§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Wood.]
§ [Relevant documents: European Community Documents Nos. 8781/90 on revision of the Community's financial perspective as a result of the Gulf crisis, and 8813/90 and 8823/90 on financial aid to the countries most directly affected by the Gulf crisis.]
§ Mr. Speaker
A large number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate in the debate, so I propose to put a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between 6 and 8 o'clock. I hope that those called before that time, or even after it, will bear that limit in mind in fairness to their colleagues.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd)
It is right that the House should debate the Gulf crisis from time to time and that it should require the Government to keep it fully informed, and I have tried to respond to Opposition suggestions on the timing of statements as the situation has developed.
Today is an occasion to step back from immediate events, to look at the crisis as a whole and to consider what is at stake. One immediate event is wholly welcome, and that is the release of hostages which is now under way. The total British community in Iraq and Kuwait was just over 1,100 at the time of President Saddam Hussein's last announcement. Aircraft have been chartered from Iraqi Airways to bring our people home and we have taken space on charters organised by others. The community were informed of arrangements by our embassies and announcements over the BBC World Service.
Ninety-three people arrived early yesterday morning, picked up in Frankfurt by the British Airways aircraft that had been waiting in Amman. A further 11 arrived later in the morning by way of Rome. More than 380 arrived at Gatwick yesterday evening by Iraqi Airways and a further 380 are expected this evening. They will be mainly members of the community from Kuwait who were being taken to Baghdad in two planes this morning by Iraqi Airways. Her Majesty's Government are bearing the full cost of chartering the Iraqi Airways aircraft. British Airways generously contributed the operating costs of its flight yesterday, leaving the Government to pay for fuel and war risk insurance. Other people are making their own way, using scheduled flights via Amman. The Government will meet the costs if travellers do not have recourse to funds and we shall organise further charters if necessary. We are strongly urging everyone to leave.
Our embassy in Baghdad will try to establish the exact whereabouts of all who remain. I believe that reception arrangements here have worked well and that co-operation between Government Departments, voluntary organisations and airport authorities has been good.
In two days from now, Her Majesty's ambassador in Kuwait will be the last remaining ambassador carrying on his duties in that country. Mr. Weston and his colleague Mr. Banks have been keen to stay at their posts, so long as by doing so they could give somehelp to our community in Kuwait. If, as I hope, that community—or all but a small minority who wish to stay—is able to return—is able to 823 return to Britain by way of Baghdad in the coming days, we shall work out with those two brave men how long they should stay. I thank them again for what they have done.
I will comment on the advice that we are giving to British communities in the Gulf region outside Iraq and Kuwait. We are talking of some 50,000 people, more than the community from any other country. At the beginning of the crisis we encouraged some thinning out, but many people have since, for understandable reasons, gone back. At the end of last month, we recommended that school children should not travel out to Bahrain, Qatar or the eastern province of Saudi Arabia for Christmas and that families should get together for the holiday in this country. We also advised that those dependants leaving the Gulf for Christmas should not return until the situation became clearer. We look carefully and constantly at that advice. It is our duty to give the communities the best possible advice, a responsibility which weighs heavily on us. We do not want to cause alarm, disrupt people's lives or separate families unnecessarily. But many British people live in countries which, in the event of conflict, would be at direct risk from Iraqi military action. We keep a close eye on the advice and, because of hon. Members' interest in their constituents, I shall keep the House fully informed of any changes in our advice.
President Saddam Hussein is now complying with one of the three main requirements of the Security Council. Attention can now focus on the other two requirements —the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the restoration of the legitimate Government. Ten days ago I was in New York to join in the last Security Council debate on the subject. It was a notable and dramatic occasion. The council adopted, with just two votes against, resolution 678, which empowers the international community to use "all necessary means" to secure compliance with its earlier resolutions if Iraq does not leave Kuwait on or before 15 January next year.
§ Mr. Hurd
May I just proceed a little further, and then I will give way to the hon. Gentleman before I leave the subject of the use of force? The phrase "all necessary means" includes the use of force. Resolution 678 is not a call to arms or a timetable for military action. The resolution provides for what it calls a pause of goodwill. That was an idea of the Soviet Government. It gives Saddam Hussein a final opportunity to leave peacefully. We hope he takes it.
We support the United States initiative to make sure that Iraq's leaders hear the message loudly and clearly. We agree that, in the effort to avoid war, it is worth going that extra mile. I discussed how that might be done with Secretary Baker and the Foreign Ministers of the other permanent members of the Security Council while I was in New York on 29 November, just after the adoption of resolution 678. President Bush and Secretary Baker will not be bargaining. Their purpose is to speak plainly so that Iraq's leaders understand exactly what is required of them, not by America or Britain, but by the international community, and the consequences if they continue to defy those requirements.
There will be no concessions on the requirements of the Security Council, no partial solution or linkage to other issues. In the European Community last week we decided that the same message would be delivered to the Foreign 824 Minister of Iraq after his visit to Washington by the Presidency of the European Community, probably in Rome.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Does it bother the Foreign Secretary that one of the two countries that voted against the resolution was one which is nearest and stands to lose most—Yemen —whereas others such as Zaire, where I led the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation, made it quite clear that the crisis is all about lifting the ban on American aid to Zaire on civil rights grounds, not about the merits or demerits of the Gulf? Will the Foreign Secretary look critically at what the United Nations has done?
§ Mr. Hurd
The two members that voted against were Cuba and Yemen. I am not sure that Cuba is situated very close to the conflict. Yemen, as an Arab country, has been closely involved, but is not one of those countries closest to the conflict. As the hon. Member knows, the Arab countries closest to the conflict—Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates—are absolutely clear and solid on the matter. The hon. Member is not on a good argument.
§ Mr. Benn
I just want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one clear legal question.
Is it the Government's view that article 51, plus the resolution passed by the Security Council last Thursday, constitute authority for the use of force by the United States, Britain and others without returning to the Security Council or to the House of Commons?
§ Mr. Hurd
Yes, it is. We believed, and Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen agreed, that article 51 and the original request from the Kuwaitis provided a legal basis; the argument was about whether there should be an additional political basis. That has been supplied by resolution 678.
We continue to read in the media that the unity of purpose in the coalition against aggression is disintegrat-ing. We have read such reports more or less continuously ever since the coalition was formed. Sometimes it is the Arabs in the coalition, sometimes it is the French or the Russians, and sometimes it is the Americans, who, according to the reports, are looking for some compromise that falls short of the requirements of the Security Council. Now, after these weeks, the House can judge for itself and see that that is not true. We are all working for a peaceful outcome. None of us is ready to settle for less than the Security Council requires.
As for linkage, it is common ground between most of us that we have long supported the idea of an international conference on the Arab-Israel problem. That support continues. A conference is a technique, not an end in itself. It needs willing participants if it is to get anywhere. The initiative—Jim Baker's initiative—taken by the United States Government with our support was designed to find a basis on which talks could take place between Israel and the Palestinians, with a view to a conference in due course. That was before the invasion of Kuwait. We believe that the Baker plan was a realistic effort. The invasion of Kuwait set back that search for peace and a settlement 825 between the Arabs and Israel, as did the partial support of the PLO for the invasion. We have no intention, however, of forgetting the injustices and insecurity that persist so long as there is no peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israel problem.
Iraq under President Saddam Hussein has had and could have no useful contribution to make to this search for a peaceful settlement, but once the Iraqis' aggression against Kuwait has been reversed we can and shall again focus our efforts on the search for a peaceful settlement. I hope that the co-operation in recent months between the different countries of the coalition against the aggression will improve the prospects of success.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
Given the emphasis on the need to find a peaceful settlement, why do the Government and President Bush appear so impatient with sanctions? Surely, even if they take more than a year to work, they are a much more effective, humane and peaceful means of bringing this man down than the sacrifice of even one British service man.
§ Mr. Hurd
I am just coming to that argument; it is a serious one and it needs to be dealt with.
I come now to the pressures that the international community—not just British and America—is exerting on Iraq. More than four months after the aggression, those pressures are all peaceful. The most important of them are sanctions, mentioned by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), and the build-up of allied forces representing the so-called military option. There are signs in Iraq that sanctions are having an effect. Basic foodstuffs have been rationed since September. But the Iraqi people are used to hardship. They endured eight years of one of the most bloody and futile wars since 1945 —the Iraq-Iran war. It must be questionable whether sanctions, even if applied over a long period, will undermine the resolve of Saddam Hussein to keep his grip on Kuwait.
Meanwhile—the point omitted by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow—day by day Kuwait is being obliterated from the map. We can read what the hostages are saying as they come back and we can read the Amnesty report and listen to the Kuwaitis. There is no secret about what is happening. Whatever can be removed has been taken to Baghdad. Murder, torture and brutality have been commonplace, as the Amnesty report and later evidence shows. With each day that passes, the likelihood that we shall be able to restore Kuwait to its former position decreases. The Iraqi aim is clear. Iraq is out to eradicate Kuwait as an independent nation. We all welcome the return of foreign hostages from Iraq, as we have just done, but we should not forget the thousands of Kuwaitis who are virtually hostages and prisoners in their own city.
President Saddam Hussein's sophisticated war machine will continue to take advantage of the time allowed to improve its military position. There are now nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops and nearly 2,000 tanks in Kuwait, and work continues every day on improving the defences. Every delay risks increasing the casualties in an eventual conflict. Those are sobering facts which the House needs to take into account in assessing the situation.
§ Sir Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
What will happen to the Iraqi civilians now in Kuwait? Will they be removed? I refer to civilians, not military personnel.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
The Foreign Secretary has said that, because of the enormity of what is taking place in Kuwait, the British Government and other Governments are not inclined to allow sanctions to have a proper chance to work. What is happening in Kuwait is very disturbing, but it will be disastrous for the population of Kuwait if war breaks out there. That is the choice. As the impact of sanctions was always to be on the Iraq Government's overseas earnings from oil, from which they obtain 95 per cent. of their income, it is surely reasonable to allow the sanctions a proper chance to work. That will certainly not happen as a result of the months in which they have so far been applied.
§ Mr. Hurd
It depends what the hon. Gentleman regards as a proper chance. By 15 January the sanctions will have been in operation for five and a half months and an assessment has to be made. I have tried to give the House the means by which that assessment will be made. Members will have their own sources of information. People may say that sanctions are producing decisive shortages which may lead to Saddam Hussein changing his mind. That would produce a new situation, but, as I have said, in our our view that is not so.
In August Her Majesty's Government committed their forces to the Gulf region for a number of reasons. The first was to defend Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. The second was to deter Saddam Hussein from pursuing his military adventure further. Many other countries, including some of our closest friends and allies, have committed their forces with the same intentions. Those two objectives of defence and deterrence have already been achieved without any military action.
The third reason for sending our troops to the region was to back the United Nations demand—not that of Britain or America—that Saddam Hussein should withdraw from Kuwait. By the middle of January, Britain will have more than 30,000 troops in the area and they will stand beside more than 500,000 others, most of them from the United States and Saudi Arabia itself. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will speak further about that deployment in his winding-up speech. I am satisfied that this accumulation of allied force provides the strongest single hope for a peaceful outcome. Nevertheless—there is no point in having debates such as this if one does not speak plainly—this country faces a risk of war and in that situation every hon. Member is entitled to know on behalf of his or her constituents why that risk is justified. In the age of the sound-bite and the one-minute television interview, this task of communication becomes difficult. Secondary matters crowd in and confuse the issue and immediate questions are put and answered. That is why the House and our debates are so important.
It is not a question of who should rule Iraq—that is not a matter for us. It is not a matter of the price of oil or access to oil. If that were the issue, everyone would have settled with Saddam Hussein long ago. It is not a matter of an American—let alone a British—desire to impose some permanent presence in the Gulf. As the House 827 knows, we are there because friendly states out of their alarm and anxiety asked us to return. The real issue is a different one and we must keep it clear.
It has taken the world a long time to create even the beginnings of a system of collective security. In the 19th century, war was commonplace. The nation states of Europe blundered through treaties of alliance and treaties of reassurance into the great war of 1914. After that war, the international community experimented, but half-heartedly, with collective security. But the League of Nations was inadequate at its birth and it failed to act successfully even within its terms of reference.
Haile Selassie came to Geneva, to the League of Nations Assembly, to plead his country's cause. The League did not—could not—listen. We did not listen. The Hoare-Laval pact would have placated the aggressor, Mussolini, by giving him part of the country that he had attacked. Are there not echoes there for the House to catch? is it for a repetition of the Hoare-Laval pact that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) is seeking and arguing? Abysinnia was snuffed out. The axis powers saw only weakness ——
§ Mr. Benn
The first speech that I heard in the House was in 1937 when Winston Churchill denounced the Tory Prime Minister for his support for the fascists. The appeasement of the pre-war years was Conservative support for Hitler and Mussolini. There was no appeasement—there was active support for fascism. It does not fall to the right hon. Gentleman, who did nothing about Panama, Grenada, the invasion of the Lebanon or the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, to accuse those who believe that war would be a catastrophe beyond imagining, and that the United Nations should be an agent of peace, of appeasement, and he should withdraw that.
§ Mr. Hurd
I do not remember, but the right hon. Gentleman might remember—or his father and my father might remember—that when it became known that Sir Samuel Hoare, the holder of my office, had put together with the French Foreign Minister, Pierre Laval, an arrangement by which part of Abyssinia would be given to Mussolini, so that the awkwardness of his aggression should be forgotten, the Foreign Secretary was forced to resign and was swept from office.
§ Mr. Benn
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am in no way sensitive about my personal position, but when the Foreign Secretary argues, by parallel with the Conservative Foreign Secretary, Sam Hoare, that I have argued that a part of Kuwait should be handed to Iraq, he is misleading the House and the country.
§ Mr. Speaker
With any luck, the right hon. Gentleman will be called in the debate and he will be able to make his points then.
§ Mr. Hurd
I would certainly withdraw any reference to the right hon. Gentleman. But there are certainly people who have argued that Iraq should be allowed to retain at least part of Kuwait—two islands, an oilfield, and so on. If the right hon. Gentleman is not among those, and if he is in favour of total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, I withdraw my reference to him.
§ Mr. Benn
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I spent three hours with Saddam Hussein. I reported back to the right hon. Gentleman and to the American ambassador. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well, because I told him, that I told President Saddam Hussein that Iraq must comply with the United Nations resolutions, and it is in the early-day motion which I and my right hon. and hon. Friends have tabled. The right hon. Gentleman is doing what Tories always do in a crisis—they smear those who challenge them.
§ Mr. Hurd
I shall come to that in a minute, though I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not blurring his position again. I hope that it is established that the withdrawal from Kuwait should be total and absolute.
For the 40 years of the cold war, the Security Council worked imperfectly and too often it was ineffective. Things have started to change and we have begun to make the United Nations work. All five permanent Security Council members are meeting frequently, talking openly and acting constructively together. We have the same aims. In fact, we have a better chance of collective security than at any other time this century. But there is a subscription to pay —if one may so put it—for collective security, in terms of collective action when aggression occurs. There can be little respect for those who want the benefits of collective security but are not willing to find that subscription.
Some senior hon. Members have fought in a war, but most of us have not. However, we all have enough imagination and sense of responsibility to know that war must be the last resort. No one should believe—here I agree with points made by Opposition Members—that forcing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait would be a quick or easy operation. No one should suppose that the aftermath of conflict would be painless or straightforward. We respect the belief held by pacifists that in no circumstances is war justified, even though that means that aggression and evil of all kinds may sometimes be allowed to succeed. The rest of us—probably most right hon. and 829 hon. Members—accept that there are circumstances in which peace-loving nations may, and indeed should, use force to prevent and to reverse aggression.
We do not argue that in any blithe or careless manner. We prepare the military option, we seek and we gain authority for the military option because in sober judgment we see the experience of that option—the possibility of that option, the existence of that option—as the last and most powerful peaceful pressure on the aggressor.
The latest Security Council resolution—resolution 678 —is not a bluff. The legal authority to use force has been there for some time and the political authority has now been given by the Security Council. That is the strongest possible expression of collective security.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)
My right hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance of collective security and to stress the need to prepare to use force if Iraq does not withdraw from Kuwait. Will he and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence make it equally clear that if war comes, it is likely to be protracted and bloody, and will not only engage British forces already in the Gulf but make it necessary to mobilise appropriate reserves, including air reserves? As it is likely to be largely an air war, the air element will decide the outcome of the conflict. The United Kingdom has very poor air reserves, but the United States has utilised 45 per cent. of its air transport to the Gulf from its reserves. Will my right hon. Friend make a similar commitment at this time?
§ Mr. Hurd
The existence of the military option is the strongest possible expression of collective security and the strongest possible incentive for Iraq to reverse its aggression. That military option is gaining formidable strength on the ground and in the air and Britain is adding notably to that strength.
The aim is a peaceful solution. The Iraqis see the array that is now building up against them. They know of the authority that is backing that array, which now comes from so many nations and from the United Nations. Now that it has become clear and is no longer blurred, they have a powerful incentive and reason to comply. Let us keep the message clear and not confuse it with secondary issues. The message is a double one—if the aggressor stays in Kuwait, he will be forced out; if he leaves Kuwait and complies fully with the Security Council resolutions, he will not be attacked.
830 There is a peace option. It is in Saddam Hussein's hands. We are working for peace and will go on working for peace, but the doctrine of peace at any price leads not to safety but to danger.
§ 4.9 pm
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)
It is now 19 weeks, more than four months, since the Gulf crisis broke. In the Labour party, we have been guided by two principles during that period. The first is that the House of Commons must regularly have the opportunity to discuss the crisis and the role of the United Kingdom in it. That is why we asked for the recall of the House in September. That is why we have asked for and obtained a series of statements from the Government. That is why we have tabled a series of private notice questions and that is why we asked for today's debate. The debate is being held at the request of the Opposition. We thought that it was especially important that the House should have the opportunity to discuss the situation before we rose for the Christmas recess, bearing in mind the date of 15 January contained in United Nations resolution 678, which was carried by the Security Council the week before last.
Our second principle—of paramount and overriding importance to us—is that the role of the United Nations shall be central to all actions taken to resolve the crisis and that the decisions and policies of the United Nations must at all times be upheld and supported. That is all the policies and all the decisions. That includes the authorisation, in resolution 660, of negotiations between Kuwait and Iraq, following unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait by Iraq, and it includes the insistence, in resolution 660 right through to resolution 678, of complete and unconditional withdrawal by Iraq from Kuwait. It is important to bear it in mind that the international coalition responsible for those resolutions is supported by the League of Arab States.
The League of Arab States made a specific declaration, after the first United nations resolutions were passed, supporting those resolutions calling for the unconditional withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait.
Four months after the outbreak of the crisis, it is important to recall how it began. Many right hon. and hon. Members will wish to discuss the issue of force— whether it is right to use it and, if so, at what point and with what justification. It is understandable and right that the House should consider so grave a possibility. Further, it is right to remember that force has already been used in this crisis. Force started this crisis, with the unprovoked military invasion by Iraq of Kuwait, an innocent and peaceful neighbour.
There has been killing in Kuwait, as newly returned hostages have confirmed and described. Kuwaiti refugees, whom I met when I visited the Gulf, described to me how babies had been torn from incubators. There has been rape. There has been looting on perhaps an unprecedented scale. When the House, in a sober mood, considers how 831 best to respond to the crisis, it is right that we should remember how it began and why the United Nations Security Council responded as it did.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth)
The right hon. Gentleman talked about the way in which the conflict began. Does he recall that. the Kuwaiti Government lent billions of pounds to Iraq to assist it in its war against Iran and when the Iraqi Government visited Kuwait and asked it to waive those massive loans it would not agree to do so? Saddam Hussein returned to his country, mobilised his army and caused all this death and destruction because he was unwilling to repay a loan. In other words, he welshed on a debt.
