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Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, we are clear that we do not want or require any child to be put under stress regarding these examinations. They are not the equivalent of examinations that determine success or failure; they are our opportunity to see what level of progress children make individually and collectively, which is important. I do not desire to see schools coach children. Ofsted's work shows clearly that the most successful schools can be determined by those who have the broad and balanced curriculum and are creative in the way in which they introduce literacy and numeracy strategies and the science curriculum across the broader curriculum. That is the direction in which we wish to go.

On static levels of achievement, I agree with the noble Baroness that we need to look carefully at what those figures tell us. The first cohort to have had the literacy and numeracy strategies from the beginning is

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now coming through, and it will be interesting to see the effect. I am sure that the noble Baroness would accept that we must look at what we do to support the children who are not quite reaching that level. This is the largest cohort of children at level 3 who could become level 4. Finally, given the number of children with special needs, this is our opportunity to try to provide additional support for children who can be helped in that way.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for some of the points in that last reply. Has she any personal experience of the atmosphere that develops among pupils about to face a key test? Does she agree that that atmosphere is no more conducive to clear thinking than a fire alarm is to an orderly exit from a crowded theatre?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I currently have a child in year six, so I do have personal experience. As a stepmother and mother, this is my fifth experience. My daughter, I have to tell your Lordships, is looking forward to her SATs exams with great gusto.

A fire alarm, of course, is a crucial indicator to people that it is time to leave the theatre. I find it difficult to make an analogy, except to say that it is important that we are ambitious. I accept what noble Lords are saying about always needing to be careful to ensure that our strategies work. But I also believe that the whole House endorses our desire to make sure that every child is successful.


Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there are 54 names on the speakers' list for today's debate, so the debate will be a long one. It is not timed, but if all Back-Bench Members speak for around eight minutes, the House will rise by approximately 11.45 p.m. If all Back Benchers speak for 10 minutes, the House will rise at approximately 1.15 a.m. On behalf of those whose names appear on the back of the list, I should say that if the clock shows eight minutes, that means that eight minutes are finished, and, if they wish to subscribe to the interests of those at the end of the list, noble Lords should then sit down.


3.17 p.m.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean) rose to move, That this House takes note of Command Paper Cm 5769 on Iraq.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when your Lordships last debated Iraq, on 28th November, we took note of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. That resolution set out the objectives of the United Nations in strict and compelling terms. Operational paragraph 2 made clear that its aim was,

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    "bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by SCR 687".

That resolution, 687, required Iraq to accept unconditionally,

    "the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision",

of its chemical and biological weapons.

Those were the terms that were unanimously agreed 12 years ago, and they are the terms that Iraq has repeatedly flouted. For the past 12 years, Iraq has withheld its co-operation from the United Nations, or has at best co-operated only superficially and grudgingly with it. As Dr Blix made very clear in his report of 27th January to the Security Council:

    "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance—not even today—of the disarmament which was demanded of it".

UNSCR 1441 attracted world attention not only because of the intrinsic gravity of the issue, but because of the clear and unambiguous conditions which it laid down for weapons inspections. Those added up to the immediate, unimpeded and unconditional access to all relevant people, buildings and documentation.

It is now 15 weeks since UNSCR 1441 was passed and we are no further forward on the requirement that Iraq should immediately and unambiguously divest itself of its weapons of mass destruction. That did not mean waiting and hoping that 150 weapons inspectors can, in what Dr Blix aptly described as a "game of hide and seek", find those weapons in the teeth of obstruction by the huge Iraqi security machine. It did mean that Iraq had to bring proscribed materials and programmes to the notice of the inspectors, or present documentary or witness proof of their destruction.

So often we hear commentators say that if the evidence were there the inspectors would have found it by now. That supposition is based on a fundamental misconception of why the inspectors are in Iraq. They are not there as part of a detective exercise or an operation of containment. They are there to verify the disarmament process.

Again, we are asked why, if we know that these weapons exist, we cannot tell the inspectors where to find them. That question is based on the notion that we are looking for really bulky weapons like artillery and fighter planes which are easily identified and hard to conceal. However, the very nature of weapons of mass destruction is that they are very easy to conceal. Nerve agent, chemical precursors, chemical munitions, mustard gas shells and even proscribed missiles can be broken up and dispersed. Stockpiles can be moved from one site to another in small quantities. Missiles can be put on transport platforms and moved from place to place—hidden almost anywhere in a vast country dominated by a network of state terror and intimidation.

In short, to claim that if they exist, the inspectors can find them, is to fail to understand what those weapons are like; to fail to understand how easy it is to conceal them; and to fail to understand the nature of the state

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that wants them concealed. Above all, it is not up to Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei to find them. It is up to Saddam Hussein to give them up. He has not.

Many people ask why this issue has come to the top of the agenda now. All too often people forget just how long this history of lying and arrogant defiance of the United Nations has gone on. The 12-year history is clear. It is laid out in the Command Paper before your Lordships, and it is reinforced by the Iraqi regime's behaviour over the past six months.

We hoped that the very stringency of 1441 would make Saddam understand that this was his chance for peace. Predictably, the Iraqi response to 1441 was the letter of 13th November, in which Iraq said it would, "deal with the resolution". It was followed by a further letter, of 23rd November, asserting, absurdly, that 1441 contradicted international law.

Those less than reassuring statements were followed by the Iraqis' detailed responses, including the 12,000 page declaration which Dr Blix described as,

    "rich in volume but poor in new information . . . and practically devoid of new evidence".

That was followed by the absolute non-co-operation with the inspectors' entirely justified wish to interview scientists in private and unrecorded; the terrorising of such witnesses, including the regime's threats to execute them and their families; the lack of co-operation on procedural matters and on providing the names of those involved in weapons of mass destruction programmes; and the absurd proposal that inspectors needed warrants to enter private premises.

We have seen what our own Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, described as a,

    "tightly monitored media circus, with demonstrators ready to harass inspectors if they come too close to hidden material",

as they did in the military hospital in Kut in January.

So where are the 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals? Where are the 368 tonnes of bulk CW agents, including VX and the 30,000 special munitions? Where are the growth media capable of producing huge quantities of anthrax? We do not know. We do not know because Saddam Hussein does not want us to know, and we shall not know unless and until he co-operates, voluntarily or under compulsion. That is what makes so misplaced the various suggestions of giving inspectors more time, or increasing their numbers. I am sure that those who make those suggestions genuinely want Saddam to be disarmed. I am sure that they genuinely believe that they are arguing for a peaceful solution. But I also believe that what they argue for is exactly what the regime wants to see: more time, more procrastination, more opportunity to disperse weaponry and to hide documents, not only in the houses of scientists, but also now in the houses of family members who are terrorised into complicity and silence.

It is therefore not a question of more time. Time is not the issue. The will to co-operate is the issue. Nor is it a question of more inspectors. Let us remember that

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it took just nine inspectors to verify disarmament of South Africa's nuclear weapons programme at the end of apartheid because South Africa co-operated.

In recent weeks, some commentators have asked, why choose Iraq? The answer is that this is not our choice. The fact is that we are committed to tackling the problem of WMD proliferation wherever in the world it arises, using in each case the tools most effective for the job. But in Iraq there is a uniquely terrible combination of capability and intent. We know that the weapons exist, and we know that the levers for their use are embedded in the structure of a regime where there are no fewer than 12 different organisations of state terror and security. We know that in Saddam Hussein we have a dictator who uses terror as an everyday instrument of government, not just in the murders of women—of mothers in front of their children, as my noble friend Lady Ramsay reminded us on 28th November—but also in the use of the very weapons of mass destruction which are now at issue against tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Iranian soldiers in the 1980s.

Why do we think that it will happen again? We believe that the Iraqi regime has contingency plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons against some of its own population. We understand enough about the chain of command in Iraq for their use to know that they can be deployed within 45 minutes of an order to use them.

Saddam's lack of co-operation with the inspectors and with Iraq's obligations means that that he is bringing this crisis to a decisive and final phase. It is not the United Nations or the United States or the United Kingdom which have provoked this terrible situation. Iraq is the only country in such serious and multiple breech of mandatory UN obligations. But even now, at this late stage, there is still time for Saddam to recognise that the time for his lies, deception and non-co-operation is over. The crisis can be resolved peacefully—but that must happen now so that Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei receive full co-operation in their important work.

UNSCR 1441 did not impose obligations only on Iraq. All 15 members of the Security Council agreed that if Saddam failed to comply immediately with his obligations, we—all of the nations of the United Nations—would have no option but to conclude that the Iraqi regime should face "serious consequences". Diplomatic language can be ambiguous. In this case, however, the terminology had only one meaning: disarmament by force. Iraqi contempt for the United Nations has brought us to this position. In passing SCR 1441, the United Nations steeled itself for the prospect that it would have to demonstrate that the UN resolutions in respect of Iraq have a potency beyond words on paper. That is why the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain tabled a resolution in New York on Monday, making clear that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity that the UNSCR held open. This is no more than a plain statement of fact.

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We are now seeking to build consensus at the Security Council that, by failing to disarm voluntarily, Iraq is making not only a wrong choice, but a choice in which we cannot acquiesce without shying away from our own responsibilities. We shall not be calling for a vote on the draft resolution immediately. We want the text, the proposition, to be examined by the Security Council in full.

We need that second resolution soon because Resolution 1441 required Iraq's full, active and immediate compliance. Fifteen weeks later, Saddam's compliance has not been full, active or immediate. Not one member of the Security Council, NATO or the European Union says otherwise. Every move of Saddam Hussein's has been cynically timed and calculated to divide and delay. Only last night, Iraq told Dr Blix that they had "found" a bomb apparently containing biological agents. I know that some will argue that this shows that Iraq is being contained or is complying. This was a predictable move in a pattern of behaviour. It is in reality the familiar game—dribbling out small concessions at the last minute—as Saddam may well do on the demands to destroy the al-Samoud missiles as the inspectors have ordered in an attempt to cause further delay and doubt before the UN moves to the next resolution.

How will the issue of what happens after the next resolution be dealt with in Parliament? My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said clearly today that the debate in another place today is not to endorse military action by UK forces. No decision to deploy British forces in action has yet been taken. He went on to say that if such a decision is taken, it will be put to another place for its endorsement on a substantive Motion. He said that, subject to the safety of our forces, it is as much in the Government's interest as Parliament's to do so before the start of any hostilities.

Notwithstanding Saddam's lack of co-operation with UNMOVIC inspectors, one thing is clear. There would be no weapons inspectors in Iraq today if we had not brought to bear against him the threat of credible force. History shows us that he has never yielded to the will of the international community unless threatened with military action. Indeed, President Chirac conceded this in his interview with Time magazine recently. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, if such military action should prove necessary, it will be on the basis of Saddam's failure to comply with UN resolutions. The Government have now announced many deployments from all three services. The UK military presence in theatre is a highly capable force.

Any decision to embark on military operations is a grave one. It is not right to risk the lives of our servicemen and women unless there is no alternative; unless we believe that all avenues to a peaceful solution have been exhausted. In coming to any decision to initiate military action, the Government have a duty to do everything possible to ensure that our Armed Forces are properly equipped. In part, this is about the

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right training, capabilities and equipment. But it is also about ensuring that there is a clear mission and that we have the right rules of engagement.

If military action becomes necessary, we envisage that UK forces would play a key part in coalition operations led and directed by the US. To facilitate this, UK commanders would be integrated into an overall coalition command structure. However, UK forces would only undertake missions and tasks approved by UK commanders, and would remain at all times accountable to Her Majesty's Government. I hope that the House will understand that I will not be able to go into details today which could assist a potential enemy. But I can assure the House that our military planning is well advanced, and that we are taking steps to ensure that all the necessary conditions for success will be in place in the event that military action becomes necessary.

Our servicemen and women are among the finest soldiers, sailors and airmen in the world. They have proved this again and again over recent years: in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, and in many peacekeeping operations throughout the world. There is no question that should it come to armed conflict, they will acquit themselves with the integrity and skill that we have come to expect from them. I am sure that all of us will want to pay tribute not only to their professionalism, but to their commitment and their courage and to send our good wishes to them and their families who wait at home.

Some of your Lordships, in previous discussions of this situation, have asked why we should seek to enforce Security Council resolutions on Iraq when the international community has failed to achieve peace in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I have made clear on many occasions that Her Majesty's Government believe that the situation in Israel and the occupied territories, and the situation in Iraq, are both of grave concern and need to be addressed urgently. Both issues are important and progress on one should not be held hostage to progress on the other.

The Prime Minister again yesterday stated his personal commitment to peace in the Middle East. He made clear that urgent progress on the Middle East peace process is essential: terror and violence must stop; Israeli settlement activity must cease. Our priority is for the agreement and publication of the Quartet roadmap leading to a comprehensive settlement based on two viable states by 2005.

Some noble Lords have also been concerned that we are seeking to enforce UNSCRs on Iraq when we ignore them in respect of Israel. I think it important to reiterate that these two situations are very different. The UNSCRs relating to Iraq are of a special nature, different from other conflict situations. They arise from the ceasefire terms at the end of military action against Iraq carried out under UN authority. They are mandatory. That does not mean that we do not attach importance to the SCRs on the Israeli/Arab conflict because we do. But Resolutions 242 and 338 call on all

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parties to negotiate a peace settlement so the responsibility lies not only with Israel to comply, but also with Israel's neighbours.

Let us be quite clear what is the basis and objective of our action in the UN: it is the disarmament of Iraq. But as I have said to your Lordships before, if in the process of achieving that disarmament, Saddam Hussein's regime should fall, his departure would be of huge benefit to his country, his region and the rest of the world. His regime has been a proven danger to his region in the course of two attacks on neighbouring countries; and has been, and continues to be, a brutal burden for his own people. We must remember that this is the regime that has presided over an under-five mortality rate that is now 131 in 1,000 live births—worse even than in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has a regime where almost one-third of all children in the centre and south of the country suffer from chronic malnutrition; and where more than half of the Iraqis living in rural areas have no access to safe drinking water. This is not a result of UN sanctions. Iraq's decline from a once prosperous country began well before sanctions were introduced, and well before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and provoked the Gulf War.

Our government policy objectives on Iraq published on 7th January, include as an immediate priority to,

    "continue to support humanitarian effort to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people".

We and the UN agencies are planning for a range of humanitarian contingencies, including how to minimise harm to the Iraqi people if military action is taken.

This House now has the opportunity to debate fully the issues facing us. I look forward to listening to the debate, and to responding to it. Of course, there will be a range of opinions and different points of view. But I am sure that every contribution will share the desire for peace and I am confident that we all hold that desire.

It is the task facing us all now in the international community—not just the United States, not just the UK, but the whole of the United Nations—to end Saddam Hussein's defiance and the danger he poses to his region and to the rest of the world. Saddam Hussein can end that danger and the prospect of war simply, cleanly and quickly, by complying with what is required of him: not just complying with the inspectors, although that is an absolute prerequisite; not just complying with the spirit of Resolution 1441, although that is an absolute necessity, but complying with what Resolution 1441 and the UN as a whole is determined to achieve, which is disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. That is what the world wants to see. I know that is what this House wants to see, and I am confident that today's debate will demonstrate that.

Saddam's disarmament will happen one way or another. He should be in no doubt about that. I hope, and I am sure that this House and the whole country hope too, that his disarmament can be carried out by wholly peaceful means. That is the best way forward.

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But we have to be ready, if peaceful disarmament proves impossible, to secure it in the face of Saddam's obduracy and to take action.

None of us wants to see that; none of us wants to see military conflict. We do not want war. It is indeed terrible to contemplate. But the time may soon be upon us all when Saddam Hussein makes his choice, when he rejects the wishes of the international community and instead chooses fear, violence, terrorism and dictatorship. As a result, we will have to make our choice too, choosing determination and democracy in the cause of securing peace. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of Command Paper Cm 5769 on Iraq.—(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)

3.39 p.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, the Minister set out the situation with her usual thoroughness and pinpoint clarity. The noble Baroness mentioned that she has undertaken to wind up for the Government—which is a burden for her but a bonus for the rest of us. I look forward to a very good debate, which I am sure there will be in your Lordships' House.

For anyone with the slightest sense of history, it is impossible not to appreciate—indeed admire—at this particular moment the tireless determination and what has been called the lonely valour of the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair. I for one especially admire the robustness of his view, which he reaffirmed unequivocally only yesterday, that our foreign and defence policies, not merely in this matter but in all matters, will be conducted by the Government of the United Kingdom and by no one else—a view that is challenged almost daily in the European Convention, with its view of shared competencies, a single European voice and other fantasies.

There have been critics of the presentation—not the actions and policies—of the Prime Minister's case. Some of us on this side of the Chamber are among those critics. It is clear from previous debates in your Lordships' House that the Prime Minister has slightly confusingly swung about in making the case for military action. It does seem that the priorities have been altered. I am not too critical because perhaps that is inevitable and should be forgiven. We are dealing with a situation of enormous complexity and anyone with too much certitude in this matters should be suspect. At least the Prime Minister has not tried at any time to ride the tiger of populism, which is an extremely dangerous pursuit that nearly always ends in tears. It is right to remind our French and German friends of that danger as well as—I say this in the friendliest way—some political parties nearer home.

The core case for disarming Iraq and—at least by a side wind, as the noble Baroness indicated—"ridding the world" of Saddam, in the Prime Minister's words, is not just 12 or 13 years of defiance. It must be something more immediate and I believe that it is. Iraq is at the centre of the jigsaw of global terrorism and the hatred of all Western values that grew and multiplied before and since 9/11. It is a direct threat to our

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national security and society and possibly even an imminent threat—although we cannot prove that and can only make preparations against it.

The issue is not just Saddam's co-operation, which is important, but his intention. Some of us have believed all along that it is his remorseless intention, unless halted, to destabilise and dominate his own region; to threaten international security and of course energy supplies; and to sponsor terrorist violence wherever and whenever the chances arise. That is what our assessments suggest and why we back the Prime Minister's stance, as well as admire it, and know that much further delay is incredibly dangerous to all of us—I repeat, incredibly dangerous to all of us—as well as to the wider world.

Since 9/11, there have apparently been four major terrorist threats against sites in this country—each mercifully and successfully thwarted. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has revealed that dark terrorist leaders have been in and out of Baghdad and that Iraqi cash flows and assistance are being injected into the veins of international terrorism all the time. I had doubts about links with Al'Qaeda, as did many of your Lordships, until hearing this morning that Saddam Hussein, that well known truthmonger, was denying all links—a denial carried uncritically and deferentially by the BBC. After that, I am beginning to believe that there must be links of some kind. Whether or not one can believe Saddam—and most of your Lordships would start from the proposition that one cannot believe a word that he says—we have seen again and again, even if one does believe him, how Iraqi newspapers, all Government controlled, admire Osama Bin Laden's handiwork even if the Iraqis do not share his religious fervour.

We have reports of arms and missiles being shipped to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, of money being pumped into the hands of Hamas bombers and of a dozen other trouble-stirring involvements. It is all there, staring us in the face, even when we have dealt with the question of Saddam's defiance of the United Nations and all the rest. Sometimes it is better to focus on detailed specifics and minute particulars—as Blake said,

    "To see the world in a grain of sand"—

rather than be guided by generalisations and big assertions. Those are the little signs and they do tell the big story.

France and Germany are insisting that the answer is more inspectors and more time to hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Many of your Lordships may argue that case this afternoon. We have to ask, as did the noble Baroness, "Why should that help?" Inspectors are not disinterers or, as the Prime Minister said, detectives. They are the auditors. All the facts and figures must be set before them, not hidden away. The noble Baroness emphasised that there is only the smallest chance of finding weapons or nerve agent substances without Saddam's full compliance and the opening of all the books. Will more inspectors—500, 1,000 or whatever number—mean more compliance? One only has to ask that question to know that the answer is that of course it will not.

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The Prime Minister mentioned yesterday that we know from intelligence and simple deduction that weapons, nerve agents, growth media, machining equipment, classified software and technology are all there—hidden and dispersed in a vast country, which is easy to do. We know that getting co-operation from Saddam will be like getting blood from a stone, with a dribble of skilfully timed, last-minute, so-called concessions. The noble Baroness described one from yesterday.

