an army of inspectors", published in the Washington Post on Sunday 15th September. He said:

    "If we believe that Iraq would be much less of a threat without such weapons"—

weapons of mass destruction—

    "the obvious thing is to focus on getting rid of the weapons. Doing that through an inspection team is not only the most effective way, but would cost less in lives and destruction than an invasion".

He went on to point out that President Bush, in what I felt was his otherwise striking and excellent speech to the United Nations, had drawn attention to his view that it was only an Iraqi defector—the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein—who gave evidence of the development of biological weapons in Iraq. Dr Ekeus, the head of the inspection team points out:

    "the president does not appear to have been well briefed. In fact, in April 1995, four months before the Iraqi official defected, UN inspectors disclosed to the Security Council that Iraq had a major biological weapons program".

We need to be extremely careful about what we say. Some of the suggestions that the inspection regime was ineffective and slow and failed to detect important matters that were happening are largely not corroborated by the facts. We should be very careful about throwing cold water on the inspection regime.

One of the things that troubles us on these Benches is that there has been a deliberate attempt to throw cold water on the possibility of inspection. In that context, I was extremely disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Howell, did not refer at any point in his very well informed speech to the possibility of inspection as an alternative to war.

I have to say again that we have a moral obligation to consider whether inspection might work as an alternative to war. The one thing we have to be clear about is that, as I have said before, any war will bring with it huge destruction and many deaths among innocents. None of us in this House can possibly say what may be the repercussions on the profoundly sensitive situation in the Middle East, deeply troubled as it is by the continuation of the dreadful low-level war between Israel and the Palestinians, which every day brings a new toll of unacceptable and vicious deaths on both sides and which continually infuses the anger and sense of injustice of many of the Arab governments, who believe that we have not adequately addressed the issue, nor seriously attempted to do so.

All of us on these Benches are deeply grateful to the Prime Minister for the efforts that he has made to persuade the United States to take the United Nations road, at least at this stage. He deserves great credit for that, as he deserves it for his earlier interventions, which we have reason to believe led to Iran not being included among those countries that might be seen as an immediate target of force. We owe him a great deal and I am sure that he has put in immense effort. It is important that President Bush came before the United Nations and, in doing so, effectively defied some of his louder and, if I may say so, more extreme voices,

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including Vice-President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who indicated that they regarded the UN as effectively a waste of time.

We cannot pretend that many of us are not deeply troubled by the consistently anti-UN tone of American opinion on the Right wing of the administration. That is one reason why we on these Benches continually reiterate the need to go through the United Nations and to do nothing to undermine the sole international body that we still have that is capable of building peace.

I have already said a few words about the lack of an exit strategy. I now quote from another source. In a leader, the International Herald Tribune commented on the statement of Secretary of State Colin Powell before Congress last week. It said:

    "Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld each delivered lengthy statements to Congress last week arguing the case for action; strikingly, neither so much as mentioned the reconstruction problem".

That is another of our great concerns. I asked about it earlier. There is still no adequate indication that the United States Administration or—dare I say?—our own, have fully addressed this very difficult question.

I have two final points. One of our great worries is that unless we handle the whole issue with great sensitivity and handle the issue of inspection with a real commitment to making it work if it possibly can, we will profoundly offend opinion in many moderate Arab states—and not only in Arab states, but far beyond, in states such as Malaysia and Singapore, which have always been good allies of the West, in south-east Asia and beyond, in Pakistan and among Muslims in India. We will see a great multiplication of terrorism if we cannot show that we are treating the issue in the most cautious, careful and responsible way.

I conclude with a final question to the Government. I have all my life been a strong believer in the United States. It is, in my view, the world's greatest democracy, although I hope that India will one day be able to say that it is the other great democracy. However, having spent the past two months in a deeply divided United States in which respected voices such as former Vice-President Mondale, Senator Kerry, Senator Hagel of Nebraska, Senator Biden and many more, have cast grave doubts over the rhetoric of their own Right wing, I cannot pretend that we in this House cannot mention it. The issue is deeply troubling.

All too often that rhetoric has taken the form of destroying the fragile structures of multilateral international co-operation—from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the Biological Weapons Convention. Many of us hoped and believed that those were part of the construction of a new international order of peace, democracy and mutual respect. We cannot pretend that in many ways the present Government have not been a critic of and have even undermined the multilateral structures of the UN and others.

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I turn to my final remark. I believe that we need to say to the Government that the doctrine of regime change is a terrifying one. If it were to be defined outside the structures of the United Nations—there is no question that the United Nations does and should deal with criminal acts against humanity; that is already its strength—let us consider what regime change might mean in India vis-a-vis Pakistan, in Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinian territory and in China vis-a-vis Taiwan. It is a doctrine that we should not play with—a doctrine of anarchy in international affairs.

I believe that in our support for the United States—I accept that support so far as concerns the Iraqi programme of mass destruction—we have a duty to be candid friends and, as such, to say to the US Administration: please be very careful about undermining multilateral structures and about using language which suggests that we are returning to the system of Westphalian nation states, which offers no answers to the terrible problems of terrorism that now confront our world.

1.31 p.m.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, I agree that there is nothing good about Saddam Hussein and the ruling clique that he controls so tightly in Iraq. The world could be a safer place if he were no longer in power. I say "could" because there can be no absolute about that judgment. What replaces the present odious regime should, first, be compared with it.

We have heard on both sides of the Atlantic that regime change is the political and strategic goal. Regime change is a shorthand phrase that encapsulates at least some of the current thinking and mood. Some might express it slightly differently and say merely that Saddam must go. Others might say that Iraq must give up its weapons of mass destruction.

But there must be more—much more—to these policy goals than just Saddam's removal or the verified elimination of his weapons of mass destruction. Change or removal of the Saddam regime is not a complete goal. Change or removal implies replacement. What, then, is to be the replacement regime? From whom and from where will the new regime spring? Can it be engineered overnight? A period of relative calm and stability within Iraq is surely necessary before such a successor regime can be up and running. Are we presuming that there will be elections? Elections in a country ruled as Iraq has been for so many years are not, for the Iraqi people, a tried and tested method of finding a new administration.

While there are, of course, many differences between the recent problems with Afghanistan and those in Iraq, there are some parallels, too. The Taliban were ousted. We wish to see Saddam's regime ousted. But, in spite of our best efforts, there is scarcely a stable and secure regime in Afghanistan nearly a year after the Taliban's removal. Tribal and ethnic differences in Afghanistan are causing difficulty. There will be difficulties between the different Arab groupings and the Kurds within Iraq following any removal of Saddam's regime.

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Western support and policing within Afghanistan are still essential. They could be no less essential in a new Iraq. How else could that country enjoy the stability and security so vital to any democratic process? How welcome in the region would be the necessary western forces required to ensure stability following the removal of Saddam? Indeed, can this task be left to regional countries alone? Have any of them yet made it clear that they would shoulder that demanding and critical role? We have had a good deal of difficulty persuading the Turkish Government to head up ISAF in Afghanistan.

Herein lies another uncertainty which must be resolved before we embark on any military onslaught. We need to be clear—and the neighbour countries in the Middle East that must be supportive of our operations if we are to succeed need to be clear—what the next stages of this campaign are going to be. I look forward to hearing from the Minister about the stages following any ousting of Saddam by a military operation. I am sure that there are such plans, but public support for any operation will much depend on understanding what is to happen once Saddam is gone. Let there be greater clarity and openness about that now so far as is possible.

There is another scenario which should have been foreseen and is now unfolding. If Saddam agrees to weapons inspections in a way that is acceptable to the United Nations, what then? Grounds for his immediate removal have gone. The rest of the world is left accepting his continuation in power. That is not regime change by any stretch of the imagination. Do those who speak of regime change dismiss all possibility that Saddam will comply, or at least appear to wish to comply, with the United Nations demands in an acceptable way? What is it that makes them so certain that this time he is not sincere?

Many leaderships in the world—not all of them so despised as that in Iraq—have concerns about what to them seem to be dictatorial demands and restrictive conditions expressed by the United States and sometimes our own Government and which to them appear to challenge their legitimate authority and that of others. There is an important dividing line between the clear and wholly justifiable defence of our national interests and a wider wish to coerce renegade states to adopt the image favoured in western mature democracies.

At a recent gathering of a dozen heads of state and government of developing nations, which I attended in Malaysia last month, I witnessed at first hand the irritation and shared concern about what they perceived to be unwarranted and unsolicited interference in their affairs and conduct by Her Majesty's Government. Some of that anger had not dissipated weeks later in Johannesburg, when we heard some deplorable personal attacks on our Prime Minister. So often such differences arise because there is insufficient opportunity to talk through the issues and seek a way forward.

Who of status in the West has talked recently with Saddam Hussein? Megaphone diplomacy has a place in world affairs but it should not be the only means of

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communication. I hope that there are wise heads working behind the scenes to ensure that the reasons for disagreement are being discussed and, it is to be hoped, can be resolved. The use of force to pre-empt a perceived problem is, indeed, a drastic step to take. It must be the last option for the Government to approve and only when they are able to demonstrate that all others have failed or will not work.

One wonders what has happened to the once fashionable and effective policy of deterrence. In the Gulf conflict we deterred Saddam from using his weapons of mass destruction. We knew that he had chemical and biological capabilities. We were very concerned that he might employ them, particularly as we were going to invade Iraq to ensure the overwhelming defeat of the Iraqi Republican Guard forces. We took a number of steps to help to protect our forces from that chemical and biological threat.

In the event—there is reliable intelligence to support this view—he was deterred by a threat not to rule out the use of nuclear force. Why is such a deterrent policy no longer considered effective? What has changed since 1991 that now makes it an unreasonable alternative to pre-emptive attack on Iraq? Indeed, why is it inconceivable that Saddam sees possession of his weapons of mass destruction as his safeguard against invasion?

Finally, if force is to be the chosen method, I hope that the Government will heed the advice that they will receive from the chiefs of staff about the scale of commitments that our forces should undertake. There is still great concern about the level of manning in frontline and ancillary units. The Defence Medical Services, so essential if we suffer casualties, are in a parlous state. Shortfalls exist in logistic support and weapon stocks. The less the immediate threat to our national interests, the more important it is that we do not throw all we have into a less than critical adventure.

It takes no great effort of lateral thinking to say that we cannot rule out that Saddam would be provoked to use his weapons of mass destruction if Iraq were to be invaded. Our forces must be fully protected against such an eventuality.

I look forward to being reassured by the Minister that the concerns that I have expressed are appreciated and that solutions to them have been developed.

1.41 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I am particularly grateful for the sober and judicious tone of the dossier and for the way it focuses so strictly upon one issue: the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Over the last few weeks, the whole debate has been somewhat confused by lumping together a number of themes best disentangled. These themes might be headlined as terror, threat and tyranny.

First, terror there have been suggestions that Iraq, like former Afghanistan, is a rogue state sponsoring international terrorism and implicated in the Al'Qaeda network. There are, of course, a number of

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other much more plausible suspects. Having heard the introductory statements, particularly that of the noble Baroness, I welcome the fact that no one in your Lordships' House is arguing this connection as a reason for immediate intervention. It is extraordinarily important in the context of inter-faith relations to underline the fact that the present Iraqi regime is not notably Islamic. It embraces a great variety of believers of various religions and its ideological base is fairly hostile to an Islamic regime.

Secondly, threat—the dossier proves that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction and that he has re-animated this programme in recent years. As the noble Baroness underlined, he probably does not as yet possess a nuclear capability. However, memory of Scud missile attacks confirms that, if the chance arises, he is prepared to use his weapons. The threat is real but the policy of containment with the use of overwhelming force if the Iraqi regime were again to attack any of its neighbours seems to have had, to date, a limited effectiveness. It is still very difficult to see what precisely has changed in the last few months to provoke immediate and urgent action. The dossier underlines the vital importance of the return of the weapons inspection regime, leading to disarmament. But faced with the threat clearly delineated in the dossier, merely stating a preference for peace hardly seems adequate in the circumstances.

Some religious talk about peace seems to be conducted at such an altitude that it can have no impact on the decisions that actually have to be made on the ground. Such hyper-moralism lacks practical wisdom. We are in a situation in which the old doctrines of deterrence have been undermined by the character of modern terrorism, revealed on 9/11. War is always a failure and many components of classical moral reflections on the conduct of war remain relevant, notably the imperative to avoid as much innocent suffering as possible. This is an imperative in Iraq, a country with a rich and ancient culture whose people have suffered grievously over the past decade.

Nevertheless, in view of the destructiveness of the tools available to modern terrorists and states, the use of pre-emptive strikes where a well-proven threat exists should not, a priori, be ruled out. There are situations in which the rapid and limited deployment of force can avert even more serious conflict. A example would be the Rhineland in 1936. The people who created the climate in which appeasement became practical politics never had to share the obloquy which fell on Chamberlain and his colleagues.

After terror and threat, we come to an especially difficult aspect of the situation facing us now: tyranny. There is no doubt that the regime is tyrannical. It is widely hated among the mosaic of people who compose modern Iraq. The exposure of violence and injustice inflicted by regimes on their own people has led to demands which governments find it very difficult to resist: that "something should be done". These demands are often fitful and fuelled by media focus and attention. But one of the conditions of stability in the modern world is predictability. If perceived tyranny, often one-sidedly depicted by the

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media, justified intervention by western powers at a time when our technical military superiority is approaching 19th century proportions, then the fears of many states throughout the world would be dramatically increased. I remember Russian friends at the time of the attack on Serbia, saying, "Are we next?" There are huge dangers in this unpredictability.

We need an international process to judge which instances of internal state conflict really demand the intervention of outside powers. No state, however powerful, should be left as judge and jury. There is only one institution remotely capable of helping to form such judgments and that is the United Nations. It is encouraging that President Bush has resisted the unilateralist faction that wanted to exclude the UN from the equation. As other noble Lords have said, there is some danger of setting the UN up for a failure. The UN is indispensable but urgently needs reform, support and endorsement if it is to do the work that our dangerous world demands.

To be specific, we need support and a development of the peace prevention capacity of the UN. We need reform of the Security Council to reflect the realities of power in today's world and to reflect the change in the pattern of conflict which we face. We need an end to the politicisation of appointments in the UN, which sometimes makes it a somewhat cynical environment. Above all, the nation-building capacity of the UN needs to be properly funded and supported by adequate police forces and judicial services. We need an enthusiasm for nation-building equal to the fervour which often accompanies a call to arms.

The Americans have made it clear that they do not regard nation-building as their remit. However, rebuilding Afghanistan after decades of civil war is going to take immense international commitment. Otherwise that country will unravel once again and return to the kind of anarchy which favours terrorists. The Prime Minister's own undertaking, given in the Statement delivered by the noble and learned Lord, is in this context particularly welcome.

I remember visiting Kosovo soon after the arrival of KFOR to meet the admirable sergeant major from the detention centre in Colchester who was in charge of the central gaol, housing the UCK downstairs and Serbs upstairs. They had to rely on such expertise. It is in all our interests that a reformed UN should have the capacity to tackle the longer-term problems of prevention and transformation.

President Bush has served notice on the UN and demanded action. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will encourage our American allies to follow up that re-engagement with the UN and their settling of the arrears question with a real determination to increase the effectiveness of the organisation.

If we miss the present opportunity of unchallenged and relatively benign American hegemony to strengthen the international institutional and legal framework, we shall enter the next historical period—when most probably Asia has re-asserted herself—in a

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paranoid frame of mind. In consequence, we shall be exposed to yet more waste of precious resources and brainpower as we devise ever more devastating ways of killing one another.