§ Dr. Thomas
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) has used an unparliamentary expression about a minority nationality within the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) accused the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) of having welshed on a bet. Nevertheless interventions of that kind are best made in a speech if the hon. Gentleman is called.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I am not sure to what extent the intervention of the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) was necessary since the information that he sought to provide, without the objectionable word he used, was well known to all hon. Members. There were, of course, other reasons for the invasion, including a dispute over oil prices and oil production, access to the Gulf and other matters. It was a complex set of circumstances.
The Security Council has now passed 12 resolutions dealing with the matter. Since the House met in September it has passed seven resolutions and, in addition to resolution 678 carried the week before last, they have included the authorisation of an air blockade to enforce sanctions.
Since the House last debated the issue, there have been two other important developments. First, there was the invitation by President Bush to Saddam Hussein for talks between the United States and Iraq. Despite the problems encountered in fixing suitable dates, we hope that the talks will take place soon. They could play an important part in resolving the crisis. Secondly, last week Iraq., in announcing the unconditional release of all foreign hostages, complied with Security Council resolution 664. That is an important success for the United Nations sanctions policy. Apart from our satisfaction that the inhuman and illegal detention of innocent persons is coming to an end, the Labour party is particularly gratified that, for the first time, Iraq has complied with a Security Council resolution. We now call upon Iraq to comply with the other 11 resolutions and withdraw from Kuwait—all of Kuwait.
There is one simple and obvious way for the crisis to be resolved peacefully and without further bloodshed and loss of innocent lives, and that is for Iraq to reverse its act of aggression and withdraw from the territory that it holds illegally and against every principle of international law.
832 Let Iraq withdraw now. If Saddam Hussein does not withdraw speedily, two options remain to secure his compliance with the United Nations resolutions—the use of force and the use of sanctions. I put them in that order not to imply a preference for force but simply because wish to put to the House in a considered way what the Labour party has said about each of the options.
There is no doubt that at any time since 2 August article 51 of the United Nations charter could have been invoked to trigger the use of force. Article 51 says:Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.The applicability of article 51 to the crisis was specifically endorsed in Security Council resolution 661, which was passed on 6 August. That was the resolution which imposed economic sanctions. It included an affirmation on what it calledthe inherent right of individual or collective self defence, in response to the armed attack by Iraq against Kuwait, in accordance with article 51 of the Charter.There can be no doubt about that. Since 2 August, it has been open to Kuwait to request friendly countries to liberate its territory by force under article 51.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Old Bexley and Sidcup)
The matter is not quite as straightforward as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. If he rereads article 51 carefully, he will see that the individual right rests until the United Nations itself takes over. That means that no individual right to the use of force is left after the United Nations takes over. The use of force by the United Nations has to be put forward by the Security Council and not by individual states.
§ Mr. Kaufman
In a moment, I shall come to why I do not support the use of article 51. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) would have been correct if the United Nations Security Council had not passed resolution 661. Resolution 660, which was passed on 2 August, was the straightforward resolution on the day of the invasion which called for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait unconditionally. One would have assumed that, under the part of article 51 to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, the right of invoking article 51 was then subsumed by the decision of the United Nations in resolution 661 to take sanctions action. That would have been my assumption and that is why I regard it as significant and remarkable that, while the United Nations took that action in resolution 661, it also reaffirmed in that resolutionthe inherent right of individual or collective self defence, in response to the armed attack by Iraq against Kuwait, in accordance with article 51 of the charter.The Security Council said that, despite the part of article 51 that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup has quite properly quoted, article 51 remained as a resource to Kuwait should it wish it.
I want now to explain to the House why, even so, we in the Labour party have not believed in the invocation of article 51 in any case. When she was Prime Minister, the 833 right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) several times cited article 51 as a justification for the use of force, and the Foreign Secretary did so many times. However, throughout the crisis, we in the Labour party have repeatedly stated our concern about the use of force under article 51. The Foreign Secretary can confirm that, in my conversations with him, I have repeatedly warned against using article 51 as a justification for force.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition repeated the warning in his speech to the House on 6 September. On the following day, I said:It is not enough to be able to argue a technical case under article 51 … If the international consensus is broken as a result of action that key permanent members of the Security Council either cannot support or actively oppose, not only will there be no effective United Nations machinery available to police a settlement, but there will not be a settlement to police.In my speech to the Labour party conference in October, I quoted a declaration by the Trades Union Congress. It said:It would be damaging to the UN and to the interests of working people caught up in the crisis if resort was made to unilateral military action. It is essential therefore, if the UN is to fully develop its role and enhance its authority that it should have the full backing of government and that they act consistently in upholding the Charter.On 7 September, I said:
"We"—that is, the Labour party—believe that any further operations found necessary … should … be clearly and unequivocally authorised by the United Nations."—[Official Report, 7 September 1990; Vol. 177, c. 892–93.]That has been the Labour party's position throughout.
On a naval blockade, the Government at first said that article 51 was sufficient authority and justification. I, on behalf of the Labour party, called for a Security Council resolution, and one was in due course passed. On an air blockade, the Government at first said that article 51 was sufficient authority and justification. I, on behalf of the Labour party, called for a Security Council resolution, and one was in due course passed.
I know that the House will accept that I do not cite those examples in any way to score points. [Interruption.] It is foolish for Conservative Members to scoff when I am trying to put a serious argument on these matters, but I am afraid it is typical of the small minority of silly Conservative Members.
I cite those points to illustrate and emphasise that, at all stages of the crisis, the Labour party has insisted on clear and unequivocal United Nations authority for any action taken. Of course, on the gravest form of action—the use of force to compel Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait—we have been especially firm. In the House on 6 September, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, said:if military action were taken when sanctions had been in force for only a matter of weeks or months, or when there had been no further provocation, or when there had been no further effort to achieve agreement to a mandate to attack, either in the Security Council or in the military staff committee, that military action could shatter the consensus that has been built."—[Official Report, 6 September 1990; Vol. 177, c. 747.]That is the argument that my right hon. Friend put to the House when we debated this matter. It was on that basis that, in October, the Labour party conference 834 overwhelmingly carried a statement that declared that the United Kingdom Government's decision to send British forces to the region was "necessary and justified". It may be noted that, at our conference, even a resolution that was rejected as being too limiting on the scope of action by the United Nations, and therefore defeated by 4,862,000 to 625,000 votes, nevertheless called on the British Government not to commit forces to international operations against Iraqunless they have explicit authorisation under a resolution passed by the Security Council.I have since restated our clear position on a number of occasions. I said thatthere should be clear United Nations authority if force was to be invoked and that that authority must be obvious not simply to legalists invoking article 51 of the United Nations charter, but to the judgment of the world community".—[Official Report, 24 October 1990; Vol. 178, c. 337.]On 8 November, during the debate on the Queen's Speech,
I stated:We"—that is, the Labour party—are extremely keen that United Nations authority should be available for any action that is taken, if action by force should be taken."—[Official Report, 8 November 1990; Vol. 180, c. 160.]Even at that stage the Government still publicly regarded article 51 as sufficient, but, the next day, following the visit to London by Mr. James Baker, the United States Secretary of State, the United Kingdom Government finally accepted that a Security Council resolution was necessary to authorise the use of force. That resolution was carried on 29 November, and, in accordance with the stand that my party has taken throughout the crisis, I told the House that that resolution fulfilled the stipulations that we had repeatedly laid down since 2 August.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson (Calder Valley)
I ask the right hon. Member a question that is asked in other places: "Is that the verdict of you all?"
§ Mr. Kaufman
The Labour party has a firm policy, carried overwhelmingly by our party conference, and everybody who cites conference decisions must accept that policy.
A resolution authorising the use of force—Security Council resolution 678—has been carried. The question we have to consider is whether that resolution, and therefore that use of force, should be invoked. War is a dreadful option. No one should imagine for a moment that a war to liberate Kuwait could be painless—the clean, surgical strike calmly referred to by those whose lives would not be at risk in such a conflict. When I went to the Gulf, I visited our service men there. I met and conversed with many from my area, including the son of a constituent. If there is a war, and if there are casualties, those casualties will not, for me, be abstract. I shall see before me the eager faces of the young men whom I met.
It is possible that a war could be speedy and relatively free of casualties, but no one should launch a war on that assumption. Any launching of war should always be on the worst case assumption. A few weeks ago, I had a discussion on this very matter with Yitzhak Rabin, the former Prime Minister of Israel, who was chief of staff at the time of the six-day war. He pointed out that, although that conflict is known as the six-day war, when it was launched, the Israelis had no idea how long it would last, 835 how many people would be killed or what the outcome might be. As Mr. Rabin said to me, "It is easy to go into a war. It is less easy to know how you will come out of it."
The overwhelming preference of the Labour party, which I am sure is the overwhelming preference of the House and of the country, is for a resolution of this crisis by the use of sanctions to force the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait. I put this view in the House nearly two months ago, when I asked the Foreign Secretary toconfirm that it is our objective that sanctions should achieve the liberation of Kuwait, with force an option to be invoked by the international community only if there is clear evidence over a sufficient period that sanctions cannot achieve that United Nations objective"—
§ Mr. Kaufman
I will not, if the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me, because I have a careful argument that I should like to pursue.
The Foreign Secretary told me in reply that I hadstated exactly the position that we all take."—[Official Report, 24 October 1990; Vol. 178, c. 337–38.]Resolution 678, passed on 29 November, authorised the use of force, or necessary means, to uphold and implement the Security Council resolution unlessIraq on or before January 15 1991 fully implementsthe United Nations resolution. The insertion of a date in that resolution took place at the insistence of the Soviet Union as a condition of that country's support of the resolution. The date was chosen by the Soviet Union. The United States, which sponsored the resolution, did not want a date inserted into it. However, international consensus was required and both a date and any date were part of the process of achieving that consensus. Last week, on 4 December, the spokesman of President Gorbachev, Mr. Vitaly Ignatenko, said:The time to implement this resolution is available. The goodwill period is quite sufficient. We emphasise that the resolutions are not ultimatums. It's a last chance to look at what they have done and find a way out".Stipulation of the date does not necessarily trigger the use of force on or immediately after that date. We in the Labour party repeat our position that the option of force should be invoked only after the maximum time has been given for sanctions to work——
§ Mr. Kaufman
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue.
We should not be hemmed in by the date of 15 January. We should not be boxed in by the compulsion of the desert timetable and the effects of the weather on the ability to wage war. If a longer haul is judged likely to achieve the effect of sanctions, we should not rely on other considerations to reject the longer haul.
Important considerations must be borne in mind. How long can the international consensus on sanctions hold together? Clearly the impact of sanctions must not be allowed to fray, or their credibility will not survive and they will cease to be an effective option. How long will Saddam Hussein believe that the United Nations is determined to oust him from Kuwait if the option of force is not invoked and if sanctions remain the only instrument for ousting him? Those are the vital questions which must be answered, and whether to use force and, if so, when will depend on getting those answers right.
836 I repeat that it is the overwhelming wish of the Labour party to use sanctions rather than force to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, but he must be ousted from Kuwait unconditionally, as the United Nations resolution states, and from all Kuwait. In this House and at our conference, the Labour party has made it clear that if, in the end, the only way to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait is by force, force will have to be used.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Cunninghame, South)
My right hon. Friend will have heard the Foreign Secretary's reply to a question asked earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) about whether the Government believe that they now have the power to initiate a war without reference back to either the United Nations or the British House of Commons. Will my right hon. Friend explain the position of the official Opposition on this point?
§ Mr. Kaufman
We take a very clear view, which I shall continue to amplify before I sit down, which is that, in the end, the will of the United Nations must prevail. That is the key criterion: the will of the United Nations must prevail, preferably without the use of force, but in resolution 678 the United Nations has now authorised the use of force. We hope that it will not be used, but it is there with the United Nations' authority to be used.
There are two reasons why we in the Labour party take the view that Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to remain in Kuwait and why we say that unequivocally. First, if Iraq were allowed to retain Kuwait despite the clearly and repeatedly expressed determination of the United Nations that he should get out, he would, quite simply, have won. He would know that he had defied the international community with impunity.
An Iraq that had swallowed Kuwait and got away with it would be an Iraq that bestrode the middle east. It would be an Iraq with the power already to wage chemical and biological warfare and with nothing to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons. A triumphant Iraq which, having got away with one act of aggression and taken control of 20 per cent. of the world's oil, might at some stage feel free to move further into Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. It might feel free to absorb Jordan and it might confront Israel.
I hate the idea of a war to free Kuwait. I hate even more the possibility of a wider middle east conflagration that could involve the use of nuclear weapons, the consequences and implications of which would be incalculable.
The second reason why Iraq cannot be allowed to remain in Kuwait is that if it did so, that would shatter the United Nations. I have been asked repeatedly throughout the crisis whether we in the Labour party support the Conservative Government on this issue. I have repeatedly replied that that is not the right question. The right question is, "Do we in the Labour party support the United Nations?" The answer, in accordance with our party constitution, is that we do, absolutely and unequivocally. The right question is, "Do the British Conservative Government support the United Nations?" Repeatedly we in the Labour party have pressed the Government to support the United Nations and act only through it.
I said in the House on 7 September that the Labour party would not give the Government a blank cheque. We 837 have not given them a blank cheque. We have pressed them both publicly and privately to act only in accordance with clear and unequivocal United Nations' authority. That is the test by which we have judged the Government's actions, and by which we shall continue to judge their actions.
It is utterly essential that the will of the United Nations should prevail on the matter of Iraq and Kuwait.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I respect my hon. Friend's view. I know that he has sincere pacifist principles. Anyone in the Labour party must always respect those principles. But we in the Labour party have a commitment to the United Nations, and that commitment must prevail.
§ Mr. Kaufman
The constitutional position in the United States is, of course, different from the position here. The Congress is part of the Government and it believes that its consent is required. There is a dispute between the executive and the legislature on that point. I have said many times, and I said at the beginning of my speech today, that the Labour party has continually brought the matter before the House. As the 15 January deadline is only a day after the return of the House from the Christmas recess, we specifically asked that the House should debate the matter before the Christmas recess. Regardless of any constitutional niceties, we believed that the House should have the right to debate this issue.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) used the word "decided". If it is a matter of deciding, and if deciding deals with his misgivings, he can be sure that there is a majority on the Conservative Benches—regardless of the view on the Opposition Benches—for such a decision. My right hon. Friend said at the Labour party conference that if we did not vote in the way in which he wished us to vote we would give a mandate for war. The Labour party did not vote in the way in which he wished us to vote.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend could have reversed a vote of 600,000 to 4,800,000, although I know that his eloquence is considerable.
We are clear that the United Nations is being tested by this crisis. Twelve Security Council resolutions have been carried—the strongest series of resolutions ever carried by the Security Council. The resolutions authorised sanc-tions, blockade and force. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will have been seen to be nothing but an empty and futile talking shop. There will be no point in the Security Council passing any more resolutions on anything. There will be no point in its having any more meetings on anything. There will be no point in the Security Council even existing. Chaos will rule the world.
838 Yet if the Security Council prevails and its authority is demonstrated as never before, instead of world chaos there will be the basis and precedent for world order. The United Nations will begin to acquire authority to deal with other vexed issues such as the western Sahara, Kashmir and Palestine. If the Security Council fails on Kuwait, there will be no hope of compelling an intractable Israeli Government to respond to the aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination. However, if the Security Council succeeds on Kuwait a precedent will have been set for the western Sahara, Kashmir and the Palestinians.
We in the Labour party have long joined with the four permanent members of the Security Council, the Israeli Labour party, the League of Arab States and the Palestine Liberation Organisation in calling for an international conference to deal with all the issues in the middle east. It could achieve peace treaties between Israel and Syria and Jordan and Lebanon, the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, Palestinian self-determination with built-in guarantees for the security of Israel and all other participating countries, and provision to find a decent solution to the ordeal of the Palestinian refugees. It could rid the middle east of nuclear and chemical weapons and prevent any other nations from acquiring a nuclear or chemical capability. It could work for an international code of practice to limit and control arms sales in the region. Not only to solve the Kuwait issue but for the even more crucial reasons that I have listed, I am adamant that the United Nations must succeed in the objectives that it has set itself on Kuwait.
There is no need for a vote tonight. If there is a vote, I shall vote in the No Lobby. For 11 years I have worked in the House against this Conservative Government and I shall not rest until they are defeated in a general election. I shall not vote in the No Lobby because I have any appetite for voting in the same Lobby as the Government. But I shall vote in that Lobby without hesitation because I want to send a signal to Saddam Hussein that the Labour party is unequivocal in its support of the United Nations, that we do not pick and choose between the articles of the charter or between Security Council resolutions, that we accept the entire charter, that we uphold all the resolutions and that we shall not yield or rest in our determination that order shall rule in the world and that that order shall be based on the authority of the United Nations Organisation.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Old Bexley and Sidcup)
I thank my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for both the tone and content of his speech, which were welcome. I hope that when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence replies to the debate he will be able to deliver his speech in the same way.
I wish to finish the discussion that I had across the Floor of the House with the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). I accept entirely that he wants United Nations action. But I still disagree with his interpretation of article 51. If he looks again at resolution 661, he will see that it does not say that the right exists in place of or as an alternative to article 51. It says that the right is in accordance with article 51. It reiterates the present position in resolution 660. I say that only 839 because on a future occasion it may be of even greater importance that action should not be taken by an individual power.
I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's words about the hostages who are now returning to England in large numbers. I shall make just one point about that, drawn from the experience that we have had since a considerable number of hostages returned with me a few weeks ago. There is a major problem of adjustment to the conditions of ordinary life. That is, perhaps, true of those who were with me because most were ill, some dying, and others were very old and infirm; but I suspect that it is even more true of those who have been in hiding in Kuwait, as well as those who have been in Iraq, experiencing reasonable conditions but denied their freedom.
I hope that the Government will do everything possible to arrange for a service to be provided for those people. It would probably be best if the means for them to contact counsellors were set out in a leaflet which could be given to them on the planes, or when they arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick. It will then be up to them to seek advice, but I know that many counsellors up and down the country would be only too willing to help them through what is bound to be a difficult four, six or eight-week period after their arrival.
Before I deal with the basic issues, let me say a word about Jordan. When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke about the countries close to Iraq, he did not mention Jordan: no doubt that was not a deliberate omission from the long list that he gave. Jordan has suffered more than any other country—apart from Kuwait —as a result of the Iraqi move, and it is still suffering. According to the latest figure that I have been given, it has dealt with 808,000 refugees who have passed through it, excluding Jordanians themselves.
The United Nations estimates the cost to Jordan as some $60 million, but Jordan has been given only $4 million to help to cover that cost. Survival is therefore a major problem for Jordan. It has been calculated—again, by the International Monetary Fund—that, if the crisis continues for the rest of the year, Jordan will lose over 55 per cent. of its gross domestic product this year.
