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Baroness Barker: My Lords, I am somewhat disappointed. I believe that there is a fundamental difference between consultation and consent. When we talk about good practice, it is important to recognise, as the noble Baroness, Lady Pitkeathley, has done on many occasions, that there is an awful lot of bad practice, particularly in relation to carers. When patients and carers become one part of this equation, which is essentially a financial transaction, the pressure on them to accept practices which, in other circumstances, they would not accept—such as having information about them, however minimal, passed to social services—becomes extremely difficult for them to stand up to.

The Bill is, in many ways, incomplete. One of its great omissions is a thorough articulation of exactly what people's rights to confidentiality are. Had I chosen an example, I think I would have chosen the same one as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford about the clergy's access to patients. It is no longer the case that clergy of any faith, any

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1130

denomination, can have access to the information held about patients. I believe that that is right, and also that patients should not have any of their details, however minimal, passed on to another body without their consent.

I take the Minister's point about the defective drafting of one or two of the latter amendments, but I do not think that her argument applies in relation to Amendment No. 3. This is a fundamentally important issue, and I would therefore like to test the opinion of the House.

4.22 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 142; Not-Contents, 131.

Division No. 2


Aberdare, L.
Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bradshaw, L.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Caithness, E.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chan, L.
Clement-Jones, L. [Teller]
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Derby, Bp.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hereford, Bp.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Listowel, E.
London, Bp.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar, C.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxford, Bp.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roper, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thatcher, B.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Wolfson, L.


Acton, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blood, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Chorley, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Orme, L.
Ouseley, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogan, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Sheldon, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Warner, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1132

Iraq and Israel/Palestine

4.33 p.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

    "I should like to make a statement on Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

    "On Friday last, 7th March, I attended a ministerial meeting of the Security Council in New York—the fourth such since late January. I have placed copies in the Library of the House of the chief inspectors' latest reports, together with the text of the speech which I gave to the council, and a copy of the amended second resolution of which the UK is a co-signatory.

    "The Security Council's meeting on Friday took place four months after the adoption of SCR 1441. This gave Iraq a 'final opportunity' to comply with a series of disarmament obligations. Significantly, during the hours of intensive debate last Friday, not a single speaker claimed that Iraq was in compliance with those obligations. Neither did a single speaker deny that Iraq has been in flagrant breach of international law for 12 years.

    "Dr El Baradei's and Dr Blix's reports were about the continuing work of the inspectors. I pay tribute to them and to their teams.

    "The first issues concern the International Atomic Energy Agency. As the House will be aware, nuclear facilities are intrinsically more difficult to construct and less easy to conceal than facilities for producing biological or chemical weapons. Dr El Baradei reported that,

    'after three months of intrusive inspections, the IAEA had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq.'

That is welcome.

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1133

    "As for UNMOVIC, on the other hand, Dr Blix reported movement in some limited areas: for example, the partial destruction of prohibited Al Samoud missiles. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg of Iraq's illegal programmes.

    "The full extent of that iceberg was revealed in a document compiled by UNMOVIC entitled Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programmes, which was made publicly available late on 7th March. I have also placed copies of this document in the Library of the House. I commend it to all honourable Members. It sets out, in 173 pages of painstaking detail, the terrible nature of the weapons Saddam has sought with such determination to develop. It is a chilling catalogue of evasion and deceit, of feigning co-operation while in reality pursuing concealment.

    "The sheer scale of Iraq's efforts to develop these weapons and to hide them can only be grasped by reading the whole document, with great care. But, from 29 separate sets of unresolved issues, let me give the House one illustration—anthrax. It is easily inhaled. The death rate in humans on untreated victims may be 90 per cent or more. Only tiny amounts are needed to inflict widespread casualties. Contrary to Iraqi assertions, the inspectors found evidence of anthrax where Iraq had declared there was none. Again, contrary to Iraqi assertions, UNMOVIC believes there is a strong presumption that some 10,000 litres of anthrax were not destroyed in the early 1990s and may still exist. Iraq also possesses the technology and materials to allow it to return swiftly to the pre-1991 production levels.

