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Baroness Amos: My Lords, I discussed that area in some detail, because it is one in which we undoubtedly need to do better. There is now television and some radio. The UN are thinking about establishing a radio station. More and more newspapers are available and the coalition is putting out information, particularly to the newspapers, but also through television and radio channels. But we need to do more with respect to communicating who is responsible for the difficulties that we are seeing in terms of getting back electricity and water, and also communicating some of the significant successes that we have seen, particularly in the south where the security situation has improved enormously, and it has been possible to get basic services up and running again.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her Statement. I am sure that others in the House, like myself, are reassured by the firm grip that she has on the situation, and her eye for detail as well as on the general policy.

Will my noble friend reassure us on two points? First, she spoke about the importance of civil police and it was good to hear that that was a priority. However, stability will also require a convincing system of justice administered by the Iraqis themselves. That will be highly expensive to develop. Can we hear more about the resources and arrangements being made to develop an Iraqi-based system of justice?

Secondly, regarding the political regeneration of Iraq—that of course is intimately related to social and economic reconstruction and rehabilitation—does she agree that there is a case for the authority for that process to be as widely based internationally as possible? Those of us who continue to argue for a key role for the UN are not making an ideological point in favour of that organisation, but a practical political point—that if the process is to have acceptability and credibility, not only in Iraq but in the wider world, the wider the degree of international authority for what is being done, the better.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for those questions. Regarding the administration of justice, we are very conscious of the need to take a holistic approach. Courts are being refurbished in Basra and Baghdad; in Basra I met two judges who are already sitting. There is a police station, a prison and a courthouse next to each other, all of which have been refurbished. That means that the justice system can

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begin to operate effectively again. We are doing the same in Baghdad, where we are working with our Iraqi counterparts to help to rebuild the capacity of the courts and the prisons. It is a priority for us and we are working with Walt Slocombe, who is directing this on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Regarding the role of the UN, I agree with my noble friend that the United Nations has to have a key role in the process. I met Sergio de Mello, who is closely involved in discussions with Iraqis, and Paul Bremmer and John Sawers, who is our personal representative to the CPA. They are discussing these issues with respect to the development of the governing council and the next steps for the constitutional process. The UN is also considering what role it can play in the medium term in putting in place the processes that will allow elections to take place in Iraq. So the UN is playing a key role, but I must also make clear that it has stated that there are limits to its resources and to the support that it can give in other areas. It sees security sector reform as a key area in which it can give support—that is most important—but it does not want to take over the whole process.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, Iraq is rich in cultural and archaeological heritage. However, in the short term, many smaller sites are being looted by criminal elements that have been set free and by people after artefacts that they can sell to feed their families. Is money being provided from her budget or from other budgets to pay for guards for those archaeological sites? Without such guards, those sites will be looted and a long-term, sustainable area of the economy will be lost for ever.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, steps were taken in advance of the conflict to try to ensure that historic and cultural sites were secured. The Ministry of Defence consulted widely with the archaeological community to ensure that. We have been informed that there are guards at the Baghdad museum and that looting is now under control. I recognise the noble Lord's point about some of the smaller sites; I shall get back to him about that, because I cannot say absolutely that every small site has now been provided with security.

More than 40,000 manuscripts and 400 artefacts stolen from the museum have been retrieved. Noble Lords will know that specialists from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the British Museum and elsewhere have gone out to help the Iraqis in that area. One good thing is that a number of items that were thought to have been looted have been returned—or found, because they were found to have been put away for security and safety.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, the noble Baroness referred to the security situation, which is obviously serious. The opposition guerrilla war that is now being fought appears to be well organised. Against that background and given that it is obviously an irresistible requirement, if we are to have a general recovery programme, that that security situation is

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met, how much progress is being made in bringing other forces to bear? She may have heard the remarks of General McCaffrey, who fought in the previous Gulf War, who expected that American forces would need to be there for a decade. That is a daunting prospect and would certainly require the support of many other countries.

In connection with what is really going on and the media reports, what is happening in the north? We have heard about Baghdad and Basra, but does the noble Baroness have anything to say about what is happening in the Kurdish region?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, other forces are going to participate. For example, as the noble Lord may be aware, the Italians will be joining British forces in the southern region quite soon. A number of countries are now contributing to the coalition effort in a range of ways. I am happy to write to the noble Lord when that information becomes somewhat firmer, especially with respect to possible troop contributions.

With respect to the situation in northern Iraq, we have of course always supported the territorial integrity of Iraq; we have made that absolutely clear. We have welcomed the formation of interim councils in Kirkuk and Mosul, which comprise representation from all ethnic communities. The Kurds are now able to travel freely around Iraq and many of those living in the Kurdish-administered area in the north have for the first time been able to visit friends and family in areas formerly controlled by the Saddam Hussein regime. I am pleased to tell noble Lords that Kurdish officials are able to share their experience of government with their counterparts in Baghdad and other regions for the first time. So there is contact and communication, and we of course hope that that will improve.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: My Lords, first, I apologise for not being present for the Statement. I was unfortunately delayed and did not make it. Three weeks ago, I spent three days in Iraq as chairman of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. We went to Basra, but I spent a day approximately 100 kilometres north of Basra, in al Amara. We walked about both Basra city and al Amara freely; there was a small contingent with us. People came up to us to say, "Thank you", and, "We are glad you are here". I did not feel personally threatened at all; the atmosphere was relaxed. Our troops are doing a magnificent job out there in a social and civilian sense as well as in their key role.

What came through to me from talking with the young women officers—and, indeed, with some of the men—was concern about the role of women in society. Iraq has traditionally been not a fundamentalist state but a secular country, so the role of women is somewhat different from that in the rest of the Middle East. Their concern was that the view seemed to be gradually creeping in that women should not hold good positions in Iraq. In fact, people of that country saw it themselves, that was not just a Western point of

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view. Knowing that my noble friend has that issue at heart, perhaps she will comment on it, because it is of concern to a number of us.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, first, I endorse my noble friend's comments about the situation and the ability to walk around in some parts of the country. Basra was bustling when I was there, which I had not expected. Although the security situation is no doubt difficult, it is important for us to have a balanced view.

My noble friend expressed concern about what is happening to women. She is quite right. I met a group of women representatives of different women's organisations when I was in Baghdad. They were very concerned. They said that it was not so much that anyone was telling women that they had to wear particular clothing, but that a fear was emerging that was leading to women staying at home, not going out, fearful that they would need to cover up. Of course, concern about security does not help that situation.

The other issue raised with me was that there was a perception of increased violence against women—in the home but also in public. We are very concerned about that. We shall have to try to move from what we are hearing anecdotally to obtain some more concrete information and to consider what we can do.

We are working hard to ensure that women are an integral part of the political process. Women have been meeting on a regular basis. A representative from our Women's Unit is in Baghdad, working as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority with women's organisations. There is talk of a small conference later this month, which will lead into a bigger conference that the United Nations, UNIFEM, is hosting in Baghdad in August. At the meetings held with political parties in Baghdad, we have tried to ensure that women are included. I was pleased that at the most recent meetings, at least one woman was present.

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