We must ask how long Jordan can last out in such circumstances, and what we can do to enable it to survive economically. King Hussein has been a friend of ours for many years, and has supported us often in the middle east —as, indeed, we have supported him—but, in the present circumstances, it is difficult to see how, without immediate action, Jordan can survive. I am afraid that there are those, particularly in the United States, who say, "Do what we tell you, and then we shall see whether we can help." In my view, that is not diplomacy: it is not the way in which to treat a friend who is in great difficulty. The right way is to try to understand his position—in this instance, a unique position in relation to Iraq—and then say, "In what way can we help? We will do so as speedily as possible." I hope that the Government will be able to deal with this matter speedily, because it is urgent
Let me now turn to the main issues in what is a very sober debate. Having recently travelled in Europe, the middle east and the far east, and across the United States, I have returned to hear noises that make this—in part of the House—the most bellicose unit in the world. I shall not allow that to dismay me; I think that we must deal with the situation as we find it, here and in the middle east.
840 Resolution 660 was the first to be passed by the United Nations, and governs all its other resolutions, which are there to amplify it. It contains three short paragraphs. The firstcondemns the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait".The seconddemands that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990";The thirdcalls upon Iraq and Kuwait to begin immediately intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences and supports all efforts in this regard, and especially those of the League of Arab States".The important point is that paragraphs 2 and 3 both use the word "immediately"; they are therefore together. It is remarkable that, in all the speeches made by President Bush, Mr. Baker and the Front-Bench spokesmen in the House, paragraph 3 has never been mentioned, although it is just as important as paragraph 2.
If paragraph 3 is to be carried through in the same way as paragraph 2, there must be discussions with Baghdad as well as with the Kuwaiti Government in exile—the emir and his relations—about how they are to resolve their differences. I should have thought that in the first place this was a matter for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, but, from all the inquiries that I have made, I gather that he seems to have been put into a straitjacket, so other means must be found. There is an urgent need for members of our Government to play a part in arrangements for paragraph 3 to be dealt with at the same time as paragraph 2.
The former Prime Minister said that there is nothing to discuss, but there is an immense amount to discuss—for instance, the question of unconditional withdrawal. I said to President Saddam Hussein—having dealt first with the hostages—that there should be an immediate withdrawal, to which he replied, "If I withdraw, what undertaking will you give me that the Americans or the British will not move into Kuwait and then be in a better position to wage war against me than they are at present?" I said, "I can give you no undertaking; I have no status." My answer is, however, that the Arab League itself must form a buffer round Kuwait, and, if necessary, to the north of Kuwait,to guarantee that the forces now in Saudi Arabia do not attempt to go into Kuwait and put themselves into a better tactical and strategic position.
My view was reinforced by what the Secretary of State for Defence said on 7 September:What I am saying in respect of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, is the position. We are not there to attack Kuwait or Iraq. We are there to defend Saudi Arabia and to ensure that the United Nations embargo is effectively implemented."—[Official Report, 7 September 1990; Vol. 177, c. 842.]That is why we are there, and that must be borne in mind when we are discussing the whole question of what military action will be taken. As far as I know, that is still the position: we are there to defend Saudi Arabia, and to ensure that the United Nations shipping and air embargo and the sanctions are implemented.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
If the Arab League forms some kind of unit in the Kuwait area following the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein, what reassurance can my right hon. Friend give the Israelis that it will not then turn on Israel and try to destroy it utterly?
§ Mr. Heath
That must be part of the general arrangement, described by both my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Gorton, for dealing with middle eastern questions as a whole. I was pleased to note that, during my discussions in Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein made no direct link between dealing with the Kuwait problem and dealing with Israel and the middle eastern problem. He said, "Of course I want the middle eastern problem as a whole dealt with, and also the Israeli and Palestinian problem"; but he did not say that any arrangement concerning Kuwait must be linked with the middle east.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that—as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said—the matter must be pursued. It is impossible to go anywhere in the world today without being told that double standards operate. For instance, nothing has been done about resolution 232, concerning Israel, for the past 30 years. However, we are trying to take action in regard to Kuwait in this instance. No one can deny that that is the position.
The official explanation is that the cold war was going on. I do not believe that that is the real reason—or, at any rate, I do not consider it a justifiable excuse. But it would be ironic if, the cold war having ceased, we then embarked on what could be the most damaging war in history, with the use of chemical and biological weapons and the blowing up of oil wells, which would create the biggest fire in history and damage the whole economy of the western world.
The public should be told the consequences of going to war. That might increase our determination to use means of regaining Kuwait by peaceful methods. The public should be told, remembering that the public in the United States are being told infinitely more than is being said in Britain. They have special correspondents and military spokesmen, and the discussion in the congressional committees is making clear exactly what would be involved in a war. The possible casualty figures have been given openly and full statements have been made about what might happen to oil and the economies of the world. So I hope that the public in Britain will be made aware of what the costs of such a war would be.
From the point of view of securing a settlement, the differences between Kuwait and Iraq must be resolved. That makes it difficult to say that there cannot possibly be any alteration affecting land from the point of view of Iraq and Kuwait because of the question of boundaries. President Saddam asked me, "To which boundary are you insisting I return?" I replied, "I cannot say. If you ask for my personal view, it is the boundary that was settled in 1961–62."
§ Mr. Heath
I know, so the question leads us to consider what the boundary was before all this happened. It is alleged that during the eight years of war with Iran the Kuwaitis advanced 60 to 80 km beyond the boundary settled by the British when we moved out in 1961. I do not know whether that is right or wrong, but it is, at any rate, a matter for argument and discussion, and somebody should be doing that. Nobody is at present, and it is not enough merely to say that there can be no change of land.
If the Kuwaitis agreed that the two islands should go to Iraq, would we say that we could not allow that to happen? 842 Of course we would not. So every time we insist that there can be no possible change in land, we are going against item 3—that is, if it were agreed between Kuwait and Iraq.
Similarly, the Arab League could get to work on that. Many of us know that the Arab League is already working on it, although there is criticism in that respect. The question is asked, "Why are the Arabs interfering with what we are doing?" The real answer is that the only lasting settlement of the dispute must come from the Arabs themselves. If we, the Americans and British in particular, try to impose a settlement, it will always be questioned, as the boundaries of the past have been questioned. We should welcome the fact that the Arabs are themselves taking an ever greater interest, even though they have been opposed to Iraq because of its invasion of Kuwait.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that part of the difficulty is the confusion which equates dialogue with appeasement, when dialogue and appeasement are very different matters?
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I am afraid that "appeasement" is used as a weapon against those who want to have what the hon. Gentleman calls dialogue, simply to whip up public feeling. Most of those who use it were not even alive in the 1930s, when it happened, and have never studied what the problems of appeasement were. Those of us who opposed it are aware of it very well——
§ Mr. Heath
I give full credit to the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) because we were both in the same place at the same time opposing it.
We reach the point at which the issues must be thrashed out, and I hope that when Mr. Baker goes to Baghdad and the silly arguments about dates are all settled, he will not simply say, "Saddam, get out". If he does, President Saddam will reply, "Will you kindly leave Baghdad?" There must be discussion—if one does not like to use the word "negotiation"—and he can discuss what are the outstanding problems with Kuwait.
§ Mr. Hurd
I am listening to my right hon. Friend with great care. Regarding his point about the United Nations, Secretary-General Mr. Perez de Cuellar went to Amman, met Tariq Aziz and made an attempt, in the exercise of his duty, which was rebuffed. He has since explained to me and others that he would have great difficulty going again, in pursuit of Security Council resolutions, if he were to receive a similar rebuff.
As for the Arabs, my right hon. Friend will have noticed what the Kuwaitis and Saudis have said in the past few days in response to the sort of reports to which my right hon. Friend is referring and with which I dealt. They are not interested—how could they be—in settling for less than the Security Council requirements. They would regard doing so as entirely wrong.
I do not want to lengthen my intervention unnecessarily, but my right hon. Friend said near the beginning of his remarks that President Hussein had told him that he feared that, whatever he did, he would be 843 attacked, even if he pulled back. I hope my right hon. Friend will have noticed what the United States Administration, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have said. The message is a double one: if he does not fully comply, he will be forced out, and if he does fully comply, he will not be attacked.
§ Mr. Heath
I realise that, but I also realise that if I were in Baghdad in his position I would want some assurances. Having seen what has been happening recently, with half a million troops there and with the British pouring in more, I would want a solid assurance that the Americans, having got all those men and all that equipment there and with President Bush wanting to know what to do with them, would not move into Kuwait. Questions remain to be answered. For example, suppose the emir of Kuwait said, "I want all the Americans and British." What undertaking would President Bush and the Prime Minister be prepared to give? Those are all matters that could be discussed, but the essential ingredient of discussion is lacking.
It is said that the UN Secretary-General has great difficulty going to Baghdad. I do not understand his difficulty. If one is working for peace, one keeps on working for peace, and the United Nations was set up to secure peace. So I do not see why the Secretary-General should have any difficulty in that respect. I see the Foreign Secretary sighing as I say that. I remember his sighing many years ago. He sighed in Paris over our entry into Europe, and he was wrong about that.
§ Mr. Marlow
My right hon. Friend has a great deal of wisdom and knowledge about the region. Some with less wisdom and knowledge seem rather more gung-ho about the military option. What, in his opinion, would be the reaction of the Israeli defence forces if a war were to start, and what implications does he think that would have for the long-term stability of the region and for British interests there?
§ Mr. Heath
I can give only a personal opinion. If war occurred, the Israelis would be in overnight. One question about a war is this: if the British, Americans and Israelis use atomic weapons when they find how difficult it is, we shall have chemical and biological weapons thrown from Iraq, and it will go on piling up— [Interruption.] That is openly discussed in military circles, and it should be discussed here. We should be told just what are the assurances.
On the question of discussions, I have a comment to make that I have made in public but not in the House. I make it because it is of enormous importance in view of attitudes that are struck in some parts of the alliance, to use that phrase, or at United Nations gatherings. I have been recalling what happened over the Cuban missile crisis, the second Cuban crisis. Having in recent weeks had an opportunity of going over the whole scene again with Robert McNamara, who was the American Defence Secretary under President Kennedy, I have concluded that the comparisons are very striking, as are the differences.
Khrushchev was determined to get nuclear weapons into Cuba. That became known. Kennedy was determined to prevent that from happening. Throughout the crisis Kennedy was in contact with Moscow. We still have full diplomatic relations, as have all other countries, with 844 Baghdad. I want to know what is happening between ambassadors and what exchanges are taking place between them.
Kennedy was constantly in contact with Khrushchev, and warning him. Finally, he said, "I am going to surround Cuba with my warships and it will be cut off. If your ships bringing in nuclear weapons try to break through, we shall fire across their bows and if they persist we shall sink them." Khrushchev said, "Why am I being prevented from sending nuclear weapons to Cuba? You say it is because they are a danger to you, but your nuclear weapons in Turkey are a danger to me and they are just as close, so why are you taking this attitude?" To that Kennedy replied, "Very well, I am not going to do a deal". He was quite clear about that. He said, "You cannot bring nuclear weapons into Cuba, but you can keep ordinary forces there." They are still there and have been since that day. The only person who did not know about them was President Carter because nobody ever told him. That was why he got his wires crossed with Brezhnev, who was very surprised, which upset the period up to 1980.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. Gentleman will also be aware that, without making it part of the deal, President Kennedy took American nuclear weapons out of Turkey.
§ Mr. Heath
I was just coming to that. President Kennedy said, "I am not going to do a deal, but I will tell you confidentially that the nuclear weapons we have in Turkey are out of date, so I am removing them." The American Secretary of Defence moved them from Turkey to Italy, summoned every television group and cameraman he could find and had the nuclear weapons openly destroyed. He said, "There you are—we brought them away only to destroy them." The result was that when the ships were coming up to Cuba there was a terrible moment of anxiety while everyone was sitting round the table in the White House with nothing more to say or do, just waiting. Then the ships turned about and went back and the nuclear weapons were never delivered.
I do not know how the Foreign Secretary would describe that. Is that appeasement? Is it a deal? Is it unjustified discussion and negotiations, or what? The plain fact is that it stopped a third world war. Surely we can use our imagination in the same way as Kennedy did. I do not want the Foreign Secretary to negotiate; I just want him to indicate. I want President Bush to say, "I shall do such and such." That is how we shall solve the crisis. I wish the Secretary of State for Defence would not look quite so puzzled—I can go over again all the details for the whole operation with him. The essential thing is not to get into a position of rigidity, but to realise that finding a peaceful solution, although not easy, is possible and the price of not finding one is immensely high and could be unsustainable.
§ Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)
I do not think that many people in the House, if any, are against the concept of talking, but does my right hon. Friend agree that there would be no prospect of discussions with Iraq if the allies had not shown themselves willing to use military force in the last resort? I suspect that the hostages would not have been released if the allies had not shown themselves willing to resort to military force. It is a sad paradox, but I believe that we have done the right thing.
§ Mr. Heath
Yes. President Saddam Hussein saw that, and for that reason he would not attack Saudi Arabia. There may be differences of opinion as to whether he would have done so in any case—that is a different discussion. Of course, I agree entirely that having the force there prevented him from attacking Saudi Arabia. As for the hostages, Saddam Hussein has realised—some of us tried to press him as hard as we could about it—that keeping them served no purpose.
I said to Saddam Hussein, "I must tell you frankly that the British Prime Minister"—the then Prime Minister—"will not be deterred from bombing your strategic points because you have got British there—not in the least. President Bush will not be deterred either." Therefore, all that Saddam Hussein is doing is denying the United Nations one of its points and it serves no useful purpose to Iraq or anyone else. I am glad that that message has gone home, he has accepted it and all the hostages are coming back here.
I was glad for the way in which the Foreign Secretary welcomed that move and I hope that we can now concentrate on paragraph 3, which has been so ignored by President Bush and those who are taking the lead. We must work hard to find a peaceful solution. I do not believe that it is impossible.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)
I am very glad to follow the speech of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). I am sure that the House and the country will have listened with great care to what he said. When he went on his visit to Baghdad he was strongly criticised in some quarters, but I think that it was a most courageous action on his part; he helped to break the deadlock surrounding the hostages and showed how we might approach other matters. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised the desirability of pursuing diplomacy while other United Nations actions continue, with which I also agree. However, I must emphasise that there are some matters on which I disagree with him profoundly.
Since the crisis broke, there have been two most serious perils or precipices from which the world might fall. The first was the precipice of allowing the aggression to succeed or be tolerated, and for all the protests of the United Nations to rank with those protests made against Hitler's invasions in the 1930s. We in the Labour party took the strong view that we must not permit that; we have a strong tradition of supporting the United Nations. The leader of my party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) have strongly sustained that tradition throughout, which has been essential to try to prevent a dangerous situation from becoming more dangerous.
It would be absurd for anyone to suppose that the second peril did not exist. It involved what might happen if we were plunged into war. Some of my hon. Friends, and the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup a 846 moment ago, have emphasised those dangers. They were right to do so because in such a crisis it is right to spell out the appalling and horrific possibilities ahead of us.
In a sense, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup is correct in saying that in some respects the alternative and the dangers involved have been more fully spelt out in the United States than in this country. It is right that we should take note of them. Perhaps the most forthright and all-encompassing statement on the subject was made by Mr. Brzezinski who, according to previous estimates on such matters, is certainly not a wet. He said:A war is likely to split the international consensus that currently exists, the United States is likely to become estranged from many of its European allies, and it is almost certain to become the object of widespread Arab hostility. Indeed, once started, the war may prove not all that easy to terminate, given the inflammable character of Middle Eastern politics. It could be costly in blood and financially devastating.This prospect is all the more tragic because the United States would thereby be deprived of the fruits of its hard-earned victory in the Cold War.Mr. Brzezinski continued that the region would be "profoundly disturbed" by war. He said:I fear that if we overplay our hand, it is we who will lose the flexibility.He added thatto speak of Saddam Hussein as a Hitler is to trivialise Hitler and to elevate Saddam.The House, the country and the world should take note of that warning. The evidence so far is that the countries in the Security Council have taken the warning seriously, and I hope that they will continue to do so. A few wild voices were raised at the beginning of the crisis urging a sudden strike against Iraq to settle the issue, but all those voices have been stilled and the action was not taken. The Government can claim some credit for that. The full weight of the opinion of this House was thrown against any such development. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton stressed again today, we have thrown the weight of our party, our country and the House against that alternative.
So far, then, we have fallen over neither precipice. Now we must consider carefully how to proceed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) referred to previous cases of the United Nations' failure to carry out its resolutions. He suggested that such failures in the middle east or in Cyprus mean that we have no authority or effective power to invoke the United Nations to settle this question ——
§ Mr. Foot
That, at any rate, was how I construed his intervention. I am glad if he does not take that view, which would strengthen the arguments against the authority of the United Nations.
The Labour party has no need to be apologetic about these matters. On several occasions, Conservative Governments have refused to support the United Nations charter; indeed, they have acted in flagrant defiance of the charter, as they did in 1956. I do not say that our record is spotless, but it is a good deal better than that of Conservative Governments. We have done our best to try to sustain the charter of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Benn
Will my right hon. Friend clarify whether he believes that UN resolution 678 would authorise the use of nuclear weapons against Iraq, under the phrase "all other 847 means"? The Commander-in-Chief of the American forces has said that nuclear weapons might be used in some circumstances. Would my right hon. Friend support that?
§ Mr. Foot
Certainly not. The resolution does not mean that—it refers to all appropriate means. I shall come later to how the danger of nuclear weapons being used in the middle east might be averted. That will involve upholding the authority of the United Nations, not casting it away.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield and others have suggested that the United Nations lacks the moral authority to apply its doctrines because of our failure to apply the resolutions to the middle east. That is a gospel of despair. The argument should be put the other way around. If we can succeed in making the authority of the United Nations effective in this crisis, the chances of its being effective later in other areas are enormously improved.
It is sometimes said that only in recent weeks has there been unity between the Soviet Union, the other great powers and ourselves on these matters, but when resolution 242, on the occupied territories, was passed in 1967—I had some interest in the matter because my brother moved the resolution—the United States., the Soviet Union and the Israeli Government of the time backed it, and many Arab Governments have gradually come around to supporting it too. If we can achieve a successful and peaceful outcome to the Kuwait dispute, the chances of reapplying that resolution soon afterwards will be greatly enhanced, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton has said several times.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield mentioned Cyprus, as he has every right to do. Many people there have complained strongly, asking what right we have to take action in Kuwait if we do not take note of the resolutions passed for their defence, but the same Cyprus Government who have asked that question support the stance of the Labour party on the Gulf because they have vision and sense enough to know that if we can obtain a settlement of the Kuwait dispute on the proper basis of decisions taken under the United Nations charter the chances of returning to deal with the Cyprus dispute will be greatly enhanced.
A little while ago, before this crisis arose, many people thought that the world might have a better chance in the 1990s. That chance still prevails, but the essential requirement for its success is that United Nations authority be established and sustained. I agree entirely with all who say that such cases must be carefully considered, but in some circumstances this means carrying out only one part of the charter—not only by applying sanctions, but by giving the United Nations military support under the charter.
I am almost the only hon. Member who was here when the charter was voted upon in the Parliament of 1945. I went to San Francisco as a journalist and saw what happened, and I was proud that the Labour party that I supported, and its leader Clem Attlee, played a foremost part in shaping that charter and learning from the experience of the 1930s.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield has been wrongly accused of being guilty of some Hoare-Laval plan. That was plainly false, but there was such a thing as that plan. It was a breach of the elementary system of collective security that we then had. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) fought a 848 Conservative candidate in Oxford at the time, who I gather still exists in the shape of Lord Hailsham, who has an ambivalent view on these matters. Faced with the breach of international law involved in the raid on Libya, Lord Hailsham was the sole person in the universe to say that the action was in accordance with international law. I think that he was recalling his old appeasement days when he said that.