    "Let me now deal with the issues of inspections and more time. I recognise the temptation to believe that the inspections are working and all that is needed is more time. But Saddam is the master of playing for time. Frankly, as anyone can see from reading the UNMOVIC document, to continue inspections with no firm end date will not achieve the disarmament required by the Security Council. This is the suggestion in the recent memorandum from France, Germany and Russia. But, as the memorandum acknowledges, this cannot be achieved without Iraq's full, active and immediate co-operation,

    "Once more last Friday, the Iraqi Permanent Representative to the United Nations claimed that Iraq had no more weapons of mass destruction. It is the same old refrain that we have heard from the regime for the past 12 years. Yet whenever the inspectors have caught them out, the regime have first protested, then conceded the point, but then mendaciously claimed that there is no more.

    "So the choice before us is whether we stand firm on our objective of disarmament, or settle for a policy that, in truth, allows Saddam to rebuild his arsenal under cover of just enough co-operation to keep the inspectors tied down for years to come.

    "Let us not deceive ourselves. The alternative proposals before the Security Council amount to a return to the failed policy of so-called containment.

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1134

    But the truth is that containment can never bring disarmament, nor is it the policy of the United Nations, as expressed in Resolution 1441.

    "Dr Blix reported on some further recent activity by Iraq, in respect mainly of the Al Samoud missiles. What has caused it? It is not our policy that has changed, nor international law, nor diplomatic pressure. The only thing that has changed is the willingness of the United States and the United Kingdom to deploy their armed forces for the sake of achieving the objectives set by the United Nations.

    "The reality is that Saddam responds only to pressure, and the clear conclusion to draw from this is that we must further increase the pressure on him. We must put him to the test.

    "The Government have made plain all along their desire to secure a peaceful outcome to the crisis. It is for this reason that I took the initiative in the Security Council last Friday to circulate a revised version of the UK/US/Spain draft second resolution. "This specifies a further period beyond the adoption of the resolution for Iraq to take the final opportunity to disarm. Negotiations on its detail have continued over the weekend. We are examining whether a list of defined tests for Iraqi compliance would be useful in helping the Council to come to a judgment.

    "What we are proposing is eminently reasonable. We are not expecting Saddam to have disarmed in a week or so; but to demonstrate by that time the full, unconditional, immediate and active co-operation demanded of him by successive UN resolutions since 1991. I profoundly hope that the Iraqi regime will, even at this late stage, seize the chance to disarm peacefully. The only other peaceful alternative would be for Saddam Hussein to heed the calls of a number of other Arab leaders to go into exile and hand over to a new leadership prepared to conform with the Security Council's demands. But if it refuses to co-operate then the Security Council must face up to its responsibilities.

    "In the event that military action does prove necessary, then the international community will have a duty to build a secure, prosperous future for the Iraqi people. Last Thursday, I met the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to discuss the humanitarian situation and the involvement of the United Nations in any reconstruction of Iraq. At that meeting, I proposed that the UN should take the lead role in co-ordinating international efforts to rebuild Iraq and that this should be underpinned by a clear UN mandate.

    "As the crisis enters this phase, there are fears that in securing Iraq's compliance with international law we may exacerbate tensions across the region. Emotions are inflamed by the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories where, tragically, there seems to be no end to the spiral of killings. Since September 2000, over 2,300 Palestinians have been killed and over 700 Israelis. We mourn the loss of life on all sides.

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    "But we cannot allow the cycle of violence to destroy hope for a better future. There are some grounds for optimism. The international community today shares our vision of a lasting settlement, as set out in a series of SCRs: a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 boundaries; and an Israeli state free from terror, recognised by the Arab world.

    "We actively encourage both sides to meet their obligations. We are playing a full part in the international effort to help the Palestinian Authority to build more democratic institutions and a sound civil administration. I chaired a meeting in London on 14th January to discuss these issues with Palestinian leaders, representatives from the region and the quartet. The United Kingdom hosted further meetings, this time attended by Palestinian representatives in person between 18th and 20th February. I have spoken to Chairman Arafat on two occasions in the past week. I greatly welcome his decision to nominate Abu Mazen for the post as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. I hope this nomination is approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council. Abu Mazen has a fine track record in peace negotiations with Israel. We very much hope that this appointment, and other reform measures being taken by the Palestinian Authority, will help to restore a meaningful peace process, as set out in the road map devised by the quartet.

