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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I listened carefully to the speech of my noble friend Lady Nicholson. She referred to the use of MKO in Iraq and Iran. It was not the sort of world-wide network of which I understood the noble Lord to be talking.

We need a multilateral approach to energy supplies and conservation. One of the many disturbing things about the current debate in Washington is that in the State of the Union message President Bush spoke only about the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles at some time within the next 10 to 15 years as resolving the problem of energy dependence in the United States. We need to have the US coming back into multilateral discussions about energy dependence. We also want the Government to pursue the re-establishment of some consensus among European governments. We want to see a government who will ensure that the United Nations and international institutions come out of this stronger and not weaker.

Why is there a rush to war now? Why is there an assumption that the United Kingdom will, together with the United States, intervene in Iraq, even if no other significant government, except Australia, accompany them? The Prime Minister, in his Glasgow speech on 15th February justifying intervention, talked about the,

if we do not go in. The threat of chaos, disorder and instability if we do go in without a clear sense of why we are going and what we are going to do after the war is serious. The absence of any coherent strategy for post-conflict Iraq or the Middle East as a whole is one of the underlying weaknesses. We are not yet convinced. The Government have not yet made a reasonable case. British troops should not be sent into action on such a thin basis of policy with such unclear objectives and with so large a proportion of the British public doubtful of the whole enterprise.

11.30 p.m.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, I suspect that I am not the only Member of your Lordships' House who as a refugee from next door remembers sitting late at night in the Commons, looking with envy at the

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early nights in the Lords and thinking what a wonderful move it would be. I cannot help now noticing the Commons going home after its vote at seven o'clock while I stagger to my feet at 11.30 p.m. Surely there is some mistake somewhere!

This has been a serious and unquestionably important debate. I was going to say that practically every speaker has seen both sides of the issue, although if I do not misunderstand her, the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, who we welcome back to the Chamber, is in the category of which there are many respectable Members with deeply held beliefs who are totally opposed to war under any circumstances and think it is wrong. I was also going to say that she is joined by someone who perhaps does not see both sides of the issues as clearly as others might suggest—that is, my colleague from the Intelligence and Security Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, who managed to put forward a clear view of these issues.

The noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, in an impressive speech, said that this was a watershed debate. Everyone in the House will agree with that. I am sorry if that led to disagreement on the Liberal Democrat Benches because the noble Lord did not agree with the view taken by his noble friends Lady Williams and Lord Wallace.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, made an interesting and impressive speech and referred to the sense of de ja vu. I understand why she said that. One might say that we have been here before—but she will understand if I say, "Well, not quite". There are so many clear and obvious differences in the situation we see today from what might otherwise appear to be yet another engagement with Iraq, trying to bring it back into order from the events of 1991.

In 1991, the issue was clear cut. There was manifest aggression against Kuwait. I and others charged with the responsibility were able overwhelmingly to persuade the British people that we should support the cause. There was strong international backing, not least within the Arab world and the region. Many countries felt threatened and believed they might be the next victims if the aggression against Kuwait were to go uncorrected.

We gained considerable public and parliamentary support. I took the trouble of looking up the debate and the voting figures in another place on 21st January 1991. Perhaps it is a little unfair because the debate took place four days after hostilities began. A more accurate reflection might be gained from the debate on 15th January, two days before hostilities began, when 534 Members voted in favour and 57 voted against. The fact that there were then 57 compared with 199 in today's vote in another place clearly illustrates the task that lies ahead of the Government in carrying the degree of conviction for which a number of us have pressed. It will be important if we are to obtain the support of the largest number of nations and, if possible, the Security Council and the United Nations. If we ask our Armed Forces in the Gulf to undertake the task, they must know that they have the support of Parliament and the people in doing so.

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The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, drew attention to what he and others have referred to as the unfortunately rather muddled presentation, which has not helped the Government in trying to carry conviction. It has been something of a trans-Atlantic muddle as well. There is no question but that the policy started out based on what I believe to be valid grounds.