The whole thrust of the post-war period has, in any case, been to build a more collective and effective United Nations which would seek always to use sanctions. We must still use them and we have every possibility of succeeding thereby. The chances of their proving effective in this case are more hopeful than ever before. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East has said in past debates, we should persist in applying sanctions, which are much more effective than resorting to war. The influence of this House and of speeches such as that by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup can be used in that direction whenever there are dangers of people thinking in other terms.
The prize is very great. There have been differing accounts of how people have fared in conversations with Saddam Hussein. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup gave his account and no doubt my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield will give his. As a long-standing socialist, I was proud to see that it looks as though the interview that had the best effect on President Hussein was the one with Willy Brandt. The account of that interview was given in The Observer on Sunday. It states:Brandt told him: 'Your survival, Mr. President, and the survival of your country depend on genuine concessions not linked to a deal with the West or anyone else.'He added: 'All you can still hope for is a gradual change in Western public opinion, but you will achieve that only by releasing all hostages and withdrawing unconditionally from Kuwait. Time is not on your side in spite of President Bush's internal problems'.Then the report describes the Iraqi president's reaction to the way in which Willy Brandt had stated the case. I am sure that Willy Brandt would not claim that it was only his conversation which had an effect but that it was also the background of events. At the same time as the apparatus, the panoply and the power of the United Nations are mobilised, it is important to mobilise intelligent methods of diplomacy. That underlines what was said by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup. Obviously, it was intelligent of Willy Brandt to go to Baghdad and speak in those terms.
In the 1990s, the United Nations can come into its own more than ever before. We owe a vote of thanks to Willy Brandt, who has played a bigger part than anyone else in securing the unification of Germany and peaceful developments. At the same time as we propose the strengthening of the United Nations charter, we should invite Germany to take its proper place as a member of the Security Council. It could play an important part.
§ Mr. Foot
I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman because I am coming to the end of my speech.
As my hon. Friends have said, the possibilities are enormous. I know how passionately and strongly my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield feels on this, and he has stated his case with his usual skill and determination. However, a vote against the Government's 849 policies would be a vote not against the Government but against the United Nations policies on these matters, and such a vote could damage the cause of making the United Nations charter work peacefully and successfully in solving this dispute.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
I remind the House that nearly 40 right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I ask for brief speeches.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) robustly defended the importance of standing up for collective security. He rightly praised Mr. Brandt's initiative and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) in visiting Baghdad. I do not wish to criticise either of those statesmen for doing so.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup called for dialogue, but my impression is that dialogue is going on all the time. The Iraqi Foreign Minister goes to the Gulf, Oman and Yemen and there are visits to Algiers. What could be more in the way of dialogue than President Bush's invitation to Tariq Aziz and of Mr. Baker's proposed visit to Baghdad? We are not avoiding dialogue. So far we have avoided negotiations, but there are many opportunities for people to talk, and they are doing so.
In this last debate on the matter before the recess, it is important to weigh up the realities. The Arabian peninsula has the biggest deployment of military force ever seen in thousands of years. Some 500,000 Iraqis are dug in in and around Kuwait. The Iraqi army was not much good in its offensives against Iran, and those who start a war should get to first base. The Iraqi army never did that. However, it is good at defence. With the late Member for Inverness —Colonel Maclean—I went to look at the Iraqi army about five years ago and was impressed by its morale and capability.
Opposed to that army is an alliance of 500,000 men led by the United States, and that includes the flower of the American army, the legendary airborne divisions, the marine corps, I think five naval aircraft carrier battle groups and an armada of the most modern aircraft, including the stealth aircraft. The resolution of this juxtaposition hangs on the question which way will it fall? Will it fall to war or to a withdrawal of Saddam Hussein? I doubt whether there is a middle way.
The consequences of a war are totally unpredictable but are bound to be tragic. It may lead to the break-up of Iraq from which some would gain advantage, but that would be a big step in the development of the middle east. If Saddam Hussein withdraws, he will be left intact. Could we live with that? I suppose we could because we lived with the Soviet Union in eastern Europe for 40 years and no doubt we could contain Saddam Hussein if we had to.
We must draw one clear conclusion from the situation. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no doubt effectively undertaken its duty of guarding the holy places of Islam. However, neither King Fahd nor the other rulers in the peninisula are remotely capable of defending its oil resources.
850 My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that oil is only one of the factors with which we are concerned. That is correct, but it is an important factor, not in terms of company profits or anything like that but because the whole industrial world depends on the free flow of oil. In addition, some of the biggest sufferers from the present sanctions policy are third world countries which need oil at a reasonable price. This treasure house for Japan, Europe, the United States and the third world must be defended. That means that its security must be underpinned by forces from outside the area. There will have to be, as there presently are in the peninsula, naval and air forces, stockpiles of weapons and ground forces to protect the installations. Who will do that? The United States has given the lead and we must earnestly encourage it to continue to defend the area, whether it be by mopping up the consequences of war or by containing Saddam Hussein if he withdraws intact.
I also argue that it is the duty of Europe to help the United States. I was glad to hear what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said yesterday in Berlin about the Western European Union. Our German friends must be persuaded that they have a duty as the leading power in Europe to contribute to the collective security of what is as much in Germany's interests as in those of America and Britain. The same is true of the Japanese, who must be persuaded in due course to weigh in in one way or another.
What will be the local response to my proposals? This is an area of great sensitivity. I suppose that the patriarch Abraham was born in what is now Kuwait—so he would have been a Kuwaiti if he had lived in the modern world. The great Muslim religion also originated in what is now Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are proud people, but I think that they have learnt from the experience of Kuwait. They recognise that they were better off when they were protected by a system such as the one that they had in the past. They cannot effectively protect themselves.
That lesson has been learnt not only by the Government but by the people. After all, the people there enjoy the highest standard of living of, I suppose, any area in the world. No taxation, welfare, housing—everything is given to them. All the menial and technical, difficult jobs are done by expatriates. Therefore, I do not think that we have a problem with regard to public opinion locally.
The area is almost uninhabited. If one adds up the populations of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, it is difficult to find 1 million men of fighting age in the whole assembly. All the facilities required for some sort of middle eastern defence organisation are there, already created by the oil companies—harbours, oilfields and the means of communication.
There may be some resentment among other Arabs not in the peninsula. My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup talked about an Arab solution. We should be a bit careful about that. An Arab solution has always been to some extent an attempt by the poor Arabs to take over the wealth of the rich Arabs, and that is not necessarily in the interests of the industrial world, or the third world outside the middle east.
There has been talk of an international conference, and the whole problem of the Palestinian issue has naturally arisen again. But nobody can imagine for a moment that when President Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait he was doing so in the interests of the Palestinian people. That 851 would be stretching it a little too far. But if there is to be an international conference, it is essential that there should be an element of stability in the middle east to guarantee any agreements that are reached.
Therefore, I come back to what I said a moment or two ago. We will need to have a middle eastern defence organisation, its command and control to be left to negotiation, in which the leaders of the peninsula will be underpinned and supported certainly by western Europe and the United States and, I hope, in the longer run, by Japan.
I do not believe that any agreement will be reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis unless there is a United States presence in the middle east to guarantee and to uphold any agreement that is reached. Otherwise, these things will either not occur, or, if they do occur, will disintegrate.
I do not believe that the French and the Germans would have been reconciled if we had not had NATO. It was under the umbrella of the American presence that the French went back on their Assembly's decision to oppose German rearmament. They then came to terms and became friends with their erstwhile German opponents. The same will be true of the Israelis. If they are to reach agreement, they will have to make concessions and they will not make concessions unless the agreements can be guaranteed by their longstanding friends, the United States.
But there is perhaps a wider significance in the idea of a middle eastern defence organisation. There has been a lot of talk about a new order. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent have also spoken about it. But there will be other crises. Kuwait will not be the only one.
The social and economic turmoil in Africa and elsewhere in Asia is likely to lead to other military confrontations, perhaps not as serious as this one, perhaps ultimately more serious. Any economic solution that we may devise may need some military backing. The World bank report on Africa seems to point in the same direction.
With the erosion of the threat of Soviet imperialism, it will become more difficult for the United States, in the eyes of its domestic public opinion and locally, to maintain the forces that it maintains today on the continent of Europe around Japan. Some redistribution will be necessary, but geopolitically the Arabian peninsula would seem to be the most suitable and valuable place on which to base a strategic reserve for the new order that we hope will come to be.
There is, of course, great and natural anxiety about the consequences of the breakdown of the GATT talks and the industrial world breaking into three major blocs. There is a risk and a danger of that, but strong forces are also working the other way. The multinational companies will want to bring the three blocs together and oil is the cement which makes it difficult for them to separate.
We in the House are right to see the dangers of the situation in which we live, but I urge right hon. and hon. Members not to lose sight of the opportunities. If anyone had said six months ago, looking at the difficult situation in the middle east, that 500,000 American troops would be sitting there, he would not have been believed. Well, they are there now. How do we make use of them? How do we guide them? How do we work with the Americans to try to bring about solutions not only of the local problems of the middle east but of the wider problems outside?
§ Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)
With other hon. Members, I recently visited the United Kingdom forces in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in accordance with the arrangements made for us by the Ministry of Defence. I was struck by two things. The first was the extraordinary maturity and professionalism of the young men and women of all three services. I came back confirmed in the belief that they should not be exploited and that they should not lightly be exposed to the risk of injury or death that the military option would necessarily involve. I was also struck by the sense of responsibility of senior officers, who seemed to display a realistic awareness of the difficulties of a military solution and of the potentially fearful consequences.
Last week Brigadier Cordingley appeared to have caused some disquiet by the candour that he displayed when talking about the potential for casualties. I do not share the view that he should be the subject of criticism or concern. It is right that we should all understand the magnitude of the military task and the potential consequences if the military option falls to be exercised.
If the military option was to be credible when troops were first deployed, it had to be of such a nature as to put pressure on Saddam Hussein. That continues to be my judgment of the best way in which to proceed, but the events of the past few days cannot be ignored. The United States has agreed to face-to-face talks and has accepted the possibility of a middle east peace conference. In those circumstances, it is idle to pretend that the political climate has not changed. I remain of the view that the military option must be kept credible, because anything which detracts from that credibility may suggest a weakness of resolve that Saddam Hussein would be quick to exploit; but the maintenance of a credible military option is not an alternative to a peaceful solution—it is a necessary component of it. Only the knowledge that the military option is available and may be used as a last resort is likely to compel Saddam Hussein to take seriously any measures which are designed to achieve a peaceful solution. To tell him that the military option was no longer realistically available would be to encourage him to procrastinate.
So long as there is a reasonable prospect of a peaceful solution, the military option should not be used. I do not mean a remote or speculative prospect of a peaceful solution, but a realistic one. Resolution 678, which includes the deadline to which reference has already been made, is permissive, not mandatory. The date of 15 January should not be seen as heralding hostilities, but as permitting them if no peaceful solution involving the implementation of all the United Nations resolutions can be achieved. Efforts at peaceful negotiation should continue up to 15 January and beyond, provided that there are reasonable prospects of success. That must necessarily be a matter of judgment, day by day.
The release of the hostages and the United States' change of attitude have enhanced the prospects for successful negotiations, but it must be made clear in those negotiations that a solution cannot be bought at the expense of the territory of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein must be under no illusions. The United Nations resolutions must be implemented fully—and that means the evacuation of Iraqi troops from Kuwait and the restoration of that country's Government. Once it becomes clear that a full-scale withdrawal is under way, 853 Kuwait's legitimate Government can enter into negotia-tions with Iraq if they choose—indeed, the United Nations resolutions expressly encourage that—but that must be for Kuwait, albeit with assistance and encouragement. Our task is to ensure that the United Nations' resolutions are fully implemented. Anything less would be seen as a reward for Saddam Hussein's aggression and would undoubtedly diminish the United Nations' new-found authority.
The international community's initial disapproval was marked by the imposition of sanctions. There have been some reports from Baghdad, mainly anecdotal, about their effectiveness. It is essential that we have much more analytical evidence as to whether sanctions are having any effect and, if so, how deeply they are biting and how long it will be until they cause such serious disruption as might influence Baghdad to change its policy. If we are to understand the effectiveness of those sanctions, we need more than the anecdotal evidence which is all that we have had so far. Detailed economic analysis of the consequences of the sanctions ought to be easily available.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
The Finnish ambassador to the Security Council, speaking as chair of the sanctions committee, informed me in the course of a discussion two and a half weeks ago in New York that sanctions were working and proving an effective weapon against Saddam Hussein. It is clear, however, that those sanctions will take time to cripple Iraq.
§ Mr. Campbell
I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but he may agree that he has provided only anecdotal evidence about the extent to which sanctions have been effective. One is entitled to seek clear evidence. Any decision about the use of the military option should be made only in the light of the best possible information available. If the information was that within a matter of weeks the sanctions would prove so effective as to bring down Saddam Hussein or create circumstances in which his policy would necessarily require modification, that would be a compelling argument against exercising the military option. The decision to use the military option must be taken against the fullest possible information—and that, so far, is not available to us.
Our actions in the next few weeks will have as much to do with the long term as with the short term. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was, in his usual courteous way, sceptical of my suggestion in the House on the eve of his departure to the United Nations, to the effect that we should address the long term now, and that long-term peace initiatives ought to be under consideration. Since then, there has been a change of heart by the United States, and I hope that that will persuade the right hon. Gentleman, if not entirely to dissipate his scepticism, then at least to dilute it to some extent. I hope, too, that he will respond favourably to the notion that we should consider the long-term prospects in parallel with, and not separately or distinct from, the short term.
It is essential to ensure that a long-term initiative for peace in the middle east is seen not as a prize won forcibly by Iraqi aggression. As the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said, Saddam Hussein did not have the interests of the Palestinians at heart when he invaded Kuwait—nor, I imagine, do the Kuwaitis think 854 that the price that they had to pay was the legitimate price of bringing long-term stability to the middle east. Iraqi aggression in Kuwait was entirely self-serving. A long-term initiative should be presented as recognition of the continuing anxiety of Arab states, which see the Palestinian problem as a continuing cause of instability, and of the contribution that they made to the United Nations' forces. The long-term initiative for peace in the middle east should be seen as an achievement of collective Arab opinion, not as a reward for Iraqi expansionism.
Any such initiative will necessarily require Israel's involvement. If that is given willingly, well and good—but if not, the United States, which is in a stronger position to persuade Israel than any other country, may have to bear that burden. That may have consequences for domestic United States politics, but Israel's participation would be of such significance and importance that if it were unwilling to participate America might find itself called upon to exercise the necessary degree of persuasion.
In the long term, we shall require a security system in the middle east which does not emasculate Iraq but neutralises it. If the United Nations resolutions are implemented, I do not believe that Saddam Hussein would voluntarily surrender his chemical and biological weapons, and the possibility of owning nuclear weapons. If the resolutions are implemented, we know that there will be no majority for military action among those who have gone to the middle east under the auspices of the United Nations. Instead, resort must be made to political means, and one questions what they would be. Answering that will be for all the nations of the middle east, and in particular for the United Kingdom and the United States, who have a presence in the region as a consequence of United Nations resolutions. How we answer that question and create a security system which neutralises the effect of a heavily armed Iraq with more than a million men under arms will be a test for the United Nations, for the United States and almost certainly for all the right hon. and hon. Members of this House.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. I remind the House that earlier Mr. Speaker imposed a limit, and that speeches between now and 8 o'clock should not exceed 10 minutes.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The limits are set out clearly in the Standing Order. Mr. Speaker has used his powers to their full extent.
§ Sir Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)
This debate takes place against the background of the unexpected—to most of us —release of hostages held in Iraq. Our thoughts go out to them and to their families tonight as they begin to return to this country. Above all, our thoughts are with those people who have been hiding in Kuwait for the past four months, and also those who have been held in so-called target areas. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) that they will need all the help and support that they can get. Unless one has lived in such conditions for a long time, one cannot understand their effects.
855 I can look back over many years of service in the Army. The period that I remember most clearly was that sad and unhappy time in 1956 when Nasser nationalised the Suez canal. By good chance, or misfortune, I was away from the middle east, attending a course in England at the time. I came to the House and sat in the Strangers' Gallery to listen to all the wise words. I went back to my battalion in Cyprus heartened, because I heard speech after speech in the opening debate making it clear that aggression must be countered and that we could not allow it to stand.
I remember only too well the eve of the landings in Port Said. I commanded a parachute company. We were awaiting the order to move in. As always, the overseas service of the BBC was excellent, and I listened to some of the final debates in the House on the crisis. Those of us at the sharp end did not know whether we were coming or going. Many of us wished that, instead of going, we were returning to Cyprus and playing no part in that confused operation whatsoever.
I strongly disapproved of the operation at Port Said and, as a result, I left the Army, having spent 13 happy years there from the age of 16 to 29. I would not be here to make this speech if I had remained in the Army; I should be retired and probably sitting quite happily in Dorset.
Frankly, we can all be ashamed of what happened in the aftermath of Suez. Perhaps we would not be talking about Iraq today if it had not been for Suez, with Nurisaid and the king being dragged through the streets and murdered, the riots in Jordan, and all the other repercussions. No one can tell what may happen in the aftermath of an operation like Suez, or, for that matter, Kuwait.
The same applies today, but, throughout the present crisis, the unanimity between the Opposition Front Bench and the Government has been heartening. That is the best thing. However, I am slightly worried that when the Opposition Front Bench spokesman talked of how long we should carry on with sanctions there was a suggestion that it could be open-ended, which perhaps left a way out, if it should be required by the Opposition. I hope that it will not materialise.
We are delighted that our people are coming home, but what of the Kuwaitis left behind? So far, too few hon. Members have taken the Kuwaitis into account. Day after day I have watched the Kuwaiti ambassador sitting in the Strangers' Gallery, listening to our debates. My heart goes out to him, and to the 100,000 Kuwaitis who have been dispossessed, killed, and thrown to one side, the intention being to destroy their country. I find it unbelievable that we can debate this issue so coolly, and talk about waiting three months, six months, nine months or another year. Sheikh Ali al-Khalifa al Sabah, the Minister of Finance, came to our Conservative party conference in Bournemouth. He told us that they could not wait 40 years, 40 months or 40 days. In the 40 days which have passed since then, even more horrifying action has been taken in Kuwait by the Iraqis.
I have not had any recent meetings with Saddam Hussein—although I spent two and a half hours with him about three and a half years ago—so I am not well versed. However, I did not take kindly to him, and I did not think that he was a very nice chap. Other hon. Members may have found him more amenable—I am a fairly junior 856 personage. Certainly at the height of the last Basra offensive he was tough, determined, knew exactly where he was going, and would not take advice from anyone.