    "Likewise, we look to Mr Sharon and his new team of Ministers to work with the international community in restoring hopes for peace. I shall be talking to the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, tomorrow.

    "A lasting settlement in the Middle East would remove one great threat to security in the region and the wider world. In confronting the danger from Iraq's weapons, the UN can remove another.

    "Irrespective of the choice the Iraqi regime makes, we must not let Saddam turn his 'final opportunity' to disarm into endless opportunities to delay. If he refuses to disarm peacefully, then the only sensible course for the international community is to compel him to do so by force".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating this full and detailed Statement from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

This is a dangerous time for us and for the rest of the world. We all want peace, but many of us fear that as the evidence mounts of Iraq's hideous and terrible weapons, Saddam Hussein is inviting war, unless there is full compliance at the last moment—of which there is, sadly, little sign. Does not the evidence of new plans for building unmanned aircraft capable of spraying chemical and biological agents—the so-called MIG 21 RPV project—confirm that the moment of appalling revelation and truth is fast approaching? The more one

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1136

studies the small print of the latest expanded UNMOVIC statement—the working document published on Friday, to which the Foreign Secretary referred—the clearer that becomes on almost every page.

This is not a time for point scoring, but I hope that the noble Baroness will not feel that I am being too reckless in observing that unity of purpose, both internationally and within our own leadership, is crucial. Divisions and disunity send a fatal message to Saddam to hold out against UN resolutions. Indeed, they have probably already sent that fatal message, possibly with disastrous results.

We on these Benches hope very much that the second resolution will be passed. Will the noble Baroness say a little more about the legal situation? Is a second resolution essential for the legal validation of any subsequent action, or would that vary depending on how the voting went? For example, a vote might get a Security Council majority but still face a French veto; or it might get a French, Russian and Chinese veto, which would be a majority of the countries among the permanent members; or it might fail to get the basic nine countries needed. We should know something about what legal advice the Government are receiving on those various circumstances, since that will enable us to judge more clearly the rights and wrongs of the path being taken.

The Foreign Secretary mentioned in his Statement a "further deadline" in the UK draft now being circulated. Does that mean a deadline to a fixed date still, or has the concept of the fixed date been abandoned?

I should make it crystal clear that, whenever the vote comes in the Security Council, this House should have a debate immediately afterwards—not before, but after the Security Council has voted. That is absolutely essential.

Looking further ahead into the crisis, will the noble Baroness say a word on Iraq reconstruction, which President Bush has promised will be "a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom"? How are we contributing to working with Americans and others under a UN mandate, if that is what it is to be, to bring about this vision of a "prosperous future", as the Foreign Secretary has just called it? Will she give us some more detail on that?

As for Israel and Palestine, we welcome all moves towards a viable Palestine and a secure Israel and hope that Chairman Arafat's appointment of a Prime Minister will help on his side. On the Israeli side, we can only note once more the futility of disproportionate violence, however great the provocation. So can Ministers continue to urge the new government in Jerusalem to reaffirm their wobbling commitment to the goal of a Palestinian state, and can they urge the Americans not to delay too long in taking new initiatives in line with the road map rather than holding off on the road map until the Iraqi crisis is over, whenever that may be?

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Meanwhile, we support the Prime Minister's line, eloquently advanced as it was by the Foreign Secretary at the United Nations at the end of last week. We pray that others, too, will understand the need for firm and prompt action before Saddam reaches that fatal crossroads where fanaticism and weapons of mass destruction meet and the entire world then suffers.

4.50 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we on these Benches also thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and for allowing us to practise our speed-reading skills. The Statement is accompanied by several supporting documents and a 173-page background paper which we are recommended to read with care before we comment on the Statement. It is a good test of whether we are wide awake in the middle of the day.

I am puzzled by the very clear difference of emphasis between the report that Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei gave to the United Nations last Friday and the tone of the Foreign Secretary's speech. The Foreign Secretary said:

    "It's the same old refrain we've heard from the regime for the past 12 years".

Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei said that, under pressure—and we on these Benches have always supported the concept of coercive diplomacy—the Iraqi regime has begun to make useful concessions. "As of today", Hans Blix commented,

    "Iraq has . . . accepted that . . . missiles and associated items be destroyed and has started the process of destruction under our supervision.