Perhaps 9/11 was a wake-up call. I never forget—I am sure that none of your Lordships does—that more British people were killed on 9/11 than have been killed in any other terrorist outrage in all my time in Northern Ireland or in other outrages committed in this country. That was the greatest single outrage committed against British people—quite apart from the overwhelming number of Americans who were also killed.

The recognition that there were weapons of mass destruction and terrorist groups in the world that now had no compunction about what they would use or the casualties that they would seek to cause was certainly a compelling argument. I shall discuss the issue of whether there was then a direct link with Al'Qaeda in a moment, but to continue with the confusion of the story, we seemed to switch to regime change and then switch back to linkage of terrorism with weapons of mass destruction, coupled with the desirable secondary objective of regime change.

Then came what I believe to have been confusion about the role and tasks of the inspectors. Only recently have we received the obvious and necessary clarification that the inspectors' role is as verifiers, not detectives. They cannot be detectives trying to discover concealed material. That was well articulated by the Prime Minister's response yesterday. Speaking of the inspectors' difficulty in searching out weapons, he said:

    "The best proof of that is what happened in the 1990s when there was a complete denial of the existence of an offensive biological weapons programme. For four years, the inspectors were in there searching for it and they did not find it . . . Then Saddam's son-in-law defected to Jordan and said that there was an offensive biological weapons programme. The Iraqis then admitted as much, and at that point the programme was at least partially shut down".—[Official Report, Commons 25/2/03; col. 132.]

I simply draw those four years of the inspectors' activities to the attention of those who say, "How about a little bit longer, and a little bit longer?" After four years of inspections, that occurred only when the son-in-law defected—tragically, he is now a late son-in-law, because he unwisely returned to Iraq under a safe passage guarantee from Saddam Hussein, to be killed shortly thereafter.

I visited Baghdad on a ministerial mission 20 years ago, and I remember being appalled by the police state in which I found myself, with the secret police monitoring every activity. That was 20 years ago. There is no chance of the inspectors operating freely and being able to go about their work. They are in an impossible situation. Although they say that there is co-operation on process, as Dr Blix confirmed today, the full co-operation required under Resolution 1441 is still not available.

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That is the background against which to judge the failure to convey to the wider public the difficulties and challenges of the situation and the Government's case. It is aggravated by a worrying absence of information about what is planned to follow any military action. The noble and gallant Lords, Lord Bramall and Lord Craig of Radley, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, asked about the succession and about the means of ensuring the security of Iraq and its population. What is the position on humanitarian aid and the terrible challenges that may be faced?

Some of the rumours that can spread are damaging. The idea that there might be an interim American military administration for five or six years is hardly something that will capture Arab hearts. The incipient democrats who might emerge from their bunkers in Iraq will hardly feel that that is an attractive proposition. I am interested that, as far as I can see, there has not been much promotion of the very feasible idea of encouraging Arab League involvement in taking over security and protection. That would be a more acceptable proposal for the Arab world.

There are many more difficulties. I accept that it is difficult to explain. Ten years on from the Kuwait crisis, the situation in Palestine is extremely difficult. I read again our debate in 1991. I noticed the amendment that was moved by Neil Kinnock. It was designed to add words to the Motion so that it read that the House,

    "expresses its determination that, once the aggression in Kuwait is reversed, the United Nations and the international community must return with renewed vigour to resolving the wider problems of the Middle East".—[Official Report, Commons, 21/1/91; col. 31.]

That amendment was accepted by the Conservative Government of the day, and the amended Motion was carried by 537 votes. The cynicism that undoubtedly exists in Palestine, to which my noble friend Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar referred, and the appalling situation that now exists there has damaged the process.