It seems to me that the shadow of the League of Nations hangs over this debate. Just as with the League in its own day, the influence of the UN depends on members' willingness to work through it. That means that the rule of international law, embodied first in the League and now in the UN, depends on the political will of the members. Last time, the strength of pacifism in Britain and France made public sentiment studiously passive in international affairs. If we fail to have a clear vision of international order and of how to secure it, recent experience suggests that there are extremist groups in the world determined to fill that vacuum.

1.52 p.m.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, I should begin with a declaration of interest. I am privileged to be president of the World Disarmament Campaign and of the One World Trust, although they should not be blamed for any of my shortcomings. It is always a pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, whose friendship I greatly value. If those movements fall into the category that had the misfortune of attracting his strictures, that is, I fear, something that I must bear with fortitude.

I echo the right reverend Prelate's commendation of the tone of the Government's assessment and of the very fair way in which my noble friend introduced this debate. It is an emotive subject and it is good that we can discuss it in the relative tranquillity of your Lordships' Chamber.

It is no part of my intention to defend Saddam Hussein. Some of us were denouncing his activities long years ago, before Desert Storm. For my part, I should welcome a resolution of the Security Council or the General Assembly or some other indication of international opinion as to the next steps, although I should certainly hope that that would refer to the question of inspection.

The question to be answered is: in the absence of such a resolution or indication, by what authority could President Bush appoint himself judge of when the situation requires military intervention, with all its tragic consequences? Some have pointed to the right to self-defence enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. My Lords, Article 51 protects,

    "the right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs".

The immediate difficulty with that argument is that Iraq has not launched an armed attack on the United States or, at the moment, on anyone else. It is arguable that, although Article 51 does not say so, it includes a right to launch a pre-emptive strike if a state is threatened with armed attack. But that does not assist the argument, because it has not been suggested that Iraq is contemplating an armed attack on the United States.

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Those who seek to justify that line of reasoning are led to say that "armed attack" may now include harbouring or assisting terrorists. I should not seek to deny that there may be situations in which that is so. That was the justification used for intervention in Afghanistan, and in that instance the case was pretty clear. I am certainly not arguing against international accountability for horrendous crimes. That is why the American opposition to the International Criminal Court is so regrettable.

What is worrying is that there appears to be no greater evidence that Iraq is harbouring terrorists than that Iran, Libya or a number of other countries are doing so. There is a widespread anxiety, which we should take seriously, that if President Bush reserves for himself the right to decide, no one can be sure whose turn it will be next. Has he a shopping list?

Perhaps it would help to turn to the other justifications that have been offered for military intervention. In what respect is the argument unique to Iraq? One reason that is offered is that Iraq is either now in a position, or is likely soon to be in a position, to launch weapons of mass destruction. That seems to have been the burden of most of the debate. I do not venture a judgment because I have not had an opportunity to read fully and carefully the assessment. However, if it transpires to be so, it would not surprise me. For the present, I am prepared to assume that it is so. Of course, that is extremely worrying. If I may, I shall return in a moment to what we could be doing about it. But a growing number of other countries, some of which also have pretty ugly records, are in the same position. That cannot of itself justify an attack on Iraq unless we concede a right for America to attack India, Pakistan, North Korea or, for that matter, the United Kingdom.

The argument can be sustained only if one divides the world into the good guys and the bad guys. Only the good guys are allowed to have weapons of mass destruction, and to have them one requires a licence from the American Government. Iraq may well be in breach of a number of Security Council resolutions but that strengthens the case, surely, for seeking a United Nations decision before intervening.

The way in which to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction is to press on with making more effective international agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. That imposes obligations not only on the non-nuclear states but also on the nuclear powers to negotiate in good faith for total nuclear disarmament. They have not. The noble Baroness suggested that there was an element of hypocrisy. I am not sure whether hypocrisy may not be better than shamelessness, but the fact remains that they have not done so. There will be an opportunity for that in Geneva next year at the preparatory talks for the next review of the treaty. Perhaps when my noble friend replies he will indicate the Government's intentions about that. Unhappily, it is now the declared policy of America to do the reverse: to escalate the development of nuclear weapons.

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We have heard a further justification for American intervention. The new policy blueprint, launched by President Bush on Friday, contains the following paragraph:

    "The US National Security Strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. The aim of this strategy is to help make the world not just safer but better".

What is questionable is whether other states accept that as the criterion for establishing who is to be labelled the good guys or the bad guys. Certainly America is entitled to defend its own values but it does not follow that everyone has to share that. The American Government are realistic enough to know that security does not consist in weapons alone. Like the Roman empire—and, later, the British empire—they recognise the importance of establishing a hegemony over the values and cultures of the rest of the world. To earn the label of "good guys", we need to be good honorary Americans.

I echo what the noble Baroness said. Far be it from me to denounce the American way of life. It includes some highly commendable elements. However, it is understandable if other nations do not necessarily accept that criterion for admission to the international community.

We can debate whether all that is capable of falling within Article 51. The problem is that these days events move quickly. International law is a living and evolving body of principles, not something set in stone. But that serves only to emphasise the danger of leaving individual governments to their own interpretation of international law.

Perhaps it is more sensible to speak not of what is lawful but of what is legitimate. Legitimacy is a less precise concept but I suggest that it is a recognition among a wide section of the international community that in the circumstances a particular course of action would be just, proportionate and best calculated to limit the total damage. Commendably, it was that for which President Bush appeared to be arguing at the General Assembly. But he rather spoiled the effect by adding that, even if the international community disagreed with him, he would proceed undeterred. "I would like you to agree with me, but it won't make any difference whether you do or don't.

I do not doubt that he believes he is right; and that is just the problem. Anarchy is rarely about everyone doing what they know to be wrong. It is more usually everyone doing what they individually believe to be right. I greatly commend the efforts of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister for attempts to persuade the international community. I believe that that is the way forward".

Sometimes, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said, the United Nations Charter seems designed to protect inertia rather than to encourage positive, collective action. But there is no better barometer of legitimacy. Those who cannot persuade the international community that they are right are probably wrong, and they certainly lack legitimacy. Our own Government have a good record and a good

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reputation. It would be a pity to lose that by proceeding in the absence of substantive international support.

Perhaps I may make one final plea. For years some of us have been calling for the long-awaited fourth special session on disarmament where the world can discuss the next steps to limit access to weapons of mass destruction. We have been repeatedly told that the time was not right. If that meant that the world did not see a need for further steps, surely it sees them now. Perhaps when the Minister replies, she can tell us something of the Government's thinking on that. But surely the time has come to accept that in future it will not do to wait until a crisis is upon us before we consider how it might have been avoided.

2.2 p.m.

Lord Carrington: My Lords, there are another 60 speakers. I shall be brief. In common with most of your Lordships, I greatly welcome the Prime Minister's decision to recall Parliament to discuss the Iraqi situation. I regret the fact that the dossier for which we have all been waiting was not ready until early this morning. Despite what the Leader of the House said, I think that it would have been better for your Lordships to have been able to see the evidence on which the Government's policy is based at a reasonable time before this debate.

However, there are a number of issues upon which I think that we are all agreed. There is no doubt that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons. It may well be that it is on the road to possessing nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. If it is not at present, I am quite sure that Saddam Hussein will go on trying to do so. There is no question that the regime is thoroughly unpleasant, has been aggressive on two occasions against its neighbours, is brutally oppressive to its own people and, as long as it has these weapons of mass destruction, can in no sense be relied upon not to use them.

We are all equally agreed that Saddam Hussein is a thoroughly unpleasant character, unscrupulous and cruel and, at the same time, a cunning and devious politician. I have met him on two occasions and, to say the least of it, did not come away with a very favourable impression. It is equally true that Iraq is in breach of a number of Security Council resolutions, not least the obligation to accept weapons inspectors and disarmament, although it must be said—it is not in mitigation—that it is not alone in ignoring UN resolutions. That I would say is common ground.

The question is this: what should we do about it? I am sure that it was right for the United States to go to the United Nations Security Council. I am equally sure that the Prime Minister played a part in achieving that result and I applaud him for it.

Unilateral action by the United States would have caused the greatest possible division, not just in the Arab world but also in Europe and elsewhere. The consequences would have been far reaching. The fact that Iraq has now said that the UN weapons inspectors

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can now return is not in itself enough. We have seen the impediments, prevarications, and obstacles which the Iraqis have put previously in the way of the inspectors. It is fair to assume that Saddam Hussein will use exactly the same delaying tactics again. Indeed, there are already indications of qualifications about what the weapons inspectors can or cannot see.

I believe, therefore, that the United States is right in insisting upon a new resolution which will place an obligation on the Iraqis not just to facilitate the work of the inspectors but also to disarm and to put a time limit and provisions for taking action if they do not comply. We have seen too much delay and obstruction. I hope and believe that such a resolution will gain the support of members of the Security Council.

It may well be that as a result there will be a change of regime in Iraq which, of course, is much to be hoped for. But if that does not happen, I am not clear what the United States' position is. It speaks of the imperative of a change of regime. But how will it bring that about, and on what basis? If the weapons inspectors have done their job properly and the weapons of mass destruction currently in the hands of the Iraqis have disappeared, Saddam Hussein does not cease to be a threat to the people of Iraq but he ceases to be a threat to his neighbours. It is on the basis of his possession of these weapons that we are now concerned. On what basis should he be removed? If he were to be removed, who would take his place? Would it be a government appointed by the United States? It is almost impossible to see how a fair, democratic election could take place in Iraq at present. The country is split religiously and racially. There are no obvious opposition leaders.

Those questions need to be asked and answered. One might go further. If Saddam Hussein has no weapons of mass destruction, he is no more dangerous to the rest of the world than other dictators and despots who oppress their citizens. Mugabe immediately comes to mind. He is no threat to our security but he is inflicting on his fellow citizens cruelties, discrimination and hardship. So far as I know, no one has yet suggested a compulsory change of his regime by force or otherwise. Would not such an action on the part of the United States set a precedent which it would be very difficult to accept in other cases? It seems to me that these are very important issues and I hope that the Government will think very carefully before accepting proposals for a change of regime of that kind. But on the issue of the inspectors and a new Security Council resolution, I am wholly on the side of the United States, and I hope that the House will show its support.

2.10 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead: My Lords, I agree with all of the clearly stated premises of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and with nearly all of his conclusions.

I have found this issue more perplexing than almost any that I can remember in my now excessively long political life. I have a high regard for the Prime

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Minister. I have been repelled by attempts to portray him as a vacuous man with an artificial smile and no convictions. I am reminded of similar attempts by a frustrated Right to suggest that Gladstone was mad, Asquith was corrupt and Attlee was negligible. My view is that the Prime Minister, far from lacking conviction, has almost too much, particularly when dealing with the world beyond Britain. He is a little too Manichaean for my perhaps now jaded taste, seeing matters in stark terms of good and evil, black and white, contending with each other, and with a consequent belief that if evil is cast down good will inevitably follow. I am more inclined to see the world and the regimes within it in varying shades of grey. The experience of the past year, not least in Afghanistan, has given more support to that view than to the more Utopian one that a quick "change of regime" can make us all live happily ever after.

I can understand the desire of the Prime Minister to maintain close relations with America, and to keep open the relatively narrow window through which the present United States Administration looks out to international opinion, as opposed to contemplating its own vast preponderance of power and feeling that this gives it a right and a duty to arbitrate the world.

That preponderance is almost without precedent in world history. Whether it is healthy for the world or comfortable for America's allies, let alone its proclaimed enemies, is open to argument. In the strenuous and sometimes frightening days of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, I would never have believed that one might, 20 years later, feel a twinge of nostalgia for the balances of the Cold War, for the nearly equal strain on the tug-of-war and for America's careful cultivation of its European allies that that involved.

I have long been a natural pro-American. Ever since I first went to America in 1953, I have remained half-captivated by the vitality of its life, the quality of at least some of its leaders and the fascinating complications of its political institutions. I have never seen a conflict between my European commitment and a desire to maintain a strong transatlantic link. Indeed, I think that one of the major recurring mistakes of British foreign policy since the war has been to believe that we should get on better with the Americans if we avoided too much entanglement in Europe. In fact, for a 40-year period, our unwillingness to play a full part in Europe was an exacerbating rather than a helpful factor in our relations with the United States. They were impatient with our exclusiveness.

By the same token, I have always been loath to use the term "special relationship". It is too unequal a relationship—the reality being that it is more special on one side than on the other—for that to be a wise label.

It is, of course, right—as my noble friend Lady Williams so eloquently set out in her brilliant speech earlier—fully to involve the UN in any action that may be taken against Iraq. Mr Blair deserves full credit for the persuasiveness with which he evidently spoke to President Bush on this issue. But involving the UN

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does not in itself absolve us from the responsibility of exercising cool judgment about what requests we put before the UN. Here I find considerable logical inconsistencies in what appears to be the policy of the American Government, and to some extent of the British Government too.

The reason why the international agenda has greatly changed in the past twelve and a half months is that individual acts of terrorism far exceeding anything hitherto known were then inflicted on New York. But they were not acts of governmental aggression, even though a number of states, with greatly varying degrees of complicity, bear some responsibility for having harboured and even trained, knowingly or unknowingly, those who committed the atrocity. What is wholly understandable is the overwhelming desire of the US Government to reduce the likelihood of any repetition of such attacks, either on themselves or on others.

But that is different from and does not appear to me to be very closely linked with the undesirable possession—or the desire for possession—by a number of states and by one obnoxious regime in particular of what are now commonly called "weapons of mass destruction".

The problems are not the same, and the remedies are not necessarily the same. Indeed, it can be argued that an armed attack to take out this contingent future threat could increase the danger of scattered groups of terrorists attempting a repeat of 9/11.

Furthermore, when we have embarked on a policy of taking out undesirable regimes by external armed force, where do we stop? There are a number of regimes which either have or would like to have nuclear weapons. I, and, I guess, the majority of your Lordships, would much rather they did not have them. But it would be difficult to justify a policy of taking them out seriatim with either common sense or international law.

I raise these issues not with a desire to be negative—I recognise the immensely difficult problem facing Her Majesty's Government—but because I believe that there is an urgent need for clarity on them both from our own Government and from that of the United States. It is no answer just to brand anyone who raises them as a lily-livered appeaser who refuses to learn the lessons of history—particularly when that history is presented so crudely as to line up Winston Churchill with the gung-ho battalions, which shows a great ignorance of his words at the time of Suez as well as his caution about pre-emptive strikes at the time of the German reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936.

I am in favour of courage—who is ever not in the abstract?—but not of treating it as a substitute for wisdom, as I fear we are currently in danger of doing.

2.19 p.m.

Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank: My Lords, if possible, like, I imagine, the whole House, I wish to see this matter solved without conflict. We are under no illusion that there are both political and military difficulties with operations against Saddam Hussein.

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If successful action is not taken by the United Nations, the threat that Saddam Hussein poses will continue to increase. It is a serious threat now, and the longer action is avoided the greater it will become with regional and international security being put at risk. That includes the security of our own citizens.

One hears political and military arguments that are against action at all costs. It is easy to take counsel of one's own fears. Iraq is a functioning and a cruel dictatorship. It will not be like Afghanistan, which is a failed country with warring tribes. The European allies of the United States are nervous and, in some cases, hostile to its aims. Many of Iraq's neighbours are unreliable, suffering in the region will increase, and international economies and the oil supply will be affected. What happens when Saddam Hussein falls? Will he retaliate with weapons of mass destruction if attacked? All those questions need to be addressed and considered very carefully. However, I do not believe that any of them should deflect us if, in the end, we need to take action.

Most of those who cry for what they call "incontrovertible evidence" do not, I believe, really understand what they are asking for. One can never be absolutely certain what Saddam Hussein will do and what his intentions, which change very quickly, are. But we know his record very well—the atrocities he has committed against his own people, his invasion of other countries, and his use of weapons of mass destruction against the Iranians and the Kurds. We know what he has said about Israel and its destruction. We also have evidence of his constant efforts to acquire weapons and their delivery means. He has sought to conceal or disguise his production capabilities in clear violation of his cease-fire obligations. Today, after nearly four years without inspectors, we should be most concerned.