So what really lies behind the stance of the anti-war countries and groups, which is undoubtedly so widely shared? One must analyse the fears in order to respect them. There is the usual anti-Americanism, although I do not set much store by it, and genuine fears about winning the peace after the war and what the whole operation may do to neighbouring countries. I am sure that your Lordships will have many thoughts on that important consideration. There are also perfectly justifiable fears all round about the humanitarian consequences of war. The noble Baroness reminded us that 60 per cent of Iraqis are already on food rations—in a country that was richer than Greece or Portugal only a few years ago. Almost half the population of Iraq is under 14—an incredible statistic. We need to know a good deal more about the Government's preparations for dealing with millions of starving refugees and how the agencies will cope on top of dealing with all the other humanitarian challenges around the world.

The biggest fear or concern of the doubters, which I much respect, is that the casus belli or justifying trigger is not yet fully spelt out—at least, it seems not clear to them. Everyone agrees that Saddam is evil—that is easy—but regrettably, far too many are still asking the awkward question, "Why now?". What precisely justifies a pre-emptive strike? I suspect that half of the 1 million people who marched through Hyde Park the other day were the usual suspects—minds closed to American values, western liberties and the other values that we esteem. I suspect that the other half had sincere doubts about the immediate case for war.

My noble and honourable friends and I believe that there are clear answers to those doubts—but they have not been put as well as they should have been. Now that we are in the final, final phase, those answers need to be put over much better—not by just leaving it to the inspectors. I do not think—the noble Baroness probably does not think it either—that they will light upon some magic discovery of a smoking gun or whatever. It must not be done even by entering into the debate about the moral justification, although that is very important, but by spelling out the direct threat that Saddam and his policies present to us all as of now. That is the case for imminent action, against imminent threat.

Personally, I hope that further delays will be minimised. A second UN resolution has to be worked for and will be desirable, without a doubt. However, in my view action should follow swiftly thereafter. I have no doubts that Saddam is one of the great murderers of the 20th century, and he is killing more people even

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now. At the time of the Gulf War, I took a particular personal objection to him. Having just left the Cabinet, I noticed that it was his habit to strangle outgoing Ministers. That seemed to me a very bad idea.

Confronting Saddam now is not only a question of upholding UN authority. That is what the Prime Minister and the noble Baroness have said before. We all value that authority. Without the UN, what is there in its place? Frankly, however, the UN is not always the fount of all moral authority, considering some of its members and their practices. There is also the question of putting a stop to the cycle of unending violence and perpetuated terror by someone who is clearly a lead contractor and sponsor of the terrorist business.

I hope that everything is over speedily and with a minimum of casualties. The US is about to go to war with the highest technology ever used, with weapons for pulverising radar tracking stations and with thermobaric bombs that paralyse all electrical apparatus, and therefore whole cities and the working of cities. If Iraqi military morale collapses fast, things should be over and done with in short order, or so we pray, should it come to that.

I emphasise that more delay is just what Baghdad wants. If Saddam is left in place, it might mean peace, but it will be the peace of the dead. To take a phrase from another context,

    "twere well it were done quickly".

Action will open the pathway for real peace and progress in the Middle East, instead of the current real insecurity and real uncertainty plaguing the entire planet, and the real terrorism close to us all and coming closer every day.

3.52 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I too thank the Deputy Leader of the House for the very forceful, although not at all untypical, way in which she addressed the House. We on these Benches share completely the objective of the disarmament of Iraq. There is no question about that.

I want to remind the noble Baroness of the second part of Resolution 1441. It states that Iraq should have,

    "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council",

and that it has been accordingly decided,

    "to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process".

The difference between these Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, is straightforwardly that we believe that the present draft resolutions pre-empt that process, that it is not yet completed, and that there is still an opportunity to avoid war.

Let me say very clearly, in case there is any misunderstanding, that we believe that we, as powerfully as any other part of this House, have an obligation to our troops to make absolutely certain that

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men and women are not put into war, risking their lives, unless it can be shown to be absolutely necessary to do so. It is to that that I intend to address my remarks.

The first question is whether we are convinced that Iraq is an imminent and present threat. There is no question but that it could be a potential threat, although I must dispute briefly with the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford. Not only the CIA in the United States but Ministers in this House have on more than one recent occasion admitted that there is no clear evidence to link Al'Qaeda to the Government of Iraq, much as we might find things easier if that were so. That must be stated very explicitly, because repeating a misconception over and again does not turn that misconception into a truth. Therefore, I doubt whether we can show that Iraq is an imminent threat.

If we are seeking imminent threat, I need only quote from a very senior colleague of mine who is the head of the security unit in the Belfer Center at Harvard University. Ash Carter is a former National Security Agency assistant secretary. He said:

    "News reports late last week indicated that . . . North Korea is trucking the fuel rods away where they can neither be inspected nor entombed by an airstrike . . . as this loose nukes disaster unfolds and the options for dealing with it narrow, the world does nothing".

That is a much more imminent threat.

Secondly, we are not convinced that containment has failed. I can quote from an authoritative source. These are the words of the Prime Minister himself in November 2000:

    "We believe that the sanctions regime has effectively contained Saddam Hussein in the last 10 years. During this time he has not attacked his neighbours, nor used chemical weapons against his own people".—[Official Report, Commons, 1/11/00; col. 511W.]

Nor has he done either in the past three years—since that statement.

Another authoritative source said:

    "Through a process of inspection and verified destruction, the UNSCOM inspectors have demolished more weapons capability than was destroyed by the allied forces during the Gulf war".—[Official Report, Commons, 17/2/98; col. 900.]

Those are the words of Robin Cook, then the Foreign Secretary. Even much more recently, it has been restated more than once that containment has proved more effective in destroying weapons of mass destruction than any war at any time in the past few years.

The third issue is whether we believe that the peaceful options have been exhausted. Again, I quote from two unimpeachable sources. The first is the Congressional Research Service of the United States Congress, which said:

    "In meetings with Blix and ElBaradei in Baghdad on February 8 and 9, 2003, Iraqi officials handed over documents on anthrax, VX, and missile programs . . . On February 10, Iraq notified the UN that it would permit overflights of American U-2, French Mirage, and Russian Antonov aircraft".

Let us add to that the report in the Independent today, which said:

    "Mr Blix said the details of the weapons"—

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I have described when they were handed over to the inspectors—

    "were 'positive steps which need to be explored further'. Asked if there was any indication by the Iraqis of 'substantive progress or proactive co-operation'",

which are exactly the requirements mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, Mr Blix, a man of few words, replied, "Yes". That was only yesterday. We on these Benches are not persuaded that all peaceful options have been exhausted. We point, not to illusions or statements by Members on these Benches, but to clear and unimpeachable sources such as the Congressional Research Service and the chief inspector, Mr Blix himself.

None of this would matter so much if the consequences of war were less serious than they are. I wish to say a few words about them. First, the Financial Times states:

    "The coalition of the willing sounds ever more like a coalition of the reluctant".

Huge pressures are being brought to bear, not least on moderate Muslim countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and others, to subscribe to being part of an alliance to destroy the Iraqi regime. Those countries have protested over and over again that they do not wish to be involved in the war.

Let me give two examples. There was a great deal of controversy over Turkey because it was argued that it had been refused Patriot missiles as a result of a disagreeable coalition between France and Germany. It later emerged that Turkey had never asked for Patriot missiles or for any of the other equipment that was sent to it. Turkey had asked for consultation under Article 4 of the NATO treaty. It had not invoked Article 5, which is the article concerning mutual defence. Even now, Turkey is driving a colossally hard bargain. Members of the House will have seen that one part of the bargain is that Turkey should be allowed to bring 55,000 troops into northern Iraq—the Kurdish area, much of which is protected by a no-fly-zone—a situation which, at the very least, is likely to foment great anger and, at worst, could lead to civil war and the disintegration of Iraq. It has also—incidentally, almost—helped to destroy the real prospect of a united Cyprus entering the European Union some time in the next seven or eight years.

The International Crisis Group—I declare an interest as a board member—has discovered that there is tremendous public concern about the possibility of a war against Iraq in the Middle East. In its report, it states:

    "ICG interviews throughout the region, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria, indicate that there exists wide and deep scepticism about US motives".

That may be unfair, but it is a fact that we have to take into account when deciding whether the price of war is too high. It also emphasises the importance of pursuing every other possible alternative.

I need not add the special complication of the wretched situation in the Middle East, referred to in another place yesterday by that distinguished and brave Member of Parliament, Gerald Kaufman, as the

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daily almost casual slaughter of Palestinians by the IDF and the daily almost casual slaughter of Israelis by terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza. We cannot pretend that this is not a desperately serious complication. With great respect to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, she and I both know that the reason why the UN resolutions are mandatory on Iraq, and not mandatory on Israel, which has also broken many of them, is because the United States refuses to agree to their being made mandatory on Israel.

I have the greatest respect for the Prime Minister. He has virtually ripped himself into pieces trying to hold the Administration in the United States to the UN process. He is the reason why George Bush went to the United Nations: I pay the Prime Minister great credit for that. But the distinction I have just drawn between Israel and Iraq shows all too clearly that it is not the Prime Minister who is in the driving seat. It is concern about who is in the driving seat that underlies much of the scepticism.

I do not need to mention at length the possible humanitarian consequences of a war. That has been done effectively by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford. But they are extreme. One has only to consider the desperate plight with regard to food. According to a leaked UN document, 30 per cent of children under five will be at risk of death from malnutrition if the war lasts more than a week or so. There are also warnings about cholera and many other extreme diseases. The warnings come from a United Nations leaked document, called the "Humanitarian Consequences of the War".

Before I come to my conclusion, I shall say in the words of a famous politician whom many Labour Members of this House will remember,

    "You don't need to look at the crystal if you can read the book".

What is the book? The book concerns Afghanistan. I shall quote again from two sources, the first of which is The Times of 13 February, which states that

    "large parts of the country are once more on the verge of anarchy".

An article by the senior fellow at the American Council on Foreign Relations—I declare an interest as a member of its international advisory council—states:

    "Basic security and stability have still not been achieved".

Worst of all, when the President drew up his budget for 2004, he forgot to put even a penny for the reconstruction of Afghanistan into it. Paul Krugman, of the New York Times, states:

    "The Bush team forgot about it. Embarrassed Congressional staff members had to write in $300 million to cover the lapse".

So much for Afghanistan, already largely forgotten, coming back to anarchy, and neglected by the international community.

I conclude with two thoughts. First, there is clear evidence that the obsession with Iraq is drawing us away from what should be our first priority, which is to attack international terrorism. For that we need the widest possible support. I shall not go on quoting, but it was President Jimmy Carter who said a few days ago that the

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obsession with Iraq had essentially diverted the American Administration from concern about terrorism. There is more evidence that we are beginning to neglect the remnants—not dead remnants, but live ones—of Al'Qaeda in many other parts of the world.

Finally, there is a fundamental thought, to which my colleague Lord Wallace of Saltaire will address himself. There is undoubtedly among European opinion, including the United Kingdom, more than 80 per cent opposition to a war without UN support and considerable opposition to a war even with UN support. That does not reflect anti-Americanism, except perhaps among a small minority. Many of us regard America as one of the most enterprising, imaginative, democratic and open societies in the world. What it reflects is concern with an Administration propelled to some extent by what I can only describe as a fundamentalist Christian and fundamentalist Jewish drive that is almost as powerful as fundamentalist Islam itself. The Administration have set aside the structures of the multilateral community by removing themselves from treaties and conventions, by refusing to sign the Kyoto agreement or agreeing to the biological weapons convention being resumed, and now by embarking on nuclear plans that threaten even the nuclear proliferation treaty. It is who is in the driving seat that frightens many of us; certainly not that great country the United States.

4.8 p.m.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, that great war strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote:

    "No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it".

That is sound advice. Governments should define the purpose and desired end state of any conflict. There must be clear political objectives to establish a guiding framework for the military planner. Without establishing a purpose for war, one will never know how to fight, or when indeed the fighting might end.

If we go to war, what is its purpose? By now, with all that has been said about Saddam Hussein and his evil regime, his weapons of mass destruction and his possible and likely links with terrorist organisations, there should be a clear understanding about the purpose. But, for all the efforts of the Minister and others, I wonder if part of the problem that the Prime Minister and his Government are having in gaining the support and confidence of the public is not down to confusion about the precise purpose.

For much of the earlier part of last year the oft-repeated phrase was "regime change", which was accepted then to mean that Saddam must go. The main proponent of that approach was the US Administration, even before the arrival of President Bush. It had echoes on this side of the Atlantic, too, and in Parliament. Regime change in Iraq is clear enough. It expresses a broad purpose or aim, to which diplomatic, economic and, if necessary, military effort could be directed.

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I set to one side the very important dilemma about whether it would be lawful and right to launch a military contribution to topple a head of state by means of a pre-emptive strike, or what steps are necessary to make such action lawful. Maybe it should not be described as lawful.

Some time later the aim seemed to have been adjusted: it was still "regime change" but that was now being described as meaning that so long as Saddam surrendered his weapons, and thus changed his stance on them, that would be a satisfactory "regime change". In other words, Saddam need not be got rid of if he got rid of his weapons.

Recently, all the emphasis has been on the efforts of the weapons inspectors, and there has been a clear focus on the weapons themselves. Their removal has to be the aim. I pay tribute to the consistency with which the Minister has stuck to that formulation. But in his speech in Glasgow at the Labour Party conference, the Prime Minister said that if Saddam went as well as the weapons, that would be "great". At the press conference he gave last week, he was quoted as saying that he wished to see the back of Saddam Hussein. In his Statement yesterday, the Prime Minister said,

    "the purpose in our acting is disarmament".

However, later—in answer to a question—he said:

    "The objective is the ridding of Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, and while Saddam's regime stands in the way of that it is an obstacle that has to be removed".—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/03, cols. 125-34.]

So it seems that we go round in a rather confusing circle about the purposes of our actions. Of course, to a large extent, the differing purposes are interrelated, although I believe that from Saddam's point of view whether he himself is to go or just his weapons is a very material difference.

I fear that that rather mixed message does not help the country to be clear about what is intended, and indeed about what contribution military operations—if they take place—are to make. Differing assertions about links between Iraq and terrorist organs and poorly prepared dossiers have added to public disquiet. There must be confidence that the United States' purpose and the UK's purpose are sufficiently the same that the military operations of both countries—if ordered—are going to be in step and directed towards the same political goals.

The first key principle of war is "selection and maintenance of the aim". Turning destruction of weapons of mass destruction into a military plan presupposes occupation and overthrow of the Iraqi forces. All that should be clear. However, it is disingenuous to argue that little can be said about operations and their aftermath for fear that we forgo the element of surprise and so endanger our forces in the field. No one would want to do that. In the last Gulf conflict we made it very clear to Saddam what was required: he had to withdraw from Kuwait. Not for one moment did we tell him how we might go about achieving the removal of his forces if he did not order them to withdraw. The methods of attack, and where our forces would come from, were of course not

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mentioned, although, with a deadline set, it would have been clear to him that hostilities would begin at or soon after the date he had been given.

One thing is clear about Saddam: he is not a quitter. He has held on through thick and thin for many years. The default presumption before Her Majesty's Government embarked on this strategy of confrontation and pressure on the Iraqi regime had to be that Saddam would not be persuaded to do that which was required of him. There would be no change of heart. At best there would be small tactical-type concessions as he strung the United Nations and the Security Council along. In his eyes, he has done so successfully for more than a decade.

So I accept that having embarked on this strategy, there can be no turning back. As the Prime Minister so pointedly said in his Statement in the other place on 3rd February:

    "if, having made a demand backed up by a threat of force, we fail to enforce that demand, the result will not be peace or security. It will simply be returning to confront the issue again at a later time, with the world less stable, the will of the international community less certain, and those repressive states or terrorist groups that would destroy our way of life, emboldened and undeterred".—[Official Report, Commons, 3/2/03; col. 23.]

So we must face up now. If we are to take the Prime Minister at his word, we are almost certainly committed to taking part in hostilities. It is therefore most important that those members of the Armed Forces who will be undertaking these operations and their loved ones know that this cause is just and that they have the backing of this House and of another place. They will deserve that at least from us all, once the die is cast. To the extent that it is possible, I also hope that the Government will be forthcoming about the future for Iraq if we are to be committed to hostilities. At least let them indicate what comes next, whether they intend to maintain forces on the ground in Iraq and what the prospects are for that period being short. Fighting draws heavily on resources and stretches the forces. However, the prospect of maintaining some form of peacekeeping force on the ground for weeks, months or even a year or more will be an even greater strain on the forces, particularly the Army. Our Armed Forces and the public deserve to know what lies ahead. We can be sure to win the war but we must also be sure to win the peace that follows.

Now is not the time for hand-wringing doubts, for looking back in anger at what could have been done differently or for moral uncertainties. We are where we are now. The past is for the historians. The future has to be faced as things stand today. The Government's aim must be even more clearly stated and then achieved with as widespread support as is possible and most particularly if—as seems likely—our forces are committed to battle. If they are, we wish them God speed.

4.17 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I would like to begin by making a distinction between what should be the distinctive contribution of the Church at a time like this and what might be the judgment, however considered, of an individual Church leader. The prime

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responsibility of the Church, qua Church, is to draw attention to the long tradition of Christian thinking on the morality of war and to insist that the criteria or conditions of this tradition are met. In doing that, we are very conscious that it is the Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, who carry the heavy responsibility for actually making such decisions. So, aware of this, I would want to assure all those who have those awesome responsibilities that they are very much in the prayers of the whole Christian community at this time and that the divine wisdom might prevail in this as in all matters. That theme was very much emphasised by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster in their recent joint statement.

That said, in a democracy, the individual judgments of Church leaders will, I hope, contribute to the debate but they will be put forward with proper modesty and there will be a distinction between them and what I believe to be the distinctive, authoritative voice of the Church, which is actually to set out those criteria and to insist that they be met.

I do not intend to go through all the criteria but I do wish to focus very briefly on three of them. First, there must be lawful authority. For the past few hundred years, final authority has rested with the ruler of the nation state. In our time, however, we have the significant achievement of the United Nations. Leaving aside the pre-World War II League of Nations, whose collapse is a warning to us all, for the first time in human history we have the makings of a truly international authority. Some argue that even without a fresh resolution specifically authorising military action there is a legal basis for war. Professor Adam Roberts, for example, has argued that there is a legal basis as a result of already existing UN resolutions.

Other people, such as the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, in a recent article in the Tablet, have argued against that position. My point, however, is that even if there are legal grounds for war on the basis of present resolutions, and even if unilateral action is sometimes morally right—as I believe it to have been over Kosovo—in the present situation it is imperative to obtain a fresh mandate if force is to be used. The reason is that the UN exists to be a focus for and an expression of a truly international consensus. When the right course of action is fiercely contested, as it is at the moment, it is that much more important to ensure the widest possible international support and authority.

Some argue that it would be quite wrong to desist from military action because of a veto from another member of the Security Council put forward on purely political grounds. That argument might apply in certain extreme circumstances. But the UN has never operated in the stratosphere above political considerations. It is, and always will be, an arena in which political goals are pursued and conflicting goals are worked through. But this is precisely the process by which we ensure that any UN decision is based on as wide as possible a consensus

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and the resulting decision has in mind the good of the international order as a whole and not just the national interest of a particular state or group of states.

I want to emphasise at this point that what is at stake is the authority of the United Nations As the Prime Minister said yesterday:

    "At stake in Iraq is not just peace or war. It is the authority of the United Nations".—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/03; col. 126.]

This is vital, as the Prime Minister emphasised, not just to what might happen over Iraq but for the Middle East and indeed the world as a whole, not just for now but for the future. It follows from this that because it is the authority of the UN that needs to be upheld in relation to Iraq, it is that much more crucial that what is done is done in the name of the UN as a whole and not simply of a few member states.

If there is a fresh resolution of the UN Security Council, recognising that the end of the road has been reached in trying to persuade Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions by peaceful means and authorising the use of military force, those of us who have been sceptical about whether other criteria have been met will need to think again. However, in the absence of such a specific resolution that scepticism will remain.