There are worries about the Government's priorities and about whether the situation is distracting attention away from the campaign against terrorism. The issues of Afghanistan are still not fully resolved. The emerging difficulties over North Korea are a continuing worry. The noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, referred to the tinder-box of the Middle East and the implications for neighbouring states. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury was concerned about the hatred that might attach to us from the Muslim world. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford spoke of his nightmare that this is the second chapter of Osama bin Laden's plan to provoke America, through the outrage of 9/11, into action that might be an even greater cause of antipathy and hatred between the Muslim world and the United States.

There are also worries about the aftermath and the lack of planning. There are complications. Restoring order to a new system involving Sunni, Shia and Kurd will be very different from returning Kuwaitis to

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Kuwait. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent of Coleshill, put it neatly when he asked whether, even though we might win the war, we would lose the peace.

Such are the worries, and we understand them. There are other worries on which I do not have time to dwell. The noble Lord, Lord Newby, had worries about the economy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, had worries about the environment. Other noble Lords also referred to the environmental issues, including my noble friend Lord Marlesford.

There must be military concerns as well. I shall not dwell on it, but I must draw to your Lordships' attention the concern about military overstretch. We are sending out as many troops now as we sent in 1991, but we send them from a regular force of 210,000. When I made the dispositions in 1991, we had regular forces of 310,000. That is an indication of the pressure. I must mention the fears that the invasion of Iraq could be very different from the liberation of Kuwait—easy to get in but difficult to get out, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said.

These worries are real and it would be quite wrong if we did not face them. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, said what I have just written down, that "We are where we are". I have absolutely no doubt that Iraq is in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that those weapons are important to it. We did not vaccinate our forces in 1991, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, said, for fun. We did it because we knew that there were weapons of mass destruction. They presented dangerous challenges that had to be faced and against which our forces had to be protected.

I am in no doubt that the weapons of mass destruction are important to Saddam Hussein. They saved him in the war against Iran. People talk about Halabja, but the survival of Iraq was much more at risk from attacks by the human waves of Iranians. He was protected then by his chemical weapons and he believes that that is what saved him at the end of the Gulf War. It is not true, but he thought that we did not advance on Baghdad because we believed that he would use his chemical weapons. So they are important to him.

I said that we are where we are, and there is now a risk. My noble friend Lord Howell referred to the interesting speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson. I cannot comment on whether the MKO, Ansar al Islam and other terrorist groups are around, but I do know that if this issue is not resolved and the United Nations loses its resolution, then Saddam Hussein will become a much more dangerous prospect. If he believes that he is impregnable and has a few scores to settle—and there are plenty of groups around in the world who have scores to settle as well—then that cocktail is about as dangerous a combination as you can get. I have always thought that to be much the most powerful and compelling reason why we now have to address these issues.

I hope that they are addressed—preferably and overwhelmingly—by Saddam Hussein recognising that the game is up, that the weapons of mass

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destruction have got to go and that he must fulfil Resolution 1441. We must not show now irresolution and worry about certain attitudes that have been taken—such as give him more time; let us spend much more time on inspection; the French attitude that we should do it only if inspections have failed, although how on earth we prove that I do not know; and the Russian attitude of only if all other remedies are exhausted. How long will that take? We should recognise that the inspectors are there at the moment only because there is a credible military force backing them up.

I found among my archive—I do not keep much of an archive—an old copy of Private Eye dated 4th January 1991. It has a picture of George Bush senior on the cover. He is making an announcement. In the balloon coming out of his mouth it states:

    "Unless Saddam withdraws immediately . . . I'll issue another ultimatum".

That is what President George Bush did not do because, 13 days later, we started the campaign to free Kuwait.

If we follow through the jibe on the cover of that Private Eye, the reality will be that Saddam Hussein will believe that the United Nations, in the end, is not man enough for the task and that he is impregnable. The world will then become a much more dangerous place. We do not want war—nobody in their senses wants war—and there is time. An ultimatum has been issued and he now has days in which to co-operate.