Just in case anyone had not noticed, he added:

    "We are not watching the breaking of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed".

Mohamed El Baradei said:

    "In the last few weeks, Iraq has provided a considerable volume of documentation relevant to the issues I reported earlier as being of particular concern".

All of us accept that Iraq has not yet come into full compliance. However, it has begun to move significantly. The policy of coercive diplomacy appears to be working. I therefore have to ask the Minister whether it is now the Government's conviction, as it now appears to be the conviction of the American Administration, that coercive diplomacy is not working, that regime change is the only answer, and that we are therefore committed to war; or whether a continued policy of coercive diplomacy—over a matter of months, as Hans Blix said, not weeks or years—is the appropriate way forward.

How important do the Government regard the passing of a second resolution? The phrase "unreasonable vetoes" has been used. Does the Minister think that three vetoes, should that happen, could be regarded as unreasonable?

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We all recognise that this is not just about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. It is, as the US administration has said from the beginning, also about the broader politics of the Middle East, the war on terror and the Arab/Israeli situation. I was surprised to read the following in the New York Times this morning:

    "Now, officials say, Bush has changed his mind and regards the pledge made in December"—

the pledge to publish the road map after the Israeli elections—"as unrealistic". The article continues:

    "Among the angriest allies is Britain's prime minister, whose aides say he has pleaded with Bush to be more involved in the Israel-Palestine dispute".

In the following paragraph of the report, an unnamed European official is quoted as saying:

    "Let's face it, the Road Map is dead".

Have we reached a point where the US Administration are no longer interested in bringing pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to make parallel progress on the Arab/Israeli conflict? Are we now pursuing a different policy from that of our American allies?

I turn to the question of the wider war on terrorism and how we can come to terms with the Muslim world. Some weeks ago, I asked a topical Question about the American treatment of prisoners, including the alleged treatment of prisoners on Diego Garcia. I was surprised to see, in a very well-sourced article in the New York Times, the following:

    "American officials have acknowledged that the CIA has interrogation centers"—

in a number of places, including—

    "at a base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean".

That appears to contradict the Government's response to my Question of some weeks ago. I would be very grateful if the Minister can tell me if she has further information on that as well.

4.55 p.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords, Lord Howell of Guildford and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, for their remarks. I very warmly thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell, for his remarks about my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and his comments last Friday at the United Nations Security Council. I thought that the Foreign Secretary's statement was excellent. It took on the argument and answered the points, some of which were erroneous, made in the Security Council. I agree very much with the noble Lord's comment about this being a very dangerous time. I reiterate that we all want peace; he is quite right on that. I think that he was right also in his judgment that the choice here is the choice of Saddam Hussein.

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1139

The noble Lord, Lord Howell, raised the question about the RPVs. I appreciate that he has not had these documents long. However, page 14 of the document to which my right honourable friend referred in his Statement—"Unresolved Disarmament Issues"—contains the following statement:

    "Recent inspections have also revealed the existence of a drone"—

which is indeed the RPV 20 to which the noble Lord referred—

    "with a wingspan of 7.45 metres that has not been declared by Iraq. Officials at the inspection site stated that the drone has been test flown".

The report goes on to say that further investigation is required into the drone. Nevertheless, the noble Lord is right that that is one of the unanswered questions—of which, as he said, there are many in almost every page of this document. When the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, says that he is puzzled by the difference in tone between the comments of Hans Blix and those of the Foreign Secretary, I would urge him to read this document very carefully. It is this document that provides the evidence. I fully concede that the position of Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei must be very difficult. They will not want to be seen to be going too much towards one side of the argument or the other. However, this document provides the evidence. It is this document that my right honourable friend thought was so important to bring to the attention today of both Houses of Parliament.

Hans Blix did say that Iraq had begun to take some useful steps. The point, however, is that Saddam Hussein always does. He always begins to take a few useful steps, but he always does so at the last minute. I remind the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that UNSCR 1441 demands the full, active and immediate co-operation of the Iraqi regime—not a few useful steps at the last minute. In no way could anyone claim that we have had full, active co-operation, and not a single speaker at the Security Council did so last week.