The second criterion of the tradition is that of just cause. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a cruel tyrant to his own people and a threat to the region, but is that threat both imminent and serious enough to justify crossing the awesome threshold of war with all its unpredictable and potentially destructive consequences for the region and for the world? A policy of containment and deterrence has worked for the past 12 years, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, pointed out. It has not worked perfectly, not least because of the undermining actions of some states, but it has kept Saddam Hussein within certain constraints.

There is a temptation to believe that some decisive action will put right all that is wrong. Less than perfect solutions are difficult to live with and there is always a level of continuing frustration. Because of this frustration we are sometimes tempted to go for the big, bold decisive step that will somehow remedy everything. Sometimes that is a temptation to be resisted.

The third criterion I want to touch on is that of last resort. Every effort to resolve the dispute by peaceful means must first have been tried and found to fail. The Prime Minister has rightly emphasised that Saddam Hussein has had 12 years to comply with UN resolutions on disarmament. He has indeed had all that time, but as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, emphasised, the inspectors reported significant success in getting him to disarm in 1998 and there is some reported co-operation now. I believe that they still have a role to play.

The authority of the United Nations is the issue. It needs to be upheld for the whole future of international order. Its authority depends in part on the threat of force now operating on the mind of Saddam Hussein. It may come to the use of actual force. But we are not yet at the end of the road. If we do come to the end of that

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road, when it is clear that the UN inspectors can achieve no more, a clear sign of that would be a new UN resolution indicating that force was now the only remaining option.

4.25 p.m.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the case for action against Iraq does not start now, does not start with resolution 1441, does not start with 11th September 2001—in fact, I believe that even without the events of 11th September we should sooner rather than later have had to act against Iraq. The case started 13 years ago, which is clear from Command Paper Cm 5769. So to the questions: why Iraq and not other horrible murdering regimes; or others who have been subject to UN resolutions; and why now, the answers to me are clear.

Saddam Hussein's regime had a war waged against it on an UN mandate in 1991 and the resolutions concerning him are all under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, covering,

    "Action with respect to threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression",

which uniquely provides for the use of coercive force to counter these threats and authorises collective military action. That is the significant and serious difference between resolutions under Chapter 7 and those under Chapter 6, which covers peaceful resolution of conflict and situations such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Kashmir.

The Chapter 7 resolutions all embody and arise from the ceasefire agreement which Iraq was party to and has evaded for the past 12 years. The activity of the regime through those years, rendering the work of UNSCOM impossible so that it left in 1998, and the accumulating evidence of the regime seeking material for which there was no credible civilian purpose in places such as the Congo and in Belarus—in fact, an Iraqi mission was reported visiting Minsk just before UNMOVIC arrived in Iraq—all mean that Iraq is an ever increasing threat prepared to spend its money, from, among other sources, illegal sales of oil, on luxuries for the Ba'ath elite and its weapons of mass destruction programmes rather than medicine to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi children, which the regime makes such propaganda capital out of and which is the result not of sanctions but of the way the regime chooses to manage its affairs.

The idea advanced that containment is an answer ignores history. Containment most certainly has not been working. I disagree with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, about that. Although it has had its successes in its time, neither the inspectors nor sanctions were inhibiting the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction by this regime. Does anyone doubt that only the real and credible threat of force has achieved the return of the UN inspectors? Resolution 1441 demands full co-operation from Iraq and is a final and last chance which the regime is patently not taking.

Although I am not a lawyer, I really have problems understanding how anyone can raise fears about international law being breached by military action

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against Iraq. Chapter 7 specifically allows the use of force and Saddam has failed to comply with 23 separate obligations under a series of resolutions under Chapter 7. I said when the House was recalled last September that, as someone who had spent the last 12 months of her government service completely immersed in the Gulf crisis and the war of 1990–91, I felt a sense of de ja vu. It gives me no pleasure to have to say that that sense has only become stronger.

I agree with my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in his intellectually powerful and moving speech in Glasgow, when he said that what we are seeing, in the way Saddam is playing at co-operation with the inspectors, is a repeat of the 1990s. Even the very faces around Saddam's military council table are exactly the same. Those of us who have seen all of this before know only too well how this game goes: the serial last-minute concessions, always with a twist of a qualification; visits and interviews with western politicians; the parading of the Christian religion of Tariq Aziz; and so on and so on.

Twelve years after the UN gave him 15 days to disarm—15 days, my Lords—Resolution 1441 gave him a final opportunity to disarm. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said—most recently in his Statement yesterday—if Saddam really takes the opportunity and starts to co-operate, the inspectors can have as long as it takes. But if the evasion continues, there has to be action now. It cannot be that 1441's "serious consequences" turn out only to mean an increased number of inspectors or an extension of inspection time. As my noble friend the Minister made clear today in her comprehensive introduction to this debate, "serious consequences" really have to mean "serious consequences".

As someone who was in the hall in Glasgow listening very carefully to the Prime Minister's speech, which I have subsequently re-read several times, I want to say that the point I heard and understood the Prime Minister making about morality was not, as the media would have it, the case for the morality of war, but rather he was addressing those who are understandably disturbed about the possible consequences of war and the morality of causing those consequences and saying that there were consequences of not taking military action and that these also are disturbing, and morality has to come into that, too.

I have to say to your Lordships that that point has great personal resonance for me. In over 22 years of government service, through many stressful and difficult decisions and situations in my career, there is one outstandingly painful experience which troubles me still, and that is the massacre in 1991 by Saddam of the Shia in Basra and southern Iraq. He was able to massacre them because we stopped our military action earlier than might have been expected. There were issues raised then, too, about international law and a public outcry about continuing to fight and kill Iraqi soldiers after Kuwait had been liberated. But the consequences of us not taking the required action were terrible. Surely there has to be a question of our moral responsibility for not taking action then, and there are surely lessons to be learnt today.

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War is always bad but it is not always the worst option. The stark choice is Saddam's: disarm now or be disarmed.

4.33 p.m.

Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, I begin by thanking the Minister for her extremely lucid and forceful presentation, supported as it was by my noble friend Lord Howell and amplified by the remarkable speech—unsurprising but remarkable none the less—that we have just heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay.

However, I venture to raise, and shall try to answer, a question which worries me at this point. How does it come about that, in the face of this desperately serious problem, the formidable multilateral organisations of the United Nations and NATO, put together at the end of World War II under the notable leadership of the United States, are currently under threat of disintegration, with leading democracies almost at each other's throats as they try to grapple with this problem?

The fact that that is so is due not to any inherent weakness, fragility or stupidity on the part of some of our long-standing allies; it is because we have not yet been able to reach a clear and concerted conclusion on how to tackle this matter. Yet, we were able to do so, as my noble friend Lady Thatcher, who is sitting beside me, knows so well, in the face of recurrent threats and challenges of a far greater gravity than those that are posed—to put it in an absurd fashion—by this tiny statelet in the Middle East, with a gross domestic product smaller than that of Essex, which has been twice defeated in the past 20 years in head-on conflict. Yet, it has managed to throw us into this hideous turmoil. We understand why, of course. It is because the hapless, wretched, long-suffering and cruelly treated people of Iraq are under the leadership of this cruel dictator with whom we have been fighting in one way or another for so long.

I understand the growing urgency of the situation. But I ask whether we have yet reached the point of taking the final decision—urged upon us by many colleagues—without balancing the other factors, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, did in her speech.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, presented a simple and persuasive case: an ever-increasing threat, but accompanied, alas, over a long period of time by an ever-diminishing determination on the part of the West to confront the hazard. In the years immediately following the noble Baroness's agonising experiences in 1991, there was clear determination, but that was allowed to diminish. The inspectors were withdrawn and suddenly the alarm bells rang for us all on 11th September. From then on, the pressure has gradually built up. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, alongside President Bush, the threat of force to persuade Saddam Hussein to move has been renewed. Resumed pressure is there and it is achieving change, albeit desperately slowly.

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In those circumstances, one needs to consider, before reaching a final conclusion, the hazards of going to war, as has already been touched on by many noble Lords. Those hazards relate not only to our troops or our own side, as it were, but to the long-suffering people of Iraq.

I do not believe that the hazards with which we are now grappling—for example, weapons of mass destruction—are likely to manifest themselves while the pressure is being maintained and while Saddam Hussein is in this ever-tightening box. Ironically, almost the only circumstance in which weapons of mass destruction might be deployed is in response to an attack to enforce the resolutions. We must take that factor into account in weighing the balance.

There are two other more substantial factors which we must consider. First, can we be confident that the consequences of war will increase the prospect of peace, security and stability throughout the region? That question must be faced. One reason that it must be faced directly is because one of the engines driving the cause of conflict springs from some thinking in the United States which regards the removal of Iraq's administration as only the precursor to a much wider set of onslaughts to destabilise the entire region. That undoubtedly provokes anxiety there but it also provokes anxiety elsewhere. Therefore, can we be sure of that?

Secondly, can we be confident that success in such an attack will, in the long run, diminish, but not eliminate, the threat of terrorism for the people of this country? Is there not a real danger that, if we are seen as one of the involved and engaged parties in this operation, we shall be seen not as the liberators but as the returning imperial power which created the state of Iraq and, for a long time, governed it?

I believe that those two arguments must be borne in mind before we reach the final conclusion in favour of triggering the war, which is being widely and understandably advocated at present. That is why I think there is a need for us to work even harder than the Prime Minister, to put together support throughout the alliance, if the cause is as important and as vital—even if not risk free—as it is rightly being presented. There is then some justification for believing that we have to go that further distance to achieve that consolidation. It is easy to put the argument, "Action now, and not a minute later". We need to consider that aspect.

My final point is at the heart of this argument. If Iraq is to be disarmed, as it certainly must be—that case cannot be stated too often and too strongly—then the Prime Minister is right, as he has been from the outset, to insist that that should be achieved with the authority of the United Nations. It is very easy to become profoundly impatient with, and almost dismissive of, the United Nations. However, it represents the best international authority that we have. So it is right to wish to secure that authority. Above all, the fundamental reason for wanting to act in this way is the breach of Resolution 1441. If it is our determination to uphold the authority of the United Nations, we need to be sure that we can reaffirm that authority. That is why the Prime Minister is right to be pressing for a second, final and conclusive resolution.

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Before then our pressure must be maintained and sustained under the threat of force. If it comes to that, so be it. If, in pursuit of enforcing that determination of the United Nations, our forces are to be engaged as they must be, of course they are entitled to the fullest possible support of this House and of the entire nation.

4.41 p.m.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, in view of the time factor I want to concentrate on one main point in my remarks. I believe that the American and British Governments are getting their priorities confused, and indeed the wrong way round, in dealing with the twin evils of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The horrors of the Saddam tyranny have for a long time been well known, and have been vividly described by the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay. The region in which he operates would be a far better place without him.

There was a unanimous consensus at the UN Security Council around Resolution 1441 for a serious fresh effort to disarm him after the long years of stalemate. President Bush was persuaded again to go down what he no doubt regards as the rather dreary United Nations route. That owes a very great deal to the influence of the Prime Minister. The fact that the UN inspectors have gone back to Iraq, and some progress, albeit modest, has been made, owes a great deal to the joint military pressure mounted by both the United States and the United Kingdom. That cannot be denied.

However, Hans Blix is surely right that after years of defiance of the UN by Saddam, and only weeks of the present inspection programme, it would be wise to give a good deal more time and enhanced resources. An army of occupation of United Nations inspectors is a good deal better than an army of occupation amid the ruins of war. If that last resort of war can be prevented by patient diplomacy, that ought to be the priority.

There is always a danger that decent men draw the wrong lessons from their own historic experiences. In 1956, at the time of Suez, Anthony Eden equated Nasser with Hitler. He was rescued from a foolish war only by the government of the United States. Today, sadly, the leaders of both America and Britain appear to be falling into the same historic fallacy over Saddam Hussein.

Hussein, for all his horrors—described vividly by the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay—is no Hitler. He poses no immediate threat to the security of the United States or the United Kingdom. He is not a global threat to the world's safety and security. However, Osama bin Laden and Al'Qaeda are such a threat. There is nothing new about rogue states like Iraq. When they commit inter-state aggression, as Iraq did with Kuwait, the United Nations Charter has machinery to deal with such aggression.

However, there is something frighteningly new about stateless terrorism. It is fuelled by religious fanaticism and prepared globally, from Bali to Manhattan, using the ultimate human weapon of suicide missions, to cause the mass murder of innocent civilians. The international

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community is still fumbling to find effective means to counter and control this new global threat. There are many uncertainties about the outcome of the present crisis, but I do think that one thing is certain. A resort to war with Iraq, without full United Nations authority, would inflame and aggravate the phenomenon of Al'Qaeda terrorism throughout the world.

There are no easy answers to this non-state underground terrorism. Perhaps a starting point is to apply internationally the Government's domestic policy on crime and violence; that is, to be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism. The starting point for that policy is right in the heart of the Middle East on Iraq's borders with the Israeli and Palestine conflict. If it were possible to make progress with the famous road-map to an independent Palestine state, alongside a secure Israel, that would do more than anything else to create a climate in which the Al'Qaeda brand of terrorism would steadily wither.

The prospect of a war to disarm Iraq has provoked much moral debate. I enter into that side of it with due diffidence. It is ironic that a secular and reputedly atheistic tyrant like Saddam Hussein should provoke such a debate in the very cradle of the great monotheistic religions. Personally, I prefer the tone of our Archbishop of Canterbury and our Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster—and the Pope—to the Christian fundamentalism of Texas, the Muslim fundamentalism of bin Laden, or the Jewish fundamentalism within Israel.

The Manichaean black and white moral view does not sit easily with the realities of creating peace among nations. I prefer a modest pragmatism. I simply pray that we are going to find a way to enable the United Nations to survive, and to adapt its charter to a world with a single superpower. Perhaps we can also find a way to build a coherent European foreign and defence policy that might provide a useful and healthy balance to the role of that single superpower.

An invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, with all its serious consequences for relations between the Muslim world and the international community, should be absolutely a policy of last resort—it may be a necessary policy of last resort—and only undertaken with clear UN authority. To do otherwise would seriously risk the undermining of the UN and risk the splitting of the European Union. Here at home it would be greatly destabilising to the Government and to a Prime Minister who does not deserve it, because he has shown great courage and conviction—even for those who disagree with some of his emphasis.

It would be too high a price to pay to throw away all that by tackling Iraq by war without United Nations authority, in order to topple a vicious but second-rate Middle East dictator, as against tackling the much greater, more global, more serious problem of the new menace of international terrorism.

4.50 p.m.

Lord Bramall: My Lords, this very important debate may be the last time that some of us can allow ourselves to be critical or cautionary about our readiness to take

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part in military action without a resolution specifically authorising it. Once our Armed Forces were committed, I, and I am sure others, would want to give full support to what the Government required them to do and to wish them Godspeed.

Nor would I want to make it harder for the Prime Minister to secure the nation's support for those forces were they to be committed to battle. But I think it is very important that everyone is quite clear what we are likely to be letting ourselves in for if we go down the military path.

Even now—and I agree with my noble and gallant friend—war involving this country may, sadly, be inevitable— and I imagine the Government, despite statements to the contrary, must be resigned to this—with the removal of Saddam Hussein being the "name of the game".

History has shown that when land forces are deployed to battle positions, as ours soon will be, it becomes difficult to reverse the process. And having so overtly supported the Americans on the possible need for military action, the Prime Minister can hardly withdraw that support now; while, unless there is absolute proof—always very difficult to obtain—that no nuclear chemical and biological weapons remain in Saddam Hussein's grasp, and probably without him opting, in advance, for exile, it is difficult to see how the President of the United States, after all the rhetoric, can pull back without very serious political consequences, both domestic and further afield, however well or badly the case for imminent action has been made.

Of course, should Saddam Hussein pre-empt it by voluntarily seeking asylum, there would be general rejoicing and an understandable rush to praise the statesmanship of the President and our own Prime Minister. It seems so unlikely, however, that all the necessary conditions would be met, and I think our most fervent hope must be that the Security Council can, despite the turmoil within NATO and Europe, be persuaded that military action is the only way to uphold its vital authority.

This does not necessarily mean that war is the best thing for the region—far from it—but most of us who have been critical would feel obliged to accept specific authorisation as being the proper way to deal with international problems in the 21st century.

Over six months ago—and for the moment putting on one side the difficult moral question of the greater or lesser of two evils—I set out in a letter to The Times differing views as to what the aftermath of military action might be. The first was that if Iraq was successfully attacked and Saddam Hussein was removed, preferably with the help of a popular uprising, the terrorist-ridden, war-torn Middle East would somehow unravel beneficially. It would become a more benign and tolerant area in which moderate Muslim governments could take heart; a Palestinian solution might even become possible; and the ability of terrorists to strike another blow at the United States, or indeed at Europe, would be neutralised.

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The second was quite the opposite, with a conflict in Iraq producing in that "cauldron of anti-western feeling", as Secretary of State Powell described it, the sort of display of massive United States activity which has for some time provided one of the mainsprings for terrorist motivation. Far from calming things down, making the Middle East, or the world, a safer place, enhancing any peace process and advancing the war against terrorism, it would make things infinitely worse.

To some extent, you pay your money and you take your choice, although I did point out strongly that, even with all America's military power and the high technology, getting into Iraq to implement a political aim—whatever that may turn out to be—was always going to be easier than handling what you did when you got there and being able to extricate yourself after the battle was over.

Well, either of those scenarios, I suppose, remains a possibility. And should the first one happily be more accurate, one good thing that could result would be that the Americans, from a position of apparent strength and should they be so disposed, could enforce as only they can a fair and just solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. Indeed, any odium in the Muslim world which the Americans and ourselves would be bound to incur over coalition military action might be reduced if that action were to be linked to solving and underwriting the Palestine problem.

But the downside of the more likely second scenario, and to some extent of the first, has also to be appreciated and thought through. Winston Churchill once wrote:

    "Never, never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter".

Well, there are bound to be risks in terms of casualties both to innocent civilians and to Anglo-American forces, and over a longer than anticipated duration, bearing in mind the possibility of fighting in built-up areas where the effect of fire power would be greatly reduced.

After all, in Kosovo it took NATO warplanes—admittedly without ground force action—71 days to bring the Yugoslav dictator to his knees, and then it was only the intervention of the Russians that clinched the capitulation; and the Yugoslav ground troops had hardly been weakened at all. Although it took only 100 hours to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait, the Republican Guard was able to extricate itself back into its homeland without too much difficulty. With those sorts of risks, the moral justification and the threat have to be particularly strong, as they were in Korea, in the Falklands and in the first Gulf War.

Then it must be recognised that such largely American military action would constitute, whether intended or not, a massive piece of imperial policing in an area where it is probably less, not more, western intervention that is needed. Any satisfactory rearrangement of Iraq is bound to require a quite lengthy occupation; and like imperial interventions in the past, it is often difficult to know when and where to

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stop and all too easy to get drawn forward to yet more rearrangements in other areas. After all, Afghanistan is still an ongoing and tense issue.

So the burdens of this sort of policing are often of long duration, very expensive and ultimately dangerous and democracies particularly soon become impatient of such burdens; and this time, I suspect, even more quickly. And of course by then the funding and resources of our already greatly overstretched Armed Forces will have been woefully and totally inadequate because of their underfunding during the past decade.

From the outset, when he took the view that America should not be left to deal with the difficult problem on its own, the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister has been a key player and a major influence in steering the whole question into the UN arena and securing that diplomatic triumph of a unanimous vote in the Security Council. For that, I believe the country should be very grateful to him. I would like to think also that our hearts are with him at this very difficult time in the nation's affairs.

So what is it that we should reasonably and constructively ask of him even at this late hour? There are four things. First, that he sees that the United Nations inspectors are given all possible intelligence of the sort that has convinced him and the President that Iraq still has these weapons and that they still pose a threat, so that they can seek them out and get rid of them. That is far the most painless and easy way of disarmament. If they can do so, they should be allowed to continue to do so. They will of course need more time and one has to accept that the longer they have the less credible and immediately practicable any fallback military option becomes.