I find the dossier on Saddam's activities produced today both compelling and chilling. I believe that it is very well supported by an excellent document produced at the beginning of this month by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. As the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said, it was only last week in the United Nations that the Iraqi Foreign Minister was lying about weapons of mass destruction and the holdings that they have. How can Saddam be trusted?

I applaud. It is quite right for the Prime Minister to ensure that the United Nations search for a solution. However, even though I am a strong supporter of the United Nations, I remain rather sceptical that this route will work. The United Nations' record of enforcing resolutions as far as concerns Iraq has, at best, been patchy. I believe I know what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, meant in her remarks, but I am rather of the view that the inspectors were not awfully successful. It was not their shortcomings; it was the way they were treated and handled by Saddam Hussein and his regime.

If any resolution is passed in the United Nations, I agree that it must be unequivocal as to what is expected of Saddam Hussein. It must be enforced, with a strict

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timetable being set to which he must adhere. I also agree with all that has been said about its importance. It must be supported. However, I have some sympathy with President Bush when he questions whether the UN will remain little more than a debating society: it does need reforming.

If asked, can the military eliminate Saddam's arsenal? I am not privy to intelligence and planning, but, from my own experience, I believe that although there are risks success can certainly be achieved, and achieved quickly. The Iraqi army is demoralised. It is much smaller than it was at the time of the Gulf War, and it is poorly equipped and supplied as a result of sanctions. The Iraqi army does not have a reputation of standing and fighting for Saddam Hussein. If, unfortunately, it comes to it and the United States conducts an operation both from the ground and in the air—supported, it is to be hoped, by the British and other allies—it is my view that the regime would fall and our aim very quickly achieved.

Of course we wish to avoid conflict. We want the United Nations to succeed. But the time is approaching when we may have to join the United States in operations against Iraq. If we take counsel of our fears, we will find the problem far, far greater in the years to come. Wait, and the threat grows. Strike soon, and the threat will be less and easier to handle. If the United Nations route fails, I support the second option.

2.27 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I believe that the United States of America, as the one super power, does have a grave responsibility to use its power in the interest of international order. It is not just a question of their own national interest, influential though that obviously is. I therefore welcome their continuing role in relation to Iraq. I also welcome the fact that our own Prime Minister has kept close to the Government of the United States and has, I believe, influenced them in approaching the United Nations for a fresh mandate. I also admire the way that the Prime Minister has, in the past, urged armed military intervention in the face of many sceptics, as he did over Kosovo, and the way that he takes the Iraqi threat seriously. For it is serious.

Nevertheless, military action is no less serious and fraught with unpredictable consequences. The long tradition of Christian thinking on the morality of war urges that a number of key criteria have to be met before it can be regarded as morally legitimate. First, there must be lawful authority. Although there can be extreme situations when a nation might have to act without the consent of the United Nations, in the modern world where we are trying to build a greater sense of an international authority the UN must be regarded as that highest authority which, under normal circumstances, alone has the legal authority to initiate military action. So I welcome the attempt to obtain a new UN resolution. But without such explicit authorisation, whether in terms of a reaffirmation of earlier resolutions or a fresh one, the present basis for military action is dubious; and, if the war aims include a regime change, worse than dubious.

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The second condition that must be met is that there must be a just cause. The Christian tradition has never confined this purely to self-defence. If a threat is real, serious and immediate, there might indeed be a proper moral reason for pre-emptive action. This is obviously a crucial area for looking very carefully at the evidence. Like other noble Lords, I am grateful to the dossier provided by the Government for its objective tone. But I do not believe that the Government's assessment, any more than that in the report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, reveals much more than what we already knew—namely, that by the time the UN inspectors left in 1998 the Iraq nuclear capability had been incapacitated as had most of its chemical warfare stocks, but that a very significant biological weapon capacity remained. Furthermore, we knew that, since the inspectors left Iraq, it has taken steps to rebuild its nuclear weapons programme.

Nevertheless, while Saddam Hussein is certainly taking all steps to rebuild his programme, he has not yet done so. As paragraph 23 of Chapter 3 of the report states, the JIC judged earlier this year that,

    "while sanctions remain effective Iraq would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon".

Sanctions have been reasonably successful. They could continue to be so.

A policy of containment and deterrence has worked for more than 10 years now. Although the situation has obviously changed somewhat since the UN inspectors left, it has not, despite Saddam Hussein's efforts, dramatically changed. It has not changed enough to justify the hugely dangerous critical threshold of military action.

The third condition which must be met is that war must be a last resort. Every attempt to resolve the dispute by peaceful means must first have been tried and found to have failed. Iraq has said that it will have the UN inspectors back again. There is every reason to accept that offer and to continue to press both for UN inspectors being there and their having unfettered access. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said:

    "The possibility of inspection must be given a real chance to work".

The fourth criterion that must be met is that the evil unleashed by war must not be greater than the evil which would ensue if military action was not taken. That is, of course, a very difficult area of political and military judgment. I shall simply quote the position taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States in June of this year, a view reiterated by its presiding bishop on 6th September. He stated:

    "Military action would surely inflame the passions of millions, particularly in the Arab world, setting in motion cycles of violence and retaliation, further straining tenuous relationships that exist between the United States and other nations".

Fifthly, as a consequence of that fourth condition, there must be a reasonable prospect of success. I defer to the judgment of noble and gallant Lords in the House on that issue. I simply note that none of the factors which made military success possible in Afghanistan seem to be present in Iraq.

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I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I stress that not only am I not a pacifist but I am a long-standing opponent of the crypto-pacifism which has infiltrated too many Church statements. I do not think we can talk about peace without reckoning seriously with the need for military force in order to maintain international order.

I found that with much moral fear and spiritual trembling I supported a policy of nuclear deterrence in the bad days of the Cold War. I supported military action in the Falklands, against Iraq in 1990 and in Afghanistan last year. I believe that we should have intervened much earlier than we did in the aftermath of the break up of Yugoslavia. I took such positions because I believed that the conditions for force to be used in a morally licit way were met. I do not believe that on present evidence the criteria are met for military action against Iraq.

The Iraqi threat is serious. Saddam Hussein has, as we know, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He is trying to build up his capacity and would use such weapons if it were to his advantage to do so, or, if he felt threatened, that he had nothing to lose by using them. He is not to be trusted. But a policy of containment and deterrence has worked so far. Saddam Hussein has had such weapons for 20 years. He has not used them since 1988, not even amid the 1991 Gulf War. The most likely way for Saddam Hussein to think seriously of using his weapons would be if his very survival were threatened. So, as Sir Michael Quinlan stated in an important article in the Financial Times on 7th August:

    "To pre-empt the use of biological or chemical weapons by adopting the one course of action most apt to provoke it seems bizarre".

As he also said:

    "If further strengthening of containment be thought necessary, there are ways to achieve that: the international community could declare that Iraqi use of biological or chemical weapons would be treated unequivocally as a crime against humanity".

The Prime Minister's Statement referred to the need to back diplomacy by the threat of force. For the threat to be credible Saddam Hussein has to believe that force might be used. But if it came to using that force it would almost certainly precipitate the use of those very chemical and biological weapons which the threat was designed to avert.

I believe that, tragically, military force does sometimes have to be used in this world to maintain some kind of rough and ready order. I admire the Prime Minister's moral courage and willingness to use such force where necessary. I believe that it is essential to continue to press for the implementation of UN Resolution 687. But although Saddam Hussein remains a threat—and he will continue to remain a threat—the evidence that would necessitate military action overriding all other considerations is not in my judgment yet there.

2.35 p.m.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, I rise with great trepidation in your Lordship's House, more so than ever before, not least because I lack the expertise of

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conflict and war which has been referred to today, but also because dissent is often deemed unwise. I was tremendously humbled by the knowledge of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer. I echo many of the sentiments expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams.

I start as a Muslim. The majority of my community in this country and Muslims of the world do not need to be reminded that Saddam Hussein is not held in any great esteem. There is no tolerance for his continuous existence. Long before the West made him its favourite public enemy number one, he was the nightmare of most of the Muslim world. Mr Hussein, armed to the teeth by the West and funded by some Arab countries, is perhaps responsible for the deaths of more Muslims than any other person in history. We know that. It has been stated over and over again.

Sadly, when he served western interests no one cared what he did. When he gassed over 5,000 of his own people in Halabja in 1988 I remember no condemnation, no sanctioning of Iraq and no bombing of Baghdad. So I am glad that, for current convenience at least, there is official condemnation of those imperilled in Halabja in 1988.

Many of us are in total bewilderment at the present situation. We know that the Saddam Hussein of the 1980s is the exact Saddam Hussein—a little older—that we see today. So what has changed? It is believed in the Muslim and Arab worlds that this is a fight against Islam by the West, no matter how much reassurance we give—my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has stated again and again that that is not the view of ordinary people in the streets of the Muslim world—and that it is the next phase of destroying innocent Muslim lives and their countries, and that it is about the politics of oil and of revenge. These are the assumptions and conclusions of the ordinary folk of the Muslim world.

So it is perceived that nothing has changed except our backbone, and that we in Britain are betraying our morality, our integrity. Our stance on the matter of war against Iraq is perhaps said to be exposing our hypocrisy and our lack of honour. It is alleged that it displays the kind of abandonment of Palestine for which we were responsible well over 50 years ago. All these feelings are evident again in the Muslim world.

I feel that it is my responsibility to share with your Lordships a few observations that I noted during my recent travels in the Middle East.

I returned a couple of days ago from Egypt. During my visit I met hundreds of women from all over the Arab world, intelligent women who appear totally confused particularly about Britain's antics and role in the current Middle East conflict. America's belligerence and injustice hurt and sadden them, but Britain's lost sense of justice and honour traumatise them. Those are words used by women who represent the very highest offices in much of the moderate Muslim world.

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They ask why we are so keen to ensure that Saddam Hussein sticks to UN resolutions but let Israel, literally, get away with murder. Why are we so worried about the alleged weapons of destruction in Iraq but turn a blind eye to Israel's massive arsenal which is causing death and mayhem to the Palestinian people today? Why make a difference between the evil that is Sharon and that which is Saddam Hussein?

The ordinary man in the street in the Arab and Muslim world does not make a distinction between the bellicose American regime and the current regime of Saddam Hussein. We may not like it, but that is the truth. America is seen to be turning a blind eye to state terrorism perpetrated by Israel against the innocent of Palestine and doing nothing. I believe that in Britain we do not have to be associated with such divisive death and destruction.

Any decision we make now will have a massive impact on our image and, more importantly, our role in the future of the Middle East—a crucial part of the world, whether we like it or not. I do not believe that it is necessary for us to lose our moral and ethical direction for short-term temporary gain. I do not know what those gains are, but I assume there are some gains. We must not only have the courage to base our decisions on justice and fair play; we must also be prepared to lead others. That is what the moderate Muslim world expects of us.

Much of the moderate Muslim world hopes that we shall set a higher moral standard than America. A war against Iraq is not acceptable. The King of Jordan and the President of Egypt say that. I believe that we owe them some attention. Left to the fanatics of the countries that we are now attacking, or wish to attack, then the future holds out very little hope. In addition, it will do the innocent people in the region no good. Only the warmongers among us will benefit. Believe me, it will only whet their appetite. Appeasing the traders of death will only lead to more death, sadly, and destruction and tragedy.

Policies that the West is supporting in the Middle East are the source of all difficulties likely to come from that place. The brutalisation and humiliation of the Palestinian people must stop. The real just war is to fight for peace in the region.

Whether we like it or not, our behaviour in the Middle East for half a century is what we are being judged on now. Therefore, anything else is a distraction and a recipe for disaster. So far Israeli policies have turned the entire West Bank into a nest of suicide bombers. I was horrified— and if the ground could have moved I would have turned into it and died—when I heard that Wafa Idris, a woman, the first suicide bomber, was an ambulance worker. Having worked as a carer for years, she was converted into a destroyer by the insane events around her.

Last weekend I heard the delegation from Palestine. They explained the reason and the rationale. I have never visited Palestine. I do not know about the destruction. But it seems to me to make sense that someone from the streets, educated to such an extent, should have become a terrorist and turned her life, and

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the lives of her family, upside down, by becoming a suicide bomber. I fear such a trend in Britain if we enter Iraq.

American policy is slowly but surely turning the entire Muslim world into some kind of West Bank, or it has the potential to do so. We in Britain cannot possibly add our name to this unjust stand. The consequences are desperately frightening, especially in our role now as Washington's partner in playing world police.

It is our duty to ensure that sanity is resumed; that cries of peace, not war, dominate all our discourses and actions. Otherwise, we would be committing moral suicide, and losing all the respect that we have managed to secure as a result of centuries of contact, conflict and trade. Based on somewhat old evidence and without the full sanction of UN backing and the inspectors' report, I say no intervention in Iraq in my name.

2.48 p.m.

Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, I cannot pretend that it is easy to follow a speech of such passionate sincerity. In addition, one listens to it alongside the prudent wisdom of my noble friend Lord Carrington and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, on the Liberal Democrat Benches.

I believe that the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, demonstrates just how grave and how complicated the issues are which lie beneath the apparent simplicities of the present problem. My noble friend Lord Waldegrave asked the noble Baroness what factors had changed between the debate of 14th September 2001 and the debate today. In particular, he asked if there is any stronger evidence against Saddam Hussein now than there was then of a connection with terrorism, to which she answered, "No".

However, something of crucial importance has changed. It is to be found in a sentence or two spoken by President Bush last week at the Pentagon—an intensely emotional scene for him—when he said this:

    "We renew our commitment to win the war that began here . . . What our enemies have begun, we will finish".

Understandably perhaps, that linkage has developed with the passage of time. Bin Laden, as a figure of hostility, has proved too elusive and too evanescent to provide the kind of catharsis which the American people felt that they needed after the horrors of 11th September. Slowly the focus has shifted more, certainly, on to this most powerful and dangerous figure, a die-hard enemy of the United States, Saddam Hussein. That is the transition that has taken place.

What follows from that, I believe, is the need for immense care in balancing the hazards potentially set against each other; and immense care, too, in the language that we use in trying to deploy our case. That is the significance of what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said about the language used by some American Government spokesmen.

Let there be no doubt in your Lordships' House, I share the analysis offered by almost everybody else, that it is most important for us to tackle the problems

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of the weapons of mass destruction held by Saddam Hussein. I do not relent from that despite what the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, said. The renunciation and destruction of those weapons and the compliance with the duty of inspection and surveillance laid upon him 11 or 12 years ago, is something which must be fulfilled. His whole course of conduct points to the conclusion that he is committed to exactly the opposite course.

In those circumstances, not just for the sake of the peace and stability of the region, but for the sake of the United States and all of us involved in the problem, the authority of the United Nations has to be invoked, has to be upheld, and has to be supported, in the last resort, by a credible threat of force. I believe that the resolution is essential and I say that not in any sense as a lawyer. It is 30 years since I last wore a wig in anger. I say it as someone concerned with the complex political issues here.

The entire framework of international relations requires us to secure a resolution with the right authority, on the right course, and the right conviction. As my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford, said, it requires more than that. It will not be enough to secure the resolution reluctantly, furtively, with a number of would-be allies and friends sitting silently on the sidelines. It requires sufficient understanding of the case that is being made to secure, as far as possible, committed support from as wide a range of the world as possible. I say that understanding the difficulties implicit in what was said by the noble Baroness.