So we turn to the second resolution—a resolution on which the Prime Minister is working tirelessly, as is my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, asked about the legal questions. Iraq's obligations are unambiguously set out in existing Security Council resolutions passed over the past 12 years. Iraq has consistently been in breach of them. Resolution 1441 sets out in detail the council's requirements and it makes plain to Iraq that failure to comply now will have serious consequences. The words "serious consequences" have real meaning. The United Kingdom is committed to ensuring that any military action in which we engage anywhere in the world is carried out in accordance with international law. We have made very clear our strong preference for a second resolution in the event that Saddam continues to defy the UN. But we have also made clear that we must reserve our position in the event that a second resolution proves to be unattainable. The legality of the use of force in any particular case would depend on

10 Mar 2003 : Column 1140

all the circumstances at the time. I do not believe that that is any different as a policy from the policy espoused by the noble Lord's own political party.

The noble Lord asked about a deadline. There is a date stated in the draft resolution which has been circulated. Operational paragraph 3 states that Iraq will have failed to take the final opportunity afforded in the resolution unless on or before 17th March 2003 the council concludes that Iraq has demonstrated full unconditional immediate and active co-operation. That matter is now under negotiation. It is being discussed by my right honourable friends, by our allies, by those with whom we agree and by those with whom we disagree, many of whom are also close allies. We must await the outcome of those negotiations.

The noble Lord asked about a further debate in your Lordships' House after a second resolution. We discussed the possibility of that. Indeed, I believe that it was referred to in the debate when we last discussed the matter a week last Wednesday. That would be a matter for the usual channels. If that is your Lordships' wish and that is what the usual channels decide, the Government would be happy to take that forward.

As regards the UN mandate on humanitarian issues, my right honourable friend's Statement mentioned that he had had discussions with Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, last week. We shall be guided by a number of considerations in the event that there is a decision to launch military action, which is not decided. I refer to considerations of maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq and that the Iraqi people themselves, in consultation with the international community, should generate ideas for future political arrangements for Iraq. Moreover, we would expect a successor regime to be a significant improvement on the existing one in terms of good governance and respect for human rights. We also believe that the United Nations should be at the centre of any transitional administration for Iraq. I hope that those four important points are useful to the noble Lord.

I hope that your Lordships have noted the determination of my right honourable friend, as set out in his Statement, to take forward the issues concerning Israel and Palestine. The road map is very important. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that we do not believe that there is any sense in which the road map is dead. I spoke to the Foreign Secretary this morning and I believe that he has recently discussed the matter again with Secretary of State Powell. I shall return to the points the noble Lord raised about Diego Garcia.

The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, asks whether it is now the Government's view that diplomacy is not working. I say baldly to the noble Lord that the Government's view is that diplomacy has never worked in relation to Iraqi disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction. I say to the noble Lord that the only reason that we have inspections going on in Iraq at the moment is the credible threat of military force, and that military force has been put

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there by the United States and the United Kingdom. When the noble Lord talks of a little more time for diplomacy, it is important that he recognises that diplomacy would not and has not delivered results. The UNSCR that we are now discussing—a second one—is designed to add that extra pressure.

I was asked about unreasonable vetoes. I say to all your Lordships that we are still negotiating on these issues. My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have worked tirelessly and continue to work tirelessly, as they should—that is their responsibility—at the United Nations to try to get a resolution that will enhance the possibilities of peace. The alternative is that we have to look very seriously at the possibility of taking forward military action. From the beginning no one has hidden that from anyone. I say to all your Lordships that the tireless effort of my right honourable friends deserves to be supported, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, made clear, in your Lordships' House, across government and, I believe, by the people of this country.

5.5 p.m.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I note what the Minister said about the road map. However, is she aware that recent statements by President Bush hardly give one encouragement that the road map is anything other than dead? The most positive comment that I think he has said is that success in Iraq, whatever that means, could lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I have seen no evidence at all that the Americans have seriously taken on board the real importance of tackling the Arab/Israel problem without reference to Iraq. It is a serious problem. I have argued before in this House that I think it is the most serious problem in the Middle East and that it needs urgent attention. I hope that the Minister can give us some reassurance that the Americans have taken that on board.

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