Secondly, the right honourable gentleman must continue to do all in his power to build on that earlier UN consensus to secure an agreed, positive and effective course of action, not ruling out a permanent United Nations inspectors' presence, and perhaps trying to bring together the two resolutions in order to ensure complete disarmament, on which everyone agrees, or a resolution specifically authorising force in certain circumstances. A successful outcome will of course be influenced by how Dr Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei report and what they feel they can do subsequently.

Then, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, I believe that the Prime Minister and his Ministers must do more to get the nation's support. So far, some of their efforts, including that absurd dossier, have not done them justice. Despite—perhaps because of—the continual changes of direction in justification for various actions, they have failed to convince.

A national consensus affects their standing but, even more important, it is essential for the morale and motivation of the men and women of the Armed Forces who will put their lives on the line. Before going into battle, they need to know that the country is behind them. Convincing the country that there is a good, constructive case for such action will largely depend on the progress that the Prime Minister makes on the first two tasks.

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Finally—this point has already been extremely well dealt with—there must be a proper political aim at every stage of the operation, so that the military objectives and plan can fit into it. The wider implications of war must also be thought through, so that any damage limitation exercise can be in place from the outset.

If all those matters are handled well, I suppose that there is just the possibility that a damaging war could be averted or, if not, at least that military operations will be conducted as quickly and intelligently as possible. By that I mean a land battle of 14 days at the outside, otherwise we are in deep trouble.

If anything goes wrong, certainly in the short term but probably in the longer term, serious questions will undoubtedly be asked about why the Government, with Her Majesty's Opposition close in their wake, went down that road in the first place, instead of that of continued containment of Iraq and concentrating on the more imminent threat posed by Al'Qaeda and other terrorist organisations—which, after September 11th, continue to be the real and most pressing threat.

5.2 p.m.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, I ask the indulgence of the House with regard to its rules. Owing to the unfortunate fact that I am more than 90 years of age and consequently find it difficult for medical reasons to be up much after normal dinner time, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence in this respect. I shall not be able to be here at the end of the debate—after, no doubt, some distinguished speeches. I hope that the House will extend its generosity to me if I disobey that rule on this one occasion.

I do not believe in war. I do not believe in war because it is one of the most immoral acts that organised or semi-organised society can perpetrate. We talk of collateral damage in the event of any war. I wonder whether we understand what is really meant by collateral damage. In the case of the people of Iraq, it means that in addition to whatever disabilities they may face now—I should not want to minimise them—they will be blown up and torn apart, men, women and children who have never played any part in even mildly inconveniencing our life here.

It is more than 50 years ago since, as a serving officer in Her Majesty's Army during the war—I was a member of the Territorial Army even before that—I was asked to go before the North Portsmouth Labour Party, which was looking for a candidate at the time. When they invited me, party members knew perfectly well my military record at the time—risible and uninteresting though it may be. So I went to see them. It was probably an unwinnable seat, but I eventually won it. Praise be to luck; praise be to my good luck.

But one thing that my party in Portsmouth impressed on me was that one of the cardinal tenets, one of the built-in beliefs, of my party was the wickedness of war. My party said that it quite understood that I had been involved in both the TA and in the then current conflict but, for the future, my party through to its core did not

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believe in war; it believed passionately in peace. It secured my agreement to obey that edict. Thus I have tried ever since.

I very much regret the way in which the current argument has occasionally been conducted. It has not always been conducted in public. Where it has been aired in public, it has not always been other than rather loose with the truth. I have abundant examples of that, which only the constraints of time permit me to ignore.

War is an evil thing. It is not something to be brushed over or set aside. It is not something to be borne and tolerated in the back of one's mind on the basis of some probability occurring in future. It is a terrible thing and has terrible consequences for the individuals concerned. If we go to war—if we were unwise enough to go to war—we should be doing rather more than that. We should be implicitly harming the whole political structure of the world—a political structure based in the main on the sovereignty of individual states to arrive at their own decisions, to consult their own people and, through the United Nations, to express their collective view.

What would happen in the event of our opening hostilities with the rest of the world—because that is what it would be? We would be destroying its civil structure. Instead, we would be substituting—for perfectly good, sincere reasons—the power and authority of one state, the United States, which, thereafter, would in effect conduct the affairs of mankind in general.

One may find that difficult to realise, until one comes to consider one small matter—it is very small, but illustrative. It concerns the European Community, in which I have a more than passing interest. One of the reasons why Turkey has, so far, been denied membership of the European Community is, ironically, its record in dealing with the Kurds. It is small things like that—there are many more like them—that go to illustrate that, if we go to war in support of our colleagues in the United States, we shall do rather more than achieve a bloody victory; we shall achieve a transformation in the way that the affairs of the world outside the United Kingdom and America are conducted.

5.10 p.m.

Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar: My Lords, if the war starts in March, as seems almost certain, it will be, in my view, a war of cynicism, aggression, greed and unpopularity. In Glasgow, the Prime Minister claimed that unpopularity was the price of leadership; in fact, Mr Blair has been unpopular not because he has been leading but because he has been following President Bush. His unpopularity is the price not of leadership but of "followership".

During the past century, the United States was, undoubtedly, a considerable force for good. However, it would be difficult to argue that the current Administration in Washington are a force for good. That is why they are so generally unpopular in much of the world. Their arrogant bullying; their opposition to

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measures to improve the environment and to arms control, as outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby; their attitude to the international court; their meanness over foreign aid; and their economic policy—free trade for everybody else but subsidies and tariffs for themselves—which damages the economy of many poor countries, make it difficult to argue that they are a force for good. Yet, it is that most benighted American Administration for many years—probably over a century—that this country has followed so slavishly. That is what causes the Government's unpopularity.

It will be a cynical war because the reasons given for it are largely bogus. The idea that Saddam Hussein—odious though he be—presents an imminent threat to this country or the United States is deeply implausible. In an article in the New York Times entitled "Bush should start telling the truth about this war", the pro-war, pro-Israeli right-wing American columnist Thomas Friedman admitted that Saddam,

    "does not threaten America. He can be deterred".

Friedman added:

    "It is a war of choice".

That is plainly true. It is certainly not a war of necessity, still less a just war.

Another reason given for the war—the alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden—is even more bogus. There is no evidence for it.

The third reason given is that Saddam defies UN resolutions. That will not wash either: Israel also defies UN resolutions. Instead of being bombed by the Americans, however, Israel is showered with weapons and dollars for its defiance. In her interesting speech, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, sought to differentiate between Israel and Iraq, but there are many other UN resolutions concerning Israel besides Nos. 242 and 338. Unlike Iraq, Israel occupies territory and rules people in Syria and Palestine with no conceivable right to do so. Israel also wages a vicious colonial war against the Palestinians, who are struggling to free themselves from a brutal occupation. Yet, the Bush Administration give the Israeli Government unconditional support and allow Sharon to go on building illegal Jewish settlements in contravention of United Nations Resolution 465, as well as international law. Thus continues Sharon's robbery with violence of the small amount of land still left to the Palestinians.

If our Prime Minister had made his support of the United States over Iraq conditional on serious action—rather than inaction—from Bush to settle the Palestinian issue on the basis of UN resolutions, he would, at least, have been consistent and just, unlike the president. Unfortunately, he has done nothing of the sort.

The fourth reason—that there is a moral case for war because of the undoubtedly bestial nature of the Iraqi regime—was produced by the Prime Minister in some desperation, after his other reasons were shown to be unconvincing. As Harold Macmillan said, morals are best left to the archbishops; we all know what the

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archbishops—and the Pope—think about war in Iraq. In consequence, many fewer people than before believe what the Prime Minister says. In the late 1940s, there was a saying about President Truman that ran:

    "Washington could not tell a lie; Roosevelt could not tell the truth; Truman does not know the difference".

That is increasingly applicable to the Prime Minister. He says that we are making a final push for peace, when, clearly, we are making a final push for war.

It will be a war of aggression. As many noble Lords have said, Saddam—horrendous though he is—has done nothing recently to merit being attacked. The principal warmongers in America are called "chicken-hawks". Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and company were not brave enough to risk their own lives fighting in Vietnam, but they are plenty brave enough to risk other people's lives attacking Iraq. Aggression against Iraq takes attention away from America's flagging economy and the failure to find bin Laden. They also want Iraq's oil, which is where the greed comes in, and they aim to establish US-Israeli imperial hegemony throughout the Middle East. My noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon touched briefly on that.

Probably—far from certainly—the Iraqis will crumble, not fight. Probably, America, through persuasion of various sorts, will get a UN resolution. That will mean that the president and the Prime Minister will get away with their aggression for the time being. But, as many noble Lords have said, Heaven knows what will happen after that. As the fine Israeli writer Amos Oz has said, the dangers of the war are immense, and, as others have pointed out, what has happened in Afghanistan is not very encouraging.

The only sure result of the aggression will be even greater hatred of the United States and the recruitment of more terrorists. The eventual victims of those terrorists will be innocent, but the president will be guilty.

5.18 p.m

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, as a lawyer, I shall speak about the Iraq crisis in the context of international law. I do so as someone who is British and American by birth and has strong links to both countries.

I shall start from a basic principle: there should be an international rule of law that governs the external actions of states in the same way that, as we now accept, the rule of law must govern the conduct of the state in the internal exercise of its powers. In that context, it is a matter of great concern that, in some respects, the USA—the present Administration, at least—rejects that principle, which it sees as a limitation on its powers. That is true of, at least, some of the aspects of the handling of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and it is true of the American attitude to the International Criminal Court, which has been not just a refusal to co-operate but a policy of active obstruction.

International law is more amorphous and uncertain than domestic law. It has something equivalent to statute law, with the Charter of the United Nations and the numerous covenants, conventions and treaties made since the end of the Second World War.

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However, those are not exhaustive sources of international law. International law develops outside the treaty system, as well as within it. There is only a rudimentary court system. There is the International Court of Justice, but it has limited jurisdiction. We now have the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc tribunals on Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

Finally, there is of course no central agency for law enforcement. We must rely on the willingness of states to contribute their own forces and logistics support to enforcement actions.

If we are to support action against Iraq we must be satisfied that that action is within the rule of law and not outside it. There are three possible legal justifications for military intervention in Iraq: first, the right of humanitarian intervention; secondly, self-defence; and, thirdly, the failure to comply with the United Nations resolutions. There has been confusion between these three justifications, which has at times been shared by our own Government.

Let us look first at humanitarian intervention. This is a new principle which has arisen outside the charter. It was most clearly recognised in Kosovo. It is widely, but not universally, accepted by international lawyers. In cases such as genocide by rulers against their own people, as in Rwanda and Cambodia, it is hard to deny that such a principle exists.

Can it apply to Iraq? Can we invade Iraq to save its own people from tyranny? Saddam Hussein is certainly a murderous tyrant. He has killed thousands of his opponents and he has caused many thousands of deaths among Iraqis by the way he has spent money on arms and palaces which he was supposed to spend on food and medicines. But the right of humanitarian intervention is an exceptional power and can be used only in exceptional circumstances such as genocide or major ethnic cleansing. The closest Saddam has come to this is in his treatment of the Marsh Arabs, whose culture he has destroyed and many of whose people he has killed. But it would be unrealistic to treat even that as a justification for war. I do not believe that we are entitled to go to war with Iraq to save the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, desirable as that result would be.

As regards self-defence, individual and collective rights of self-defence are recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. However, evidence of Iraqi involvement in the events of 11th September are non-existent. We plainly cannot use that as a justification for an attack. We are looking therefore at the question of pre- emptive self-defence—the right to strike first to forestall an attack which will happen in the future.

It is questionable whether a right of pre-emptive self-defence exists in international law. Most, but not all, international lawyers believe that it does. But most are also agreed that the right can exist only when an attack is imminent. What "imminent" means is, admittedly, unclear when weapons of mass destruction can be transported in a container on a lorry or a ship, or, indeed, even in a test-tube.

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The most that can be said now is that at some time in the future Saddam may choose to make a weapon of mass destruction available to a terrorist group. We cannot regard that as a sufficiently clear and imminent threat to justify an attack now. On that issue, I beg leave to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, of Guildford.

And so we come back to the third ground for intervention, the failure of Iraq to comply with the United Nations orders to destroy weapons of mass destruction and not to re-equip itself, and, in particular, its non-compliance with resolutions 687 and 1441. I believe that this is a far stronger ground for intervention, and the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, was right to concentrate entirely on it.

The United Nations has power under Article 39 to decide on the measures to take to maintain peace and security; under Article 41 the measures may be sanctions; and under Article 42, if sanctions prove to be inadequate, the United Nations may use armed force.

I have little doubt that Iraq still has biological and chemical weapons; I have little doubt that an Iraq in possession of weapons of mass destruction is, and would become increasingly, a threat to the peace and security of its region, if not of the wider world. I therefore have to accept that the use of armed force would be a proportionate and legitimate response if no other form of pressure can induce Iraq to disclose and destroy its weapons of mass destruction and its facilities for making them.

But the use of armed force would be legitimate only if other methods had failed. The question is, have they failed? Certainly they have not yet succeeded, but it is not clear that they have yet failed. We must not allow a timetable to be dictated by logistics and climate. We must act with deliberate speed and not with haste. Others have discussed, and will discuss, possible alternatives to armed force. I will say, once again, that force must be used only as a last resort.

I turn to the final issue, which is perhaps the most important of all. A decision under Article 42 of the United Nations Charter to use force is a matter that must be decided by the international community, acting through the United Nations. That brings me back to where I started—the rule of law must be paramount.

I recognise that without the commitment of the USA there would be no chance whatever of enforcing compliance by Saddam Hussein with the United Nations resolutions. That gives the USA a right to respect for its views and to a strong voice in the decision-making process. But it must balance its great powers with great restraint. As Shakespeare said in "Measure for Measure",

    "O, it is excellent

To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous

"To use it like a giant".

The United States and the United Kingdom should act only with the authority of the international community behind them. Without that authority, military force would not be legitimate. I believe that

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what I have said represents the views not only of most of the British people but of very many Americans as well.

5.26 p.m.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, in my entire career as a British diplomat I cannot recall a crisis to compare with our present situation vis-a-vis Iraq, with the possible exception of the Cuba missile crisis of 1962. I say this not because I think there is any risk, as there certainly was in the case of Cuba, of Iraq targeting the West with weapons of mass destruction; quite the contrary. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, I have never believed that there was an immediate threat from Iraq either against the United States or against Europe.

It seems to me much more likely, as has been argued by both the Sheikh of Al Azhar and the Prime Minister of Malaysia, that an attack against Iraq, which may well be necessary as a last resort, will be seen in the Islamic world as a direct attack against Islam and will fuel further terrorist attacks against the West. This is all the more likely given the Government's failure to convince our American friends of the need for a balanced approach to the deteriorating situation as regards the Palestinians and Israel.

I believe that we are now facing some decisions, and possible misjudgments, that will have profound effects on our long-term national interests in the Middle East and in Europe and on the stability of the neighbouring countries in the Middle East.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, referred to confusing objectives. Let us consider the arguments that have been deployed to justify military action against Iraq. First, we were told that it was a necessary reaction to the events of September 11th against a regime which had close links with terrorists, if not with the perpetrators of those horrendous events. But senior members of the United States Administration had been pressing, long before September 11th, for an attack against rogue states, including Iraq.

Then we were told that the justification for this new policy of pre-emptive attacks, to which the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, referred, was the evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and Al'Qaeda. But I do not believe that I am alone in finding the evidence produced, both in the Government's dossiers and by Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Security Council, not at all convincing.

Then moral arguments were put forward to show what an evil regime it is in Baghdad and that therefore we should press for regime change in order to install some kind of western democracy in Iraq as a basis for democratising other regimes in the region. Ministers have repeatedly confirmed, both in this House and elsewhere, that our prime objective was not regime change but disarmament. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary is specifically on record as saying that we should not be in the business of changing other people's governments. So the inspectors were sent in, backed—quite rightly—by the threats inherent in Resolution 1441, and the

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benchmark was to be Iraqi co-operation or non-co-operation. Now we are told—in advance of further reports by Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei, and in the face of reports that Saddam Hussein is indeed starting to co-operate—that the Iraqis are clearly in serious breach of Resolution 1441 and that an invasion of Iraq should now be authorised.

What is the urgency? This is not 1991, when we had an urgent need, with strong international support and involvement, to rescue the Kuwaitis from their invaders. Why cannot we wait, as the French, Russians and Chinese argue, for the inspectors to continue their work, and for further time to be given to diplomacy? We may not believe Saddam's assurances to Mr Primakov; we may not trust anything Saddam says; but it is hardly the way to gather international support for our objectives if we are seen to dismiss the efforts of the weapons inspectors even before they have reported to the Security Council. Why not maintain the pressure, and see whether it works?

I acknowledge that those of us who argue against immediate war face a genuine dilemma; namely, the risk of appearing to reduce the pressure on Saddam Hussein. If that were the true purpose of massing our troops in the Gulf, I would support that. But I fear that the truth is that the Americans, or at least the President's senior advisers, have long been determined to attack Iraq.

I find myself in the position of the Irish guide who advised—rather unhelpfully—that we should not be starting from here. But we are, and I therefore ask the Minister the following questions. Have we taken into account the likely, though uncertain, effects of a military assault on Baghdad? Do we share the improbable view of some Americans that it will be a short and "successful" campaign (whatever that means) followed by democratic elections? Have we not learnt the lesson of Bosnia, where we and our allies have tried to install a democratic system in conditions far better understood than those in Iraq? Are we prepared to stay in Iraq for the 10 years it has taken us in Bosnia?

Do we share the stated American view that we can then use Iraq as an example to install Western-style democracy in Syria and Saudi Arabia, for starters? Having been ambassador to both countries, I can assure your Lordships that this would not be an easy task, even if it could be justified in international law.

It is often said that our troops should not be sent into battle without the support of public opinion at home. But they should at least be clear about the Government's objectives. Are they adequately prepared for the horrendous tasks which I believe await any invading force in Baghdad: the need to control a bloody civil war of revenge; a flood of refugees into neighbouring states; a massive humanitarian crisis; and, of course, the threat from those weapons of mass destruction which the inspectors have not yet been able to find?

5.33 p.m.

Lord Brennan: My Lords, war is the killing of people and the destruction of things. Let us remember that in the 20th century 160 million people were killed in war—the majority of them civilians. The failure of the

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League of Nations to prevent the first stage of that horror was followed by the creation of the United Nations after the Second World War, with the declared aim of ridding mankind of the scourge of war.

The UN has sought to achieve that simple but noble objective by introducing a system of world government, a charter to which we and other countries signed up as a treaty, recognising within its terms that it represented a higher level than other treaty obligations. So we have agreed to the following: that war is not justified without the lawful authority of self-defence or a United Nations decision; and that self-defence is justified if there is armed attack until the United Nations can then seek to resolve the problem. But, beyond that, war is justified only when it has been established to the satisfaction of the international community that it is the last resort to protect international peace and security. That is the question that we face, and which the Security Council faces in making its decisions.

Professor Glover of London University said only last week:

    "Some of us"—

I think he meant many—

    "fear the instability of a world of unauthorised pre-emptive strikes".

He said that undermining the United Nations would lead to,

    "the erosion of the world's [present and only] attempt at international authority".

At the end of the 20th century—within three years of it—are we to say to ourselves that this is a new world, in which unilateralism will prevail over multilateralism and in which the youth, inexperience and difficulties of the United Nations mean that we can pass it by? I think not—and I suspect that most people agree.

So I want to deal plainly with the questions asked by the Prime Minister yesterday and previously. Is there a will for war? The answer is: yes, if it is justified. The moral certainty of someone telling me that he thinks a war is justified is not enough. That moral certainty must be accompanied by rational, objective and convincing reasons why it is necessary, why it is the last resort, and why people's lives should be put at stake. Questioning the will begs that question. It is there.

Secondly, it is, I am afraid, a question of timing. The inspectorate that the nations of the world established to carry out its task in Iraq has said, through Hans Blix, that it has not finished its task. It does not predict an interminable process. It gives the clear impression of expedition, objectivity and good sense. Was the appointment of the inspectors a charade? Are we to say within weeks that the fact that they have found nothing illustrates the virtue of our cause and then pass on, whatever they say? How can that be? Would we accept such a state of affairs in relations between each other, in communities within our own country? I think not.