I could pretend to have some military knowledge and could give my estimates of casualties and other battle figures, but I shall not do so. I shall end my speech by quoting the words of the Bishop of Oxford last Friday morning on "Thought for Today". If we listen to the words of a man of God, speaking about the problem that he, the Church and indeed all of us face, we might learn a little. He said that:The human response to the announcement"—that all hostages, guests and those in hiding are free—is natural and straightforward. The political response is, alas, more complex. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, then Saddam Hussein's hypocrisy can be welcomed. But of course it is a calculated move. Public support for a war in the United States has shown signs of waning. This action, like the T.V. appearance of Saddam Hussein with children, is designed to convey the message that he is really quite a nice guy. If the hostages are all back safely and Hussein's really not too bad, why bother about someone else's country a long way away, especially when it means risking horrendous casualties? This is the mood which he will count on—one which will allow him to retain Kuwait. So it is important to keep the international resolve firm that he must withdraw.In recent years the churches have, understandably, put peace high on their agenda. But peace is inseparable from justice, of which it is the fruit. The role of the churches is not simply to work and pray for peace but for just order. Naked aggression must not be allowed to pay; the brutal annexation of one country by another must be rectified. The integrity of national boundaries is to be respected and upholding the rule of international law is important for the whole world … There are dangers in being specific. Nevertheless, on this issue I want to pray not only for peace but for the withdrawal cif Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and continued determination in the international community to see this happen".I think that those words would be echoed by 95 per cent. of hon. Members, and I pray to God that it comes about and that this evil man will withdraw.
§ 6.8 pm
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I hope that one consequence of this debate will be that we shall have no more nonsense from the Opposition Front Bench about hon. Members who argue for caution in dealing with this issue being appeasers. It is striking that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot)—I hope that I can include myself—fought hard against appeasement by the Tory Government in 1938, so we know what we are talking about. Also, we have all, except I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent, served in the forces, and we know what is involved in a war.
Of course, we cannot rule out the use of force if Saddam Hussein fails to leave Kuwait, but the resolution just passed by the United Nations does not commit us to use force immediately the deadline is passed on 15 January, nor does it commit us to use force. It commits us to useall necessary means … to restore … peace and securityto the middle east. I shall return to those words in a moment.
What concerns many of us here and in the United States is that President Bush, by his words and deeds, is making it more difficult to use the necessary means that will restore peace and stability to the middle east. He is threatening to commit us all to a course that will destroy the possibility of peace and stability for at least a generation. I am disturbed by attempts by the Pentagon to misrepresent the value of sanctions, as it did in Secretary Cheney's evidence to Congress the other day. In answer to the hon. and 857 learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), we have had a detailed account of the efficacy of sanctions from the head of the CIA when he gave evidence to Congress. He estimated thatIraq is now deprived of more than 90 per cent. of the goods and services it needs, and that by next spring only some energy-related and military industries will still be able to operate … the equivalent of 43 per cent. of both the Iraqi and Kuwaiti GNPs has effectively already been eroded.We know that by next summer Iraqi guns, tanks and aircraft will be running out of spares and that they have no money with which to buy more. They may also be running out of fuel.
Mr. James Schlesinger, who has been head of the CIA, Secretary for Energy, and Secretary for Defence in the United States under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, told Congress the other day that when sanctions were first adopted, the American authorities knew that they would take about 12 months to work. Those of us who studied the problem warned the House in the debate in September that it would be a long time before sanctions would work. However, many of us believe that, given time, they will work.
I am disturbed, as I hope are other hon. Members, by the deliberate disinformation about Iraq's nuclear capability that has been spread by the Defence Intelligence Agency, which is a public relations organisation for Mr. Cheney. It suggested that the Iraqis are only a few months away from producing a nuclear weapon and that that was an argument for the early use of force. Even the Israelis, who have the biggest interest in exaggerating the Iraqi capability, admitted that an Iraqi bomb is years away. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which regularly inspects Iraqi facilities and did so only a few weeks ago from 19 to 22 November, said that there was no evidence of a diversion of nuclear materials. A Financial Times writer was correct in saying last week that Iraq is no more nuclear capable now than it was 10 years ago.
What worries me most is that the sort of war that the United States is now planning to fight would not contribute to peace and security in the middle east and is not necessary. As the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said, they have now put more men there than they had in Germany to confront the Russians at the height of the cold war. To use those forces would mean an economic catastrophe and political instability for many years. Incidentally, in answer to the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Sir J. Spicer), it is doubtful whether one building would be left standing in Kuwait after such a war. So let us not have crocodile tears about what happens to the people in Kuwait. The sort of war that the Americans are planning to fight would probably mean the death by bombing of almost every man, woman, child and living thing in Kuwait City at least.
The economic consequences would be oil at $45 a barrel next year and $35 a barrel in 1992. That would be a doomsday scenario. It would mean disaster for eastern Europe and the third world, would tip the United States and much of western Europe into deep recession and would probably produce the collapse of the American banking system.
The political consequences would be no less serious. Iran and Syria would be in the saddle if Iraq was destroyed in the sort of war that America is planning to fight. That 858 is just after the west and the Soviet Union have spent 10 years arming Iraq to prevent precisely that possibility. It would undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the Gulf regimes particularly if, as the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup suggested, the Israelis came into the war on the Anglo-Saxon side from the word go.
We must give sanctions at least another 12 months to work. That will create difficulties because of what has been done already. The morale of the American troops will be a problem, but it would be possible, as Admiral Crowe and General Jones suggested in Congress—both of them oppose war now—to rotate the forces arriving in January to use with the forces already there.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup that we must support peace initiatives from the Arab countries, particularly those under way from Jordan and Algeria. We must start planning now for stability in the Gulf after Saddam Hussein withdraws, and that will include a settlement of the Israeli problem. If Saddam Hussein is to give up his nuclear ambitions, something will have to be done about Israeli nuclear weapons, which are an incentive to the Arab countries to follow suit.
The Gulf will remain unstable however the crisis is resolved, and there is an overwhelming case for reducing the west's dependence on oil from the Gulf. American experts have calculated that if America had maintained the energy-saving programmes that it followed between 1977 and 1985, it would now be totally independent of Gulf oil. If the Americans taxed gasolene to the level at which we tax it here, it would solve their budget problem and encourage the use of smaller cars. If the Americans simply replaced their older cars that now do only 19 miles to the gallon with some that do 29 miles to the gallon, it would have no need of Gulf oil.
To quote a well-known source, there is, in fact, an alternative. However, the alternative requires patience and some lead from Her Majesty's Government. The Foreign Secretary's speech today—as was detected by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup—was significantly different in style and content from speeches that he made on earlier occasions. I am glad that it took only a day or two after the departure of the previous Prime Minister from No. 10 for him to recognise Syria and talk about dropping the Nuremberg elements of the United Nations posture on Iraq. There have also been important changes on Europe and defence. He has now agreed to support the zero option for land-based missiles in Europe and he made an interesting speech yesterday. However, I tried to reconcile that with the rococo variations played by the Minister of State for Defence Procurement on the same day. Those of us who study the piano—that includes the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup when he is awake—all know that sometimes the variations bear little resemblance to the original tune.
I believe that if the Government take my advice, they will earn the heartfelt gratitude of our allies, our friends in the United States and the Soviet Union and, above all, the British people.
§ Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
I follow my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Sir J. Spicer) in expressing my sympathy for the hostages, who have suffered danger and anxiety, and for their relatives. However, I have been worried by some of the criticisms 859 that have been made by some of the returning hostages about the conduct of our embassies in Kuwait and in Baghdad. Some of those criticisms are based on misunderstanding. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary pointed out, the ambassador in Kuwait, Michael Weston, and Mr. Banks, his only colleague there, have been incarcerated in the embassy, so it has not been possible, since the beginning of the problem, for them to get out to help the British hostages in Kuwait. They have not been able to help in providing food, for example, or in the elimination of rats or in improving living conditions.
It has been suggested that our embassy in Baghdad has not given sufficient help in getting the hostages out. The reality is that the British and American hostages have been discriminated against by the Iraqis because Britain and the United States have taken the strongest stand against the Iraqi aggression. We should take careful note of what happens now because the determination and resolve that the British and American Governments have shown in pressing for successive United Nations resolutions and for a firm posture against Saddam Hussein have resulted in the release of all the hostages. If they are released in the next few days, it will mean that our approach has been extremely effective.
§ Sir Peter Blaker
No; I do not have enough time.
We should pay tribute to the ambassador and his colleague in Kuwait and to the ambassador and his staff in Baghdad.
We should continue to hold open the possibility of war between the coalition and Iraq. I am not calling for war itself. If war comes, it will be because Saddam Hussein has refused to obey the United Nations resolutions. It will also be a result of the need to protect the world's oil supplies and I see nothing wrong in accepting that fact. We are talking not about the profits of the oil companies, but about keeping the wheels of industry and of agriculture moving all over the world. We are talking about providing the necessities of life for the world's people, including the pensioners in my constituency and in all the other constituencies. We are talking about providing the means of life for the Indian peasant and for the African peasant. Protecting the supply of oil for the world is a legitimate purpose for us.
If war comes, it will do so because we have to show that aggression does not pay. It is ironic that, having successfully operated a policy of deterrence in Europe for 40 years, we have failed to operate a policy of deterrence in the middle east. We must now do the next best thing. We must hold open the possibility of war to redress the wrong that Saddam Hussein has done. That does not mean, as has been alleged, that the drums of war are beating on the Conservative Benches, but only that we believe that, without the possibility of war, we shall not oblige Saddam Hussein to surrender to the sanctions of the United Nations. In my experience, it is those who have known war who hate war the most. Let us also be clear that we are not talking about aggression, as some correspondents have alleged when writing to me. We are talking about liberation. The aggression has already taken place, so it is the liberation of Kuwait that is at issue.
If, regrettably, war comes, it will be nasty and it will not necessarily be over in a short time. I do not trust those who 860 say that a quick surgical strike by air will be effective. It is almost certain to be a war of tanks and of infantry, and of occupying ground, which will mean substantial human casualties. It is possible that gas will be used. Another point, which other hon. Members have not mentioned, is that some countries, including Britain, America and some Arab countries, will suffer casualties whereas the Germans and the Japanese, who have at least as much at stake, will not. That will cause political problems.
The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), among others, referred to another reason for ensuring that Saddam Hussein leaves Kuwait when he said that the United Nations must not be allowed to fail in this enterprise. After 40 years of frustration caused by the obstructiveness of the Soviet Union and, sometimes, of China, the United Nations now has a magnificent opportunity to operate as its founders planned. A successful outcome to the whole affair would give the United Nations a new momentum to carry it forward, as was mentioned earlier by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), to the resolution of other problems, whereas the failure of our enterprise could set the United Nations back by a decade.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that there must be a peacekeeping presence in the middle east after the immediate problem has ended, whether through with-drawal by Saddam Hussein or through war. The Iraqis have an army of 1 million men and they have the largest population of any Arab country in the immediate area. There must, therefore, be a multilateral or some other force in the area to prevent the repetition of aggression and it should be under the United Nations. It should, of course, contain Arab elements, but it will also have to contain non-Arab elements and some NATO countries. In that connection I, too, was interested by the speech made in Berlin yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
We shall have to take account of the chemical warfare capability and of the nuclear potential of Iraq. All that means that a financial burden and other burdens will face us, if I am right in my assessment. This will be an expensive operation, but it will be less expensive than keeping our forces in Germany for the past 40 years and it will certainly be less expensive than a renewal of instability in the Gulf.
§ Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)
From day one, the Opposition have taken the attitude that my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) set out at the beginning of the debate. We have supported the United Nations as the most appropriate international body and means of resolving conflict between states. We see it as the body to be charged with enforcing international humanitarian law, as set out in the Hague convention of 1907 and in the Geneva convention of 1949. If properly enforced, those conventions should be more than sufficient to dissuade or prohibit states from carrying out an illegal agenda of occupation and annexation.
At this stage, we need to keep our nerve. Gathered together in the Security Council permanent membership are some of the most flagrant perpetrators of breaches of resolutions by the Security Council and by the General Assembly. If we keep our nerve today and insist on the 861 primacy of the United Nations, all the hon. Members who are concerned about other areas of the world—I will not go over them all—may feel confident that they can call to account the nation states that breach such resolutions.
I pick up a point made by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). I, too, believe that we need to do more than simply restate our support for the United Nations. There should not merely be parallel discussions; there are other actions that we can take.
In the declaration issued in Dublin on 26 June this year, the European Community leaders broke new ground in referring, for the first time, to the obligation placed on states parties to the fourth Geneva convention and especially to article 1 of that convention, which states:The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances".By undertaking not only to respect the convention but to ensure respect for it in all circumstances, states parties, which include all member states of the Community, have taken upon themselves an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the convention is respected by its co-parties whenever and wherever it applies. The reference to the article 1 obligation in the Dublin declaration was a milestone in the recognition of the political significance of protecting human rights in the pursuit of conflict resolution.
The fourth Geneva convention sets out mandatory rules governing the conduct of an occupying power. The rules not only offer an important degree of protection of the most basic human rights of the civilian population of occupied territories but place important restraints and disincentives on the prosecution by the occupying power of an agenda of conquest, annexation and demographic transformation, by rendering the agenda illegal in its own right and by limiting the scope and nature of actions that an occupant may take against the population of an occupied territory.
In the Dublin declaration the Twelve combined their first reference to the article 1 obligation with a call for further action in accordance with the convention. The Council also took the opportunity to support a role for the United Nations in protecting the Palestinian population and the west bank and Gaza. In November, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Perez de Cuellar, in his report to the Security Council following the Dome of the Rock massacre in Jerusalem on 8 October, made the same points in greater detail and pointed to a way in which positive co-operation might be achieved for the objective of securing implementation in the occupied territories of the fourth Geneva convention.
Like the European Council, Mr. de Cuellar took note of the regrettable fact that Israel has not responded positively to the many calls to recognise the applicability of or abide by the fourth Geneva convention in the territories that it has occupied since 1967, including calls to that effect by the United Nations Security Council. If members of the European Community Council were to support Perez de Cuellar in his most recent comments and suggestions that there might be a convening of the states signatories to the fourth Geneva convention, it would not necessarily give Saddam Hussein any succour but it would demonstrate to the Arab states in particular and to the rest 862 of the world that the Security Council is determined to continue to ensure that all states abide by Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
It is important to remind ourselves that, right now, there are attempts by the United States not to have that debate in the Security Council. It would surely give confidence to Arab countries if the United States were to allow it to go ahead.
All efforts to find a just and durable negotiated settlement to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians are doomed to frustration unless and until the Israeli Government and their electorate are fully convinced that they do not have the option of asserting and exercising sovereignty in any part of the territories that have been occupied since 1967 and that, to the contrary, full withdrawal is essential. That is exactly the same message as we are giving to Saddam Hussein. My right hon. and hon. Friends must carefully consider the message that they will send to Saddam Hussein if they divide the House tonight.
We must also make certain that we ask for some assurances from the Government. One or two worrying comments have been made. In particular, the committee that has been formed in the United States by Richard Perle and his friends—the committee to remove Saddam Hussein and his military power—is one from which we must distance ourselves at every opportunity.
Equally, if the Kuwaitis and Iraqis, even before the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi forces from Kuwait, decide on some new arrangement in the area, the Government must accept that that will be the decision of those two nation states and that, provided that Saddam Hussein continues to meet Security Council resolutions, it is up to those two states to decide what arrangements to make between themselves to resolve the problem.
We must also make it clear that if we are to deal adequately with military power blocs in the middle east, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, we must also deal with the nuclear capacity and military power that Israel exercises in the area. It is not only the nuclear and chemical potential of the Iraqis with which we must deal.
The occupation and annexation of Kuwait by Iraq has raised questions about the new order in the post-cold war world and has brought to prominence the topic of international law, in particular laws of war, including those on belligerent occupation. There seems to be a growing realisation of the need to give effect to the provisions of the fourth Geneva convention to protect the civilian population under belligerent occupation. All hon. Members will recognise and welcome that. In particular, there is a growing awareness of the bottom line of non-selectivity in applying and enforcing the law. We must restate that point during such debates.
Although the search for a peace process appears to be effectively stalled in other parts of the world, we must say to those whom we represent and the families of service men and service women who are presently in the Gulf that it is our determination to support the United Nations so that those young people will not need to go to war again. Our determination to support the United Nations will surely convince Saddam Hussein that he must withdraw from Kuwait according to the very same United Nations resolutions.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
Four months and one week after Saddam Hussein's wicked and brutal invasion and annihilation of a tiny state that is friendly to us—an act of unjustified, naked aggression which the civilised world universally condemned and against which it has taken a firm stand through the United Nations—where are we? Saddam Hussein is still raping, pillaging, destroying and laughing at us for our feeble response, and where are we?
Yes, we have 450,000 troops in the desert, but how long will it be before they no longer want to remain there or no longer can remain there while Congress begins to weaken and its support peters out? Yes, we have firm resolutions in the United Nations, and ultimatums, but how long will that firmness last? Yes, we have imposed economic sanctions and there is some food rationing in Iraq, although food is being stolen from Kuwait, and there is some petrol rationing, but I think that that has been discontinued. Perhaps there will be some spare parts that will help to grind Iraqi industry to a halt because it cannot get any, and the water purification plants may fail. But will that happen before the will of Congress and some United Nations powers ebb and fail? Will that happen before Kuwait is entirely obliterated by Saddam Hussein?
What must he be thinking? He will be wondering whether we are any more than paper tigers. He sees the developing split in the United States Congress. He sees the demonstrations in the streets of the United States. He sees joy on the faces of the families of the hostages and gratitude to him for his acts of mercy. He sees those, such as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) on "Newsnight" the other night, who talk about giving the islands and the oil wells to Saddam Hussein. He welcomes visits by world dignitaries such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and former Prime Ministers of Japan. He will read my right hon. Friend's speech with considerable satisfaction. He welcomes indications that an Arab-Israeli settlement and a conference are very much in the mind of our Government when the only thing that should be in their mind is Saddam Hussein's aggression.
He asks for time to negotiate and the United States Secretary of State is going to see him and speak to him. Why? Would anyone blame Saddam Hussein for thinking that Baker is going to negotiate, particularly when he reads sees and hears speeches in the House such as that of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East calling for negotiations, playing down any possibility of a threat of nuclear power developing in Iraq, speaking of linkage with the Arab-Israeli dispute and effectively saying, "No war at any cost"?
Would not Saddam Hussein be tempted to think that we are all losing our nerve, and that, if he stays in Kuwait or withdraws only partially, we shall risk not one life to force him out? Is that not the stench of appeasement in the air? Is not appeasement totally unacceptable to nations like the United Kingdom with any self-respect or any regard for the international rule of law?
§ Mr. Lawrence
I shall give way, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be quick, because I have only 10 minutes.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. and learned Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence), who has the floor, has decided that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Brown) has had long enough.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is hoping to catch the eye of the Chair. He is not improving his chances.
§ Mr. Lawrence
I have learnt the lesson that I should not give way to the hon. Gentleman.
I was asking what we should then do. We should make clear, if we have not made clear enough before, that if economic sanctions do not work soon in securing the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, we should drag him out by force. There can be no more delay and no more dithering. What should "soon" mean? It should mean 15 January 1991, a date beyond which resolution 678 says that "all necessary measures"—meaning force, because what else on earth could it mean?—can be taken to supplement economic sanctions and drive him out.
If we do not set a date, there will be no sanction worthy of the name, and the rule of law with no enforceable sanction is no rule of law. If we do not set a date and enforce that date, Saddam Hussein will win. There will be nothing to stop him taking over other countries, safe in the knowledge that we do not have the necessary will to stop him. There will be nothing to stop other Saddam Husseins from doing the same thing, and the world would end up in chaos.
If we climb down and refuse to set a date, the greatest potential force for peace and security in the world—the United Nations—will be, as the Leader of the Opposition said, little more than a public mourner, spectator and charity worker. I would add that it would be little more than a gutless, hopeless institution, incapable of standing up for the rule of law and what is right. If we climb down because we refuse to set a date, world peace will be threatened. The aggression will go on until we have to fight, and when we have to fight the war will be far bloodier than we have envisaged.