That is why it is important for the presentation of the case that is being made by the United States to be made with such care. It is why the concept of a war against terrorism, put in that simple form, can so often be so misleading. The implication is that there is a simple battle which can and must be fought to a comprehensive, unconditional surrender world-wide and in which, to put it perhaps unsympathetically, one categorises the problem by saying that "those who are not for us are against us".

There are infinite shades of grey in this area, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, pointed out. There is a danger that absolutism in presenting the case we seek to make, absolutism in seeking loyalty on that side of the argument, could lead to the creation of an axis of antagonism. There are dangers, too, in believing that the war against terror can be won quickly, dramatically or decisively.

I was struck by a passage in the marvellous book about Churchill, written by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in which he reminds us of the position of the British Government in Ireland in the early 1920s. We were then deploying the Black and Tans, martial law had been imposed throughout large areas of Ireland and our fellow countryman, David Lloyd-George, claimed in the London Guildhall that,

    "We have murder by the throat".

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It was then perceived that triumph over terrorism in that part of our kingdom was close. Yet two years later it was necessary to come to terms with the Irish Free State; and 80 years later we are still grappling with the consequences.

That is why it is so important to have a proper understanding about the importance of what is happening in Israel and Palestine, and here I agree with the noble Baroness. For that, we in this country must accept a higher degree of responsibility than many others. The Balfour Declaration came from this country and we were responsible for Palestine when the state of Israel was itself being born by terror. It will be at our great peril if we do not concentrate a far more tenacious comprehensive effort on tackling the problems there. There would be much unwisdom if we allowed that to be overlooked. That is the first danger I perceive if we do not think about the matter carefully.

The second danger—and I mean no disrespect to our American friends when I say this, particularly provoked and angry as they are and, God knows, they have our sympathy—is that of some form of superpower overreach. The United States is now a super superpower of immense and unique authority and the temptation to overdeploy that or to deploy it too quickly and too unsympathetically must be great.

We take our minds back to about 100 years ago when the Pax Britannica preceded the existence of today's uneasy Pax Americana. We remind ourselves of that (in perhaps a rather childish way) when we notice that around the world, even today, alongside the Stars and Stripes Union Jacks are also occasionally set on fire. That symbolises, perhaps, a memory of our superpower status, for which people still tend to hold us responsible.

So far, in the years since the ending of the Second World War, the United States has conducted itself in relation to those matters with great wisdom and often great generosity, for which we have need to be very grateful. As my noble friend Lady Thatcher has said many times, we have been very lucky in our superpower. That is true: we have been lucky and blessed that a country under wise leadership has often been willing not just to lead the world in the creation of the multi-national institutions which are so important but also to be led by that world. Now that it is the world's only superpower, that relationship is all the more important. And we had similar experience years ago during the time of Pax Britannica.

My present worry is that the strand of wisdom is in danger of being overlooked. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, put it courageously, too. Yet, if one looks not just at one speech made by President Bush but at another he made earlier this summer (1st June) to the graduates at West Point Military Academy, one sees that he there well and correctly deployed the argument that American power, which he certainly did not understate, can help to bring and sustain peace to the world.

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We must recognise that it will be hard to bring peace to the world without it. However, it is most important for that power, when it is deployed, to be based and seen to be based not on anything resembling national ambition or even national anguish—and again one understands that in the United States—but upon a wider judgment, which reflects the interest of the wider world in seeking peace.

We therefore have much to be grateful for in the fact that President Bush has presented his case so clearly to the United Nations. We have much to be grateful for in our own Prime Minister for such influence that he has been able to bear in bringing about that conclusion. And we have much to be grateful for to both of them in their restoration of the United Nations to the centre stage.

I can well understand why the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie, and others retain reservations about the effectiveness of that institution. For decades during the Cold War it was paralysed. We played some part in bringing it together into a state of activity, as we worked towards the end of the Iraq/Iran conflict. And it needs to be nurtured. We may have to face the situation in which, God forbid, the United States (with us alongside) feel obliged to tackle those problems on our own. But I pray not. We need to lead the United Nations with courage and wisdom to reach those robust conclusions.

I make no apology for closing my remarks by reciting the crucial sentence from Thucydides with which Colin Powell quit the Pentagon some years ago:

    "Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most".

There has never been a moment when that lesson needs to be more clearly understood than today: that restraint and power have to go together.

2.57 p.m.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, we have listened to a most impressive contribution from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon. I warmly agree with his comment about the risk of the United States indulging in superpower overreach: that at this point in history when there is only one great power, that power will be used in a manner inconsistent with international law. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, pleaded that it should not.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, agreed that nothing in international law allows us to demand regime change, much as we dislike the odious dictator, Saddam Hussein. There is no argument that he is utterly ruthless and maintains himself in power by executions, ethnic cleansing, torture, detention and censorship. Much as we may agree that Iraq would do better under almost any other leadership, changing a regime, however ghastly it may be, is not a legitimate use for armed force under international law. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the people of Iraq want to be invaded, with the loss of many lives, to that purpose.

The leaders of the two Kurdish parties in the north have not been consulted and are apprehensive that their territory may be used as a main battlefield. They

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see the Turks already massing tens of thousands of armed men on the border, some of whom have already crossed in anticipation of the conflict. It may well suit the Turks to occupy northern Iraq as a preliminary to reversing the 1926 Treaty of Baghdad by asserting claims to the region, including the oil supplies of Kirkup and Mosul, made originally by Ataturk in 1923. It might suit the Americans also to agree to such a strategy by Turkey. It would relieve the rest of the allied armed forces engaged in an invasion of the responsibility for looking after a substantial tranche of Iraqi territory. There is an enormous difference between occupying Iraq with a view to changing the regime and enforcing the previous resolutions of the Security Council, which is a matter coming squarely within the boundaries of international law.

President Bush recited a litany of Security Council resolutions that Iraq has ignored since 1991, not only requiring inspection but also the destruction of chemical and biological weapons. In repeating the Prime Minister's Statement the noble and learned Lord referred to the fact that destruction is a necessary concomitant of the inspection and is part of Resolution 687 going back to 1991. The inspectors not only have to identify these sites and verify the inactivation of the chemical and biological weapons agents, related subsystems and components as well as missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres together with their parts and repair facilities, but they have to destroy those components, missiles and weapons so that they cannot be used in the future.

The question of whether Saddam is now prepared to comply with all those resolutions can only be tested by allowing UNMOVIC personnel to return to Iraq and see whether or not they are able to carry out the mandate and whether that is rapidly followed, as it has to be under the resolutions, by the destruction of the weapons concerned. We could begin now by collecting close-up aerial images of the 700 suspect sites and visiting some of the largest and most important as Saddam has said that he is prepared to co-operate fully with the United Nations. I ask the Government whether there is any reason why the U2 flights, suspended in December 1998 when UNSCOM pulled out, should not now be resumed with the agreement of the Iraqi authorities. The sooner we start this work the sooner it will become apparent whether the inspectors are to be allowed to do their job. If they acquire any information at all, that would be useful if military operations turned out to be inevitable.

In their very helpful briefing published this morning, the Government say that chemical weapons are being produced at a number of sites. They give their locations and even photographs in some cases. The Government say that there is a theoretical possibility that the plants which have been identified might be used for illicit purposes. An example is the castor oil factory at Fallujah, where it is said that the residue from its manufacture could be used to make ricin, which is a particularly nasty toxin that has been known to be manufactured by Saddam in the past.

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The evidence on nuclear weapons is that attempts have been made only to buy components for a centrifuge enrichment plant, but there is no suggestion that such a plant, which would be large enough to be visible from satellites, is anywhere near completion. Let us assume for the sake of argument that since 1998 Saddam has built up a fairly large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. The question is still whether they would be capable of delivery. Saddam has a missile with a range of 650 kilometres, which would allow weapons to be delivered to targets in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Eastern Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Gulf States and parts of Egypt. The briefing includes a map which shows the range of the missiles. There is said to be no shortage of funds to pay for the development programmes to increase the range of these missiles to 1,000 kilometres.

The claim is made that in the past two years Saddam has generated 3 billion dollars a year from illicit transactions which are not policed by the United Nations. If that figure can be substantiated it would indeed convince many people that there was deliberate concealment of large programmes from the international public. I wonder whether the Government, through the anti-terrorism measures which have been taken in this country and in other parts of the world allowing us to investigate the use of illicit funds and their transfer between one banking system and another, could not identify the movement of sums as large as 3 billion dollars a year and give us a little more information about that particular tranche of the evidence.

As regards the known whereabouts of the missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres as well as the associated manufacturing and maintenance facilities, if the Iraqis do not destroy them voluntarily in accordance with Resolution 687, the UN could authorise their destruction under Article 42 of the Charter without approving more extensive military operations. Presumably, it would be necessary to eradicate delivery vehicles in the first stage of any wider conflict. If the United Nations decided to do it as a self-contained exercise, with a warning of further action in the event of continued failure to comply with Security Council demands, that would be a possible option short of an invasion and might be more acceptable to many of those who object to the occupation of Iraq itself.

In Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, we destroyed industrial facilities related to the missile programme and one suspected biological warfare site. The briefing claims that we were able significantly to degrade those facilities My noble friend Lady Williams quoted Rolf Ekeus as saying that we should now focus on getting rid of the weapons themselves because they constitute the real threat. I suggest that the Government should take into account that it is conceivable that the United Nations would be more disposed to pass a resolution authorising the destruction of the weapons than going further and mounting a full-scale invasion of Iraq.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, has told us of the overwhelming opposition to full-scale military assault on Iraq which exists throughout the whole of the Arab and Islamic world. I believe that the Arab and Muslim leaders, not just the King of Jordan or the President of Egypt, whom the noble Baroness quoted, but others, are conscious of the feelings of their people about the destabilising effect of the conflict on their societies. Muslims everywhere are saying that US-led military action is not going to stop at Iraq, but one by one it will target other Islamic states. I am only repeating what many people are saying in the Islamic world. It believes that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Yemen and Syria would be in the sights of the hawks in the Pentagon. The US is seen as implementing Israeli policy throughout the region, as the noble Baroness explained, and imposing a double standard on the UN whereby resolutions on Palestine or Kashmir, for instance, are set aside and only those relating to Iraq are implemented.

So there is a risk that a conflict would not only polarise the world between Islamic states and the rest, but also, as the noble Baroness suggested, it would act as a recruiting agent for suicide terrorists around the globe. I believe that already we have almost lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the Ummah. We cannot begin to address that problem unless we deal firmly with Israel over the question of Palestine.

I have no reason to doubt the allegation made by President Bush that some Al'Qaeda terrorists have gained sanctuary in Iraq as they have in Pakistan, Iran and many other countries. The war against Saddam could disseminate the spores of terrorism further, as the noble Baroness suggested, and some could begin to germinate in the United Kingdom, which has already hosted men like Zacarias Moussaoui, a neighbour of mine in South London, and Robert Reid, the would-be "shoe bomber".

The elimination of Al'Qaeda bases in Afghanistan did not cripple the organisation, according to US defense officials. It dealt a heavy blow to its logistics and financing, but it is still functional as we see from the recent arrests in places such as Karachi and Morocco.

Is there any evidence of a partnership between Saddam Hussein and Al'Qaeda or do we have to rely on the hints given by President Bush in his speech to the General Assembly? The Security Council condemns the Taliban for allowing Afghanistan to be used as a base for the export of terrorism by the Al'Qaeda network, admittedly after the event, but it had already decided in Security Council Resolution 1373, that all states should take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, including by the provision of early warning to other states by exchange of information.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind about the association between the Taliban and Mr bin Laden, whereas in the case of Iraq there has been only sporadic and unconfirmed rumours of such a link. Saddam was alleged to have funded training camps in

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Somalia and to have assisted in the formation of an Al'Qaeda group in northern Iraq by al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a group headed by ex-Afghan Arabs in the PUK area to the north. If there is hard evidence of those or other threats arising from Saddam's collaboration in terrorism, why does President Bush not lay a dossier before the General Assembly and why has the Prime Minister not come forward with that evidence in the paper that was published this morning?

The Prime Minister has not allowed for consultation with the public on such matters because the document is limited solely to the existence of the chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. By focusing on the narrow question of the existence of those weapons, and their means of delivery, he has avoided the wider discussion of the effects of a full-scale war on Iraq. The case has been made out for the destruction of the weapons as provided for by Resolution 687, but Parliament and the public are still in the dark about the Government's assessment of the fall-out that would arise from an invasion and occupation of the country. The people are uneasy, knowing that much of the Government's thinking is being withheld from them, but they sense the wider risks which I maintain are involved.

On the No. 10 website there is an intriguing quotation from one of the Prime Minister's predecessors, the Duke of Newcastle of the 18th century. He said,

    "I shall not . . . think the demands of the people a rule of conduct, nor shall I ever fear to incur their resentment in the prosecution of their interest".

I hope that the right honourable gentleman, the Prime Minister, by endorsing that remark on his website, is not intending to follow the advice.

3.12 p.m.

Lord Vincent of Coleshill: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to hold this special debate on Iraq because it gives the House a timely opportunity to address some important issues.

Inevitably, my professional interest centres on the possibility of a military operation, although I believe very strongly indeed that non-military options for dealing with the so-called dossier threats should be pursued thoroughly and vigorously in the first instance. That said, it may be that all such political, legal and economic measures, together with renewed UN inspections, will fail to achieve the necessary effects. If then there is still clear evidence of a growing lethal threat posed by weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, then military action may in the end be the only course open to us if we are to avoid the risk of a far worse outcome later.

But effective military action will require sound preparations beforehand, based on clear and agreed political guidance. I realise that in a public debate such as this, we must be careful, when probing the Government's thinking on a possible military operation, not to prejudice inadvertently its security and place additional risks on those who will take part in it. We should not forget what Clauswitz told us; namely, that surprise and security are key elements of effective military operations.

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Clauswitz also told us that the first prerequisite in planning and conducting a successful military campaign is a clear statement of its objectives. Without such an understanding of the political and military goals, it is impossible to ensure that the size and capability of the forces concerned are adequate for the task; nor is it possible to formulate effective concepts of operation and the associated plans to meet vague or unspecified objectives. In that respect general statements, like "forcing a regime change", cannot provide adequate direction for those responsible for planning, mounting and conducting such an operation. Nor, I believe, can the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction be a purely military task.

From my knowledge of the Gulf War and, later, my direct involvement in the preparation and political approval of plans for NATO to replace UNPROFOR in Bosnia at the end of 1995, I know that that need for clear strategic guidance for prospective military operations can raise some sensitive political issues. If they are not addressed adequately at the outset, the consequences can be very serious indeed, even to the extent of undermining the whole operation as, I believe, the eventual failure of UNPROFOR by the middle of 1995 proved so tragically.

Against that background I should like to ask whether that strategically sound approach is now agreed in principle with the United States. More specifically, as the impetus for such an operation increases and we prepare to commit our own Armed Forces, could we hear, for example, whether we have considered its possible political and military objectives and whether the United states shares the same approach and the same goals?

Such guidance, in addition to defining these objectives as clearly as possible, needs to identify those matters that may well constrain our operations in order to avoid highly damaging and unwanted side-effects. Have those been considered with the United States? Further, have we agreed in principle with the United States that, if the need arises, under an appropriate international authority, we shall seek to achieve those objectives through a common joint operational plan and that we shall all be singing from the same military hymn sheet? If so, how is overall political direction to be provided for the approval of that plan and the daily conduct of the operation itself?

There are also some other difficult issues to be addressed in a timely manner, if our forces are to be ready to conduct such operations at what I believe would be acceptable risk. Faced with the assessment of Saddam Hussein's biological warfare capability in the Gulf War, for example, a decision was taken at the highest level to immunise our forces most at risk to provide adequate protection in case they were so attacked. That required substantial preparations, in the development, in the clinical trials, in the approval of the vaccines and in the programme to administer them in the field, which took several weeks and subsequently raised much wider concerns.