But if anyone suggests, "If you do not co-operate we will give you a bit more time", I guarantee that that co- operation will not be there, that the weapons of mass destruction will stay and that we will at some time face the consequences. I hope that he will finally see sense, or that the people surrounding him will see sense, and that we shall see an alternative leadership in Iraq. But, whichever way we go, the weapons of mass destruction must be removed. If that removes Saddam Hussein as well, then so much the better.

11.49 p.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. With very few exceptions, the contributions have been remarkable for their balanced approach. Where there has been disagreement, it has been courteously and seriously expressed.

It is only right that your Lordships should consider these issues in such depth and at such length. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, that this is a hugely important moment in our history. No one—no government, no country, no people—takes the step of military action lightly. The reality of war is tough and terrible—real danger and real damage, real lives at stake. So I assure my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington that Her Majesty's Government do understand what is involved in a military conflict. But I am also bound to say gently to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that the idea that Britain, the United States or any country is rushing towards war is as offensive as it is wrong. There is no rush to war—not in London and not in Washington either.

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But there is no peace either. What is happening now in Iraq, what has been happening in Iraq under Saddam's regime, is not peace. My noble friend Lord Rea said that it was not a failed state. It functions, he said. But he could not claim that it is a state of peace. Brutal murder is not peace. Torture and terror are not peace. Repression and fear are not peace. Saddam's regime is a vile one which puts real lives at stake regularly and often, as my noble friend Lady Ramsay reminded us so eloquently.

Does my noble friend Lord Rea—who is a good man—really think that those talking to him and urging him to ask the Prime Minister not to proceed would not have been debriefed; and that, had they not said what was required of them, the minimum punishment would not have been the removal of the offender's tongue or, even worse, slow death in an iron cage in one of Iraq's prisons? In developing and using weapons of mass destruction, Saddam wants the ability to extend that approach and to extend that violence and brutality to others.

There is a point on which I think virtually all your Lordships can agree. Saddam Hussein runs a cruel and terrible regime. He has inflicted untold suffering on his own people and on some of his neighbours. He still has illegal weapons—despite what my noble friend Lord Stoddart said, I really do believe that to be the case; otherwise, Dr Blix would not be ordering the destruction of the al-Samoud missiles in the way that he is. We also think that the correct way to deal with this issue is through the United Nations if humanly possible. We are also in general agreement that the terms of Resolution 1441 should be upheld.

Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government have taken no decision on military action. I assure my noble friend Lady Turner and the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, that there has been no decision for war. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made that clear again yesterday. He said:

    "we will work every last minute that we can to reunite the international community and to disarm Iraq through the United Nations".—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/03; col. 126.]

I thank my noble friend Lord MacKenzie for his powerful words on this issue and value the support of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

I believe that the words of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister yesterday may have been overlooked by some of your Lordships. He has worked tirelessly to deal with this grave matter through the United Nations, and to do so peacefully. He said that again yesterday, and his points were reinforced by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary today. Again, his has been a constant effort to keep this issue within the United Nations and his efforts with his colleagues in the United States have been unceasing.

Some noble Lords have asked: why table a second resolution now; why not set a deadline or support the Franco-German proposal to strengthen the inspections? The problem is not the lack of capacity by the inspectors; it is the lack of will from Saddam Hussein. The inspectors' role is not one of detectives hunting for clues, but one of verifying Iraqi compliance.

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The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, was entirely right, as was my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis. The Franco-German proposals will not deliver the assurance that the world needs about Iraq's weapons. They are unrealistic and impractical. They shift the burden of proof from Iraq to the inspectors and they send Saddam Hussein the signal that defiance pays. I remind my noble friend Lord Judd that this is not just the judgment of the British Government. As Dr. Blix said, the principal problem is not the number of inspectors but the active co-operation on the Iraqi side, as we have said many times.