Saddam Hussein has used chemical weapons against his own people, so he is unlikely to refrain from using them against others. He has been responsible for the deaths of 1 million people in the Iran-Iraq war, so he is unlikely to 865 be worried about the loss of life. He is developing a nuclear capability, which may be ready for use within the year, or sooner. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East quoted from the International Atomic Energy Agency. If he were here, could he have told us whether it had investigated the uranium mines in the north of Iraq from which it is said that Saddam Hussein is even now mining the uranium that will give him the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons? If we are frightened to stand up to Saddam Hussein now, will we not be even more frightened to do so when he has nuclear weapons?
There is a fair measure of consensus in the House of Commons which has not been revealed by the speeches made today. Some speeches from the Conservative Benches—in particular that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup—and most from the Labour Benches have been contrary to the line taken by both the Government and the Opposition. My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup drew an analogy with Kennedy and Khrushchev over the Bay of Pigs and spoke of how discussion and negotiations could work. That analogy is so false that I cannot even begin to understand how he could have made it.
There are two fundamental differences. First, Saddam Hussein invaded an innocent. harmless country in flagrant defiance of international law, and destroyed that country, murdering hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That is something that Khrushchev had not done before embarking on the Bay of Pigs operation. He never invaded Cuba. Secondly, Saddam Hussein's action has been condemned time and again by the United Nations. Khrushchev's actions before the Bay of Pigs were not so condemned. It is difficult to see how my right hon. Friend could have seen a similarity between the two events. He has given a misleading and damaging signal to Saddam Hussein which I utterly deplore.
The issue that we have to address, and about which there is insufficient agreement in the House, however much other consensus there may be, is timing. How much longer do we give Saddam Hussein to comply with the United Nations resolution? Do we wait until our troops have lost the will or ability to enforce sanctions; until the Arab countries supporting the United Nations get tired of our dithering and make their own peace with Saddam Hussein; or until Saddam Hussein has developed nuclear weapons and made it impossible for us to force him out?
I hope and pray that Saddam Hussein will withdraw before 15 January 1991 so that war is avoided. If he is to do that, he will have to start soon. I hope and pray that he has no inclination to turn his attention towards Israel when he does withdraw, or truly terrible bloodshed will follow. If my hopes and prayers are not answered, then Saddam Hussein must be forced out. We can follow no other course if we want to maintain the integrity of the United Nations and ensure stability and relative peace in the world.
§ Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
The likelihood of war in the Gulf seems to have diminished a little. The confrontation remains stark, but the atmo-sphere has eased. This may be deceptive. For, even before Saddam Hussein's decision to release the hostages, it had 866 become clear that the balance of advantage has passed to him, and this was predictable. Saddam Hussein's Iraq had come to present a face of monolithic resolution to the world, in marked contrast to the discordant voices of the west. As the timetable of the allied military preparedness to act appeared to slip, public doubts grew about whether war is justifiable, acceptably feasible or even likely to take place.
Since August, President Bush and his team have done their best to persuade Americans and their representatives in Congress that the threat of imminent war against Iraq must be maintained, but the critical clinching reason for a fight still eludes the Administration. The President has been forced on the defensive as he seeks to convince the world and domestic opinion that all the options for peace have been exhausted before the momentous decision to go to war in the Gulf is taken. What will be the position if those options are kept open for a further 12 months, say on the ground of sanctions? I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is no longer in his place.
The memory of Vietnam is also a factor in the growing peace movement in America, as is the suspicion that once again American youth is being called upon to die in defence of Europe's interests. This lack of cohesion and solidarity has painfully exposed the underlying divisions in the western alliance, and reinforced the need to see European security in a broader global context, and for the alliance to think long and hard concerning its future policy towards threats beyond its traditional area of competence.
In contrast, Saddam has shown that his nerves are stronger than those of western democracies. He knows that talking will not by itself stop war, but he also knows that it offers him his best hope of exploiting American domestic weakness and dividing the international alliance against him. He will have been encouraged by the weekend headlines in our own quality press. The Sunday Times, for example, stated:Iraq scents victory as Gulf peace deal looms",The Sunday Telegraph stated:America insists: we're not going soft on Saddam".Those were the headlines just two days ago.
Yet, despite all that has happened since August, the essentials remain unchanged. The invasion of Kuwait in August was an act of aggression. The United Nations, in the most impressive fashion, acted against Saddam Hussein. Now that the United States and the United Kingdom and some of their allies have committed their armed forces and prestige, the blow to international order would be intolerable if Saddam were able to extract any victory or face-saving compromise.
Saddam has also turned the Gulf crisis into a crisis for democracy. He has raised with brutal clarity the central issue at stake: are western democracies resilient enough to resist blackmail or are they too short-sighted to perceive threats to their longer-term interests?
So there can be no compromise on Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait. There can be no question of profit to the aggressor. If aggression is permitted to succeed, other acts of brutality by bigger nations against their smaller neighbours will be encouraged. So there can be no weakening of our position. However, there can be no western objection to subsequent talks about disputed territories and their borders. Nor can there be any valid 867 objection to a possible mutual non-aggression pact, despite the repeated demand of The Sunday Times for Saddam to be toppled.
There can be no accommodation of the issue of linkage. Saddam has been demanding that Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait be linked to Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. This is unacceptable: neither Israel nor Syria can be charged with aggression, as Saddam can. However, both issues must resume their place at the very top of the middle east agenda if Iraq withdraws from Kuwait. Palestinians, no less than Kuwaitis, are entitled to equal justice under international law.
What disturbs me most of all is the extent to which the retreat into moral as well as political isolationism by certain sections of western opinion, some of which are represented by hon. Members on both sides of the House, threatens to undermine any chance of the United Nations ever asserting a collective will again.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East referred to the 1930s. Perhaps I can take just a few seconds to tell the House that I did my first canvassing for the Labour party when I was 12 years old at the behest of my headmaster. I canvassed for the League of Nations and for what was then Labour party policy—collective security. Ten years later, I was a casualty of war and for many years was 100 per cent. disabled. I am still 30 per cent. disabled. I am sorry to have to say that because I know that the House does not really want to listen to it, but I must say it to leave the House in no doubt that I do not address the issues of war and peace lightly. By God, I know and I reflect on the missed opportunities of the 1930s. I do not want collective security to fail again. That is the big issue for me. Saddam must not be given any ground for believing that he can undermine international order, that there is any weakening in our resolve or that this country and our allies will not go through with what they have threatened for so many months. What is certain is that no future challenge can even be credibly approached by the United Nations unless the present challenge is overcome.
I suspect that most hon. Members recognise that sanctions will not be effective within an acceptable time scale. I listened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East with great respect, as I always do, but, if it comes, the war will have a legal and moral basis. We all recognise that war is probable, although the timing will be subject to the constraints of campaigning weather, but the present "window" will last only until the end of February. We all profoundly regret that probability of war. However, if we will the end, we must be especially concerned for the means and particularly for our service men and women in the Gulf area. We must have the greatest confidence in them, especially those who will shortly come together—I hope—in the United Kingdom's first armoured division. I know and have the greatest respect and admiration for the United States' first and second armoured divisions, but a more effective or distinguished fighting unit will not be deployed in the Gulf than our own first armoured division. Our prayers will always be with the service men and women.
However, none of us can dispute that a compromise that leaves Saddam with any portion of his booty would be a lasting blow to the interests of the whole world. This is not a time for dithering and wobbling. I suggest with great respect that our resolution must match that of our fighting men if we are to be worthy of them.
§ Sir Trevor Skeet (Bedfordshire, North)
We have just heard a very good speech from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy). The whole House listened to every word. Saddam Hussein need only take into account the fact that if he complies with resolution 660 and vacates Kuwait, that will be the end of all this. He can ensure peace by doing just that.
The way in which the crisis began is extraordinary. On 1 August there was a conference in Saudi Arabia at which the Iraqis were represented and Saddam Hussein gave an assurance that he would not attack Kuwait. On 2 August, he attacked Kuwait. What account can we take of his later assurances and representations? Furthermore, Saddam Hussein has used gas against the Kurds, who are an ethnic minority in his territories, and he may well use it against other people. He is not a humane man who can look after children. He is a man who determined on his major course and, if he can divert the course of justice, he will take us to that end.
Saddam Hussein has destroyed Kuwait. He has virtually razed that country to the ground. According to a report in the newspapers this morning, the damage is estimated at $60 billion. We have learnt from my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) that the loss to Jordan amounts to the considerable sum of about $60 million. Obviously, if there is to be a settlement, there will have to be payment of reparation. However, as Saddam Hussein has a significant world indebtedness of about $80 billion, he cannot pay reparations. He will just turn aside and say, "This is not my responsibility".
We have been told that there will be an Arab solution and that we should let the Arabs decide this among themselves. However, the Arab solution will simply consist of saying, "Look at the great man—the new Saladin— in the middle east and subserve to his interests." In other words, other states will back off, which would be extremely detrimental to the western world.
My next illustration is in a world context. If one takes the reserves of crude oil, measured in billions of barrels, one can say that the Iraqis have 100 billion barrels. If one adds to that amount the reserves of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, the total amounts to 30 per cent. of the world's reserves of crude oil. If one adds to that Saudi Arabia, which itself can be compromised, it brings the total to 53.5 per cent. of the world's reserves of crude oil. Gentlemen may say, "Let us turn it aside—the fields will not be plundered; Hussein will make them available to other nations afterwards because he will have to build his economy." Let us make no mistake about it. The price of oil would rocket to about $90 per barrel. Saddam Hussein would want his pound of flesh to pay for the campaign that he has waged against the Iranians. Could we afford to pay that price?
There is another interesting point to be made about production. Saddam Hussein has mentioned that he wants a simple solution. He wants the territory to be divided into two. He does not want to withdraw entirely from Kuwait. He wants the Rumaila field and two significant islands which give him access to the Gulf. Taking into account the reserves of oil that he has recently discovered, his barrelage would have built up considerably. His only rival in the middle east would be Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia agrees 869 that the Iraqis are great competitors. Iraq is not a great competitor of Iran, because Iran's reserves tend to be stabilised at present.
In the western world we are told by people such as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that we can become independent from the middle east, but how can that possibly be achieved in the next 20 or 30 years when the middle east countries have the supplies available and are prepared to yield them to the western world? Iraq has several fields in production and about 10 fields under development. It is short of foreign exchange, so it cannot develop the fields properly. There is anxiety that the Iraqis will put a match to all the fields in operation, even including their own, but such fields can automatically be shut off if they are worked properly and fires can be put out.
Of course, war is costly in human life, but the cost of doing nothing or virtually nothing can be even more costly over the course of time. Democracies are not good at looking after their own defence. Many of us who remember the world stage between 1933 and 1939 recognise that it would have been cheaper to have a war in 1935 than it was when the war came in 1939. We were unprepared because of suggestions made in the House, and we lost many people at great cost.
My message to the House is that we have major problems in the middle east. I want to be constructive.
§ Sir Trevor Skeet
No. I do not have the time, and I learned from the previous Conservative speaker that the Opposition's questions are not sound.
If the world could only get together a concert of nations to guarantee the boundaries of the middle east states, as the Antarctica convention countries have come together to guarantee the lands of Antarctica, something similar could be established in the middle east. We could not allow Saddam Hussein to spill into other territories. If the ambition and tyranny of other nations could be contained, we could have security.
Saddam Hussein is worried about two principal points. First, there is his problem with the Rumaila field, of which nine tenths is within his territory now and only one tenth in Kuwait. He could refer that boundary dispute to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, where the matter could be simply resolved. There is broad experience of such disputes. Many of the United Kingdom fields go over into Norway and other territories. We work out unitisation agreements and settle such matters amicably. If Saddam Hussein wanted to settle the dispute amicably, he could do so. There is no reason for him to take over northern Kuwait. He could settle the matter either by a unitisation agreement or by reference to the International Court of Justice.
Saddam Hussein's second problem is access to the Gulf waters. After an eight-year war he surrendered all the territory around the beginning of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. That territory would have given him access to the Gulf, but he now wants the two Kuwaiti islands. With his consent, his claim to the two pieces of territory could be referred to the international court. However, the matter must be referred by mutual consent. I am certain that Kuwait would give that consent, but Saddam Hussein 870 would not give his. He claims the area as the 19th province of Iraq. If he lost at the international court, he would have to concede the territory and world security would again be secured.
We must be careful that the democracies are not taken for a long ride in seeking to maintain peace at the expense of principle. They must not be taken on a long journey which will take them nowhere but merely result in an accumulation of problems in the middle east which will eventually cause complete disaster. I hope that wise counsel will prevail.
§ 7.6 pm
§ Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)
At least today the Government have spoken with complete clarity. When the vote takes place—for there will be a vote—the meaning of a vote in the Government Lobby will be clear. The Government said in September that article 51 provided the legal basis for war. Today the Foreign Secretary said that the resolution carried by the Security Council provided a political authority for war. I and others have pressed the Government on whether they feel that the House of Commons has any right to vote on the matter. It does not have that right within our constitution, but that does not exclude the possibility of a vote. We have been told no. Combined with that we have a warning to British residents in terms which imply that military action may be likely.
I repeat what I said a moment ago. There will be a vote tonight. Those who vote with the Government, from whatever party, will be cited by the Government as supporting the interpretation of the legal and political position that I have just described.
By contrast, I and some of my hon. Friends have tabled a motion which says thatthis House believes that a peaceful solution to all the problems of the Middle East is both possible and necessary within the framework of the United Nations Charter and the resolutions of the Security Council; and therefore declines to support the threat or use of military force by the United States of America or Britain.There is no hint of appeasement in that because it is a reference to the United Nations resolution and charter. So tonight the choice is stark. I shall not go into the effects of war in any detail because it has been dwelt on by others. The consequence of war will not fall on those who think it right to fight one. No one in this House will be killed in a war. Many hundreds of thousands of innocent people—our own soldiers, American soldiers, Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Arabs in the middle east—will undoubtedly be killed by a massive exchange of the most modern weapons which, in many cases, were sold to both sides at a great profit by British and American arms manufacturers. We should realise that.
Chemical weapons are very likely to be used. They have been used before. The Americans used them in Vietnam. Agent orange was a chemical weapon used to defoliate the forest. Chemical weapons have been used by the Iraqis. Nuclear weapons are possessed by Israel and, indeed, by United States and British forces.
In the event of a war, the price of oil would put it beyond the range of the purchasing capacity of the third world. It is possible that more would die of starvation in the third world as a result of economic chaos than as a direct result of the war. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) constantly emphasises the 871 environmental aspect; a war with Iraq would probably lead to the greatest environmental catastrophe since the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
During my talks with King Hussein two weeks ago, he expressed the view that, even without a war, the size of the armed forces in the middle east was likely to bring about the fall of dynasties, including the Saudi dynasty. The Saudi holy places are now defended by American troops —Christian troops—who are not allowed to conduct Christian services in Saudi Arabia. It is not even possible to sell a bible to a British soldier in Saudi Arabia. So much for our defence of human rights and political liberty.
It has sometimes been said that I have cited the cases of Panama, Grenada, the Lebanon and Cyprus as arguments for not taking action. I cited them with a view to identifying the odious hypocrisy of those who now say that we should take action, having never said it in those other instances. Two million people died in the Vietnam war; as I have said, the Americans used chemical weapons to defoliate the forest, but anyone who criticised that war was denounced anti-American—never described as pro-United Nations.
§ Mr. Benn
No: I have only a few moments.
I have listened to the speeches of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) since the time of Suez. None of the matters that he has mentioned is covered by United Nations resolution. He talked of a permanent base, and of the need for the Arabs to be guided by foreign forces; others talk of a NATO out-of-area force. No UN resolution calls for that. People talk about control of the oil; there is no UN resolution entitling nations to go to war for that reason. "Topple Saddam," people say. Where is the UN resolution calling for him to be toppled, for Iraq to be demilitarised, for the war crimes tribunal to be brought into play? There are no such resolutions.
The difficulty in which the House finds itself is that we are told that we are here to defend the United Nations, while the speeches bear no relation to what the UN is about. In September, we were told that we were here to defend Saudi Arabia; now the position has changed again. The "nightmare scenario" of which people speak is not the nightmare of Saddam's remaining in Kuwait, but the nightmare of his withdrawing from Kuwait. Many military and political experts in Washington and London fear that, if he withdrew, their casus belli would go.
Those are some of the problems that face us. Another is the role of Israel. I well remember that in 1956—I clashed with the right hon. Member for Pavilion at the time—Israel, France and Britain colluded in an Israeli intervention that allowed the Government to claim that they were separating the forces when they had encouraged Israel to make that attack. I fear that Israel, misunderstanding its own long-term interest, may be tempted to trigger a conflict if it sees Saddam withdraw, and the American forces with him.
We must wind down the war machines and start to get the talks going. I pay warm tribute to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath)—I hope that I shall not embarrass him—for the courageous stand that he has taken, and the wisdom of his speech, with which I wholly concur. I think that, without consultation, Willy Brandt, he and I all said the same to Saddam 872 Hussein: "Free all the hostages; they represent no gain to you. Comply with all the United Nations resolutions." It is not in his interests to stand against the UN, and, if he wants resolution 242 to be implemented, he should bear that in mind.
We must think about guarantees of no attack. Of course, the disputed areas must be the subject of arbitration by the Arab states—not by American forces, because their role is not to be there. We want the withdrawal of all foreign bases and forces from the middle east, with no attempt to reimpose the old imperialism.
I listened carefully to the Foreign Secretary's speech on 7 September. One of the most significant aspects was his analysis of the role of the UN. I believe in the UN: as I have said before, I felt—like every member of my generation—that it represented the alternative to war. My party supports it, too; I moved the amendment to clause 4 of our constitution, in 1960, to insert the commitment to the UN, which had never been there before. On 7 September, the Foreign Secretary said:Some people, particularly Opposition Members, talk of this development in terms of great aspirations and the brotherhood of man. I see it in more traditional, Tory terms … I see it in Tory terms as an increasingly effective concept of nations acting in sensible self interest for the preservation and extension of international order."—[Official Report, 7 September 1990; Vol. 177, c. 902.]Those are two entirely different views of what is to follow the cold war.
§ Mr. Benn
The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The UN has not authorised the use of force, because "force" would not have got through: it says "other means".
There is one interpretation of American action in the Gulf which is not a UN interpretation. I am referring to the reimposition of white, industrialised, western control over the rest of the world. Now that the cold war is over, the white nations can get together like Queen Victoria's grandsons—the Kaiser, the King and the Czar—and run the third world. We will not have it, and we will divide the House against the Government tonight.
§ Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham)
My knowledge of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf goes back a number of years. I used to travel there extensively as a banker before I was elected to the House, and I still have a connection with a bank that is largely owned by Saudi Arabian interests. I therefore know a fair amount about the area.
Everyone—especially those who know that part of the world—has welcomed Iraq's decision to release the hostages, and must welcome their return even more. believe that, apart from being welcome on humanitarian grounds, that return is a clear signal of a shift in the Iraqi Government's attitude to the occupation of Kuwait. I believe that their new attitude makes war much less likely than it was last week—or, indeed, at any time since last August. There is now a real prospect that Iraq will leave Kuwait rather than face a war.
873 I believe that there are three reasons for that. One I have already mentioned: the return of the hostages, which, paradoxically, makes war more likely from Iraq's point of view, because it removes one disincentive for an American attack. The second is the pillage of Kuwait and the destruction of Kuwait City, which makes very little sense unless the intention is to leave Kuwait at some stage. If the Iraqis intended to remain, they would surely have some interest in maintaining a coastal city with some purpose.