I realise that since the Gulf War we now have much more effective equipment for detecting biological agents on operations, but have we set in train the

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necessary preparations to protect our forces adequately from what is now perceived in the United States and elsewhere, and is indicated in the dossier, to be an even more serious BW threat from Iraq than it was 12 years ago?

As I said at the outset, I realise that those questions, which, on the whole, were addressed very substantially in the much clearer strategic context of the Gulf War, raise difficult and sensitive issues. However, if we do not deal with them again now, in concert with the United States, in a timely and effective manner, our forces could pay a high price later, to the possible detriment of the campaign as a whole. Nor should we forget that military operations are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Arrangements for the rebuilding of Iraq, with all its complexity, will need similar early consideration.

3.20 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, your Lordships may recall the incident in The Life of Samuel Johnson where Boswell says:

    "After we came out of church, we stood talking together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter . . . I observed that, though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it".

Boswell goes on to record:

    "I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with a mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it. 'I refute it thus', he cried".

The existence—or non-existence—of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction has been equally difficult to prove or disprove. The dossier that has been made available today is, for me, Johnson's foot, kicking against a stone that proves to be all too real.

It would be foolish to come to any firm conclusions after a first reading of the dossier, but I am mostly persuaded that, whether or not Saddam Hussein is anywhere near to having a nuclear capability, he has biological and chemical weaponry and a modest number of missiles capable of delivering a lethal payload to neighbouring countries or to minorities in Iraq itself. That should not surprise us. In the mid-1990s, I was part of a delegation that visited Iraq. We met several Ministers there, and it was clear that Saddam's Government were interested in two things: the ending of sanctions and the rebuilding of their arsenal. The well-being of the Iraqi people has been sacrificed to those ends.

Over 11 years, the Iraqi regime has sought to evade the terms, laid down by the United Nations, that brought a conditional end to the Gulf War. The regime has worked consistently to undermine support for the sanctions and inspections regime that was meant to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. To that end, the pressure from the Iraqi regime has been consistent and relentless. The regime exploits any opportunity of a relaxation of sanctions or any sign of a reduction in support for the containment policy. The grim conclusion to be drawn is that, unless that pressure is

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resisted, the regime will, sooner or later, achieve its objectives. That is no imaginary threat: the stone is all too real.

If the stone is kicked too clumsily, however, we might limp for some time. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford has sought to interpret ethical theories such as that relating to a just war in this complex situation. I want simply to acknowledge the relentless pressure applied by the Iraqi regime in its attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction. That process must be resisted, but I maintain that containment, rather than military action, is, at this stage, the wiser course.

The policy of containment—sanctions, no-fly zones and so on—has worked well enough for 11 years. As has been said, paragraph 23 of the dossier shows that that policy is, certainly, still effective in preventing the development of a nuclear capability. It is too soon to judge that that policy might not continue to work. It will require firm support from the UN Security Council. It will also require Iraq to allow the inspectors unhampered access, prompted by the stick of possible armed back-up and the carrot of relaxed sanctions. The Iraqi regime may well resist, as it has done in the past, but the attempt must be made.

I was pleased that the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House and the Minister dissociated an attack on Iraq from any attack on Islam. However, I listened with immense interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. As well as being bishop of a diocese that includes large numbers of Muslim people, I am co-chair of the Inter-Faith Network of Britain and Ireland, which gives me the opportunity to speak to people of all faith traditions. My experience echoes that of the noble Baroness: almost universally, British Muslims are hostile to the prospect of military action against Iraq.

As the noble Baroness said, most Muslims have little enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein and are well aware of the un-Islamic, secular, tyrannical nature of his regime. Their objections to President Bush's policy rest on three points, of which we must be aware. First, they are worried that the war on terror is becoming aligned with hostility to the Islamic world as such. Secondly, they complain that UN resolutions are applied selectively, outlawing Saddam Hussein while leaving other transgressors—notably Israel and Palestine—untouched. Thirdly, they are angry that little mention is made of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a consequence of the sanctions policy. I am sure that other noble Lords with greater knowledge will speak about that.

The opposition of most British Muslims to military action would not be greatly affected by the securing of some kind of UN authorisation. In such a scenario, the UN would be widely seen as having bowed to US pressure. Active support from other Arab states for an attack might be more significant in affecting opinion. We should continue to make every effort to mobilise the support of such states.

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Following 11th September last year, there was, in most parts of Britain, a revitalised sense of the importance of inter-faith relationships—particularly those between Christians and Muslims—as well as a severe challenge to the survival of such relationships. In the past few months, the general direction has been towards positive consolidation. However, channels of communication remain tenuous, and mutual trust and understanding are fragile. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, that the effect of any military action in Iraq on international relations with Muslim states and on relations with Islamic communities at home would be problematic and unpredictable.

There are, of course, equal risks associated with doing nothing in the face of the mounting evidence, if the UN Security Council refuses to adopt clear and robust resolutions or if Saddam Hussein refuses to allow the inspectors back in to do their job properly. In such circumstances, the use of military force might prove to be the least worst option. However, the world is not yet at that point. Please God, may we not get there.

3.29 p.m.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, as someone who spent the last 12 months in government service immersed in the Gulf War crisis, I have had, in the past few months, an enormous sense of deja vu.

In 1991, I knew more about the Saddam regime than I would ever have wanted to. The main players are the same now as they were then, and their behaviour has not changed. The regime is unparalled in the efficiency of the terror by which it rules, as part 3 of the dossier details. Unless the regime is pinned down with a precision and determination which have been lacking on the part of the UN for the past 11 years, it will squirm and twist its way out of any undertaking to reveal what it is doing. The dossier makes it clear that it is essential to discover in detail what the regime is doing now—taking nothing on trust. I agree with the current issue of The Economist that in the case of Saddam, there is no reason to trust a serial liar and murderer.

The evidence of Iraqi secret attempts to acquire material for weapons of mass destruction has been accumulating since the early 1990s and is impressively documented in the dossier, which I find chilling—as did the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank. Proliferation is one of the most difficult targets for the intelligence and security services. The Iraqis are past masters at that deadly game. They were at it before the Gulf War. Your Lordships will remember some of the well-publicised cases at the time.

One difficulty in detecting proliferation attempts is that much of the material involved can be dual purpose, with an innocent commercial, pharmaceutical or engineering use—as well as being a component for a more sinister end. Orders are spread across different countries, placed by middlemen or cover companies, and often taken through many different countries before reaching their real, well-disguised destination.

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Companies supplying components range from those that are fully complicit, through those turning a blind eye and choosing not to be suspicious in order to land a lucrative order, to genuinely innocent firms that believe the cover story. In none of those cases will the companies alert the authorities. Such intelligence on proliferation that is produced is often from extremely sensitive sources—sanitised intelligence is often unfortunately so bland as to be unconvincing.

The dossier is all the more striking for giving a compelling account of conclusions reached from intelligence. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, rightly said, there has clearly been an impressive range of intelligence achievements. Reading about the elaborate machinations, cover companies and suspicious activities in the former Soviet Union, Africa and other places, it is absolutely clear that Iraq's procurement efforts have continued since 1991 and are continuing—despite Iraq's agreements, undertakings and protestations.

The question is not whether Iraq has succeeded yet or how long it takes before it does but why should such an enormously costly and difficult effort be made unless Iraq plans to use weapons of mass destruction. Will we just wait until that happens, then deal with it?

We have made two particularly bad mistakes in the past in dealing with Saddam Hussein. The first was in 1991, when we ceased hostilities before ensuring the safety of the Shia who had risen in Basra at our urging—and who had overthrown Saddam's hated henchmen. The Shia were holding on, waiting for our help—but it never arrived because the allies concluded a ceasefire in my view at least 24 hours too early. The Shia in Basra all suffered terrible ends.

I am not the only person to say—not with hindsight—that the terms of the ceasefire were less than perfect. Let us not forget that two no-fly zones had to be instigated soon after the ceasefire because Saddam was attacking the Shia, marsh Arabs in the south and Kurds in the north.

The second mistake was in 1998 when UN inspectors, after a saga of harassment, had finally to give up and left Iraq. As the Statement said, military action by the United States and United Kingdom set the Iraqi programme back but did not end it. The UN response should have been much more robust and decisive—as should have been our assistance to the inspectors over the years, as they struggled to enforce their UN mandate.

It is important to keep in mind the special nature of the UN resolutions on Iraq. They are different from those applying to conflicts such as Kashmir or Israel, which is the most quoted comparison. I do not want to enter into debate about the Israel-Palestinian crisis but the Iraq resolutions embody and arise out of the terms agreed for a ceasefire in a war waged against Iraq on a UN mandate. Iraq agreed those ceasefire terms but in the 11 years since, it has evaded most if not all of them. If I may be unparliamentary, Iraq has driven a coach and horses through all the UN resolutions and ceasefire terms.

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Much is said about fears for the stability of the region if the Saddam regime falls. There is not time today to expand on why believe that a federal, more democratic Iraq—giving rights to Kurds and Shia, as well as to Sunni—could add to the region's stability, even if some of its neighbours at the moment would not like such a development. That debate is for a later date.

My right honourable friend's powerful Statement makes clear why we should act. He was right about acting in Kosovo and taking action in Afghanistan—and he is right about action now. We made two damaging mistakes with Saddam in 1991 and 1998. We must not make a third, possibly fatal mistake now.

3.37 p.m.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, I will follow the noble Baroness in her comments about events inside Iraq but first wish to say that this debate and the Government's document are important for our democracy. I cannot remember a time when so many people have been interested but uncertain about a great matter of policy. Complete strangers come up to me in the street or on the train and ask, "What's going to happen about Iraq?" They do not blame or enthuse about the Government or President Bush. They are in neither state. They are just uncertain, anxious and unsure. More is needed these days if a British Government are to send British troops to kill and be killed. To do that now—it was not always so—a government need general support for a war.

I scribbled those thoughts before I heard Patrick Cordingley on BBC radio yesterday. He commanded the 7th Armoured brigade in the Gulf war. I did not agree with everything that he said but he made the point strongly—and was entirely right—that in a democracy, one cannot expect and will never achieve unanimity about a war. But one can get general support and that is needed. The Government can secure general support but have not yet reached that point. In a parliamentary democracy, there is a natural sequence. The Government publish their evidence and views. Time is allowed to digest them, then Parliament debates and reaches conclusions. That sequence is not the one that the Government have followed, which is not a crucial point but one to remember for the future. The process of illumination and persuasion in which we are all, in a small way, engaged today is crucial for the future; it is not a luxury.

Having said that, the Government are right in their general analysis of Saddam Hussein—as is almost everyone who has spoken—whom I too have experience of. He is a deceitful, destructive and dangerous man. They were right to go down the UN route. That probably was not entirely easy. We had this argument in November 1990. It was a rare occasion when the State Department and the Foreign Office managed to prevail over the White House and No. 10. We went down the Security Council route. It turned out to be right, not just for legal reasons, but also for political reasons; gathering together support for Britain in the world.

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The present Government are right to work for a new up-dated resolution, provided it concentrates on weapons of mass destruction. It has not yet been mentioned, but we are fortunate in having Mr Blix as the international servant who is mainly engaged in these kind of preparations. I remember him as someone of firm and sober judgment. He will need both those qualities in his position at the present time.

The Government are right too to be tough, in such a resolution, on the consequences on Saddam Hussein and Iraq if the resolution is defied. All that is accepted. But I should like to make two points which are relevant and which could be crucial if we become engaged in a sustained war which lasts for a long time. We cannot be sure, one way or the other, whether that will be so.

My first point has already been mentioned but I shall embroider it a little; it concerns the connection between the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. We are talking about a possible war against a major Arab nation—Iraq. To succeed, in the long run, that effort requires at least tacit Arab support. I do not despair of that. I do not know anyone in the region who trusts or likes Saddam Hussein. I suspect the same is true in Iraq itself; that most of those who now cheer what he says would dance quite happily around his coffin. If we had any doubts about that, listening to the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, will have dispelled them.

But Arab public opinion is not focused on the danger from Iraq which we are discussing today; it is focused, night by night, on the sufferings of the Palestinian people conveyed through Arab media which are much freer than they used to be. Israel is entitled to our sympathy at her agony every time there is a suicide bomber. She is entitled to security. But she is not entitled to secure it in the way being attempted by Mr Sharon's government. We need, in whatever way is best, to make clear to the United States in that context—it is the superpower with particular leverage on the situation—that they have a choice. They can, as the White House Security Adviser said yesterday, help to forward the march of freedom in Muslim countries; or they can continue as the main prop of an Israeli Government who unsuccessfully seek to achieve their security through settlement, occupation and oppression. Either is a possible route. What the United States cannot do is play both roles at the same time.

I should like to ask the Minister a specific question arising out of that. The Palestinian people and their representatives are beginning, not before time, to show signs of discontent with President Arafat and his ineffective leadership. There are plans to hold an election in the West Bank and Gaza in January. That is a flicker of light in a dark sea. How can we prevent that flicker of light being snuffed out, as it would be by the present weight of the Israeli occupation in those areas in which elections could hardly be held?

I turn to my second and last point, which concerns Iraq itself. I listened with great care to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank. His knowledge is much greater than mine and he is probably right. The military strength of Iraq is now so

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enfeebled compared with 11 years ago that allied forces, or indeed the United States forces alone, could overcome it. It may be, if we were skilful and lucky, or if the Americans were skilful and lucky with our help, we do that with a relatively quick assault, or if we ran out of luck, in a sustained war with a good many casualties. But one way or another the outcome would be military success.

However, it would not be responsible to launch on such an effort, either quick or slow, without some idea about what would follow; about who would run Iraq thereafter. It cannot be done by the Kurds from the north. It cannot be done by the Shias in the south; it cannot be done by a combination of the two. Civil war is a perfect though disastrous possibility. Effective political control of Iraq, whatever the constitutional structure, would come from the centre and from Baghdad. That is where we need to look for legitimate authority.

It would be silly to ask the Minster for details. If we were told names or organisations then their lives would be relatively short because of the reach of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. But we need to be confident that the Americans and ourselves are looking to the future in that kind of way. There is an old Latin tag much loved by school debating societies: if you wish for peace prepare for war. That is relevant to the Security Council discussions at the moment. But we now live in a world where there is a second tag: if you are preparing for war you have to prepare for peace as well. That is also true in this case. It is not enough to say, as some Americans did in the beginning, "We will just go into Iraq, get rid of Saddam Hussein and get out". Nor, in my view, is it particularly realistic to talk in an airy way about holding immediate democratic elections out of which would emerge a pro-western democratic federal Iraq keen to make peace with Israel.

We must not delude ourselves. The process of nation rebuilding in Iraq will be a slow and strenuous one. We have to consider—it will be difficult; it will be the problems of Afghanistan on a much bigger scale—whether we and the Americans are prepared to keep troops after an immediate military victory to support and prop up whatever government emerges until it establishes its own authority against a background where such occupation would inevitably soon become unpopular.

Those are unpalatable points, but we cannot discuss these matters without looking that far ahead. My worry is that, unless these things are considered, unless we in Parliament can feel that they are being considered albeit we do not ask for the details, we may reach the stage where we worry about having won a war in six days and lost it in the six months which followed.

So I believe that Parliament, all of us, should accept the main analysis of the Government. We should not in any way belittle the dangers to us all, but particularly to the region described in the document the Government published today. We are entitled—no Minister will resent this—to ask questions to which

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full answers have not yet been forthcoming. But we need more answers. We need more illumination if the country is to give this enterprise the general support it needs to be successful.

3.49 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, in response to a question on the Statement, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, said that the Government were acting in accordance with the norms of international law. His words were echoed by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, who said that we would take action to enforce international law.