What of the peoples of our countries? Of course politicians must lead us into war and our generals and soldiers must fight those wars. But, usually, one hopes

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and prays that it is with the will of their people behind them. In the United States, where I was last week, the New York Times and CBS polls indicated that 60 per cent of the American population did not want a war now. They wanted to give more time. Are we to doubt that in our own country the proportion is any less? Are we to face war through political decision-making which fails to take into account the sentiment of the very people we say we are protecting?

If timing is to be looked at in terms of national support and the inspectors' decisions, surely the critical question is: if we have agreed that the rule of international law will be reflected through the United Nations, should we not wait for the UN to decide? I may be accused of legal rigidity; I hope I simply reflect a citizen's good sense when I say that war is the result of a clear decision. We, in the words of the United Nations, agree to all necessary means being employed to fulfil the need to protect international peace and security.

War is not a penalty for breaching United Nations resolutions. It is a consequence of breaching them in circumstances that threaten international peace and security. Many in the world do not think we are at that stage yet. Timing is therefore critical. I mean war sooner rather than later, but I cannot understand the need for war now.

Next, beyond will and timing, surely the critical question is judgment. Is this war necessary and justified? Let us examine some of the arguments—first, terrorism. Within the past two years, on the Floor of this House, we have debated 11 draft conventions of the United Nations to combat terrorism agreed to before September 11th. How many have been agreed to by now? Very few. We agreed to support an international campaign against the financing of terrorism. Where are we? Are we to forget those very important objectives and suddenly find that we are being told the real problem is Iraq? I find this state of affairs wholly unconvincing.

I therefore turn to the second point. Is there evidence that Iraq is a threat to international peace and security now, so that war is necessary? Let us wait for the inspectors to tell us, and the answer will be one of two. Either we have discovered such a state of weaponry as plainly to constitute such a threat or we have not but we are convinced that they exist. One of the two must be the connotation. I am sure they will not take much longer to establish.

Thirdly, I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary to have a second further resolution of the Security Council before war can be undertaken. Why? Pre-emptive strikes and regime change are concepts unknown to international law. However, we know that when you go to the Security Council and it agrees, you can take action to protect the international community. I hope that in a few weeks' time we will not be faced with a semantic analysis of a Security Council resolution to determine, cryptographically, whether it means war or peace.

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Last of all, I turn to judgment. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, reminded us that soldiers go into war intending to come out of it—an exit strategy, militarily and politically. Are we to invade Iraq, then abandon it to a Kurdish war in the north, perhaps, a Shia uprising in the south, chaos in the middle, run by a military regime until we tire of it and leave them to their own resources? Is that what making peace is about in the 21st century? Surely not.

So, the will is there, the timing not yet decided, the judgment ready to be made. Underneath that judgment is the underpinning value that at the beginning of this century I, for one, do not want politicians, no matter how well intentioned, as our Prime Minister very clearly is, to make decisions about Iraq which destroy the international authority of the United Nations, returning us to the very chaos we fought to avoid only 50 years ago.

There is a simple saying which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, captured in his remarks: wisdom is the anticipation of consequences. If we are to make a wise decision about this war, let us consider all the consequences before we make it. If it is war, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said, we will support our troops to the hilt, perhaps with a heavy heart, but afterwards we will ask: was this a just war? That is the critical question. Is this a just war for the right reasons, with the right intentions, aiming for the right result?

This debate is not about will or national sentiment; it is about legal, moral and rational discernment before we expose our world to a calculated, deliberate war.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, I was reminded by the declaration of his pacifism by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, of an organisation which flourished in the late 1930s called the Peace Pledge Union. Most of its members were not pacifists; they believed that by demonstrating and calling for peace they could help to achieve peace. But in fact they achieved the opposite. They were so effective that they helped defeat the government of the day in the Fulham by-election. That gave the government such a shock that, in the years until the Second World War broke out, they were very cautious about rearming, when they should have been rearming. The consequence, of course, was that Hitler took courage and proceeded to undertake his series of annexations, confident that the British people were so feeble that they would not resist him.

When I look at pictures of the recent march, which 1 million people went on, I say to myself that it is probable that if they have any effect it will be to encourage Saddam Hussein to believe that he can continue longer in his obstruction of the United Nations. The marchers were very sincere and genuine people, and they certainly had the right to demonstrate, but I think the result of their efforts, so far as there was a result at all, would have been the negative one that I have just described.

I have been asking myself why there is such doubt in the country about the wisdom of the Government's policy. I think that it is, to some extent, a question of

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public relations. They started by allowing the impression to get about that the purpose of the inspectors was to discover a smoking gun. That, as we now understand, is not the purpose. It is to monitor the observance of the United Nations' resolution. But the impression spread that the smoking gun search was the objective, and of course, no smoking gun has yet been discovered. I think that is still bothering the public, because that was the first impression that formed in their mind when this affair was at an early stage.

The inspectors have done well to correct people's understanding by referring to Saddam Hussein's unwillingness to comply with the United Nations' resolution, but there is still a residual feeling that the absence of a smoking gun reflects badly on the Government's policies.

I should like to talk about North Korea, which was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. One is asked, if we are about to wage war against Iraq, why are we not contemplating something similar in relation to North Korea? It is more dangerous than Iraq; it may have, as is generally believed, several nuclear weapons already. It certainly has chemical and biological weapons. It has one of the biggest armed forces in the world. It has a cruel and aggressive dictator. But there are two points to be made in explaining why the United States in particular, as well as China and North Korea's neighbouring countries, are approaching the problem of the recent North Korean renunciation of its treaty obligations regarding weapons of mass destruction with some caution. North Korea has in fact negotiated with the United States an agreement which was effective for eight years, but which has just been rejected. So North Korea has shown itself willing to negotiate, which I think is not true of Saddam Hussein.

The main point, however, is the possible possession by North Korea of nuclear weapons and its certain possession of other types of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea has 10,000 artillery pieces on the border with South Korea. As the capital of South Korea, Seoul, is very close to the border, the South Koreans are not very keen on an attack on North Korea. I think that one has to ask the following question. If Saddam Hussein were not restrained at all by the inspectors or by some other measure, would he not very soon have the same sort of weapons, including nuclear weapons, which he had almost developed in 1991? If that were so, I think that the West would be very cautious about attacking Saddam Hussein.

My last, and most important point is to reinforce those who talked about the implications for the Middle East of a war against Iraq. What will happen after a successful war is ended? The American hawks would say that there would be a democratisation of the countries in the Middle East which would usher in an era of peace, which would make it easier rather than more difficult to resolve the problem of Israel and the Palestinians. I am very sceptical about that scenario, and I think that other noble Lords who have spoken are right to be sceptical of it. My noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell wrote a very interesting—indeed, brilliant—article in the current issue

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of the RUSI Journal in which he referred to the possibility of the Middle East being in a state of sullen humiliation. He talked of an increased threat of terrorism.

So I believe that one thing that is absolutely essential for the United States in particular to do at the end of a war against Iraq, if such a war occurs, is to show unprecedented energy, skill and determination in promoting a solution to the Arab-Israeli problem. I think that it is a great pity that the road map has not yet been published by the Quartet. The actions of the Quartet were apparently put in suspense during the Israeli election period and I think that that too was a mistake.

As we would all agree, the solution has to be fair to both sides. It has to safeguard the existence of Israel. It has to involve withdrawal from the occupied territories, which are illegally occupied in international law. When I say "withdrawal", I mean total withdrawal, not just a partial withdrawal. I do not think that it is very encouraging how Mr Sharon has formed his new government as it contains elements which I think will be very resistant to withdrawal from the territories. It must involve the demolition of what I call Mr Sharon's wall, which is dividing what territory the Palestinians have. I believe that unless these things are done, we shall live to regret it.

5.53 p.m.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, Resolution 1441 is unequivocal. All United Nations Security Council members forged a common position based on the view that Iraq today poses a major threat inside and outside its borders, a threat sufficiently serious to trigger the gravest consequences of all—military action—to force her to comply with all resolutions passed by the United Nations since 1991. Resolution 1441 goes right back to Resolution 687. One of the prohibitions placed on Iraq then was terrorism. Resolution 687, in paragraph 32, required Iraq,

    "to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organisation directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism".

Three weeks ago, I questioned the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Al Douri, on terrorism. He told me:

    "Iraq has no links with international terrorist organisations".

Others have questioned Saddam Hussein, who declared in his interview last night with Dan Rather, of the US television channel, that Iraq has no links with the Al'Qaeda network. I do not think that we need to look that far to see that Iraq is in grave breach of paragraph 32 of Resolution 687.

I call noble Lords' attention to the MKO, an organisation proscribed by the United Kingdom, the USA and the European Union. What is it? How does it work? The MKO has a clear history. The organisation was set up in 1960 to operate against the Shah—who was himself an impostor as his grandfather took the throne from the hereditary Shah in 1924. The MKO was a part

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of the Iranian revolution in 1979. However, it had a disagreement with the new government, in 1981, and moved to Iraq, where it has based itself since 1986. The MKO claims to be a modern human rights movement, the true opposition to the current government in Iran, and that it fights only the Iranian military. It says that it never attacks civilians or nationalities other than Iranians.

In fact, the MKO's guiding rules are not based on human rights at all. It is deeply unpopular in Iran, inter alia because of its involvement in the Iran-Iraq war, when it fought against Iran. One of its great claims is that it promotes women's rights and that it opposes the wearing of the Hijab. However, every one of the women who is a member of the MKO or serves in its forces wears the Hijab. The MKO has separate training camps for women. It rules by brainwashing, force and weapons. It is a personality cult of Mr Rajavi, its head.

Let us look at the claim that the MKO fights only against Iranian military forces and never assaults civilians. The actuality is that the MKO participated actively, in August 1998, in the chemical weapons assault on the northern Kurdish Iraqis at Halabja. What did its forces do? Evidence given to me by those involved declares that the MKO troops guarded the Iraqi border so that the unfortunate Kurds could not escape. The MKO was involved, according to evidence given to me, in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It supplied the Iraqi army with weapons and tanks. There is also Kuwaiti evidence of its involvement.

In 1991, MKO forces brutally crushed the subsequent uprising of the Kurds. They said:

    "We killed thousands of them".

MKO forces were active in support of the Iraqi army's brutal oppression of the southern Shias, where thousands more were killed. I have evidence, too, that they were involved in the draining of the Iraqi marshlands—a subject to which I shall return on the genocide against the Iraqi Marsh people, against whom draining of the marshland has been the final weapon. MKO forces have been involved in attacking the Marsh Arabs from 1992 onwards. The MKO is a mercenary force, armed, trained, mobilised and deployed by the Iraqi military. Indeed, its leader, Mr Rajavi, constantly claims that he walks,

    "hand in hand with Saddam".

What is the MKO's international links? Those, too, can be proven by the people trained in the MKO's own military camps in Iraq. They are European—French, Italian, British. They are Arab, from other Arab nations. They are from South America. If one wants to trace the elusive link with the Al'Qaeda network and Saddam Hussein, one should note that the MKO was active in the Taliban. The Taliban, of course, provided the nursery for Al'Qaeda's network. On Iraq's links with international terrorism, I urge noble Lords to look no further than the MKO.

In the global post-9/11 fight against terrorism, Iraq is in the dock, in clear breach of 687 and therefore of 1441. Iraq's MKO ownership and direction makes the

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Iraqi denial of links with any international terrorist organisation frankly untrue. This organisation, owned by Iraq, is a threat outside Iraq. Inside Iraq, I have evidence from others that the MKO has actively hidden weapons of mass destruction from the earlier inspectors.

Let us examine the case for weapons of mass destruction and Iraq. Once more, I refer to Resolution 687 of 1991, which declares that the United Nations Security Council was:

    "Conscious also of the statements by Iraq threatening to use weapons in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925, and of its prior use of chemical weapons and affirming that grave consequences would follow any further use by Iraq of such weapons".

The resolution, in paragraph 8:

    "Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of: . . . All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities . . . All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres".

Indeed, it states that Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the items specified.

I asked Ambassador Al Douri about Iraq's retention of weapons of mass destruction. He told me clearly in front of witnesses that Iraq had disarmed from all weapons of mass destruction two to three years ago. He added spontaneously that nor did Iraq poison her own citizens. As a mouthpiece of his master, Saddam Hussein, Mr Al Douri says only what he is authorised to say. Saddam Hussein's television interview last night reiterates those views.

Is Iraq in breach of Resolution 687? What is the evidence? I have first-hand evidence over the years when I paid many visits to the Iraq and Iranian borders, the Iraqi marshlands and the Iraqi refugees. From 1992 I have clear evidence from an eye-witness of three parcels being dropped from a helicopter which burst on landing. Seven people died within three hours. There were no external wounds at all, but bleeding from apertures in their face. Their skin turned blue. Others were made very ill.

In 1996 I reported to Geneva to those charged with monitoring the chemical weapons convention, to which I have just referred, that there was a yellow explosion from an aeroplane over the marshlands. I interviewed some of the victims. They said that it was a great, yellow cloud that spread across their land. Hundreds of people died and many were very ill. I interviewed a handful of the survivors shortly afterwards.

In 1998 I had clear evidence of the defeat of the weapons inspectors' only visit to an MKO camp. That was the only visit that they were allowed because Saddam Hussein declared to the weapons inspectors that the MKO camps and sites were diplomatically protected; that they were inside Iraq, but they had to be treated as though they were foreign embassies. That meant that the inspectors went in only once. I have clear

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evidence of the ways in which the MKO shifted around weapons of mass destruction. Their commanders pushed them away, hid them, and boasted afterwards of having been successful in fooling the inspectors.

In 1999 and 2000 there is clear evidence again of tarred boxes which were thought by those observing them to contain weapons of mass destruction in terms of biological or chemical weapons. Many hundreds of tarred boxes were transported and buried deep inside the marshes. Today I have much evidence of where thousands of missing documents are stored, orders for new weapons and evidence of dual use technology. I have given some of the evidence to Dr Blix and I am of course fully informing the British Government. It is my view that Iraq's breach of Resolution 687 in terms of chemical weapons is absolutely clear.

I turn to human rights. Resolution 688 immediately followed 687. Mr Al Douri said that human rights were all up to standard and that he had a dossier in production to prove that. I believe that that is farcical. In my most recent visit to the Iran/Iraq border two weeks ago the plight of the Marsh Arabs was pitiful. I saw once again thousands of refugees. Four million people have fled Iraq, which is a quarter of Iraq's total population under Saddam Hussein. I was reminded of the ancient cry, "How long, oh Lord, how long!" because the Iraqi refugees are begging for relief and so, I believe, are the Iraqi people inside Iraq.

Neighbouring countries in the region are planning for millions more refugees, including Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran. The backwash of human misery caused by Saddam Hussein has barely been recognised by the international community. As regards the Iraqi refugees in Iran, the average cost of keeping a refugee alive is 695 dollars a year giving very modest hospitality. The international community provides six dollars per head per annum.

I turn to the International Criminal Court, genocide, international law and Halabja. I have been committed to this most powerful course of action since 1988. The difficulties then of setting up a special tribunal have now been overcome for the special case of the Marsh Arabs through the installation of the International Criminal Court. Genocide against the Marsh Arabs has continued unceasingly since last July when the International Court was brought into being. Why the Marsh Arabs? The massacre of the northern Kurds is well known in the West and internationally accepted as genocide. But I claim that in contrast the Iraq regime's long-planned and near-finalised extinction of the indigenous inhabitants of the lower Mesopotamian marshlands of Iraq, known in the West as the Marsh Arabs, has gone virtually unnoticed.

I believe that the Marsh Arabs can be defined as a group under the 1948 genocide convention through the actus rea, the physical act of destruction in whole or in part of the group, and mens rea the specific intent to commit genocide. I have collected contemporaneous and historic evidence from the Marsh Arabs themselves during the time of their destruction, travelling both inside the marshes and nearby from the most destructive period from 1991 until today. That can be verified.

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I remind noble Lords that the duty on state parties to the genocide convention is to stop the genocide and to punish those engaged in this ethnic mass murder. If the Security Council cannot be persuaded to act, an operation should be mounted by any signatory to the convention to secure the perpetrators and bring them to trial before a court specially constituted to try such crimes against humanity. Has genocide been committed against the Marsh Arabs? Yes; then action is imperative.

On the broader front the policy of containment has wholly failed. Since Resolution 687 was passed the Iraqi people have endured 12 more years of deepest suffering. In my view and that of others, the Marsh Arabs have been the victims of genocide. Saddam Hussein has successfully retained his weapons of mass destruction and international terrorist organisation is under his control. I submit that the region and beyond is at grave risk.

6.8 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, who is well known in this House for her first-hand knowledge of the suffering of the Iraqi people and of the causes of that suffering.

I return to the wider question. I support the Prime Minister's call yesterday for an even-handed approach to the Middle East peace process. I very much welcome the remarks of the noble Baroness in response to my noble friend Lord Hylton and the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, yesterday. But in the midst of the campaign against Iraq, can the Government really claim to be sincere about peace in the Middle East and be believed by anyone in that region? The website for the British embassy in Cairo informs Egyptian citizens that the two governments,

    "are working together against international terrorism and creating the conditions for the revival of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians".

That is what we want the Arab world to hear, but not what it actually believes. We present a common front, but what happened to the international coalition against terrorism? The days when Ministers toured Arab capitals in search of diplomatic solutions are in the past. We actually offer the assumption that terrorism is to be found in Iraq and we are going after it regardless of a Palestinian settlement or, it seems, of the opinion of anyone in the Middle East.

Today's debate may be too late. We have left the era of peaceful negotiation behind and have entered the zone of wartime propaganda. How many people in the Arab world, even in Kuwait, genuinely believe that we are serious about Palestine? Bishop Abu El-Assal Riah of the Episcopal Church, whom I met a year ago in Jerusalem and who is one of the church leaders who visited Tony Blair and Clare Short last week, has said:

    "The road to Baghdad would be much easier if it went through Jerusalem. Going to war will shelve the Palestinian issue for God knows how many years from now. It facilitates the hidden agenda of the Israeli leadership. It will be seen as another crusade".

He added:

    "War if it comes will be catastrophic for the faithful remnant of Christians in the birthplace of our faith".

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That is just one of many voices—Christian, Jewish and Muslim—and we are not listening to them. Our current diplomacy is shaped not for the Middle East but for the White House. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is scraping by on promises, occasional protests and conferences in Downing Street—arranged only by the permission of Sharon and President Bush. The Prime Minister deserves credit for helping to keep the Iraq issue within the United Nations but ultimately it is a kith-and-kin issue. We will stand by the US rather than succumb to what is perceived as the European Union-United Nations quagmire.

That solidarity with the US is Israel's agenda too. Whatever its behaviour in Palestine, we are incapable of seeing Israel as an aggressor—yet Israel, the victim of the holocaust, is behind the axis of evil concept and is the architect of a new order in the Middle East. One can hear that on Israeli radio. A report on 1st February referred to

    "the opportunity for a regional strategic change",

and later to,

    "an opportunity for establishing a new world order".

In other words, once Saddam has been dealt with, we can clean up Iraq and move on to other inconvenient regimes in the Middle East. There may even be new territories for the Palestinians.

That policy is labelled anti-terrorism. September 11th gave Israel carte blanche to turn the intifada into a state of war and repression and to flush out whole communities surrounding the homes of Palestinian suspects and, where possible, eliminating them. That daily attack, with curfews and closures, goes on largely unreported. There have been hundreds more Palestinian casualties than Israeli casualties. We hear of outrages against Israeli civilians but rarely of the extra-judicial killings and torture of Palestinians.

Meanwhile, we pretend to be active on the diplomatic side. Tony Blair invited the Quartet back to discuss the roadmap but the talks have stalled again and again. Israel has raised up to 100 objections and the US says nothing. No wonder the Palestinian local government Minister, Dr. Sa'ib Urayqat, dismissed the Israeli position on Al-Jazeera TV on 21st February:

    "Sharon's road map is one of settlement, destruction, confiscation of land and entrenchment of the occupation".