The third reason is the certainty of military defeat. If there were a war—which I believe that the Iraqi forces would lose—we would end up not only with serious problems for Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist regime in Iraq, but with a serious defeat for the PLO and Yasser Arafat in particular. I do not believe that the Iraqi Government want either.
We are now seeing clear indications that the threat of war is receding, and that, if we keep up the military and diplomatic pressure on the Iraqi Government, that Government will start to seek a negotiated solution.
Iraq must not be rewarded for its aggression. That must be the basis of any future negotiations. There can be no solution to the problem which would leave Iraq, at least at this stage, in possession of the Rumaila oilfield or the Bubiyan and Warba islands. But we must consider what the situation will be like in the Gulf in due course.
§ Mr Carrington
No; and if my right hon. Friend listens to the remainder of my remarks he will appreciate why I made those comments. The differences must be reconciled because no one would benefit from a defeat of Iraq which left that country as a weakened regional power in the Gulf. The Gulf survives on a balance of power, and it is essential that that balance is maintained. If we set about destroying Iraq, and if Iraq and Kuwait do not negotiate their differences, the destruction of that balance of power would benefit nobody in the middle east.
In anticipation of finding a solution, we must consider what lay behind the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. We must accept that whatever the outcome—war or a negotiated solution—Iraq will still be a major military force in the middle east. There is no likelihood—I have never thought that there ever was a likelihood—that any military action would succeed in disarming Iraq. The United Nations resolutions clearly state that there is no intention of invading Iraq. Nor do I believe that there is a political or military capability to do so, certainly not on the part of the Americans.
The fundamental question that underlies everything that has gone on in the Gulf, and the reason why Saddam Hussein could get popular support for his action not only in his own country but in many others in the middle east, is the Palestinian problem. The Palestinian-Israeli problem is the cause, in many ways the cancer, of what is going on in the middle east. We shall not achieve peace in the area without a solution to the Palestinian problem, because even if we were to solve the current problem another would arise, and the balance of power would inevitably cause future threats of conflict, and those, in turn, would have to be tackled.
874 I do not think we can accept a linkage at this stage between the troubles in the Gulf and the Israeli-Palestinian problem, but we must start looking now for hopes of a solution to that problem, and perhaps the situation in the Gulf gives hope that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem is available.
The PLO has been severely weakened. There is no question but that its support for Iraq, and Saddam Hussein personally, has made the PLO's position more difficult. Indeed, the PLO is showing increasing signs of losing control of the intifada in Palestine.
Israel would also be in a severely weakened position if we managed to avoid war. Israel has been critically weakened, if only because American support can no longer be taken for granted. I hope that America has had a considerable fright over what has happened in the middle east and will now look at its Israeli policy and say that there can be no lasting solution to the problems there unless Israel is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians and to find a solution to the west bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
I hope it is right to say that the noises coming out of Washington will be carried through into policy initiatives and will put real pressure on Israel. We have heard similar noises in the past, but we have not had real pressure put on Israel to negotiate.
Another situation makes the possibility of a solution greater still, and that is that the oil-rich states of the Gulf now have a vested interest in finding a just solution—one that they might be prepared to fund—to the Palestinian problem, meaning that the Palestinians would have to find a political solution with the Israelis. If we can find a financial solution, funded by the Arab oil states, perhaps we shall be some way towards finding a solution to that problem.
I do not pretend to have the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. It is a complex and bitter problem which goes back a long way. But it can be solved only by negotiation and discussion, hopefully under the auspices of the United Nations. I have some reservations about a middle east UN conference to solve the problem if only because conferences seem to lead to a lot of talk and not much decision taking.
Unless there is willingness on the part of the PLO and the Israelis to talk to each other and reach a solution, any conference would just drag on indefinitely and produce no lasting solution. There must be negotiations specifically between Israel and the PLO, and I hope that the fears and pressures that have emanated from the situation in the Gulf will exert enough world pressure on the Israelis and the PLO to get them to come to such negotiations.
We have been staring into the abyss in the Gulf, and we may yet go into it. I hope that we shall manage to avoid doing so. But there will be another crisis in the middle east unless we find a solution now to the Palestinian problem. I hope that the horror we have seen—the potential for military conflict in the Gulf staring us in the face—has frightened enough people into deciding that it is better to negotiate on problems rather than to fight over them.
§ Mr. Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)
This is the first time I have spoken in a foreign affairs debate and I do so with considerable diffidence as the issues are extremely grave and significant. My right hon. Friend the 875 Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) made a wise and crafty speech—I use those words as terms of honour, as there should be in politics—in which he described the situation clearly and said that he proposed to support the Government today because that would show support for the United Nations.
I followed my right hon. Friend's logic clearly, but I did not agree with him. To support the Government today would not be to support the United Nations because, for the reason which my right hon. Friend put forward and which I found compelling, the Government have throughout stated a lack of belief in the strategy of sanctions. In so doing, they have allowed themselves to become boxed in by the military timetable, to use words similar to those used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton.
Once we depart from the conviction that sanctions can work, we allow ourselves to become boxed in by the military timetable. That leaves us saying that either the situation must be resolved by mid to late March or it cannot be resolved at all. Once we cast doubt on whether the coalition which has been brought to bear on the situation can endure through another summer, we are boxing ourselves into a situation in which we say that either we must have a war before the next fighting season is over or we must contrive a peace which leaves the Iraqi war machine intact. That is precisely the corner in which the British Government, and to a lesser degree the United States Government, now find themselves, and it is an unhappy situation in which to be.
The first, central and specific obligation of the United Nations resolutions in these matters was to impose sanctions through a combination of physical containment backed by the use of armed force. That force has already been used, and rightly so, to enforce sanctions to that limited degree. The mistake of the United States and the British Government was always to talk down the possibility of that policy being successful. Talk of war crimes and reparations has increased Saddam Hussein's hold over his own people, whereas a policy of attrition would have separated him from his own people.
The creation of a United Nations middle east peace council three months ago would have provided an opportunity to hand the initiative over to moderate Arab and Israeli opinion in the region and give a wider, positive context for the demilitarisation of Iraq and the region. Now that same initiative, which should properly have been undertaken three months ago, looks like a face saver to leave the Iraqi war machine intact. It is a propaganda success for the Iraqis of the British and American Governments' contrivance.
By publicly casting doubt on whether a policy of siege —sanctions, containment, the back-up of armed force—could hold and the multinational containment force be kept together, the United States and Britain have forced themselves into an impasse. They must either succeed in getting the eviction of Iraq from Kuwait by the end of the fighting season in March, or suffer a defeat which would mean that the United Nations had failed. The self-imposed deadline for confrontration never had any legitimacy. It was never true that if we believed that patient, armed determination could work in the long term—if we believed in a policy of siege—we were therefore appeasers. On the contrary—once one departs from a siege policy, one puts one self, one's forces and the cause for which one stands in an impossible position.
876 We face a grave crisis. In my community I can see what the neglect of a siege policy means. I have had to witness the jobs of 600 heavy engineering workers on Tyneside being sacrificed because the Government did not believe in their own policy of sanctions and offered no protection to the industrial companies caught up in the consequences.
We never seem to recognise that Saddam Hussein's war machine has no economic base in his own country, other than that provided by the armament industries of the east and west. Siege can and will work. In undermining the belief in the possibility of siege, the Government have given themselves a false choice between a war which cannot succeed politically or economically, even if it succeeds militarily, and a peace which cannot be secured or sustained because no one will believe in it while the Iraqi war machine is intact. Those reasons for believing in a siege do not show any lack of support for the United Nations, the objectives of collective security or, in this instance, the United Nations' chosen first means to secure its objective. In not supporting the Government today, we shall not be underwriting a policy of appeasement or showing any lack of commitment to the cause taken up by the United Nations.
§ Mr. John Browne (Winchester)
I declare an interest in the debate as a member of the Territorial Army.
A few years ago Mr. Gorbachev challenged the world to a new order—it was not a challenge of war, but of peace. He proposed to change the very nature of peace itself, from a peace of nuclear deterrence to a peace of detente—to allow for the institution of the international rule of law. Now, that new peace of detente faces its first great challenge by an international pirate, Saddam Hussein.
If Saddam Hussein is not brought to book, we must ask ourselves what other pirates will follow. If Saddam Hussein is not brought to book, what future will there be for the peace of detente, which will have effectively been killed at birth? If Saddam Hussein is not brought to book, what will remain of the threat he poses to the middle east, particularly as he is likely, within the next year or two, to gain a nuclear capability? In short, the international rule of law is now on trial.
In the interests of peace, the allies now in the Gulf simply must succeed, whether by sanctions or by the use of force. I believe that our Government are trying hard to find a peaceful solution. But the choice of whether it is a peaceful solution or one involving the use of force clearly lies in the hands of Saddam Hussein.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who is not present now, suggested that we should have more discussion. He gave as an example an incident in the Cuban crisis of the 1960s involving John F. Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev. He made a powerful case. However, he ignored the essential differences between the Gulf crisis of the 1990s and the Cuban crisis of the 1960s, which is that Mr. Khrushchev was acting legally on the high seas. His action may have posed a great threat to the United States and world peace, but he was acting legally on the high seas. That is not so with President Hussein, who is acting as a pirate having used armed aggression. Saddam Hussein's human rights transgressions, which occur daily, are so dreadful that they 877 have to be seen to be believed. Therefore, I see little similarity between the Gulf crisis of the 1990s and the Cuban crisis of the 1960s.
We all know that war, if it happens, will be terrible, with many people killed and much suffering. But the pain and suffering would be less, probably considerably less, than the pain that would be suffered if we allowed such international piracy to be seen to succeed, especially with the spread of nuclear weapons to countries such as Iraq.
If there is a war, the balance of power in the middle east will surely be changed for ever. If there is a war, the battle may be quick, but its effects and implications for the allies are likely to be long term. For instance, if Iraq were neutralised, it would leave Israel as the only local super-power in the middle east. In such circumstances, we must prepare for a long-term commitment.
At the very moment when we are asking our young men and women to risk their lives, "Options for Change" and the peace dividend policy are actively pursued. I wonder what effect such talk has on the British Army of the Rhine, where people are being asked actively to study "Options for Change" at the same time as men and women are being posted from BAOR to the Gulf. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House this evening that "Options for Change" will be shelved, at least until the middle east crisis is clarified?
It amazes me that, while we call for volunteers from the Territorial Army and the reserves and deplete other units to reinforce those in the Gulf, we still have a cap on recruiting to the very regiments and corps being sent to the Gulf. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that recruit capping will be lifted, at least for those regiments and corps likely to be deployed in the Gulf?
Deployment to the Gulf has been a great success, particularly from a logistics angle, over extended lines of communications. Sincere congratulations are deserved for a job well done. However, I noticed a strange system of reinforcement for some of the line units. It is a system which worries me. We all accept that line units on peace-time establishment in BAOR must be considerably increased in number to put them on war establishment. BAOR is well used to the flexible deployment of combat teams from one regiment or battalion to another. But the first line of reinforcements to our units first deployed in the Gulf was effected by attracting experienced, highly trained and highly motivated men from combat teams and deploying them as individual soldiers into other regiments. That smacked of our moving towards a corps of infantry. It broke up trained and highly motivated teams, and most importantly it divided men from their officers. I cannot see that that was good.
As an example I cite the experience of the first battalion Grenadier guards, from which 186 men were taken and deployed to a fine regiment of the line—but devoid of their officers. Although trained for four years at vast expense and highly successful, they were not teams any more. I ask my right hon. Friend to assure the House that the concept of a corps of infantry is not part of Army thinking; and to assure the House that future reinforcements deployed to the Gulf will be met by the transfer of complete combat teams, not by the assignment of individual soldiers from trained battalions.
878 We cannot be certain that the Gulf conflict will be short, so we must plan prudently for long-term commitment. Has my right hon. Friend taken all necessary measures comprehensively to support our armed forces in the Gulf for an extended war in the middle east? Furthermore, will he take measures to ensure job security for members of the Territorial Army and the regular reserve who volunteer in response to his legitimate call?
In this respect I must mention the band of the Royal Greenjackets from my constituency. Its members have been deployed as stretcher bearers, a tough and risky task. I need not remind my right hon. Friend that the Royal Army Medical Corps has more Victoria crosses than any other regiment or corps in the British Army and that it has the only two British double Victoria crosses. That is testimony to the sort of job that these people may have to carry out if war breaks out in the middle east. It will be tough, and I am sure that the House wishes them God's protection.
If Saddam Hussein chooses the military option, we must not flinch. The Government have done an excellent job under difficult conditions, and we must stand firm behind them. If we are seen to waver, that will encourage war. I believe—I am sure that this view is held by my right hon. Friend—that peace alone is not enough. What we demand is peace with freedom.
§ Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) in detail except to ask him one question. Members of Opposition parties arguing for continuing with sanctions are asked by Conservative Members, "For how long?" The hon. Gentleman talked about a long-term war deployment in the Gulf, so we must ask him, "For how long?"
In a crisis it is vital that the political actors behave responsibly and rationally. We have had a fairly rational debate this evening, as we had in September. In taking practical decisions in the House and in government we need to adopt a thoughtful approach. Such an approach is more likely to be helpful than a fundamentalist response or a gut reaction. We need to keep cool heads and adopt a philosophical approach.
A crisis is also a matter of perception. Good diplomacy and effective action require an understanding of other people's perceptions without necessarily accepting them as valid. One perception that we need to correct is the tendency for Parliament to behave as though it were still in the 19th century—as though we were the main actors on the international scene. In fact, we are the fourth, fifth or even sixth players in the crisis. The first players are the peoples in the middle east: ordinary Kuwaiti and Iraqi citizens, who are dominated internally and externally; other dominated minorities in the region, including the Palestinians and the Kurds; the state of Israel; and the Arab states and the Arab nation.
The major centres of decision making in the crisis are in the United States—in the United Nations building in New York, in the White House and on Capitol hill in Washington, DC. Although the United Kingdom is not the main player, there seems far less of a wide-ranging debate here about the resolution of the Gulf crisis than there is in the United States. Congress has far more real democratic powers over the Executive than does this 879 Parliament, and there is a culture of openness in United States politics which even extends to the military. What we can do this evening is lend our rational voices, as democratic representatives, to the debate taking place in other centres of decision making, particularly in the United States.
No one in this House, least of all members of my party, will ever say anything in defence of the Iraqi regime. We are on record as being severely critical of the human rights record of that regime, particularly in Kurdistan, and when I—together with other hon. Members—raised the issue of Hallabjah not much fuss was made at the time about the chemical warfare and genocide against the Kurdish people by the Ba'athist regime. There must be a reversal of the unjustified occupation of Kuwait and of the aggression by Iraq. This debate is about the most effective way of ensuring such a reversal, coupled with a review of security in the entire region.
The issue is not whether it is legitimate to use all necessary means after 15 January; what is at issue is the most effective means of resolving the crisis. The arguments for taking military action used by the United States Administration are conflicting and confusing. The move from desert shield to desert sword by the United States is not merely rhetorical. The scale of over-deployment early on led to the build-up of capability beyond that necessary to resist further aggression into Saudi Arabia. That led to demands not merely for repelling the Iraqi forces from Kuwait but for destroying the military capability of the Iraqi regime. No United Nations resolution provides a basis for that.
Arguments for early military action include such statements as, "The international coalition of states against Hussein cannot be sustained." But surely an all-out war with a high toll of Arab civilian casualties would test the unity of the allies far more than patient pressure over a longer time. The argument for military action concentrates on the fact that the United States deployment, along with that of the United Kingdom and of other allies, will be at its peak early next year, but that is a cyclical argument arising from the initial deployment decisions. If the hot weather in the desert after February is the argument for striking early after 15 January, are the military experts really saying that a war can be successfully concluded before the long hot desert weather? What kind of civilian casualties would be inflicted in an air strike-led counter invasion at that time?
Another argument is that an early strike would prevent Iraq from becoming a nuclear power. It is not so long since spokespeople for the Bush Administration were saying that Iraq's nuclear capability posed no immediate danger. Surely diplomacy leading to a binding nuclear non-proliferation and chemical weapons treaty is the only way in which nuclear capability can be scaled down, as has happened in Europe.
How can the undertaking of military action be seen to bring about more effectively the resolution of the longstanding political conflicts in the region? Whatever view we may take of so-called linkages, those linkages exist in the perception of millions in the Arab nation. They are the linkages of hypocrisy, and it is only through understanding them that we can assist in resolving the long-term crisis in the area.
Long-term deployment of United States troops supported by the United Kingdom and a dwindling band of allies, trying to maintain an imposed political solution 880 against the increasing hostility of peoples in the region, cannot be regarded as an effective solution. There is no substitute for an internationally sponsored conference of all powers in the region—the middle east equivalent of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, dealing with strict controls of arms exports to the region and with verification for scaling down nuclear, chemical and biological weapons facilities. It could also deal with the creation of a nuclear-free zone throughout the middle east, with thoroughly negotiated international agreements for an elected Palestinian Government, with measures to ensure the security of the pre-1967 Israeli borders, and with the withdrawal of forces from the Lebanon.
Such an international conference, convened by the United Nations, is predicated upon Iraq's complying with the Security Council resolutions. An effective economic blockade together with patient diplomacy is much more likely to bring about longer-term peace and security in the region than the taking of precipitate military action which would turn the whole middle east into a huge Beirut.
There has to be a better way to combat aggression and maintain international law and order at the end of the 20th century. This approach to the crisis, at once practical and philosophical, may not commend itself to some Conservative Members or perhaps to Front-Bench speakers. As United Kingdom Members of Parliament, we do not have the equivalent of the war power resolution of the United States Congress. We cannot decide these issues in the House, but we can indicate a note of caution by voting. We do that not because we are appalled by the aggression of the Ba'athist regime or because we have no concern for human rights and democracy in Kuwait or anywhere else in the middle east, but because we believe that the balance of the argument favours a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.
There is a traditional doctrine of the conduct of states which provides a framework for the kind of value judgments that need to be taken in these situations. It is the theological and philosophical doctrine of a just war formulated by St. Augustine and refined by St. Thomas Aquinas. By such a doctrine any war, to be just, must be a last resort with full negotiations beforehand. Success must at least appear possible, the means used must be unavoidable for achieving the goal and those means must be used proportionately and quantitatively so that they do not cause more damage than they are supposed to prevent. They must be proportional to what is wanted. By those criteria I do not think that war in the Gulf can be effective diplomatically or politically or that it can be ultimately justified. For those reasons we shall vote against the Adjournment.
§ Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)
It is with regret that I note in certain quarters of the House and elsewhere some weakening of the resolve to stand up to Saddam Hussein. Some people do not recognise that seeking to appease him is no guarantee of long-term peace in the middle east but a guarantee of further aggression by Saddam Hussein and other like-minded dictators.
In considering the long-term impact, we must recognise that this may well be the last opportunity to deal with Saddam Hussein without nuclear weapons. We are fortunate that in 1981 Israel sought to deactivate the nuclear reactor at Basra. Without that action by the 881 Israelis we would be facing a dictator with a nuclear capability. Those who are unwilling to face the possibility of war in the middle east are giving encouragement to Saddam Hussein and in three or four years when he has a nuclear capability he may engage in further aggression.