It is vitally important that at the end of the crisis it is manifest that the norms of international law have been strengthened and not undermined by any action taken by this country and its allies. Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter states that,

    "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations".

Those words do not support a claim of right to overthrow a repressive or tyrannical government, however desirable that may be. There is no doctrine in international law of intervention to bring about regime change, nor even a doctrine of humanitarian intervention with the use of force.

The dossier refers to human rights violations in Iraq, but that is no justification for military intervention. Essentially there are only two exceptions to the prohibitions in Article 2.4 of the Charter against the threat or use of force; namely, the right to self-defence and the enforcement of Security Council resolutions. The second exception has not been employed for many decades.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, referred your Lordships to Article 51 of the Charter:

    "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security".

The test for judging whether the use of force was justified as an act of self-defence is in customary international law accepted to be immediacy, proportionality and necessity. It was defined by the US Secretary of State Daniel Webster in the Caroline case as long ago as 1837 as being whether the necessity of that self-defence is instant, overwhelming and leaves no choice of means and no moment for deliberation. An act justified by the necessity of self-defence must be limited by that necessity and kept clearly within it. It must be proportionate. The use of armed force should be for the purpose of defence and not for punishment.

Hence military action was lawful in international law as a response to the invasion of the Falklands by the Argentine. Article 51 was also employed to justify the invasion of a regime harbouring terrorists—Afghanistan—in response to the attack on the United States in September last year. That justification was confirmed by the Security Council.

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But no hard evidence has been produced in the dossier or anywhere else that Iraq currently harbours terrorists, so there is not a justification for unilateral action by way of self-defence at this time. For example, your Lordships may recall that in 1981 Israel bombed a nuclear reactor at Osiraq in Iraq and claimed to be acting in pre-emptive self-defence. That claim was fully examined by the Security Council and rejected because the threat posed to Israel's security was not immediate; the response was held by the Security Council to be neither proportionate nor necessary.

The dossier we have seen today demonstrates that Iraq has the capability—and it may be growing—but there is no evidence that it has the immediate intention to attack either the United States or this country. There is no imminent threat to our security nor to any ally of ours. Intervention in Kuwait was justified by the doctrine of self-defence; Kuwait called us in and sought assistance. It is certainly no justification in international law of military intervention that possession of weapons of mass destruction threaten economic interests in the region. The United States, nor indeed any country, cannot claim that a threat to oil is a justification for invasion.

Hence, if we are to stay within the norms of international law to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams, referred, it is essential to work through the United Nations. Pre-emptive self-defence without its sanction by the United States and ourselves would be illegal in international law. It follows that a new resolution must be sought at the United Nations which sets out a firm timetable for inspection and report. A failure to comply with such a resolution is in my view a judgment for the United Nations, not the United States—so are the means to coerce Saddam into compliance, if necessary by military intervention.

That is the way forward. I commend the direction set by our Prime Minister, followed by President Bush, in taking the United Nations route. That is the way to strengthen the authority of the United Nations and to confirm the rule of law to which we hope this country will always adhere. That is also the way to gain the general support of the people of this country to which the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, referred.

3.57 p.m.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, the paradox we face in dealing with Saddam Hussein's Iraq—many of the contributions to the debate have underlined this—is that only by threatening the use of force if he continues to defy the will of the international community expressed in any number of Security Council legally binding resolutions, and only by being prepared to back that threat by action, do we stand the slightest chance of achieving a peaceful outcome.

To believe that Saddam Hussein will comply with his obligations faced merely by exhortation and diplomatic advocacy is a triumph of hope over experience. It flies in the face of all that has happened over the 20-plus years since he began his career of murder and aggression as head of the Iraqi state. Nor is the Micawberish option of waiting for something to

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turn up at all appealing. For four years, Saddam's teams of scientists and engineers have been able to work, unhindered by international inspection, on programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction. The dossier we have seen today shows that.

We know that these programmes and those on the ballistic missiles for their delivery are the highest priority of Saddam Hussein's regime. When the inspectors first went to Iraq in 1991, they found nuclear, chemical and biological warfare programmes at a far more advanced stage than anything our intelligence efforts had led us to believe was the case. Their estimate was that if Saddam had not been foolish enough to invade Kuwait the year before and thus bring down on his head the international inspection regime, he would have had a usable nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it to a range of his neighbours by 1993.

Why on earth do we believe—as some well-meaning people do—that our lack of certainty about the present state of his weapons programme should be a source of doubt or comfort, or a reason not to take action? On past experience, the contrary conclusion is surely more compelling.

Reliance on deterrence and containment looks equally flawed. We are dealing with a man who, at the time of the Gulf War, believed that the coalition was bluffing in its determination to reverse his aggression against Kuwait. He was wrong. If we procrastinate and if he achieves his aim of developing this horrendous arsenal, what are we going to do then should he—as is all too likely—threaten to use or actually use weapons of mass destruction against his neighbours? The prospect of having to take massive action against sites that have been carefully placed among centres of civilian population is hardly attractive. The risk that, faced with such retaliation, he will use everything he has will surely be even greater than it is now when his capabilities to wreak such havoc—which have been outlined by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and in the government dossier—are by definition less than they will be if we leave these programmes to move ahead for longer.

All these considerations point towards the need to address the problem now and to make a serious and determined effort to scotch these weapons programmes, if possible through international inspections and disarmament, if not, by other means.

How sure can we be that getting the inspectors back in will do the trick? The only honest answer is that we cannot be sure. Saddam's track record of playing cat and mouse with the inspectors is proven. What can be said is that if the inspectors are given unfettered access, as they must be, that will hugely complicate the task and the risk of continuing to develop the programmes of weapons of mass destruction. The main Iraqi effort will then switch, as it did between 1991 and 1998, from development to concealment. The chances of their getting to the stage of actual deployment, let alone use, without prior discovery will be greatly reduced.

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It is surely worth giving the inspection route a real try, not damning it with faint praise from the outset, as some on the other side of the Atlantic are prone to do. However, the hand of the inspectors must be strengthened so that they are not again left, as they sometimes were in the past, in an unequal struggle against the forces of a totalitarian dictatorship. They should be required to report frequently and unambiguously to the Security Council, not only on what they find, but on the degree of co-operation that they get from the Iraqis. It needs to be clear that if full co-operation is lacking or if access is denied, more than just a slap on the wrist or a verbal admonition will follow. In that sense, the louder the noises off of preparation for military action, the more likely it will be that the inspectors are able to complete their task successfully.

I do not wish to weary the House with too much detailed analysis of what a future Security Council resolution—there certainly needs to be one—should contain, or how precisely the United Nations should handle Saddam Hussein's latest missive, appearing to offer unconditional access to the inspectors. That will be thrashed out in New York in the days and weeks ahead. If the letter means what it says—and there have been an awful lot of letters in the past that did not mean what they said—it is a step forward, but only the first of many steps that have to be taken and not the most difficult or the most important one to take.

Of far greater importance is the co-operation on the ground of the Iraqis—their willingness to have destroyed, removed or rendered harmless everything to do with their weapons programmes and their acceptance of an intrusive long-term monitoring programme to ensure that the whole business does not just begin over again. Those in the media and elsewhere who welcomed the arrival of the letter from Saddam Hussein with comments that I found too close for comfort to claims of peace in our time will have to wait a considerable time before it is clear whether a peaceful exit from this crisis really exists.

I warmly welcome the decision to go to the Security Council, which I believe owed much to the advocacy of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. I am convinced that it was the right decision. It was right in particular on political and diplomatic grounds, not on technical or legal grounds. In my analysis, Saddam Hussein's defiance of a large number of mandatory Security Council resolutions, which were an integral part of the cessation of hostilities at the end of the Gulf War and which were accepted as such by Iraq at the time, already leaves him open to the legitimate use of force. Above all, his failure to permit the,

    "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless"

of all his weapons of mass destruction—the mere recital of those words of Resolution 687 underlines how far he has strayed from compliance—puts him at risk. Do not let us tie ourselves in knots over those legal complexities. If we are to have any chance of proceeding without the use of force, the key is that a single, unambiguous message goes from the Security Council to Saddam Hussein telling him what is required of him if he is to avoid the use of force.

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The message of the international community would gain greatly in strength if it were set in a wider framework, which could contain two additional elements. The first would be to set out clearly how those countries that are leading this debate—the United States in particular, but ourselves included—would work with a post-Saddam Iraq; how we would move rapidly to bind up the wounds of the past decade or more and how Iraq would be welcomed back as a key regional player with a substantial political, economic and security role in assuring the stability of the region. This approach was followed with considerable success in the case of Serbia post-Milosevic at the time of the hostilities over Kosovo. Our failure to do this so far in the case of Iraq has enabled Saddam Hussein to misrepresent the outside world's policy towards Iraq as one of humiliation and dismemberment and to persuade many ordinary Iraqis that our quarrel is with them and not with the regime under which they suffer.

The second element would be to reinvigorate the search for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Many noble Lords have referred to the importance of that. Clearly, we must avoid the trap of enabling Saddam Hussein to claim that it is thanks to him that we are taking such action. We faced that same trap in 1990 and we successfully avoided it, but it did not prevent the first President Bush bringing the parties to the negotiating table in Madrid soon after the reversal of Saddam Hussein's aggression against Kuwait. We have to face the fact that this question and the need to end the continuing bloodshed in Israel and Palestine are the priority of priorities to most Arabs. One ignores the priorities of one's friends and allies in the war against terrorism at one's peril. I hope that the United States will not do so and that we and other European nations will help them to rescue the peace process from the dead end in which it is stuck at the moment.

4.8 p.m.

Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, for his clear and pungent explanation of why we should seek international inspection in Iraq, to avoid war if possible and otherwise why swift steps should be taken. He referred to "peace in our time". I am glad that I brought with me a document that I have treasured for many years. It is a letter written by Neville Chamberlain to Herbert Samuel—Lord Samuel—in October 1940. It is brief. It reads:

    "My dear Samuel, It was very kind of you to write to me and I appreciate very highly the fact that I retain your approval of my efforts to maintain peace. Though that proved to be impossible, it did give us breathing time and that may in the end make all the difference".

That was appeasement. That was allowing Hitler to invade Czechoslovakia. That was giving Hitler time to prepare the bombing, the Blitz, the invasions and the murders. While the situation in Iraq is totally different, we must still look with care on anything that may appear to be "peace in our time" when it is not and which may give time to a ruthless dictator that he does not deserve. The dossier prepared today makes chilling

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reading. It makes clear the huge danger in which we and the world stand. That danger will inevitably grow greater day by day if not dealt with. That is the first issue.

Is there to be a strike against Iraq and, if so, when? I share the Government's view—indeed, it is the same view expressed by Opposition leaders in this House and in the other place—that we must take swift action one way or the other and not again have "peace in our time", which is simply a prelude to war.

The second issue, with which many noble Lords have dealt, is the spill-over of the ill will into relations between countries in the Middle East. I have been involved with this matter for very many years. I have visited most of the Arab countries—indeed, all that were prepared to have me, which does leave some exceptions. I have even tried to learn the Arabic language, which I do not recommend to anyone who wishes to maintain his sanity. It is very difficult but it is necessary.

Recently I asked the leader of a certain Arab nation: "When relations between your country and Israel were more or less normal and of great advantage to both countries, why have you now stopped them?" He replied, "The street". When I listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, I thought, "Yes, that is the street, which, sadly, is true". That is not necessarily the view of Arab governments but it is the view which is being stoked up in the street.

People such as myself believe firmly that we must live together or die together and that the people in Israel and Palestine, too, must live together or they will die together. They must live together in two states but must do so in mutual respect and with the desire for peace for both peoples; otherwise it will not work. They should say "yes" to peace and "no" to terror, but it is very sad that that is no longer working.

I do not agree at all with the extraordinary comparison between Sharon and Saddam Hussein made by the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. I believe it to be ludicrous and unreasonable, unfair and disgraceful. Whatever I may think of Sharon's policies and however unlikely it is that I would have voted for the man, we must all recognise that he was elected by his people in one of six elections since the Gulf War. Saddam Hussein has been there since the Gulf War and before and there have been no elections. Whatever the faults and imperfections of the democracy in Israel or, indeed, here, Israel's Government, like ours, have been elected by their people. The top job of a government is to defend their people.

Not long ago, I asked my friend Shimon Peres, whom no one has ever accused of being a warrior: "Why the incursions? Why are your Government behaving in this way?" He replied with two answers. First, he said, "We have tried everything else. We do not like the incursions but we have to protect our people. Nothing else has worked". His second answer was, "What would your Government do to defend their people?"

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Then I spoke to my brother-in-law, who lives in Jerusalem with his family. He said, "It is all very well for you lot to criticise, but it is not your children and grand-children who are in danger of being killed by suicide bombers; it is ours. Our Government have been elected to try to protect us". They have not succeeded but that does not mean that a comparison between Israel and Iraq is anything more than lunacy. Israel is entitled to its security and entitled to protect its people. My noble friend—my friend of long-standing—Lord Hurd said that it is not entitled to do so in the way that it is. That is perhaps the case, but I hope that he will discuss that with the leaders there rather than making statements here when it is not, as my brother-in-law said, his family that is liable to be blown up by the suicide bombers. It is a very difficult decision and I would not like to be in their shoes.

There are many Arabs in Israel and, in my desperate attempt to learn Arabic, I went to a town called Sakhnin—an Arab town in lower Galilee. I lived with an Arab family and we are still friends. I shall see them when I go to Israel again for a conference next week. The members of that family have just as great a desire for peace as the Jewish people who live around them. They recognise as much as do my family that we must all work for peace. At present, the situation is awful for the Palestinians and for the Israelis and, together, they must work for peace. I believe that, instead of making statements attacking one or the other, we should be doing what we can to bring them together to the peace that they both want and need.

I turn to the subject of the spill-over into our own communities. We are the United Kingdom and we do not want to become the "Divided Kingdom". I listened carefully to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. He is absolutely correct. There is a new fragility in those relations. He referred to relations between Muslims and Christians. I refer to relations between Muslims and Jewish people—an area in which, again, I have worked for many years.

Those relations have become extremely fragile. We know that the vast majority of Muslims in this country are not extremists. Those who receive the publicity—the extremists from the Finsbury Park Mosque, where they held their rally—do not represent the Muslim communities in this country. Those who took part in the Trafalgar Square Islamist rally do not represent the majority of their people. But others know how to take advantage of such situations. So it was no surprise when the National Front and the British National Party turned up at Trafalgar Square. And in my old city of Leicester the National Front is to hold a rally this Saturday. It is an anti-Islamist rally, as they have proclaimed.

I know that my Jewish community understands full well that if the right-wing extremists grow fat because of their attacks on Muslims and because of the blame they direct at Muslims for the current situation, others will be next. It will be the Jews, then the Catholics and then anyone else who is in a minority, whether they are black or white or gay or wherever they come from in the world. I only ask the Muslim community to

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recognise that the contrary also applies. If such people wax fat through attacking and blaming the Jews, they will be next. The overflow is from Palestine, Israel, the Jewish state, the Jews. Believe it or not, many Muslims blame the Jews for the September 11th attack. How sad.

Finally, what hope is there? I offer an example of one small ray of hope, arising out of deep tragedy. I wonder whether two or three days ago noble Lords heard of the murder of a British lad in Israel by a suicide bomber. The victim's name was Yoni Jesner. He was aged 19 and came from Glasgow. Together with his cousin, Gideon Black, he studied in London in a Jewish school. Many young people whom I know knew them. Yoni Jesner was murdered and Gideon Black was wounded. Immediately afterwards, Yoni's parents donated their son's kidney to a seven year-old Palestinian girl, who was operated on in an Israeli hospital and who is alive today thanks to that extraordinary, decent, kind and sensible act. It is a rough world in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East and, indeed, sometimes here. But where there are acts like that, there is hope for reconciliation, hope for decency and hope for peace.