Resolution 1441 said that it was a final opportunity to comply. What does "final" mean if not that this is Saddam Hussein's last chance? Non-compliance with Resolution 1441 is at the heart of the issue. It is the basis of any action, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, pointed out in his customary erudite way.

We all acknowledge that the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, knows the country better than most. I admire hugely her courage in defending the interests of the Marsh Arabs. The noble Baroness is right, as was the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass and the noble Lord, Lord Elton. Iraq is already in breach of UNSCR 687 and 1441. We are asked to wait for Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei to decide, but I remind your Lordships of what Dr. Blix has already said. Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament which was demanded of it. It is his judgment that Iraq has not come to a genuine acceptance about disarmament. Dr. Blix's view is simply not compatible with a view that co-operation has been full, active or immediate, as required by Resolution 1441. It is not a technical issue, as the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, so dismissively described it. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, that it is not, and it never was, the job of the inspectors to find the smoking gun. It is the job of Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons.

Of course the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, is right that there is a peaceful way to resolve the issue. Where I disagree with her, and with my noble friend Lord Brennan, is the implication that this can be done through a process of inspection. In that respect, I believe the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, is right. Inspectors are not there to find the weapons but to verify the completion of the disarmament process. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, that it never was their job to do what he describes, nor is it their job to contain the development of weapons of mass destruction.

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, is right that not all peaceful options have been exhausted, and I hope that I made that clear when I spoke earlier. Saddam Hussein holds the key to a peaceful solution, not the inspectors—not 150 inspectors, not 1,500 inspectors, not in 15 more weeks or 15 more months. Without the active, full and, crucially, the immediate co-operation demanded in UNSCR, the issue simply cannot be solved.

The noble Lord, Lord Rea, said that it was done in two years in South Africa. What he did not tell your Lordships is that is was done there by only nine

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inspectors. He entirely ignored the fact that this is a comparison between two years in South Africa and 12 years already in Iraq.

Some of your Lordships were particularly concerned about what some thought to be the double standard of Israel's failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions and Iraq's position. We want to see all Security Council resolutions implemented. We acknowledge that in this respect Israel has obligations which are as yet unfulfilled. I hope that I made it clear yesterday in answering questions in your Lordships' House on the Middle East that we believe that the Israeli settlements are illegal and that a security fence is an obstruction to peaceful cohabitation. But if the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, was really arguing that the difference was only a question of US agreement to Chapter 7 procedures, I disagree with her. There are two crucial differentials in the resolutions about Iraq and those about the Arab-Israeli dispute. It is not simply about Iraqi Security Council resolutions being mandatory, although that is not a minor point, as Resolution 687 was a condition of a ceasefire after a conflict sanctioned by the UN. But the second issue is that the Arab-Israeli resolutions call on all sides of the dispute to take action. The truth is that Israel and its neighbours all have obligations still to fulfil.

Other noble Lords had worries about other countries with weapons of mass destruction. I cite in particular the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, and other noble Lords who questioned the position on North Korea. The proliferation of WMD is a huge concern, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear. However, does any noble Lord believe that if Saddam Hussein is not dealt with after 12 years and all the mandatory Security Council resolutions, North Korea will believe the international community is really serious about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction? Is it not far more likely that it will believe that it too can flout the will of the United Nations and the international community with absolute impunity? The activities of countries such as North Korea cannot be an excuse for tolerating what is happening in Iraq; rather, they should be another reason for tackling the issue with courage and determination now.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, in his thoughtful and well-informed contribution, dwelt on the circumstances in which force might be necessary. In particular, he proposed questions about a second UN resolution, a point raised also by the noble Lord, Lord Chan. We expect there to be intensive diplomatic discussions before a vote is taken. We are ready for the propositions on the full text to be examined. Our ambassador to the United Nations has said that he anticipates two weeks of discussions. So we are negotiating, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, argues we should. The UN Security Council should then send Saddam a clear signal of its determination. But we have to stay united.