Is that view unreasonable? Do the Government have a more optimistic view of the talks? They were interrupted by the intifada and postponed for the elections. Are they indefinitely shelved because of Iraq? How does the Cabinet square geo-political support for Israel—not to mention our arms trade with that country and the other matters mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour—with the poverty in Gaza described recently by Clare Short as reaching African proportions?

Christian Aid—I declare an interest as a board member—is extremely concerned about the regional repercussions of war across the Middle East. There is a real risk of political and economic shocks in

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neighbouring states, Israel and the Occupied Territories. The situation is already critical. The noble Baroness mentioned malnutrition in Iraq. Nearly three in four Palestinians are already on the poverty line. The noble Baroness mentioned also Iraq's contempt for the UN. How can the Government reconcile their policy with Israel's callous attitude to the UN—in particular, to the work of the United Nations Relief Works Agency in the Occupied Territories? Why have they heard nothing about the death of Iain Hook, the British UNWRA project worker who was killed in so-called crossfire by the IDF in November? What about the brutal treatment of many Palestinians who work with the UN? Does it take one British life for us to complain? Are we more concerned about the threat to Israeli soldiers from terrorists, real and imagined, than to Palestinians?

This debate may be about Iraq but millions of British citizens—not to say Arab and Muslim friends throughout the world—know that by embarking on war we are selling our Palestinian friends down the river in the North Atlantic cause.

What about the humanitarian consequences already mentioned by many of your Lordships and acknowledged as a critical element? After years of sanctions, 50 per cent to 60 per cent of Iraqis depend on the Oil for Food programme. Despite the hardship, that programme is acknowledged to be working efficiently. A war would cause it to collapse. Non-governmental organisations working in Iraq say that there is nothing to replace it. Nor does the UN have sufficient stocks to meet the inevitable demands of perhaps 2 million displaced persons—half of them fleeing as refugees to Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey and Iran.

I will repeat a number of questions posed by Save the Children, Oxfam and other agencies. Who will be responsible for co-ordinating humanitarian action in Iraq—the UN or the US as part of its war effort, as many fear? What extra funding has the Department for International Development set aside for humanitarian action? It is believed that while billions are available for war, nothing has been budgeted for the humanitarian consequences. How much will the Government give to the latest UNRWA 90 million dollar appeal in Palestine?

With the second Security Council resolution still to be discussed, there is still time for a European solution—for the Prime Minister to insist that weapons inspectors should carry on and that an even-handed approach is just as important to the Middle East as terrorism and more important even than war with Saddam Hussein.

6.19 p.m.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, these are the last hours of hope. My heart also goes out to the Prime Minister and I pay tribute to his gallant efforts to achieve Resolution 1441. I am sure that no one disagrees.

I sat through the whole of the Prime Minister's Statement in another place yesterday and agree wholeheartedly with and believe my right honourable

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friend when he says that he does not want war and knows that no one in the House wants war. But my agreement stops at that point.

After hearing moving contributions from the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, I feel humbled by my own contribution. I almost withdrew my name from the list of speakers, thinking that there was nothing more to be said.

However, as we approach the beginning of this inevitable, horrible war that will end the world as we know it, as a mother I have to share my opinion and have my say. It is a difficult endeavour, but the Prophet of Islam instructed that even at the moment that we are surrounded by Armageddon, the believer should continue to plant trees. The wisdom there is that the end of something is always the beginning of something else. I am not for one moment suggesting that we plant trees.

As a child of war in Bangladesh—it had its fair share of violent conflict, to which members of my family were lost—I carry many of the scars of my then countrymen and women: scars of rape, death, pain, broken limbs, devastated lives, pain and revenge. My abhorrence towards the particular conflict that we face by no means comes from the fact that I am a pacifist.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister will acknowledge our absolute and total support for his efforts in Afghanistan. My criticism of the current approach of the Government whom I support comes with equal commitment to the fact that what I believed then about Afghanistan, I believe about Iraq now. Any war against Iraq would be both unjust and immoral in my opinion. Thank God, I share that opinion with a number of noble Lords and other people in Britain.

Support for action is incredibly unwise and inhumane. The context in which the war is to be waged is not only based on untruths—I hesitate to say lies—and duplicity, but is frightening in its avowed barbarity and ferocity. The message coming from the US is that Iraq and whoever "happens" to be there is about to be annihilated. Recently at Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, US President George Bush told hundreds of naval personnel, on the eve of the war, that rules of war did not apply to terrorists. He said:

    "On 9–11, the terrorists brought war to us—now we're taking it to them".

He called terrorists—whom else could he be referring to but the Iraqis, with whom the US is about to go to war—"cold-blooded thugs" and "outlaws".

Earlier, the US public was told that Saddam Hussein was using his own citizens as human shields. Pentagon reports claimed that the Iraqi army was hiding among the Iraqi citizenry. The Pentagon also showed satellite images of what it claimed were missile launchers "parked" outside mosques. In January, Iraq "experts" Frank Gaffney and Richard Perle said that the chemical and biological weapons in Iraq's possession were hidden in the private homes of Iraqi citizens, and

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in hospitals, universities and mosques. All those locations have effectively been made fair game and open to attack.

Actually that was a cue: here we had helicopters and 150 policemen invading a mosque in Finsbury Park. The rash action, which had the effect of tarnishing the image of mosques and demonising Muslims, political asylum seekers and exiles, has also set a scenario for people in this country to accept the bombing and destruction of mosques in Iraq when the war begins. I am not suggesting that anything is leading to propaganda.

At the same time as our armed police were desecrating a holy place, the same was happening in Baghdad. Five UNMOVIC inspectors invaded the Al-Nidaa mosque, the largest and most populated in Baghdad, and interrogated the Imam, Shaykh Qutaiba Ammash. The "weapons inspectors" inquired as to the dimensions of the mosque and how many people it could house during prayers. The outraged Imam later held a press conference and asked:

    "Are the inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction or are they trying to measure the extent of faith in our hearts?".

CNN's Nick Robertson, speaking during a live broadcast, said that the head of the inspections team in Baghdad had no idea who gave the orders for the five inspectors to intrude on the mosque. Many well-respected analysts in the region believe that the inspection was ordered and orchestrated directly by the US National Security adviser, Miss Rice, to raise the level of tension between Iraq and the UN and provoke Iraq into the daring, if not foolish, act of not co-operating. That would then give President Bush's Administration the excuse that they need to wage war unilaterally.

I am no expert, and I do not suggest that that is the truth, but we need to ask what the truth is. How can we know what the truth is any more? All those provocations and allegations, coupled with bits and pieces of reports that have been plagiarized or are quite old, and also the fact that the US has refused to sign on to the International Criminal Court, which holds military personnel accountable for war crimes, spells doom for the innocent Iraqi civilians, among them Iraqi children.

The statement that the Iraqi army is hiding among the civilian population indicates that the US Administration are expecting mass civilian casualties. It exonerates them—it does so in advance of a breakout of hostilities, I might add—because it places blame for the casualties on the Iraqi army chiefs and Saddam Hussein himself. The US Administration are effectively warning us all, saying, "Look, we told you before we went in that Saddam was hiding his weapons in civilian areas and didn't care for his civilians anyway, so the blame doesn't lie with us".

President Bush concluded his speech on the naval base to which I referred earlier by saying,

    "we're gonna smoke 'em out".

That has become paraphrased and used by every child on streets in inner-city areas.

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A war against Iraq would have numerous consequences, and not only those that I have mentioned. Most of them would not benefit humanity. The allegation from numerous Muslim quarters that the war is against Islam would certainly be reaffirmed. There will be huge consequences. Going to war—I accept everything that colleagues have said on the subject—will certainly mean an increase in extremism. There may even be retaliation by terrorists, mostly against civilians because that is the most easy and effective manner to damage and hurt any country. Moderate Muslim nations with no extremist tendencies will be unable to control the sizeable numbers of their population who already believe that the United States supports the notion of wiping a billion of them from the face of the earth. Those are rising fears, which are not desirable at this vulnerable time.

The economic balance of the world will be altered, as has been said, when the United States has control over the bulk of oil. At least in part, the war is against European oil treaties with Iraq. The economic costs of the war itself will create turmoil in all parts of the world's marketplace, although the people who usually push for such actions because they profit from them will do so again.

I cannot say any more than has already been said on the demise of the United Nations, but when the US Administration thumb their noses at world opinion, it will end the credibility of that organisation and its international authority for ever. Those who do not already fear the United States as a rogue nation will start doing so. The tinderbox of the Middle East, already smouldering for 50 years, will ignite. Let there not be any doubt that we told you so.

I am almost ashamed to talk about the environmental disaster that is estimated to happen as a consequence, given that we are talking about human beings and the desecration of a historical part of the earth, Iraq itself. All those who previously looked towards the United States as their friend and ally will for ever be mindful of having to watch their backs. The special relations that Britain has in particular with the Arab and Muslim world will be irrevocably damaged. Last, but not least, many innocent men, women and children will die. For them there is no voice in this or the other place.

What is going on is profoundly depressing and sad. It is difficult to articulate the sense of frustration and disappointment that I feel, as well as the rage that has gripped me as we head towards disastrous consequences. We might not be able to stop the war, but we must, even if it is only for the sake of posterity, at least have the courage to say, "Please, not in our name". I do that today.

When the might of the then Pakistani army inflicted death and destruction upon the gentle people of Bangladesh, I took part in protest marches with my family. Even as a child I was not silent. I was certainly not silent when the fascists took hold of the East End in the early 1980s. As a young mother I took my children to the South African embassy in Trafalgar Square to protest against apartheid and to support the release of Nelson Mandela.

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On all those occasions the words of Martin Luther King echoed in my mind when he said:

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".

May God protect us from the folly of our friends, the evil of our enemies and the laziness of our actions. In saying my piece today, I echo the call of Archbishop Williams and Cardinal Murphy O'Connor who said that we must hope and pray that with God's guidance, an outcome that will bring peace with justice to Iraq and the Middle East may yet be found.

6.32 p.m.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, if ever there was a function for a Parliament, it is that we should discuss all the ramifications and totally different views on these hugely important issues.

I was lucky enough to spend four days in the United States earlier this month with quite a large group of more than 100 financial people. I was interested to find that they shared many of our anxieties, hesitations and concerns about the prospect of war with Iraq. I shall run through some of those.

First, there are few, if any, moral inhibitions at the idea of eliminating Saddam Hussein and his odious clique of tyrants. I admit that I was amazed that the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said that the elimination of the Marsh Arabs was not in his view an example of genocide that justified an attack on Saddam. I was much more persuaded by the magnificent and well documented speech of his noble friend Lady Nicholson who, in that one speech, gave ample justification for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Secondly, although because of containment Saddam is at the moment merely a monster in his own backyard, who doubts that given the opportunity, he would continue the process of threatening his neighbours and would continue with a clear policy of getting his hands on middle eastern oil—first in Kuwait, then the Arab emirates and finally, Saudi Arabia. He would have total control and might hope to achieve it when there may be a less robust leadership in the US and Britain.

Thirdly, there was in America, as there is here, widespread sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians and deep disapproval for the refusal of the Israelis to remove the illegal West Bank settlements. Although we can all condemn the suicide bombers attacking Israel, it is pretty clear that it is the Sharon Government who have provoked them. Palestine is clearly the major reservoir of hatred from which both Saddam and the various international terrorist organisations draw sustenance. The only way in which to drain that reservoir is for the United States to enforce, which it has the power to do, a political settlement based on the two-state solution. Although President Bush used to refer to that as a desirable outcome of the Middle East peace process, I fear that he may no longer be committed to it. There are powerful and malevolent forces inside the United States that support the Sharon Government in both their philosophy and their policies.

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Let us not forget that as long ago as 4th April last year, President Bush gave the Israelis an ultimatum to withdraw their forces from the West Bank Palestinian areas. Indeed, Colin Powell was sent to Israel, yet both the President and his Secretary of State have been ignored.

Fourthly, there is a real worry that there is no proper preparation, or even plan—referred to by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall—to bring back a semblance of civilised, humane and sustainable administration to Iraq once a successful military operation has been completed. I think that the idea of General Tommy Franks having this responsibility is unbelievably naive.

Fifthly, there is profound worry about the political impact on the whole of the Middle East of a military operation that has not been sanctioned by the United Nations.

Sixthly—I regard this as exceedingly important—there is the danger to the whole future of the United Nations as a viable source of any form of world peacekeeping if it fails to face up to the need to enforce Resolution 1441. That danger will be greatly increased if there is unilateral US-led military action against Iraq without UN authority.

Seventhly, it is becoming increasingly clear—this has not been mentioned this afternoon—that the world economy, which is now in danger of recession, will not start to pick up while the shadow of military action in Iraq remains. Thus it is essential for economic reasons that the matter be resolved, one way or the other, as rapidly as possible.

There is an eighth worry, which I suspect is not shared on the other side of the Atlantic. It is that America, with its new status as a world "super-duper" power, may be sucked into becoming a direct imperial power, particularly in protecting its oil interests. That would be dangerous and quite inappropriate in this century.

Finally, I shall say a word about the dangers that the West faces from the solidarity of terrorist factions and the effect of a war with Iraq. Although I believe that the solution of the Israel-Palestine problem would help to reduce a major source of terrorism, there is a further factor that is deeply depressing. Many potential terrorists have an irreconcilable dislike for what they regard as the intrinsic decadence of the western way of life. That applies particularly to the Islamic fundamentalists. It is epitomised by the description often used by the Iranians of the United States as the "Great Satan".

If the objective of those groups is to use terror to destroy the western democracy, culture and way of life so that it can be replaced by one based on the precepts of Islamic fundamentalism, with its appalling treatment of women, no deal can be done and we shall have to fight back. None of us would give up our way of life to have it replaced by theirs.

The danger of that sort of terrorism is that it is global and unrelenting. It has an impact like that on a patient who is suffering from a large number of widespread, rapidly growing and highly malignant tumours. The

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real danger is greatly increased if terrorist groups act together in some form of cross solidarity. Solidarity can come in many forms: religious, racial, tribal, national, class, economic, linguistic, cultural and even military.

There is a chilling example of the synergy from the combination of solidarities in the history of Iran. In 1979 the Shah was overthrown because he alienated both the mullahs and the bazaar. One of the great dangers of a war in Iraq is that it could increase such synergies. The most obvious is the one between Arabs and Islamic fundamentalists, who in other respects do not share the same agenda. There is also a risk from racial minorities in Europe, particularly in France and Britain, who may feel and express solidarity with Saddam. To counter the risk of such solidarity underlines the need for UN backing of any military action against Iraq.

Saddam needs no more than days to demonstrate that he will co-operate fully with Resolution 1441; that is a matter not of complying but of demonstrating that he wishes to comply. He has rejected the possibility of saving his country from war by abdicating his rule. It is that rejection which has converted me personally to the view that he must be removed. America's preparations for war now seem to be irreversible. It cannot be in the interests of France for the UN to be discredited nor for the large North African minority in France to be alienated and given a reason to make common cause with Saddam. Despite President Chirac's atavistic dislike of America, his former but long-standing friendship with Saddam and his pursuit of French commercial interests in the Gulf, he should not use the French veto on the new resolution coming before the Security Council.

In conclusion, the inability to remove every monster in the world is not a reason for not removing one of the worst. I therefore support the Prime Minister but I do hope that a second UN resolution will precede military action.

6.41 p.m.

Lord Dahrendorf: My Lords, for many of us, the prospect of war in Iraq has become an intensely personal issue. We debate it with those closest to us and we agonise over our own position in the light of our most cherished values. In my case, that takes me back to Germany, where I grew up in the 1930s as the son of a Social Democrat politician who had become a prominent resistance fighter against the Nazi regime. It would have made a world of difference to us—and enabled millions of others to survive—if the western powers had stopped Hitler in his tracks during that fateful year from September 1938 to September 1939.

To be sure, such analogies beg many questions. Is Saddam Hussein really another Hitler? But on one point I have no doubt: the values of liberty and of an enlightened society in which I believe have to be defended, if need be by force, and sometimes the only effective defence is to strike before the attack occurs.

That does not make war a desirable option. In my understanding, war is never morally justified. However, there are times when it is necessary to do the

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morally dubious in the interest of preserving the framework which allows our values to prevail. Unfortunately, the Iraq debate is beset by confusions of motives. In my view, the need to contain Saddam Hussein is not about fighting terrorism. Totalitarian rulers may pretend to support terrorists at a safe distance but are far too jealous of their monopoly of power to give them much space. There are instructive lessons to be learnt from the tense relationship between the West German Baader-Meinhof terrorists and the East German communist regime in the 1970s.

The need to contain Saddam Hussein certainly has to do with the threat arising from "weapons of mass destruction". While the dictator may no longer possess battle-ready weapons to any significant extent, he would clearly wish to acquire them, given the time and the room for manoeuvre to do so. In this sense, it is the underlying nature of the regime which makes me accept the necessity of containment by intervention. Incidentally, the fact that there are others against whom a similar case could be made is not an argument for inaction. Is anyone seriously arguing that we should cease to pursue one killer because there are others about who have so far escaped justice?

Like others, I have many questions of significant detail about military action against Iraq. It would clearly be infinitely preferable if the present leadership of Iraq stepped aside without intervention. Moreover, there are points that I must stress in order to make sure that my line of reasoning is not misunderstood. Everything that I have said about values—which, if need be, have to be defended pre-emptively—has two implications. One is that every effort must be made to persuade not just potential allies but the people in democratic countries and beyond of the need for action involving the use of force. The other need is that we must never lose sight of the motives for using force. That is not about bringing to bear the power of one country against another, let alone about asserting superiority. That would be the world from which Thomas Hobbes tried to free us 350 years ago—the war of all against all, in which one man is the other's wolf. Whatever action is taken has to be inspired by the desire to create a world of rules designed to govern all human beings and thus a cosmopolitan rule of law. That is why the role of the United Nations in the process of preparing, taking and following up decisions is so crucial.

Such comments may seem far from the practicalities which are now rightly discussed, although I take comfort from the fact that the Prime Minister has adopted a similar line of principled argument. The Iraq crisis is a watershed for those of us who believe in an international order of law. We therefore have to be clear about why we are doing what we are doing. Having said that, however, I come down firmly in support of the position that the Prime Minister has taken consistently and courageously.

6.47 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I was very struck earlier this afternoon by the speech of the noble

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and learned Lord, Lord Howe, which built interestingly, from a political point of view, on the argument so well deployed by my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford.

I want to make three brief points, and I wear two hats in so doing. The first is that I am president of an organisation called Sabeel UK, which is a voice for Palestinian Christians in this country. Secondly, I am chair of the board of Christian Aid, on which the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and I serve together.

I begin with a quote from an interesting article by Fouad Ajami in the magazine Foreign Affairs entitled, "Iraq and the Arabs' Future", and subtitled, "The road to modernity",. It was not at all anti-American but it raises some striking issues. It begins by stating:

    "There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no 'hearts and minds' to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favour to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq's oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power".

As we talk about the United Nations we cannot avoid the power of the United States of America in these matters. As we heard earlier, 55 per cent of the people of Saudi Arabia are under 15. The young men who drove the planes into the twin towers in New York and the plane that crashed in Philadelphia were young Saudis The documents recovered from those planes indicated that they carried a religious, pious vision of what they were doing.

The question before us is, can the United States of America use its power to engage with the issues that stir the hearts and minds of the Arab world? It is not an adequate policy for the Middle East to get rid of Saddam Hussein, nor to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, desirable though both those outcomes may be. Neither necessarily provides for peace and justice for the Middle East. It is therefore vital that our American friends, supported by our Government, set out the broad context for peace and justice and our relationships with the Arab world and the Middle East.

As the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, said, there is no escape from a public and clear commitment to resolving the Palestinian situation in relation to Israel. A clear commitment and the publication of the road map to an independent, properly resourced free and dignified Palestinian state along the lines of Resolution 242 is inescapable to this process. Some of the growing sense of anger and frustration among Arab peoples in the Middle East might be reduced if our American friends made clear their commitment in that respect.