4.20 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the issues before us today raise the acute dilemma of how to approach moral questions in the new circumstances of the 21st century. There are always lessons to be drawn from the past, but they are more limited than we sometimes acknowledge. I recall a historian saying to me some years ago that one of the few lessons of history is that there are relatively few lessons of history. History moves on and new circumstances emerge which are sometimes unprecedented in the dangerous world by which we are confronted. The speed with which the world moves on means these new circumstances will increase more and more as the sheer power of modern civilisation expresses itself.

This is at one with the whole history of the universe. For most of the time the universe has existed, there was no death. It was only when life evolved that death became possible. It was only when life evolved to form complex organisms that the possibility of disease and deformation arose. It was only when animals emerged, able to move around their environment, that creatures hunted and killed. Human beings represent a wholly new emergence on our planet bringing self-consciousness, an understanding of truth, beauty and justice and an ability to relate to our Creator. The shadow side is the possibility of moral evil. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but nowhere there do you find the equivalent of the Holocaust or the Gulag, a Stalin or a Hitler.

This can be seen in modern times. The 20th century was an immensely bloodstained century. Historians estimate that probably more people died a violent death in the 20th century than in all the other centuries put together. The killing was on the grand stage. Idealism in the 20th century could pervert itself in the hands of despotism and totalitarian regimes, often hijacking religious ideas and images. However, in the

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20th century, weapons of mass destruction only surfaced on the margins. The early years of the 21st century have had the ideals of the last century thrust forward and intensified, the ideals, indeed, of those 19 misguided gentlemen who crashed the planes. Even without weapons of mass destruction, the potential dangers are that much greater. Many more people died on September 11th than at Pearl Harbour, despite the might of the Japanese forces thrown against the Americans.

It seems to me that the 21st century will have its own unique, greater and probably unpredictable dangers, like those planes flying into the twin towers. These new circumstances place considerable strain upon the traditional calculus of the just war. War is now potentially too dangerous and the threat of war too imprecise for countries simply to sit back and wait to be attacked. I understand why the American Government are taking the current line, however overstated and gung-ho it may be.

I support the broad stance which Her Majesty's Government are taking. A pre-emptive strike against a rogue state like Iraq, with its track record of striving to possess weapons of mass destruction, can be defended on the grounds of self-defence. That does not mean that military action against Iraq is necessarily justifiable at present. Many military, political and moral factors need to be considered with great care. A diplomatic or political solution would be far more preferable. The offer to allow the inspectors to return should be pursued with great seriousness and urgency.

Action by the United States independent of the United Nations would be most unfortunate, though it could not be ruled out on moral grounds. The UN is not infallible. However, the case for a stronger UN in the 21st century seems overwhelming. I would associate myself entirely with the remarks made by the right reverend prelate the Bishop of London. Whether this is achievable in today's global politics seems less certain. I support the position of the Government. However, the military and political calculations are fraught with great dangers. Much potentially could go badly wrong, although the same applies if we do nothing.

I conclude with a comment on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Janner of Braunstone. The log-jam in Israel and Palestine needs to be moved on. A particular matter which we often skate over is central to this—the settlements. The policy of placing settlements in the occupied territories is a Class A political error. It is an error comparable with that of the South African Government which in the late 1940s embraced apartheid. It took a very long time for international and internal pressure to persuade them of a bad mistake. The settlement programme in the occupied territories has to be reversed. Without it, I do not believe there can be two viable states living together. There are about a quarter of a million people living in the settlements. International aid will be needed to help Israel realise its mistake. If each settler were paid 20,000 to settle back in Israel, the cost would be 5 billion. A lot of money. But there has to be a will to will the means as well as the end. Unless we

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can make real progress in that part of the Middle East, all that is quite properly intended in Iraq will fall to nothing.

4.27 p.m.

Lord Rea: My Lords, I make no apology for being one of the "usual suspects club" when Iraq is discussed in your Lordships' House. I have twice visited Iraq with the leader of that club, the redoubtable George Galloway, MP. But over the years I have visited a number of other countries on parliamentary visits, paid for by their governments or sources sympathetic to them. In each case I have returned more critical of that government than before I went. In every case, though, I have been impressed by the generosity and friendliness of the ordinary people in whichever country I have visited. In Iraq there is still remarkable goodwill towards the United Kingdom but bewilderment and sadness that we can support the warlike stance of President Bush and his close associates.

My noble friend Lady Symons once said to me that she thought I was a good man but that I was being misled. I thought that it was extremely kind of her to warn me. My interest in the Iraqi problem is and always has been humanitarian, in particular the effect of sanctions on the health of children. I am perfectly aware that the harmful effect of these on the nutritional state of the population was greatly exacerbated by Saddam's cruelly mistaken decision to reject the oil for food programme from 1991 to 1995 and try to go it alone by increasing food production, a policy which was unrealistic and failed. According to Tun Myat, the United Nations Co-ordinator for the humanitarian programme in Iraq, there is sufficient food coming in through the oil for food programme to just feed the population who now receive an equitably distributed ration at very low cost. But the interruption of that programme that would occur if war came would have extremely serious consequences.

I believe that all noble Lords would like to see the back of Saddam Hussein. He has committed crimes against humanity in the past, which were vividly described in the dossier and for which he could justifiably face an international criminal court—even one that is not ratified by the United States. That is very different from effecting a regime change through "tyrannocide" or external military force, particularly if that is applied through the diktat of one nation, however powerful.

With calls for "regime change" in the air, there is surely a problem with "no holds barred" intrusive inspections, when one of the inspecting nations has the openly declared intent of overthrowing the government of the nation being inspected. The results of inspections would inevitably provide useful intelligence for any future attack. Hence Iraq's request to the United Nations that its territorial integrity be respected while the inspections proceed.

However, Iraq has now decided to take the risk—it really had no choice—and has agreed to allow UNMOVIC inspectors to return. The mechanism now

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exists for UNMOVIC to see on the ground whether the suspected sites that are mentioned or hinted at in the dossier which we now have before us are in operational condition. I gather from noble Lords that a bevy of journalists has been waiting in Baghdad at Iraq's invitation to visit the named sites. They are visiting the sites as we speak. Perhaps they have returned by now because it is later in Iraq than it is here. If, as a result of inspections, Iraq is found to have been lying and significant numbers of weapons of mass destruction are detected, they must be destroyed. If access to sensitive sites is barred, there is no need for an instant military ultimatum. There is a place for hard diplomatic bargaining under existing or—as has been suggested—new and tougher Security Council resolutions before launching missiles or a full-scale attack. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, the existence of inspectors on the ground will disable Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction, even if Iraq attempts concealment.

However, supposing that Iraq were within reach of developing a dangerous level of operational weapons of mass destruction, as the dossier suggests, how would it be likely to deploy them? The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, touched on that. It is far fetched in the extreme to think that they could threaten the United States or any European country directly. That is portrayed in the diagram in the dossier. There is currently a strong and quite effective Iraqi charm offensive directed at the Arab world, five countries of which surround Iraq. Saddam came unstuck when he attacked two of them in the past and he is extremely unlikely to try that again.

The hypothetical target for weapons of mass destruction is of course Israel, which itself possesses the nuclear weapon. Israel is surely the country that President Bush means when he says that Saddam "threatens his neighbours". While Saddam has made serious errors of judgment in the past—as I said, when he attacked Iran and Kuwait—it is hard to imagine that he would make the mistake of launching an attack on Israel. That would mean political and military suicide for himself and his regime.

So why the enormous hurry and the huffing and puffing? We are not directly or indirectly threatened by Saddam's Iraq, however cruelly he tyrannises his own people. Nor would the world's oil supplies be threatened if his regime survives; he depends on his oil exports more than we do on importing his oil. And, like Stalin, whom he resembles in more ways than just the moustache, he will not survive for ever. Regime change to a more democratic state will eventually occur, as it will in the rest of the Arab world. However, that will be more stable and durable if it comes from within than through a military attack from without.

In the meantime, the best way for us to encourage a more liberal regime will be to engage with Iraq commercially and culturally. There is a long tradition of friendly association between the two countries, which most Iraqis are impatient to renew. Doing that presupposes an end to sanctions as we know them. It is highly likely—Tariq Aziz has said as much—that Iraq

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would, in exchange for the virtual lifting of sanctions, allow continued international monitoring of its armed forces. If a threat should be suspected or detected, appropriate Security Council action could be taken, including the re-imposition of sanctions. The lifting of sanctions would allow the rapid restoration of Iraq's damaged infrastructure, and that would provide many opportunities for investment and commerce for United Kingdom firms. Even now, under the crumbling sanctions regime, those opportunities are being quietly snapped up by Russia and certain EU countries. There would be an opportunity to renew the strong cultural and economic links between the UK and Iraq, which have been severed since the Gulf War. In exchange for the carrot of lifting sanctions rather than the stick of military coercion, which is all that is offered at the moment, it is also likely that autonomy for the Kurdish provinces could be agreed as well as the settlement of outstanding issues with Kuwait.

I have not mentioned the Palestine/Israel dispute or terrorism. Iraq has the most bellicose rhetoric against Israel of any of the Arab nations. If a settlement of that dispute could be reached that was felt to be just by the Palestinians, I do not believe that Iraq would persist in calling for the abolition of Israel, as it currently does. Like many others, I believe that that would be the best, and probably the only, way to lower tension and achieve disarmament in the Middle East, including Iraq. Israel's refusal for 35 years to evacuate the West Bank in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 and, on the contrary, to build settlements there, as the right reverend Prelate mentioned, is held to be an outrage throughout the Arab world. To insist on Iraq's disarmament according to Security Council resolutions in the face of that is regarded in the Arab world as hypocrisy by the United States and the United Kingdom.

Finally, as other noble Lords have pointed out, there is no credible evidence for the involvement of Iraq in international terrorism. Far from helping to win the war against terrorism, it is highly likely that an American attack on Iraq would unleash more events like those of 9/11 because of the anger that would be generated throughout the Arab world. That was pointed out passionately by my noble friend Lady Uddin.

Terrorism can be defeated in the long run only by engaging with the underlying perceived injustices. In the case of Al'Qaeda, two of the injustices mentioned by Bin Laden in his video were the continued American air attacks on Iraq and the Palestinian conflict. The best way to counteract Al'Qaeda is not to attack Iraq but to bring her gradually back into the family of nations while at the same time working to create a viable Palestinian state. That aim has been repeated many times on both sides of the Atlantic. It is time for us to get on with it.

4.40 p.m.

Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar: My Lords, when or if the United States attacks Iraq and Britain takes part, it may well be one of the least compelling wars that Britain has ever fought: uncompelling because the

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given reasons that war against Saddam is a necessary part of the war against terror, and that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction present an immediate and appalling threat to the United States, Britain and everyone else, are not altogether convincing.

The first reason is surely specious because there is no evidence of any connection between Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden or Al'Qaeda. Such evidence would be extremely unlikely. Although the Iraqi regime is as abominable as one could find, both at home and abroad, it is almost the most secular of Muslim states in the Middle East or anywhere else.

The second reason seems extremely improbable. When, shortly after the end of the Second World War, it was discovered that Soviet Russia was out to build nuclear weapons, a number of people including, surprisingly enough, Bertrand Russell, advocated dropping an atomic bomb on Russia to stop it from doing so. Luckily, their counsels were disregarded. Russia became a nuclear power and theories of deterrence were evolved which worked. At that time the Soviet Union was ruled by a tyrant, Stalin, every bit as unspeakable as Saddam Hussein is today in Iraq. Deterrence has suddenly been forgotten or abandoned. It has to be; otherwise the threat would be shown to be far less real than people make out. If Saddam used any weapons of mass destruction against the West or Israel, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said, he would be pulverised within hours. It is, therefore, unthinkable that he could use them.

If the given reasons for war against Iraq are insufficient, why are Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld—but not, significantly, Colin Powell, or, according to General Zinni, virtually every general in the United States Army—itching for a war against Iraq? From the New York Times last week we know that on that very day, September 11th, Rumsfeld said, "Now we can go after Saddam". In other words, he was looking for an excuse.

I think that there are four additional reasons, none creditable and none attractive to most people in this country, why the hawks in the United States are out for war. Not necessarily in order of importance, the first is electoral. It has been pointed to by many in the United States. With the American economy languishing, medical costs rising and other problems, it is important for the Republican party to have a war atmosphere and to have the electorate focus on the probability of war rather than domestic considerations which favour the Democratic Party.

The second reason is oil. With its vast oil reserves, Iraq is obviously a tempting target to the United States, in particular to this administration with its close connections with the oil industry.

The third is historic or dynastic. Although Iraq suffered enormous damage, the mere survival of Saddam after the Gulf War has made a number of Americans think that in some way he won and they intend to remedy that.

The fourth reason is the American desire for control of the Middle East. As the distinguished American columnist, William Pfaff, put it a few days ago,

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    "a part of the neoconservative and pro Israeli community influencing Bush administration policy argues that a war against Saddam Hussein should be seen in the context of a long-term American policy for transforming the Muslim Middle East".

As well as "regime change" in Iraq, that policy envisages American domination of,

    "the entire Middle East",

and, above all,

    "an Arab-Israeli settlement on terms acceptable to Israel".

The first and fourth reasons are the most important. Of course now the given cause of the war is the observance of UN resolutions. That is an extremely good cause in itself but, as has been asked, why are we being so selective about abiding by UN resolutions? Leaving aside Turkey, as has been said, Israel is in breach of many UN resolutions. If President Bush had said in his recent very able speech at the United Nations that both Iraq and Israel would have to abide by and obey United Nations resolutions so that Iraq would be disarmed and Israel would end its occupation of Palestinian land, his speech would have been almost unanimously welcomed and applauded. But, of course, he did not say that because of American double standards.

The noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, mentioned the double standards and pointed out that Israelis were not the only people affected by Resolution 242; the Arabs had to make peace at the same time. But she did not add that when the Saudi initiative was accepted at the Beirut Summit by all Arab states, Sharon's response was a deafening silence in words but not in gunfire: he merely intensified the war in Palestine. The American Administration are hated in most of the Middle East because of their policies on Arab-Israel which are regarded as corrupt and hypocritical: corrupt because they are not determined by decency or justice but by American domestic considerations, votes and money; and hypocritical because, while pretending to be even handed, they are entirely on one side. As Israel's leading columnist, Nahum Barnea, wrote recently, the administration have,

    "let Israel wage its war against the Palestinians without restrictions".

And as one of Israel's most eminent historians, Avi Shlaim, has written,

    "It is not peace that Sharon seeks with the Palestinians but their surrender and expulsion".

The Bush Administration will be even more detested if they attack Iraq, as will Britain, even though Saddam Hussein's regime is very unpopular in the Middle East. We must hope that war when it comes will be short and victorious. If it is longer, the only effect will be to create more terrorists in the Middle East.

4.48 p.m.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, today the Government have published the dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction and I welcome that. But surely examination of weapons of mass destruction is only one major element of our concern about Iraq. Are there not other areas of equal

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importance which we should discuss in order to bring into balance our overall foreign policy objectives? These should be, first, security for the region—by "the region" we do not mean just the Palestine-Israeli conflict which has been referred to a number of times by noble Lords—but also the oppression of the Syrians, the lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia and the various ways in which we seek security for a deeply troubled region mainly ruled by different variants of dictatorship. That security is a critically important factor.

Secondly, our task should be to implement the rights of the Iraqi people: first and foremost, their right to life. The UN declaration of human rights has been violated many hundreds, thousands and millions of times by Saddam Hussein. Should we not today be discussing in far greater depth and with much greater concern than we have shown in our debates in recent weeks the rights of the Iraqi people?