Last year, Saddam allowed UNMOVIC into Iraq because the council stood firm. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alton, very strongly on this point. A united council now will give us the best chance of avoiding

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force later. The council must be prepared to uphold the authority of the UN that Saddam has ignored for far too long. So I agree with my noble friend Lord Hardy of Wath. We have to show our resolve in dealing with this issue. Of course the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, was right: clear presentation of the argument is absolutely vital.

A number of noble Lords—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, the noble Lords, Lord Blaker, Lord Hardy of Wath and Lord Phillips of Sudbury and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford—talked about military action possibly destabilising the whole of the Middle East. I repeat that there has been no decision to launch such action. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that military action should only ever be a last resort. We have to take many aspects into account when taking any decision to launch such action. That is why we are considering all the options so carefully with our allies. However, Saddam should be in no doubt about our determination to remove the threat of his weapons of mass destruction. Nowhere is that threat higher than in his own region. I remind noble Lords that Resolution 1441 was widely welcomed, including in the region.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, and the noble Lords, Lord Sandberg and Lord Phillips, were right to remind us of the risk to stability contingent upon military action. I assure the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, as forcefully as I can that these issues are very much in the forefront of our minds. Actually, I do not find it as easy as he suggested to put the argument for action now. I find it very hard because I fully understand what it means in terms of risk to precious lives—British lives, Iraqi lives, to Americans and others in the region. This is not a case of going to war in a moment, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury said. I agree with the right reverend Prelate. Building peace takes a lifetime. But I am bound to say that talk about building trust in relation to the 12 years of a tyrant's deceit and a man who murdered his own son-in-law is rather misplaced.

A number of other noble Lords concentrated on what happens as regards what was described as "winning the peace". The points were raised in particular by the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Craig and Lord Bramall. As military action cannot be ruled out, it is of course sensible to plan on a contingency basis for what the international community should do in Iraq in the event that Saddam Hussein's regime were removed from power as a result of military action. We are in contact with a number of international players about this. We are not making the content of those contingency talks public.

As regards the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, the UK view is guided by a number of considerations. The territorial integrity of Iraq should be maintained. The Iraqi people themselves, in consultation with the international community, should generate the ideas for the future political arrangements in Iraq. We expect the successor regime to

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be a significant improvement on the existing one. The UN should be at the centre of any transitional administration in Iraq.

I agree strongly with the points made by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. The government of Iraq is a matter for the people of Iraq. But we believe that the Iraqi people deserve a better government and one based on the rule of law with respect for human rights, economic freedom and for property.

My noble friend Lady Ramsay talked about the massacre of the Shias in southern Iraq and, perhaps more eloquently than most, about the consequences of not taking any action. It was an excellent and moving contribution of the sort that we have come to expect from her. She reminded us of the Prime Minister's contribution to the moral issues at stake. She reminded us of the issues concerning infant mortality, the tens of thousands of dead in the past five years, of others murdered in prisons and those routinely executed.

Reversing all that is much to be desired, as my noble friend Lord Gilbert emphasised. He was in excellent form this evening. All these are important humanitarian issues. The noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, urged us to be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism particularly the terrorism which has its roots in the Israel/Palestine conflict. I agree strongly. I hope that he will agree with me that the Prime Minister has tackled this issue in a forthright and determined way. That issue was also focused on by many other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Sandberg, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford and the noble Lord, Lord Morgan.

The Prime Minister emphasised again yesterday what he described as the vital importance of the Middle East peace process. I emphasised that strongly in my opening remarks. Last week the European Council called for the early implementation of the roadmap. Terror and violence must end. The Prime Minister said,

    "I will continue to strive in every way for an even-handed and just approach to the middle east peace process".—[Official Report, Commons, 25/2/03; col. 126.]

I assure the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford that the Prime Minister and the whole Government are committed on that issue.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, asked me about contributions to UNWRA in Palestine. Twelve million pounds has been dispersed of our annual contribution to the general fund. There is a contribution of £5 million to the 2002 emergency appeal.