I was with the delegation with the Bishop of Jerusalem. He said to the Prime Minister that the road to peace in Iraq goes through Jerusalem. The American church leaders there also made it clear—lest these remarks should be interpreted as anti-American—that the American churches have never been as united as they are in their opposition to the war. A debate is taking place on the other side of the Atlantic as well.

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I turn to the appalling situation with regard to humanitarian issues. My right reverend friend the Bishop of Winchester handed to me earlier an e-mail from a relief agency in Nairobi. It says:

    "Baghdad is a long way from the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya, but the repercussions of a potential war in Iraq are already being felt by the refugees there—in their stomachs.

    "A lack of donations from rich countries has forced aid agencies to cut food rations to refugees in the Kenyan camps and elsewhere in Africa. Humanitarian officials say this is just one example of how increased focus on the Middle East and Iraq is lessening the resources devoted to solving Africa's problems".

The Government have declared Africa a priority. It seems that focusing on these issues is leading us to drift away from those matters.

When we launched the Christian Aid document Losing Ground, which is in the Library, which states that 1.2 million Palestinians were living as close to destitution as the people of Zimbabwe, the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, immediately said that the figure was now 1.8 million. What are we going to do? What plans do we have for 2 million refugees in Jordan when the war begins? The Government need to set out those matters clearly and publicly.

I return to the anger over what is perceived to be—no matter what we may think about it—American and western imperialism. Will it threaten our social cohesion? Some of my colleagues who live with delicate multi-cultural communities are very worried about the impact of this conflict on social cohesion. We need to think about these matters.

In my sleepless nights over this issue I have a nightmare that Osama bin Laden is smiling about the prospect of this war in the Middle East. Al'Qaeda works outside the structures of international order and law. Is it possible that a war prosecuted in this way will fulfil its desire to create increasing chaos and disorder; increasing Islamic fundamentalism and radicalisation in the Middle East; and that we will find in this post-Cold War world that we have not yet found a way of living together in peace in the international community? Is there anything this debate can do to exorcise that nightmare, which I suspect is not only in my mind?

6.56 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I can reassure the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford on one point: that nightmare is not only in his mind. In the light of a lifetime—if I may put it in personal terms—involved in international and humanitarian work, it is a nightmare I share virtually every night.

We all need to think of the Prime Minister at this juncture. There can be few people carrying more responsibility than he is on our behalf. He must frequently be in genuine anguish. But because of the responsibility he carries and because of his candour, we would do him no service to hold back where we have alternative analyses to offer.

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In expressing respect for the Prime Minister's integrity, I would like to do the same—if she will forgive me—to my noble friend Lady Symons of Vernham Dean. We are fortunate in this House to have someone of her calibre and integrity handling international affairs.

If there was one lesson of the 20th century, it was that global interdependence had become an inescapable reality. It was no longer possible to regard it as something in the realms of idealistic commitment. It was an everyday practicality. Alongside that realisation came the realisation of our vulnerability; that the more technocratic and developed—if we can use that often misused word—we became, the more vulnerable we became.

President Bush is right in one respect when he argues that there is a connection between Iraq and global terrorism, but it is not the connection that he makes. The connection between Iraq and global terrorism is that there are in the world not only millions of economically and socially deprived people—which is in itself a huge challenge—but also millions of politically alienated people who are fed up to the back teeth with the cultural and political arrogance of a few self-appointed nations that want to run the world as they wish.

Where President Bush may have reached the right conclusion for the wrong reasons is that if Iraq goes wrong—pray God we have not already gone too far in that respect—this alienation will be strengthened and the accompanying dangers will be all the greater.

Alliances have to be built; they cannot be imposed. That is why the UN is so essential. The tragedy of the United States' position is that the well-being, safety and security of future generations of the United States depend every bit as much on effective successful international institutions as those of people anywhere else in the world. The vulnerability of which I have just spoken illustrates that point.

In that context, it is sad beyond measure that, at a time when we need the strength and power of the United States to contribute to this essential cause, that country seems so often to be determined to move in the opposite direction. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, made that point very tellingly.

Within the context of what I have just described, and in what I personally found a very helpful speech, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford also made another point very well. Of course, the United Nations Security Council is a legal requirement if we are to uphold international law before force is deployed. But perhaps even more important than the legal requirement is its political indispensability. For the reasons that I have just given, I believe it is absolutely crazy to embark upon an enterprise of this scale when, arguably, the majority of the world is totally unconvinced. To do that would be to play right into the hands of the extremists and terrorists.

Therefore, what do we do? In recent days, I have been impressed not once but twice by the former Chief of Defence Staff in our midst, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, emphasising from his own experience

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and standpoint that he believes the inspectors should be given more time, more resources and a chance to complete their work. We have heard the Government argue that that is not compatible with Resolution 1441. But I say to the Government with all respect that that is their view; clearly it is not the view of our colleagues in France and Germany. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, who is usually so encouraging in these matters, has not taken that point on board. I do not see why, in our society, we should not listen more carefully to the analysis of those with whom we want to work in so many respects.

I am afraid that the deadline that we are up against—I speak with some humility as a former junior defence Minister and a former Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—is one of our own making. We know that it is difficult to fight a war in the desert in temperatures of 40o. Therefore, having deployed all these forces on such a scale, if we are to go to war, we must do so quickly. I ask: how did we get into this predicament and is it really impossible to draw back before it is too late?

I ask noble Lords what the judgment of history will be when people see an inspectorate set up as never before, with the authority and muscular backing that an inspectorate of that kind has never had before. What will that judgment be when people see an inspectorate of that kind unable to complete its work before certain members within the United Nations with more muscle than others say, "We cannot go on waiting around. We must take military action now"? I believe that the judgment of history will be harsh.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, raised another point. He said that, before we deploy men and women in war, it is essential to be certain of our political analysis. Of course, he is right. We do not hear convincing arguments about the impact of an impetuous war on the recruitment of new terrorists for bin Laden and the rest; nor do we hear enough about what the future political state of Iraq will be or the position of the Kurds, for example, under the new arrangement being discussed. Again, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, spoke tellingly of 55,000 Turkish troops being deployed in northern Iraq.

What are the regional implications and—another point made so well this evening that it is hardly necessary to underline it—what are the implications for the Middle East as a whole? How will those who are part of this alienated body of opinion in the world view us when, whatever we may argue, we take such an unyielding and tough line in an immediate setting on Iraq but totally fail to make the same kind of setting on the Middle East?

I want to make one other point, although I should like to say a great deal more. It has often been argued that one of the first casualties in war is truth. I am sorry to say this, but yesterday I was worried by the fact that the Prime Minister said on page two of his Statement, "That is the history". It was a very partial record of history. What about the failure to go into Baghdad during the last Gulf War? What about the failure to get Saddam Hussein to sign the surrender, as distinct from

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leaving it to his generals? What was behind that? Was it possible that we wanted to leave Saddam in place because, in a difficult situation, we needed something to balance Iran? When we suddenly tell the world that this is a matter of rights, wrongs and absolutes, the rest of the world poses questions of that kind which need to be answered. We need to be a little cautious about our credibility in that respect.

In conclusion, I believe that in the middle of this issue are two principles to which we must stick and which need to guide us in our anxiety. The first is that military action without the specific authority of the UN Security Council is unthinkable. We should be absolutely and specifically clear about that. Alongside that, the second point on which we need to be clear is that military action has to be seen by the world to be essential. There have to be no other possibilities and, if there are, they must have been tried. I do not believe that that is the case.

That is why I believe that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford was right to share his nightmare with us. It would be unforgivable if, because of our concern about Saddam, we played into the hands of the extremists of the world and provoked the greater crisis which we say we are trying to contain.

7.07 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, over the past 20 years, we have been involved in four wars: the Falklands, Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait. On all those occasions, doubts were expressed beforehand and, on all those occasions, the end result was considerably better than what had existed before the evil was removed, although obviously it was not removed completely.

Originally, I had several doubts about this matter. I was not convinced, because the Prime Minister, who, on this occasion, has eventually shown considerable courage, was incoherent in his reasons. Those reasons seemed to chop and change and the evidence seemed to be flimsy. However, once he put together all the elements, I found myself convinced.

I do not believe that it would be necessary, for example, to take unilateral action against Switzerland if, peradventure, that country had weapons of mass destruction. But I believe that the man who currently has them is, beyond par, evil. There is a story in today's Evening Standard of a lady professor who was heavily pregnant. She was in a canteen in Baghdad and made a slightly off-colour joke about Saddam's wife. A few hours later, she was arrested. She gave birth to a baby, which was starved to death. It was hauled from her breast as she clung to it and she was then murdered. That is what the man is like. He is disgusting.

So, combining Saddam's weapons of mass destruction with his being disgusting, his unreliability, and above all his inherent desire to use those horrible things, I come round to the view that even though I sometimes find the Prime Minister irritating, I am quite convinced that he is a good man. This may be why I find him irritating—I do not know. He is a good man; he believes in this; and he is showing considerable courage. This is the first time he has had to show it during his premiership, because there

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are terrible downsides to what he is doing. We heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, about the Marsh Arabs. I do not need to go on about that; we know.

However, I have become convinced that it is necessary to do something. It is also reasonable to say that Resolution 1441 gives authority to act. Several lawyers have said this. The cry for the second resolution comes from those who want to procrastinate. They want to give us a cover—"We don't like it, perhaps it will stop"—but we do not need such procrastination.

Let us assume that the French purse is bigger than the American purse, and the Congolese, or the Angolan or the Guinean ambassador takes a larger bribe from the French than from the Americans. I would not suggest that this is going to happen, but such suspicions have entered peoples' minds. Does this make the second motion any more morally correct or necessary? Did St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine weigh up the bags of gold that were handed round to ambassadors of nations south of Cape Mogador? I do not think so.

The just authority is already there. What has happened? What the Western world has said, as did the Roman ambassadors to Saguntum when Hannibal was besieging it at the beginning of the second Punic War:

    "In the sleeves of my toga I have peace or war. Quid placet tibi"—

take that which pleases you. That "Quid placet tibi" choice is open to Saddam Hussein. If he does as he is told, there need not be a war. Unfortunately, I think that he likely to react like Hannibal. Luckily, unlike Hannibal, I do not think he shows signs of military genius.

The following possibility rears its ugly head. It is unlike the possibility put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Wright. That is also definitely possible, and I do not say that he is wrong or I am right. The Iraqi resistance could collapse, and the soldiers could be greeted by cheering mobs as they enter into Baghdad and Basra. In this happy event, and to make sure that that cheering continues, we have to do two things.

First, as the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford have said, the Israeli-Arab question must be dealt with head on. It is hard to imagine a nastier regime than the one currently in Tel Aviv. It is a thoroughly nasty, unattractive and tyrannical regime. They have brought much of the current despair upon their own heads. We should be brave enough to say that.

Also, when the troops go into Iraq, they must make sure that they proclaim to the Iraqis that they can choose their own future. We must not set up a satrapy run by "General Tommy Franks" or even "Field Marshal Sir Somebody Something" as commander in chief of Basra. We cannot have that. We must make it absolutely clear to the Iraqi people that they can choose their own future. It must not be imposed upon them.

If we do those two things, and convince the Arabs in Iraq that those two possibilities are open to them, there is a possibility—even a likelihood—that things will go

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right and in the right way; and that is essential. Mesopotamia—the scene of the death of Julian "The Apostate", the seat of Harun-al-Rashid, and the place where man first learned to count time—must be allowed, with the encouragement of the outside world, to choose its own future after this war, if it happens. We must help them to do so.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I shall deal with the long-term questions that would be raised by military action in Iraq. Many of my questions will not be able to be answered by the Minister, because they are questions to which I believe nobody has an answer at the moment. The first question on the chain of command does have an answer. The Minister outlined what the chain of command would be in any military action. I hope she will assure us that any decisions taken by the Americans will be closely scrutinised by their British counterparts. I hope there will be a British Army counterpart in liaison with any American commander. That is particularly important, because we would have to make sure that their aims and objectives were exactly the same.

All that is based on the assumption that military action is about to take place, and I hope that it will be avoided. However, if it is to take place, it will have to be based on a new UN resolution—itself based on 1441. I hope that the Government have thought carefully and consulted with their allies and the Turkish authorities about the possible intervention by 55,000 Turkish troops into the north. This has real implications as regards 1441. The resolution sets out:

    "The UN is reaffirming the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq".

This is a real issue because 55,000 troops invading from the north may well wish to stay there.

Any military action will be guided by everyone's aim, which is disarmament. Military action will almost inevitably lead to a further aim—regime change. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, in his opening speech quoted from "Macbeth". It was a speech from Lady Macbeth, who was unfortunately contemplating a particularly horrific murder. He quoted:

    "If it were done when 't is done, then 't were well

    It were done quickly"

However, dragging up all the knowledge I have of Shakespeare, I realised that there were two more sections to the speech that should be quoted. It carries on immediately:

    "if the assassination

    "Could trammel up the consequence, and catch

    "With his surcease success; that but this blow

    "Might be the be-all and end-all here".

That is what we would like to happen. By regime change that would be the end of the situation. However if you go further into the speech, it has some prophetic judgment:

    "We still have judgment here; that we but teach

    "Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return

    "To plague the inventor".

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Regime change is going to have major consequences, because it will have massive implications on the eventual reconstruction of Iraq. It is going to lead to a further military objective—and that is the reconstruction of Iraq. However before that it is going to lead to an objective of maintaining civil authority. That is going to be difficult, because Saddam Hussein has been extremely efficient in making sure that he has no ready successor—no group that could take over. To believe that democratic elections could be held in the short to medium term in Iraq, does not take into account the political reality of the situation where, after any military action one might have civil war in the north and in the south. Furthermore, in the light of the situation which existed after the war in 1991, there might be an enormous amount of bloodletting and civil war to fill the power vacuum in the centre.

Post-conflict reconstruction will not be "a mere washing-up job", as it was called in Afghanistan. As my noble friend Lady Williams pointed out, Afghanistan is a prime example of how things can go horribly wrong. Afghanistan is regressing into the lawless state that led to the rise of the Taliban and, ultimately, Al'Qaeda.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, mentioned an exit strategy. That will, I fear, be extremely difficult in Iraq. In that regard, we will need the United Nations. Can we expect the United Nations to deal with a civil war? I very much doubt it. However, one civil authority is maintained. We will need the UN peacekeepers to deal with a number of issues; for instance, prisoners of war. This war will be different from the first Gulf War in which we dealt only with those who invaded Kuwait; we are dealing with the entire armed forces of Iraq. There will be vast numbers of refugees—and not only those internally displaced, but those in Syria, Jordan and Iran. Furthermore, we shall be faced with the horrific prospect of dealing with mass casualties which could be caused if Saddam Hussein indiscriminately uses the weapons of mass destruction. That could have an horrendous effect on his own population.

If the UN is not to take on that role, it will be left to America and Britain. Do we have enough troops to deal with it in the long term? The commitment that we are already placing on our Armed Forces has led to overstretch. Could we really expect large numbers of troops to be based in Iraq, considering our commitments in Northern Ireland, in the Balkans, in Sierra Leone and elsewhere? There are also difficulties at home; for instance, a prolonged engagement to deal with the fire strike.

There will be real implications for the Army because it will lead to problems of retention. The Army must therefore believe in the cause in which the Prime Minister is asking it to take part. I served as a Territorial Army commissioned officer. It is difficult currently to retain troops in the Army because there are many other easy alternatives. Some of my friends who have recently had children and left the Army tell me that they do not want to be away from home for

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long periods. We must think carefully about how we retain soldiers. They must believe in the cause that is set out.

That is a problem, because many in this country do not believe in the immediate necessity of war. That view is shared by millions of people who took part in the march in London two Saturdays ago. We cannot underestimate the view expressed by them and by people around the world. There is a great deal of discontent in America. I want to read from a speech made by the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Senator Robert Byrd, Dean of the Congress. The paragraph that I read from his speech is telling on how the American people are being led from the top and how not everyone believes in the immediate need for war. He said:

    "This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption—the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future—is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be a convention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our—or some other nation's—hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honoured alliances, and US intentions are suddenly subject to damaging world-wide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from US leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11th".

I do not underestimate the threat that Saddam Hussein poses. However, the consequences of military action also cannot be underestimated.

7.25 p.m.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, I shall resist the temptation to take issue with some of the wilder flights of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism which seem to have crept into our debate. I want to concentrate on two basic issues which are less controversial but which have come very much alive as a result of the Iraq crisis. The first is the role of armed force as an instrument of foreign policy; and the second is the importance of discretion in the treatment of intelligence material.

So far as the first is concerned, there seems to be some confused thinking about the preparations for war which are now taking place. Listening to some of the sentiments expressed at the demonstration in London last week, one might have gained the impression that everyone who was not on the demonstration was in favour of war. No intelligent person, especially no one who has ever taken part in a war, is likely to be in favour of it. It is a brutal and uncivilised way of conducting international affairs, but it is what the distinguished historian, Michael Howard, has called,

    "an ineluctable part of the human condition".

This debate is not an occasion to analyse or refute the pacifist position, although I am bound to say I have grave doubts about its intellectual respectability. Nor is

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it an occasion on which to discuss the doctrine of the just war, especially in the presence of several right reverend Prelates—except to say that I think a great deal of ill-informed nonsense has been talked about it recently.

We are now faced with the possibility of war and, whatever views one may have about its appalling nature, it is surely right and sensible that we should prepare for it. In my view, the Government have been wise to deploy some of our Armed Forces and to bring them to a state of readiness. The actions of our own Government and of the United States Administration are designed to send a clear message to Saddam Hussein to the effect that if he does not comply with the demands of the international community he may face serious consequences—or, in plain English, war, whatever the United Nations might say.

The Prime Minister is clearly acting upon the same wise precept as one of his predecessors. It was in 1982 that the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, then Prime Minister, said:

    "When you stop a dictator there are always risks. But there are greater risks in not stopping a dictator".

In my view, the Government's policy reflects a sensible appreciation of the fact that, in situations of this kind, diplomacy, however patiently pursued, cannot be effective without the credible threat of the use of military force. And, of course, that threat will not be credible if the slogan of "No war" sends a message that, however powerful our Armed Forces may be, we shall never use them.

That is the danger of the mass demonstrations and the emotive outbursts of some politicians who hold similar views to the demonstrators. One of the reasons why Saddam Hussein has made the modest concessions referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, is that he is fearful of the possibility of war, and it is vital that that possibility should remain real in his mind.

One of the most important factors in the decision to go to war, and the strategy and tactics used to conduct it, is intelligence. It has in recent weeks been disturbing to find the Government pressed to reveal more and more about the intelligence picture concerning Iraq. In the case of the media, that is unsurprising—that is their stock in trade. But it is a matter of concern, to me at least, when Members of this House and another place attempt to draw the Government on the detail and sources of their intelligence assessments.

The dangers of that must be obvious, but it is perhaps worth while repeating some of them. Revealing any unnecessary detail of the intelligence picture has the obvious danger that it may enable a potential enemy to identify and eliminate the sources of intelligence, if they are human, or to disrupt or defend against them, if they are electronic or technological. It is often not realised that it is sometimes dangerous even to let the potential enemy know that we are in possession of a piece of intelligence—he can often deduce the source simply from the nature of the information.

That has led to some strange developments. In your Lordships' House only recently I heard it suggested that it was not good enough to go to war on a nod and a

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wink. It is not a question of nodding or winking, it is an important matter of trust. One of the hallmarks of a mature and civilised parliamentary democracy is that, in matters of national security, we trust our leaders once we have elected them. In domestic affairs, we may have doubts about their wisdom—indeed, sometimes about their sanity—but in matters affecting national security we assume, I think rightly, that our leaders will not invent or distort intelligence reports or lead the country into war for trivial or disreputable ends, as has been suggested once or twice during the debate. If our democratically elected political leaders tell us that there is a threat to security, based on intelligence in their possession, we owe them at least the duty of believing that they are behaving honestly.

Finally, I shall mention the impact of all the "No war" demonstrations, whether public or parliamentary, on our Armed Forces. It is customary, even among the more pacifist element in our society, to pay lip service to the bravery and courage of the men and women of our Army, Navy and Air Force. It is taken for granted that they will behave as they have always done and be prepared to sacrifice their comfort and safety, and even their lives, without question when they are asked to do so. It cannot be altogether good for the morale of those men and women to learn that substantial numbers of the people whom they are fighting to defend are questioning the rightness of the cause for which they are putting their lives at risk. They must be especially demoralised to see on the mass protests large numbers of small children, who could have had no possible idea what the protest was about.