Then there is the question of the rule of international law. This is still a fragmentary mechanism. We have, against considerable opposition, established the International Criminal Court, but even that cannot be used retrospectively for the many crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein, and against the Iraqi people in particular. In terms of international law, the question arises of the integrity of the United Nations no less; but beyond that, the rights of the Iraqi people have been cut across consistently, ranging from the depths of the conflicts created by Saddam Hussein's destruction of the Iraqi marshland to the bombing with chemical weapons of the northern Kurdish people. In those instances the United Nations convention on genocide has been breached.

All would agree that in our foreign policy we have a great responsibility for the maintenance in good repair of the transatlantic alliance. Here, we have a responsibility not only for the bilateral transatlantic alliance between the United States of America and the UK, important though that is, but surely for the maintenance and good repair of what is perhaps the most important force for peace and good in the world today. I refer to the transatlantic alliance between the European Union and the USA. Let us make no mistake: the 15 member states of the European Union and the further 13 potential entrants to the EU are the largest single bloc of people in the world brought together for peaceful reasons. When we link up with another great democracy, the USA, together we should be an unbeatable force for good, provided always that we are working for the right ends.

I am concerned that, in our deep intensive discussions on weapons of mass destruction, we may forget that they are a means and not an end in themselves, and that essentially it is not so much a question of who owns the weapons of mass destruction but of how those owners choose to use them.

I have a small piece of first-hand evidence to offer. I recall, in the late 1990s when the inspectors were still in Iraq, interviewing some deeply traumatised people who could barely breathe. They had crept across the border between Iraq and Iran, having been bombed, as

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they told me, by a weapon of mass destruction. A small aeroplane had come over the horizon into the southern Iraqi marshlands, too low, I suppose, for our Vulcan jets overflying the area to see. The plane dropped something which turned into a huge yellow cloud. I was told that a number of people had fallen dead on the spot, in a village near to the border with Iran. This small handful of people, choking and barely able to breathe, crept across. I took their testimony.

It is worth remembering that Iraq is an enormous country. Even were the weapons inspectors to crawl all over every millimetre of every so-called presidential site and dig down to eternity, how could they possibly find every trace of such weapons? That is not to say that we should not try, but the inspectors' report cannot be the only determinant.

I suggest that the genocide convention—our commitment to the right to life of the Iraqi people—and our deep concern for the security of region must weigh just as heavily in the balance as whether or not the inspectors manage to lay their hands on yet more weapons of mass destruction. But I wish them well.

In May this year, the European Parliament passed a profoundly serious resolution. I was the drafter of the resolution. It was strengthened by the Foreign Affairs Committee. In the end we passed it with an 85 per cent majority. It was a double-sized report because of the importance of what we felt we had to say. It was accepted by the European Commission. We are now awaiting such implementation of our final resolution as the Commission can achieve. We are concerned that the Council of Ministers does not seem to have taken the report fully into account.

We made a number of serious proposals. Our view at the time—and it continues to be our view—was that Iraq certainly posed a threat to regional stability and world security. I remind the House that under UN resolutions from the beginning of the last decade Saddam Hussein has been forbidden to set up training camps for terrorists. Yet we know that he has been training the MKO terrorists. We have all the evidence that we require that he has not stopped this particular action. I would guess that he has been training other terrorists too. But we have the knowledge that he has not stopped

In our European Parliament report we propose a number of matters that are discussed in the British Government's report today, including the need for independent inspectors to examine the reconstruction of prohibited programmes for the development of weapons of mass destruction. We felt most profoundly, however, that the serious humanitarian situation within Iraq should be addressed, and we reiterated the absolute obligation of the Iraqi Government,

    "to implement fully and immediately"

all UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1284, and to co-operate in all respects with the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies.

We stated that in our view the Iraqi Government had indeed continued over the past 11 years to increase their regime of terror against all levels of society and

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to commit gross and massive human rights violations. This included the active persecution of the Kurdish people, the Turkmen, the Assyrian populations and the Shia; the earlier destruction of the Christian population; the destruction of the Jewish population earlier still; and particularly the destruction of the inhabitants and the entire destruction of the ancient way of life, including the animals and fish, of the Mesopotamian marshlands and of all the Tigris and Euphrates waterways. We stated in our resolution of May this year that there was no sign of a change in that policy.

Earlier this year a short report was published by UNEP. It took 10 years for UNEP to address the marshland drainage. Even so, there must have been some political interference. With regard to the destruction of the Iraqi marshlands—30,000 miles of waterways—the UNEP report did not show that the last 10 per cent is being destroyed now.

The European Parliament resolution comments that the status and situation of women, children, ethnic minorities and religious groups inside Iraq has gone downhill drastically and dramatically in the last decade. Political rights have been destroyed, as have civil rights, liberties and family rights. There has been systematic violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Indeed, there has been the training of children in armies and associated practices with minors.

So we resolved that the European Council and the member states should take all necessary measures to bring those officials of the Iraqi regime who were responsible for those serious violations of international humanitarian law carried out inside Iraq and outside its territories before an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.

We pointed out that such a tribunal could indeed be established—as has been discussed but has not happened over a long period—by a United Nations Security Council Resolution, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. We took note that this had not happened despite many pleas. Therefore, we recommended another mechanism that had not been identified or articulated previously. I want to draw this to the attention of the House. Someone has to act to make this happen. We pointed out that such a tribunal could be set up, pursuant to treaty, by the concerned and injured states. We stated that this was an essential route to follow, since Article 11, the jurisdiction ratione temporis, of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court gives jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of the statute in July 2002.

Recognising that it would take a little time for concerned and injured states to draw up a treaty and to set up a tribunal, we proposed the setting up of an office of inquiry for human rights violations in order to prepare all the necessary evidence and an official register of the numerous violations perpetrated by the Iraqi regime. We called on the European Union to set up such an office without delay.

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Many debates on Iraq have taken place during the past decade—indeed, I have been responsible for tabling a number of them myself. I am sad to recall that in one debate the present Leader of the other place completely disagreed and claimed, for example, that the drainage of the marshes was not happening. I remember that he declared in the other place that the burning of the houses in the villages was just what the Ma'dan had been doing for 5,000 years for health reasons. I also recall another Member in the other place who visits Iraq regularly asking from a seated position what the loss of a little drinking water was to a few Arabs. I am sad that such violations of human rights should have been treated with such levity and such a disgraceful attitude. I know that that would not happen in your Lordships' House.

I ask most seriously that we should here, today, take this major breach of the 1948 convention on genocide and look at Article 2, which defines genocide as:

    "Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".

We should also look at Article 3 and consider how such actions should be punished, as well as considering Article 8 that talks about the way in which this should happen, which is as I have described: bringing about a trial of the accused. The setting up of a competent tribunal of the state in the territory in which the act was committed is the first objective. However, that has not happened over the period of 11 years, or longer, in Iraq. Therefore, as regards these breaches of the convention, I believe that we have not only a right but an obligation to establish such a panel outside the country. Just two states would be sufficient. Curiously, they could possibly even be the United Kingdom and the USA.

That is why I urge your Lordships to take human rights and the security of the region just as seriously as the question of weapons of mass destruction. If we care only for ourselves and our defence, are we really worthy to be judged as people who uphold the moral standards of international law? I think not. We should be just as concerned about the people of the region and, most particularly, about the people of Iraq. I call upon this Government to take steps to bring out the perpetrators of these injustices. They should bring together the contracting treaty parties and rapidly establish the ad hoc criminal tribunal. They should urge the European Union, which is a good body for this task, to set up an office of human rights and introduce the register. They should move rapidly because the Iraqi people can wait no longer. We have had enough debates. The time has come to act. As the accused will not come willingly to trial, then, yes, I believe that we can and should justify the use of force.

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5.3 p.m.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, an inevitable consequence of being the 25th speaker in a debate is that one is bound to repeat and perhaps—even worse—to appear to ignore points already made by previous speakers. However, I should like to ask the Minister the following brief questions.

First, if we join the United States in a military attack on Iraq, what follows? The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said that this was not a question for today. But, with respect, I believe that it is a question that we need to address. Who will run Iraq in Saddam Hussein's place—assuming that we can in fact change his regime? Do the Iraqi opposition groups have any credibility now, let alone after they have been put into power by outside intervention? Are we confident of being able to unseat that great survivor, Saddam Hussein, without at least the risk of him unleashing some of the weapons of mass destruction that any invasion is presumably intended to remove and destroy?

Secondly, I have read this morning's dossier very carefully. But I see nothing in it to prove Saddam Hussein's connections with Al'Qaeda, or, indeed, with Palestinian extremists, let alone any involvement in the events of 11th September. Of course we have known for a very long time what a despicable and murderous tyrant he is. But what has changed? And why the urgency?

Thirdly, the Prime Minister is to be congratulated on any influence that he may have brought to bear on President Bush to agree to a resolution in the United Nations Security Council. But is the international community being invited to pass a resolution, ostensibly designed to reach a diplomatic solution in Iraq, when the United States may already have taken the decision to go to war? I see that suggestions in New York that regime change is on ice have been vigorously denied in Washington.

Fourthly, I recall Ministers telling us that we must be tough on the causes of terror. Have our American friends forgotten that one of the main causes of terror and resentment in the Middle East, and throughout the Islamic world, is the lack of any apparent readiness in Washington to use their undoubted influence to bring about a just and lasting peace settlement between the Arabs and Israel?

Much has been made of Iraq's failure to implement Security Council resolutions. Given the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, their failure to evacuate illegal settlements, and the outrageous attacks on President Arafat's headquarters during the past few days, talk of Iraq's failure to implement Security Council resolutions must strike the Islamic world as double standards at their worst.

I hope that I do not need, as other speakers have, to declare my admiration and affection for the United States, having served for five years in the British Embassy in Washington and having worked closely with American friends and colleagues for the 36 years that I spent in the Diplomatic Service. However, I find it astonishing that President Bush's speech to the

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United Nations contained no more than a few words on Palestine; and that the interview reported in yesterday's Financial Times with the National Security Adviser contained not a single reference to either Israel or Palestine. I very much welcome the passage on Palestine in the Prime Minister's speech that was repeated to us today. I hope that he can use his influence with President Bush to get the Americans to take the Palestinian issue as seriously as the Prime Minister clearly does.

I do not know whether the new strategy of pre-emption announced by Washington last week scares the Islamic world, whom it seems designed primarily to target, but, by God, it scares me. Frequent references have been made in the United States to further possible targets—or, "shopping lists" as described by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell—for American military action. Iran, Syria and the Yemen have all been mentioned. Are we to stand shoulder to shoulder in the name of regime change there as well? And do we now accept the principle that international law and the United Nations Charter are irrelevant, and that unpleasant regimes should be evicted by external force?

I believe that we are at an extremely dangerous cross-roads. Are we wise to set ourselves on a collision course with the entire Islamic world, at a time when we should be concentrating our attention on the basic causes of terrorism and resentment against the West? Have we really measured the impact of a military attack on our wider political and economic interests in the Middle East, and on the stability of governments, with several of whom we have actually concluded treaties of friendship?

I hope that the Minister will confirm that our immediate aim in Iraq is not just disarmament, but disarmament through the effective, prompt and supported use of weapons inspectors. But in terms of removing a threat to the United States—or, indeed, to the world as a whole—the failure to move towards a comprehensive and just peace settlement in Israel and Palestine and also in Syria is, I submit, of equal urgency. I shall not get into an argument with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, who I see is not now in his place, except to remind him and the House that it was Mr Sharon's deliberate act of provocation in Jerusalem two years ago that set off the latest intifada over the past two years.

Finally, I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I again quote the Foreign Secretary's remark in April of this year, in the context of the Palestinian authority, that,

    "none of us can choose who leads governments or administrations in foreign countries".

How do attempts to change other people's governments by force square with our calls for greater democracy in the Middle East?

5.10 p.m.

Lord Winston: My Lords, I have a son aged 21. One of his friends has already been referred to in the Chamber today by my noble friend Lord Janner of

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Braunstone. Jonathan was of the same age. He had five A-levels. He had places in Cambridge and in London. In two or three weeks' time he was due to start reading medicine in London. He was taking a lunch trip to visit some other friends of my son when his brains were replaced by a piece of metal.

Your Lordships have heard the story of how his mother flew out to Israel so that the life support machine was not switched off. My noble friend Lord Janner did not point out how he was nursed next to Arabs in the same hospital ward by people who were treating Arabs and Israelis equally. Noble Lords have heard how he donated his kidney. It might seem that this is an isolated incident. It is not.

I picked fruit with Palestinians. Cousins of mine built up factories on the West Bank in order to improve the lot of Palestinians and their welfare in all kinds of ways. My cousin was responsible for all kinds of water irrigation projects in what is now the West Bank. He did so because he felt that it was his duty to try and improve the lot generally of the area and not just of Israel.

Last year my son, the one I have just referred to, Ben, was teaching football to Arabs. He brought the Arsenal Football Club out there to support him. One of the Arab fathers said to him, "What a marvellous coach you are. You must be a professional". My son said, "No, actually, I'm a university student". He then immediately bought an entire Arsenal strip for the Arab boys of that village.

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said something which was absolutely pertinent. It has been referred to again and again. She said that we have not addressed the Palestinian issue. I would argue that none of us today has addressed the Palestinian/Israeli issue and that there is a failure of understanding of what the basic issues are.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London referred earlier to the perils of violence. One of the most violent things in our society is violent language. Sadly, in the past we have heard a good deal of violent language in this Chamber and in the other place. It is not helpful. It cannot heal wounds. Violent language does not bring peace.

In Jewish tradition there is a phrase called loshen h'rah which means "the evil tongue". It is regarded as being one of the worst things to do. Bad-mouthing someone undermines one in a quite extraordinary way. Sadly, for the past few years one of the problems that has faced us in the world has been this increase in violent language. Do noble Lords not think that those young men who flew into the twin towers in New York had not been deprived but that they had been subjected throughout their youth to the violent language, the commitment to do something which was an evil crime? That is a fundamental problem.

I do not know whether my noble friend Lady Uddin reads Arabic. Like my noble friend Lord Janner, I have tried to learn it. My modern Hebrew is also much of a smattering. But I can tell your Lordships that in the Middle East on the Palestinian side children from the very earliest ages are treated to the most appalling

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violent language—to anti-Semitic literature which would make the Nazis look like pansies by comparison. That violence of language pervades the society. It goes through the media, the newspapers, television and textbooks. One can see it. I, together with many of my friends, can provide evidence of that. It is self-evident. It is a problem that we must face. Until we understand that violence we cannot really get to grips with the issue.

I regret very much that my noble friend Lady Uddin is not in her place to listen to my speech. I wrote down carefully what she said. She said that Israel has perpetrated state terrorism; that Israel literally gets away with murder; and she talked of the brutalisation of Palestinian people. Those are some of the phrases she used. They are common phrases. They may seem banal and mild. They are not. They are quite shocking. She talked about the abandonment of the Palestinian people 60 years ago. Those people were not abandoned by Israel.

Israel is a tiny country, the size of Wales or Northern Ireland. It is surrounded by huge wealth and huge countries occupied by, in the main, a desperately poor people who are definitely and appallingly under-privileged and who desperately need help.

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, talked about Iraq being the cradle of civilisation. It is true that written language started there. But we are not talking about Sumeria, Arcadia, Akkad or Ur. Iraq was founded by Britain in 1932. Indeed, it was only about eight years later that we re-invaded Iraq because we saw the Nazi sympathies in that country. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, referred to the Balfour declaration as though this was something unusual. But the whole of the Middle East is a creation of the West and to a large extent of the British Empire. We have to take some responsibility for that.

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