Sadly, I disagree with some of the points made by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. We certainly did not wait for either the United States or the Israeli Government before going ahead with the January conference on Palestine. We held that conference in the teeth of Israeli opposition given their refusal to allow Palestinian representatives to come to London.

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Our position is well understood, as I found when I was in the region recently. But I agree with the noble Earl and with the right reverend Prelate that the prospect of war is a nightmare which I share and I know that I am not alone in that.

Perhaps I may turn to some of the humanitarian contingency planning which was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, the noble Lords, Lord Newby, Lord Chan, Lord Clinton-Davis, Lord Howe, Lord Rea, Lord Alton, Lord Vincent, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. We are planning for a range of humanitarian contingencies which includes MoD discussions with DfID on how to minimise the harm to Iraqi people if military action is taken. We are in regular contact with a range of UN humanitarian agencies and we are making detailed contingency plans. We are confident that UN preparations are as good as they can be given the risks and the uncertainties. But we support a leading UN role in response to any humanitarian crisis. We remain committed to helping refugees in need of any humanitarian assistance. We have been supporting Iraqi refugees in western Iran for several years. DfID funding to the UN and other humanitarian agencies includes provision for emergency preparedness for a variety of contingencies across the world. The DfID has provided more than £100 million of bilateral humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people since 1991. I have many more details and will write to all noble Lords concerned.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, that we must be alive to the environmental consequences of war, including environmental terrorism of the sort that occurred in Kuwait and the Gulf after 1991. Saddam Hussein has regularly halted Iraqi oil exports to score political points. It is important for my noble friend Lord Stoddart to remember that. One such stoppage last year sacrificed 1.2 billion dollars of humanitarian aid in just one month. It is Saddam Hussein who is doing so much to add to the suffering of his people.

The noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, said that this was a war of cynicism and greed. We do disagree with the United States. It is not a matter of what the noble Lord called "followership". We disagree with the United States on Kyoto, the International Criminal Court, the death penalty, many trade issues and anti-personnel landmines.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that of course America must be questioned, but I was saddened by the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour—which majored in the most florid terms on America's shortcomings but mentioned Saddam Hussein's appalling regime only briefly. This is emphatically not a war about oil. The unsupported assertion that it is does no service to sensible debate. One need only read Colin Powell's speech on 29th December—a copy of which I will send the noble Lord.

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Others of your Lordships spoke about terrorism. Of course Iraq has a long record of supporting terrorism, including radical Islamic groups, but none of us will draw a direct connection in terms of a relationship between Al'Qaeda and Iraq unless we are sure that such a direct relationship exists. There may be contacts, but I assure the noble Lords, Lord Morgan, Lord Wallace and Lord King of Bridgwater, that I have never drawn that conclusion. Until I see some evidence, I shall not do so.

I shall write to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, on his points about the territorial integrity of Iraq and Turkish troops.

I agree with my noble friend Lady Uddin that none of us seeks war, but we have to face the possibility that military action may prove necessary. Noble Lords in all parts of the House hope that it will not prove necessary. We hope even at this late moment that conflict can be averted. The Prime Minister has made

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that clear and I thank all noble Lords who expressed their appreciation of my right honourable friend's role.

The route to peace is clear. The route to peace lies with Saddam. Saddam Hussein has to co-operate with the inspectors, United Nations and international community. He must comply with the requirements that have been placed upon him. All that is clear.

It is clear, too, that Saddam has choices. He can disarm voluntarily. He can leave Iraq peacefully. The noble Lord, Lord King, was right that Saddam Hussein can choose how disarmament is done—whether he does it or the international community does it for him. But Saddam cannot choose about disarmament itself—whether he will or will not disarm. He has no choice about his weapons of mass destruction. He has no choice about disarmament.

I join all your Lordships in hoping that Saddam will choose the path of peace.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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