The morale of fighting men comes from three things: first, a knowledge that they have an important job to do; secondly, a conviction that they are trained and equipped to do it well; and, finally, a feeling that what they are doing is appreciated and recognised. The first two are up to them and their military leaders; the third is up to us at home.

7.35 p.m.

Lord Rea: My Lords, one of the nicest slogans that I saw on the peace march on 15th February read, "War is so 20th century". As my noble friend Lord Brennan said, during that century, 160 million people were killed in wars. Sadly, the 21st century is shaping up to repeat 20th century habits. From my knowledge, I can count at least 10 wars so far in the new millennium, and the most destructive so far now looms on the horizon.

Although the initiation of war is always a final option, it can sometimes be justified—for example, in an operation to restore order in a failed state in which human rights are being grossly abused and the economy is in chaos. Examples often forgotten when citing the usual example of Kosovo are Tanzania's removal of Idi Amin from Uganda and Vietnam's expulsion of Pol Pot from Cambodia. Of course, a less happy example was the UN attempt to knock heads together in Somalia. At present, Zimbabwe is heading towards a state in which such intervention may be justified—but by whom, without incurring the accusation of a return to imperialism?

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At present, Iraq is not a failed state, despite the tyrannical rule of Saddam and the Ba'athist Party, with its scant regard for the life of anyone suspected of opposing it. There might have been a case for the further invasion of Iraq in 1991, after the Gulf War and the brutal suppression of the Kurdish and Shia uprisings. My noble friend Lady Ramsay spoke movingly about the pain that she felt at that time. Because of the action of Iraq on those uprisings, it might have been possible for world opinion to have been mobilised and another Security Council resolution passed to allow the further invasion of Iraq, but the United States was against that. That may have been because it wanted Saddam to stay in power to counterbalance Iran; but it is also strongly possible that it did not want the body bags that an invasion that took US forces to Baghdad would involve—that is certainly the Iraqi view. In any case, many must be regretting missing that opportunity to go further.

However much we may condemn Saddam, Iraq is a functioning state, although the economy is still reeling from the effects of the sanctions regime—whether or not we blame Saddam entirely for that. There are schools, hospitals, medical schools and universities. There are plenty of vehicles in Baghdad. Petrol is cheap. As we have heard, the food-for-oil programme provides rations for 60 per cent of the population. Although inadequate, they are equitably distributed.

When I was there with a BBC team last May, while shopkeepers and the public on the streets of Baghdad would not be drawn on their opinion of Saddam—almost certainly for fear that they would be reported if they said what they thought—they universally pleaded with us to stop our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, from assisting George W Bush with his war plans. The Prime Minister now speaks of the moral case for overthrowing Saddam, by force if necessary, because many people are being arrested and killed in Iraq. Of course, that is true. But the huge disruption, hardship and many civilian deaths that would be caused by a war that would disrupt and destroy lives, would affect many more than are now contained in Saddam's gaols.

My noble friend Lady Symons knows the World Health Organisation's estimates of damage from this war: 100,000 direct casualties and 500,000 indirect casualties, apart from the huge number of displaced persons and refugees mentioned by several speakers, including the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. Apart from the direct effect on people, there is the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure that would be destroyed. Twelve years after the Gulf War, all the bridges in Basra are still down and the hulks of sunk cargo ships still lie in the docks.

Would the United Nations pay for the damage caused by a coming war this time, if it initiated it? The cost to us and to the United States of military action itself will be enormous. Can my noble friend give us figures for the cost of the present deployment of United Kingdom forces and, if she has them, of United States forces to the Gulf so far? I doubt that she could give even an estimate of the cost, if military action were initiated. A figure of 100 billion dollars has been

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mentioned. That is 10 times the amount required annually for the global fund for AIDS, TB and malaria set up by Kofi Annan. That fund is grossly undersubscribed.

Can my noble friend spell out in more detail the contingency plans drawn up to ensure that, in the event of military action, sufficient food aid is available? How will the flow of food and medical supplies under the food-for-oil programme be restored? The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, also asked about that.

Iraq's non-compliance with requests to reveal whether it still has weapons of mass destruction may be cited as a material breach and, thus, a casus belli. However, there is no immediate threat to Iraq's neighbours, to ourselves or to the USA. There is, of course, the theoretical possibility that Iraq may supply terrorists with chemical and biological weapons, although no link has been shown. It is possible that, in the event of an attack on Iraq, the distribution of such weapons to terrorists would be more likely.

I join those who believe that the threat of terrorism will, in any case, increase if Iraq is attacked. Many noble Lords have said that. I am afraid that we are being pulled into a possible conflict under false pretences, as are the American people. If there are chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, UNMOVIC will need more time to find them, as the Franco-Russo-German draft resolution suggests. That point was made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall. When South Africa decided to get rid of its nuclear weapons, it took two years to satisfy the inspectors, even though the Government co-operated fully. If it has such weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has limited capacity to deliver them. In any case, such action is effectively deterred. Israel has the nuclear weapon, and the United States has overwhelming air power.

The reasons for the US Administration's brinkmanship are to be found in the economic and political situation on the other side of the Atlantic. Those who have carefully watched the scene develop are well aware of that. I am saddened that our Government have not listened to the advice of those who can stand back and see what is going on. We should distance ourselves from the rush to war, for the sake not only of the people of Iraq but of ourselves and the American people.

7.43 p.m.

Lord Alderdice: My Lords, at the end of his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, gave three important elements of good morale among troops. However, there was one important element that he did not mention: a sense of conviction in soldiers' hearts that what they are doing is right. Tonight's debate is a struggle among ourselves to become convinced of what is right. That is a proper and appropriate use of Parliament.

The debate was launched by the Minister with her customary verve and passion. She gave a thoughtful and rational presentation of her views. That being the case and the Minister being no mean speaker, I ask myself why I remain unconvinced. So, I work my way through what I understand to be her argument.

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The first argument is that the option for Saddam is that either he disarms completely in the context of the weapons inspections or it will be done forcibly. I remain unconvinced. In the United Kingdom, we had a situation for 30 years in which the British Government, in co-operation with the Irish Government, were in full control of Northern Ireland and the Irish Government in full control of the Republic of Ireland. They sought to achieve disarmament but were not able to do so—in a small place. The conclusion was reached that, without co-operation, it was impossible to get decommissioning. Therefore, any suggestion that Iraq will be identifiably, verifiably and completely rid of weapons of mass destruction because the monitors are there is, without regime change, an illusion. As long as the regime is there, it will always be possible to hide things inside people's heads, as well as in buildings and under the ground.

The Minister is not a foolish person; nor is the Prime Minister. They will have seen that argument, and one is left with the uneasy feeling that the purpose of the weapons inspections was to try to unearth something of the smoking gun, which would demonstrate the justification for war. In other words, the decision for war had already been taken, and the weapons inspectors were there to provide the evidence to justify going to war. There is no possibility of proving that there are no weapons of mass destruction. It is a bit like the case of the woman in the medieval witches' ducking-stool. If she goes under and stays under, the river has accepted her; if she is rejected by the river and even the river did not want her, it is justifiable to burn her at the stake as a witch. I find myself unconvinced by that argument. It suggests that a decision was made—perhaps a justifiable decision—that regime change was needed after all this time.

The pattern of the past few years has been outlined. We can go back to the war. After the war, we had the weapons inspectors from 1991 until 1998. They contained the situation, but Saddam was still there. There were United Nations resolutions, and deadlines were set down for Saddam—I was going to say that he had the gun put to his head, but that would have been an unfortunate turn of phrase. Requirements were made of him, and he ignored them. Finally, we are left with no alternative, after that clear and conscientiously followed policy line, but to take action.

I have no doubt that that is the story of the past 10 or 12 years that the Bush Administration would like to believe is true. They want to believe that there was a seamless move from the policy of the first Bush Administration to that of the second Bush Administration. They regard the Clinton years as a little aberration that would be better put to the side. I did not think that that was how this Government thought of the Clinton years. President Clinton had a different approach to policy; he had a different strategy. It is not just I who say that: President Bush is clear about it. If he is asked whether he is following the policies of his predecessor, he will say, "Of course, I'm not. On almost every issue of foreign policy, I am taking a different line. They were wasted, foolish years of international social work".

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What was that policy? It was that, if there is a conflict, we should identify the partisans. Then, we try to identify those who influence the partisans and create a peace process, through which—over years of political pressure, economic development and confidence-building measures—we bring to an end the conflict and the issues around it. That is what happened in South Africa. It is what we have been trying to do in Northern Ireland. That is what President Clinton tried to do in the Middle East, as I remember it. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford said, in quoting a colleague, President Clinton saw that the road to Iraq ran through Jerusalem. In other words, the central issue in the Middle East is Israel and Palestine. Until that issue is addressed, nothing else can be resolved.

But someone will say, "Yes, but you are forgetting 9/11, when everything changed". Some things did change. Many people in the Middle East who previously had had no sympathy with America, began to have sympathy with America. Many countries that would not naturally have felt an affection for the American people and what they were going through, came on-side. There was an incipient alliance within the Arab countries for dealing with conflict in that area.

I always had the sense that President Clinton wanted people to like him and that he did not want to lose them. If either he or a Clinton-type Democrat President had been around and that kind of alliance had been presented on a plate after 9/11, I do not believe that a handful of years later those countries would all have left.

Unlike the first Gulf War, as I feel it will be called—not the "Gulf War" but the "First Gulf War"—we are moving into this without allies in the Arab world. It is a very different situation. That is not because the Arab world wants Saddam Hussein—it wants rid of him—but we have found ways of getting it on the wrong side.

But it is not only that. For the sake of argument, let us assume that the policy currently being pursued by Her Majesty's Government and the United States Administration is followed through; that we have a fair wind and that Saddam Hussein is toppled within a couple of weeks. What will we be left with? We will be left in Iraq with the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shi'ites rapidly at each others' throats. Noble Lords who believe that a liberating army is always welcome after the first week have short memories. Very often the army gets tea and biscuits for the first week, but the one way that it unites everyone is against itself.

I do not believe a successful war will resolve immediately the problem of Iraq. Will it resolve the problem in the Middle East generally? Indeed not; it will create the possibility of even greater chaos. Major instabilities which already exist in the Middle East will not be resolved. Will the United Nations be strengthened? Will it become an instrument that we can turn to in order to address these issues? It will have been effectively set to the side.

Another major cost is the profound damage that has been done to North Atlantic institutions and relationships which have served us well. I do not say

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that out of anti-Americanism; I say it for precisely the opposite reason. I have a great fear that our relationship will be set to the side. That is part of the danger that we are in.

When you are cycling up a one-way street and you begin to have doubts about what is further along the street, you are very unwise to keep pedalling. The wise thing to do is to at least stop, contain the situation and review it. You may not go back down the street—after all, it is a one-way street—but you may try to find other ways of reaching the destination at which you wish to arrive, rather than forcing yourself to go to the destination at which you are no longer sure you wish to arrive.

For me, that is the rationale for giving the weapons inspectors more time. That is not because they will, over a period of time, rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction without regime change—I do not believe that and I do not believe that the Government believe that—nor that that in itself will get rid of Saddam Hussein, but it may give us time to think through our strategy.

This is not the only strategy for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and for addressing the issues in the Middle East. For eight years Her Majesty's Government seemed to believe that the strategy adopted by President Clinton was perfectly reasonable and ought to be given more time. I still hold to that old-fashioned view, perhaps because I have to study the outcomes of that Clinton approach in my own part of the United Kingdom. If there is a doubt, it might be wise to give ourselves and our world a little more time.

7.55 p.m.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, was right—even if we reach different conclusions—to return us to the central question of whether what we are doing is right. Inside and outside your Lordships' House much has been made of the principles for a just war and whether there is a just cause for using armed force in Iraq. As was heard earlier in the debate, Thomas Aquinas's tests for a just war include self-defence and war as a last resort. As many noble Lords noted, these principles still provide us with a moral compass.

Once those tests are answered, we are then required to address the ius in bello, or "war conduct" issues. These include "proportionality", which requires the use of no more force than necessary to vindicate the just cause. That is sometimes also called "non-combatant immunity". The unleashing of a massive aerial bombardment that could kill large numbers of civilians would, for instance, certainly raise serious questions about the legitimacy of such military action.

But what is often not stated is that, having weighed these issues, the clear path of reasoning leaves the ultimate responsibility, the final judgment for waging war, with the competent civil authority. Churchmen, who are obliged to go the extra mile for peace, and political leaders, whose primary duty is to protect their

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citizens, may arrive at different conclusions. Last Thursday's statement by the two archbishops conceded this.

If statesmen and governments have knowledge that inertia will place their citizens at risk, then they are under a clear duty to act. That is the nub of the Prime Minister's case, a case with which I personally agree and which deserves to be heard.

Outside your Lordships' House, some of the demonisation of both the Prime Minister and President Bush, imputing a moral equivalence between them and Saddam Hussein, beggars belief. So does the risible and simplistic claim that this is all about oil.

As our Government justly confront Saddam, we must be acutely aware that it undermines their efforts and even makes war more likely if Baghdad believes there is a lack of resolve in bringing this issue to a conclusion. Saddam has demonstrated repeatedly over the past 12 years that he will exploit any divisions within or between United Nations member states.

There are moments when governments have to be, and deserve to be, trusted. Heads of government alone have access to all of the necessary intelligence needed to make these awesome decisions. It is facile to imply that they are not weighing the risks of further destabilising an already volatile region, or weighing the role that may be played by Iran, or assessing the consequences for the beleaguered and suffering people of Iraq.

One of the criticisms often levelled at the Government is that too often they measure public opinion before acting. In the case of Iraq, precisely the reverse criticism is now being made. The Government's steadfast and determined stance can be explained only if we accept that they truly believe that the dangers of not acting against Iraq far outweigh any short-term craving for public esteem.

The 1991 Gulf War, which both Houses supported, was waged after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. It was a condition of his continuing tenure that he disarm and prove that he had destroyed his stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, including mustard gas, sarin, botulinium and 5,000 litres of anthrax. Despite an ever-increasing number of United Nations resolutions instructing him to do so, he has never complied. Without the threat of force, who seriously believes that Dr Hans Blix would have recommenced his weapons inspection programme?

For Iraq, the issue has not changed since 1991 nor since Resolution 1441 was first tabled. Saddam's prevarication sadly indicates little intention to obey either the spirit or the letter of that resolution.

Dr Blix has distinguished between procedure and substance. These two issues must now converge. Without real and tangible disarmament, procedural nuances are a mere sleight of hand.

Saddam's absurd insistence that his stockpiles of biological and chemical materials have simply vanished cannot give rise to calibrated concessions. If we do not ultimately stand firm on this question, we

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shall have made the world infinitely more dangerous. I particularly agree with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, in that context.

In 1978, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of the need for courage in the face of deadly evil. He said that there had been,

    "a decline in courage which may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the west in our days".

The temptation may be to hope that threats will recede, but it is always a mistake to appease tyranny.

Saddam and his deputy, Tariq Aziz, who has made great play of his Christian background, have been responsible for the brutal attacks on the Marsh Arabs—referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson—and for attacks on the Kurds and on Iraq's political dissenters. In the past 15 years their regime has slaughtered 150,000 Shia Muslims; and Christians, not least the Assyrian community, have suffered too.

Like many others, I am sorry that at times there have been confusing mixed messages—not least on the linkage with Al'Qaeda. It is not, and never has been, necessary to prove a link between Saddam and Al'Qaeda to see the justice of disarming and liberating Iraq.

Although disarmament and the threat to our future security are the central issue, a welcome by-product could be an end to the continuing suffering and misery of the Iraqi people. It is essential that their suffering is minimised in the aftermath of any possible conflict.

I return to a point made by my noble friend Lord Sandwich. In another place, Clare Short recently told the International Development Select Committee that, in the event of such a war, in the short term as many as 8 million people could be displaced. Given that some 60 per cent of the population are reliant on food generated by the oil-for-food programme, I should like to ask the Minister the following questions. What contingencies are being made to feed those people and to sustain that programme should Iraq's oil fields be torched during hostilities; and is it true that no neighbouring country, other than Syria, has indicated a preparedness to take refugees? In the event of war, what strategy is being put in place to assist them?

I have two brief points about the future. Articles 41 and 42 set out the responsibility of the United Nations Charter,

    "to maintain or restore international peace and security".

Working within the UN, the Government have rightly sustained an internationalist approach to the crisis in Iraq. If they are successful in maintaining that focus, the UN will be a better vehicle for championing justice elsewhere. If they are not, it could become wholly ineffectual.

Secondly, if the UN were merely to follow the Roman injunction:

    "si vis pacem para bellum"—

if you want peace, prepare for war—we could easily become blind to the need to build civil structures and institutions that can deliver long-term progress and

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which spare us from further violence. If you want peace, you need to work harder to remove some of the conditions in which conflict has festered.

Since 1980, when I first visited Palestinian refugee camps at Shatilla and Shabra before the massacres there, I have believed that the creation of a Palestinian state is a sine qua non for both the security of the state of Israel and stability throughout the region. The noble Lord, Lord Hurd of Westwell, is right to say—in an article quoted earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker—that without such a resolution this will be,

    "a region of sullen humiliation".

In addition, Iraq's four million Kurds and the Shia Muslim community must also be given justice once the fog of war has cleared. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, in her telling and persuasive speech, reminded us of the betrayal in 1991 and that both the Kurds and the four million Iraqi exiles must be fully involved in the reconstruction of the country. I wholeheartedly endorse and agree with that. I am sorry that the second Security Council resolution does not set out arrangements for the exercise of authority in Iraq after conflict is concluded.

After years of suffering and privation, we shall need a generosity and resolve unwitnessed since the Marshall Aid programme. The Government have handled this crisis with tenacity and skill. We must always use all our energy to avoid war. But if it becomes inevitable, we shall all need to do more to explain the justness of the Government's case.

8.5 p.m.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I support the Government. War is abhorrent—and so is tyranny, torture and terror. Saddam Hussein continues to use torture as a means of sustaining terror in order to provide himself with the basis for the continuance of his tyranny.

We talk about the Gulf War as though we had started it. The Gulf War was started when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The United Nations—or some parts of the United Nations—sent military contributions to make sure that he left Kuwait. He did—and he left it blazing in an environmental obscenity. When he returned, politicians in most countries in Europe rejoiced in trumph at the great victory in removing the aggressor. While they were enjoying the triumph, as my noble friend Lady Ramsay and the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, pointed out, Saddam was content to massacre large numbers of those who were not absolutely reliable from the Ba'athist point of view.

Then Saddam Hussein continued with his priorities. He continued to oppress the people of Iraq, and he continued to maintain his military capacity. So we introduced sanctions. Then, those who did not like war and those who wanted to proclaim their virtue said that the sanctions were cruel. So he was allowed to sell oil for food. Yet people are still starving in Iraq, even though billions of pounds' worth of oil has been sold, purportedly for food. The weaponry has been maintained, but the people have not been fed; and

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neither their medical needs nor their educational needs have been met. One of the national newspapers today contains a letter from an apparent apologist for Saddam Hussein who says that his intent is to develop a high-tech modern society. Yet 66 per cent of the people in Iraq are illiterate. That is not the basis for building a civilised society—yet he has a very powerful military presence.

It has been said that Iraq's neighbours are not at all happy about military action. Given their experience when we left after the Gulf War and saw massacres in Iraq, with Saddam developing his weaponry, I am not surprised that his neighbours are uneasy in case the West pulls back.

The size of the Iraqi forces is incredible. The population of 23.5 million provides an army of full-time military force of 520,000 personnel. We have a military force of considerable competence which occupies 0.5 per cent of the British population. The Iraqi army takes five times the share of its population into its military, plus hundreds of thousands of reservists. Saddam has, despite sanctions and despite his 1991 pledge to disarm, 4,600 tanks and armoured cars, 316 combat aircraft and 100 armed helicopters.

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