Some hon. Members seek to draw comparisons between the events of 1967 and those of August 1990. In 1967 the United Nations troops left Sinai because Colonel Nasser asked them to do so as a prelude to attacking Israel. In 1967 Jordan attacked Israel. At that time none of Israel's neighbours recognised her right to exist and none had signed a peace agreement with her. In that year Israel was reacting to aggression and the threat of aggression, but Kuwait is a quite different situation.
Kuwait was a small state living at peace with its neighbours. It was a small, inoffensive country and it was attacked by Saddam Hussein to satisfy his aggressive ambitions. He engaged in an act of naked and uncalled-for aggression against a small state. Some people on the international scene seek to establish a link between the situation in Kuwait and the position of the Palestinians. That is quite wrong because the Palestinians are among the chief victims of the invasion of Kuwait. Thousands of expatriate workers in Kuwait suddenly discovered that they had to leave the country. Their remittances, which were essential to the economies of many small towns on the west bank of Israel, disappeared.
I visited Bethlehem in September and the mayor told me that 300 Palestinians from Bethlehem were working in Kuwaiti banks. With the equalisation of the Kuwaiti and Iraqi dinar, their bank accounts were worthless and their remittances to Bethlehem disappeared overnight. Apart from those 300, about 5,000 Palestinians from Bethlehem were working in Kuwait and were sending remittances every month. All that stopped after the events of August 1990 because their remittances, which were important to many Palestinian families, evaporated in the wake of the attack upon Kuwait.
One of the other chief victims of the invasion was the peace process itself. The PLO's initial support of the invasion of Kuwait took the ground from under the feet of people in Israel who had been arguing that there should be discussions between the Government of Israel and the PLO. When I was in Israel, I met members of the peace movement who said that they had been completely gutted by the reaction of the PLO. One of them told me that he had spent five years arguing with his colleagues in Israel for negotiations with the PLO because the PLO had changed. However, its acceptance of events in Kuwait showed that, despite its claims, the PLO has not changed. That has made it much more difficult for people in Israel who seek the path of peace by negotiation.
World calls for a peace conference in the middle east as the price for Saddam Hussein leaving Kuwait will provide an over-large fig leaf to cover Saddam Hussein's withdrawal. Such a conference linked to withdrawal from Kuwait would be used to maximise Saddam Hussein's prestige among the Arabs. Is it right to do that, or is it right to maximise his inconvenience?
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait involved not only aggression against a peace-loving country but, as we hear night after night, it involves pillage, rape, the destruction of Kuwait City and quite unacceptable crimes against humanity. So 882 much damage has been caused that many years and billions of pounds will be needed to enable Kuwait to recover. It is not enough simply to ask Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. Those bloody hands which have destroyed buildings, families and lives must be punished and compensation must surely be paid for the damage that they have done.
If we fail to ensure that Saddam Hussein leaves Kuwait humiliated and defeated, it is almost inevitable that elsewhere in the middle east thoughts will turn to the possibility of a pre-emptive strike against him. Saddam Hussein is an evil man and the soil of Iraq is drenched with the blood of 1 million people which he wantonly shed. No lives have been too precious and all have been affected by this man's evil. Apart from his actions in the Iran-Iraq war, he has indulged in a campaign of institutional barbarism in his own country. He has been willing to use chemical weapons against innocent Kurds and to engage in a campaign of intimidation against his political opponents. Nothing has been too mean or evil for him to contemplate, and the world must recognise that at some stage it will have to stand up to this evil monster, either now or later when he has nuclear weapons. In the 1930s the world could have stopped Hitler when he entered the Rhineland. In the 1990s it must stop Saddam Hussein because of his invasion of Kuwait.
§ Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)
We have heard some significant speeches expressing a wide variety of views, particularly from the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). Those outside the House should read my right hon. Friend's speech carefully—it was not a crafty speech, as one hon. Friend suggested, but one of great statesmanship.
I do not consider that I shall be compromised by voting with the Government today. I am a strong believer in the view that politics should cease at the water's edge. A majority of hon. Members have confirmed that our national interest is sustained by a substantial agreement. There will never be consensus in the House, in the country or in the international community, but we must seek substantial agreement on the sensible policy being pursued by the multinational force and the Governments whom it represents.
This is a timely debate. Like many hon. Members, I should prefer a peaceful resolution of the problem. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton said earlier, there is an overwhelming preference for achieving that objective by means of sanctions. But sanctions themselves, unrelated to the threat of force, will achieve nothing. Moral pressure and diplomacy unrelated to the possible use of force will simply be mocked by a man as cynical, manipulative, vicious and tyrannical as Saddam Hussein. We should not eschew the military option or the threat of military force. Military force may not be used, but the threat of it, resolutely applied, will, I hope, be sufficient to bring that regime to heel.
We should not expect our forces to wait indefinitely for sanctions to bring Saddam Hussein down. The multinational force and the coalition would probably not be sustained, economically or politically, for the length of time demanded by some of my hon. Friends. We should speak to our adversaries, but that does not mean that 883 Saddam Hussein's arguments are necessarily legitimate. Some hon. Members have taken a rather too even-handed view in this debate, as though the man had some justification for his attitude and actions. If negotiation means reaching a point equidistant between two extreme views, I would oppose it. I also oppose the argument that we should throw him something to allow him to save face. That would be the wrong approach.
We have heard today arguments about the concept of a just war. Should all else fail and war break out, military action would not only have been underpinned by the United Nations, which is critical, but it would be a just war. It would not be a war to prop up the oil companies and to maximise their profits. It would not be a war representing some sort of collective blood lust on the part of those prepared to resort to it. It would not be to make the middle east safe for autocracy Gulf-style. It would not be a war to impose western imperialism.
In the past couple of hours we have heard a great deal of nonsense about Kaiser Bill, the re-establishment of white rule and the return to imperialism. The multinational force is not, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) implied, some sort of Anglo-Saxon conspiracy—it is infinitely more broad-based than that rather facile analysis would lead us to believe. Most of those hon. Members who intend to vote with the Government today have been accused of odious hypocrisy, and that is grossly unfair.
The aims of western and Muslim Governments are well known. It is not United Nations policy, but I firmly believe that, whether one uses the word compensation or the more controversial word reparation, that must be pursued, as well as the neutralisation, by military means or otherwise, of Saddam Hussein's offensive and war-making capability. That must be in conjunction with a peace conference to resolve the middle east crisis, and to strengthen the United Nations and international law. It is critical that every effort should be made to prevent the spread of the arms trade, which has been the source of so many problems.
We must keep up military pressure on Iraq. We must sustain the military build-up to give a signal to Saddam Hussein that, militarily as well as politically, his options are running out. We must work hard to prevent the fragmentation of the multinational coalition, and we must work hard to sustain international public opinion and the legitimacy of the United Nations.
Saddam Hussein is clearly successfully manipulating international opinion, using hostages first as a human shield, then releasing them in droplets and, finally, completely. He does not want compromise. He is stalling. He is hoping that the international coalition against him will tire, will be undermined by internal dissent and that the generals and the legions will go home, leaving him with his illegal profits.
Much has happened since our debate a few months ago. Both sets of forces are better prepared, but now there is a balance between them. Any thought of military action before now would have been folly beyond belief. The multinational force and commitment to it is holding, despite pressures from outside and inside. The greatest difference of all is United Nations resolution 673 of 29 November. I have spoken of Saddam Hussein's manipulation of the hostages and how sanctions are being applied with some effect.
If it ever comes to a conflict—I hope to God that it does not—I hope that we shall be successful. If we are not, if 884 Saddam Hussein gains a military victory, should there be a military stalemate or a peaceful solution allowing him to retain his access to the sea, keep his armed forces intact, control Kuwait's oilfields, keep unchanged his country's military structure, expand his nuclear capability, develop his conventional weapons and further build up his conventional forces, that will be a disaster for us.
If Saddam Hussein wins, there will be a gaping international power vacuum. The United States will be completely discredited and will join the Soviet Union as an ex-superpower. It will be a green light to any predatory nation with a spurious territorial claim on a neighbour to settle it by invasion. If he is successful, the United Nations will be fatally weakened and the post cold war security order that has been so patiently set up will be destroyed.
Let us imagine what would happen if Saddam Hussein were successful. Who then in the middle east would stand up to him? It is unlikely that a coalition of Arab states would do so. He would be master of the region. He would be able to control the price of oil. I do not want the world economy to be determined in Baghdad. I do not want the price of oil and its rate of extraction and distribution to be decided by Saddam Hussein. It is not remotely immoral to stand up to Hussein because one is worried about the future of one's national economy and the world economy. Therefore, if war does take place, it will be justifiable. We are all aware of the disastrous consequences of war, but we should not forget the potential disastrous consequences of opting out.
There are many precedents for compensation or reparation. It has been suggested that it would cost more than $60 billion to rebuild Kuwait. How will one replace the destroyed infrastructure or compensate for the loss of life and misery that Saddam Hussein has perpetrated?
Finally, we should be worried about Saddam Hussein's nuclear strike potential. It might be apocalyptic to say that he would have some form of primitive device next week or next month, but to argue that it would take a decade or more would be deliberately to evade the facts. It is obvious that Iraq was planning to build three super guns with the help of Gerald Bull's design. It is obvious that Saddam Hussein has ballistic missiles, largely based on the SCUD —the A1 Hussein with a range of 600 km, the A1 Abbas with a range of 900 km, the Tammouz, with a satellite launch vehicle, with a possible range of 2,000 km, and the A1 Abbad, also with a range of 2,000 km. When those are deployed in significant numbers, the Iraqis have a warhead capability which can take chemical and biological weapons. In a few years they will have nuclear warheads, and then we shall have to hold on to our hats. It is not merely alarmist to say that if war is inevitable it is better earlier than later. I do not want war—I want a peaceful solution.
History has frequently been cited in the arguments both for and against war. Hoare-Laval and Suez have been mentioned today and even the Cuba crisis was cited by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). However, the essence of the Cuba decision was that Khrushchev was faced down by Kennedy—he realised that Kennedy desperately meant it, and so withdrew. The lesson to be learnt is not that suggested by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, but that when western nations are seen to be desperately serious, that is when an adversary will back down.
I shall feel no guilt whatever about voting in the same Lobby as the Government today because in many ways we 885 are on the same side. I hope very much that the national and international consensus will be sustained, and that diplomacy, sanctions and the threat of military force will be sufficient to bring about the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein's forces. If after three, six or nine months it is clear that sanctions have failed, the United Nations will have underpinned action which will be a last resort, but which may ultimately be necessary.
§ Sir John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
It is always a great pleasure to hear the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) speak about military matters, and I agree with much of what he said. Before I turn to the details of the Gulf problem, I want to let my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs know how much I, as a member of the WEU's defence committee, and my colleagues, I am sure, were delighted at his speech yesterday when he pointed the way to a much more important role for the WEU not only in Europe but outside it.
I was nostalgically interested in the speeches of a number of old colleagues this afternoon. We heard first from my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), whose views are wrong, in my opinion—but his was a powerful speech. I have known him for more than 50 years. The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) spoke about the United Nations. I remember his speeches about the UN at the start of, during, and towards the end of the Falklands war —and, oh dear, what a dying fall they had. We heard also from the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), with whose views I also do not agree. But what fine fellows they all are, and were.
The entire Gulf situation has been transformed recently by President Bush's offer to hold talks with the Iraqis. I doubt whether that will prove to be a wise move, and I fear that it is the result of pressures from the American peace movement. We have seen what powerful emotions can be stirred up by the pictures of hostages and their families on our television screens night after night. Those scenes only prove what a menace television can be to the true interests of the nation. The visits by senior politicians to Saddam were a grievous mistake because they only gave him added kudos. Now he realises that there is no more political capital to be made by continuing to hold hostages.
It is difficult to see what there will be to talk about, as Iraq appears to have no intention of withdrawing from Kuwait and making appropriate compensation for the appalling wrong and damage that it has done. I believe that Mr. Bush has felt compelled to offer talks with Saddam because of the growing peace movement in Congress and among the American public, yet if Saddam Hussein still refuses to withdraw, what can Mr. Bush do? He will be in a difficult position if Congress and the American people are unwilling for him to go to war. He must also miss the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), who added so much backbone to the efforts of the United Nations and of Britain.
Saddam will try to prolong talks as long as possible, and will bring in the Palestinians if he can. We must not allow him to get off the hook for that reason, although I 886 accept that the Palestinian problem must be solved as soon as possible after Saddam has been put in his place. If the United States fails to secure Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, Mr. Bush will have allowed aggression to go unpunished, and will also have fatally damaged his personal standing and the position of the United States as a great power. The fact that Iraq may soon have nuclear weapons adds to the awfulness of the prospect.
Iraq is a difficult terrain in which to fight. Many years ago I spent nearly a year in that country as a soldier, and I can tell the House that it is difficult to read a map there, let alone to fight. The climate is most disagreeable in summer and in winter. However, if Saddam does not withdraw, I believe, with the greatest reluctance, that war will become inevitable—awful though that thought may be.
We have some difficulties with our own allies that certainly worry me. Syrian troops are not only deployed alongside British troops in Saudi Arabia but are crawling all over Lebanon and taking over the Christian enclaves. In a sense, the Christians have been thrown to the Syrian wolves, which shows the sadness of realpolitik in foreign affairs.
Can we allow aggression to succeed? I speak as someone who was willing and able to fight at the time of Munich. If appeasement wins, it will be a fearful blow to the United States, Britain, and our allies, and will deal a crushing blow to the United Nations and the Security Council—which for the first time in 40 years, with our alliance with the Soviet Union, has shown itself to be strong and united. Those are the difficult problems which confront the peace party and which people in this country, including some of our clergy, must also be brave enough to face. Therefore, I hope, albeit reluctantly, that our allies will strike and that their campaign will be short, sharp and successful—and as soon as possible after 15 January.
If we do not win this struggle, it will make the Munich agreement seem almost harmless by comparison. Aggression will have paid off, and the future of the world will be jeopardised, as will our new understanding with the Soviets. Saddam will become the strongest person and a hero in the middle east, and Israel—which has been mercifully quiet so far—will probably feel compelled to strike at him. The consequences of that happening are too awful to contemplate both for the middle east and the Arab nations, as well as for ourselves, the United States, and our allies. I repeat that, although I know how horrible war can be, if we cannot bring Saddam down by the middle of January, it will be the only solution to this appalling problem.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Unlike the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes), I am thankful that there is televising of war situations, because by instantly knowing what is happening, the public can have at least some, albeit indirect and remote, say in what is done in their name.
I have sat on these Benches for more than 28 years, since the time of the foreign affairs debate that was opened by the late Hugh Gaitskell. I must tell my parliamentary colleagues that I have never been so concerned about anything as I am about what we are debating tonight. Saddam Hussein is in a position to bring down the temple with him. He may be starved of oil and short of munitions, 887 but he has deep-mined some 300 Kuwait oil wells and is now able to detonate them. The truth is that none of us —scientists, politicians or mining engineers—has any clear idea what may happen when oil wells are deliberately detonated. It is outwith human experience. There is every reason to believe that the emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide will be on a scale that the earth has never seen before. According to the King of Jordan, a radius of about 750 km could be affected. That would be an ecological catastrophe.
Therefore, we must ask ourselves whether our reaction is in proportion, whatever the outrage. If any hon. Member thinks that I am being fanciful, he should consider these words in the official Government newspaper, Al Jumhouriya, on 8 November. It said that Iraq threatened to turn the Arabian peninsula into ashes, and the Saudi oilfields into a sea of fire if attacked.The mother of all battles is nearer today.Only Medina and Mecca will be spared.If the fire of aggression is unleashed against Iraq, flames will burn everything in every direction.The newspaper said that sets of sealed orders existed in case of war.
Is that an idle threat? I fear that it is not. That fact may be uncomfortable, awkward and horrific, but nevertheless that is what we are facing. Any battle will be enormously difficult.
The hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge said that he had experience in a military capacity in Iraq. I am not claiming any great military experience, other than 21 months with the Desert Rats—with the gerbil on my shoulder sleeve, because it was the 7th armoured brigade. Anyone with remote knowledge of tanks, as tank crew, realises how difficult a battle will be in an oilfield. Among other things, have Ministers thought what will happen when tanks have to operate in the vicinity of high-pressure oil pipes? That is a real problem—as is sand.
Last Tuesday, with about 60 or 70 of my parliamentary colleagues—mostly members of the Government party—I attended a lecture given in Committee Room 14 by General Colin Powell. I shall reproduce the question that I asked and General Powell's answer. I told General Powell that, as a member of the minority who did not believe that any successful military victory was to be had, I did not doubt his sincerity in preferring peace to war. I asked him about the figures, with which I have now bored the House on five occasions, from King Hussein's speech about carbon dioxide. That afternoon reference had been made by our Defence Minister to a short, sharp and quick war. I asked General Powell whether he contemplated the use of nuclear weapons. In the hearing of many hon. Members—I do not think I am being inaccurate—General Powell said that he would take my second question first and that he did not contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, but he could not rule out any advice that he might offer to the President of the United States. I think that it would be fair to say that every parliamentary colleague in that room realised that if things were not going right for the Americans and the allied forces, there would be a possibility of nuclear weapons being used. That is horrific. If nuclear weapons were used by white westerners against Arabs, no hon. Member can fail easily to imagine what the reaction in the Arab world would be, even among those who hate Saddam Hussein.
General Powell then turned to my first question. He seemed to accept the King of Jordan's figures, and added 888 that I had better understand that trenches had been dug —incidentally, that has been confirmed by satellites—and that oil is pumped into the trenches, which means that there could be canals of fire. General Powell also said that it would be difficult for his tanks to go through canals of fire. As former national service tank crew, I can only echo that view. Those are the sort of problems that we are up against.
One can say all sorts of things about Saddam Hussein, but I was interested by Sir Brian Urquhart's Montague Burton lecture in Edinburgh. He said that we might find it hard to take the idea of Saddam Hussein as the self-styled champion of the underprivileged, but that that view had a lot of takers. That is an uncomfortable fact, but we have to live with it.
I promise to be brief, and I shall now address my remarks to my own Front-Bench spokesmen—something that I have hardly ever done. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) spoke about the United Nations. In many circumstances I would be bound to agree with him. However, I have a severe streak of doubt. I had the privilege to be chosen by Mr. Speaker to lead the parliamentary delegation to Zaire two weeks ago. We met the Foreign Minister of Zaire. He was full of the fact that earlier in the week he had had a long session with James Baker—Zaire happens to be a member of the Security Council. We asked him why Zaire had lined up with the Americans. He was quite clear that it had nothing whatever to do with rights and wrongs in the middle east. For perfectly understandable civil rights reasons, the Americans had decided that they would not give aid to the hard-pressed Government of President Mobutu, but because Zaire had obliged the Americans in the United Nations, lo and behold, United States aid to Zaire would flow once more.
I suspect that the same may be true of the Ivory Coast and other countries. I was not satisfied with the answer that I was given earlier by the Foreign Secretary in regard to Yemen. The Yemeni people are nearest to the crisis and they have something to lose, but they voted against. It was no good the Foreign Secretary asking me whether I did not know that Cuba is some way from Zaire, as that was no answer. The issue concerns Yemen.
I must also ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton about the Labour party conference. For the first time I was sitting in the rows of seats for constituency delegates. I remember the occasion well. My colleagues may correct me if I am wrong, but in the delegate section of the conference it was the general impression that we were concerned about sending air force and naval units for the protection of Saudi Arabia. We were not conscious that we were about attacking Iraq and liberating Kuwait. I suspect that the party goalposts have been changed. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton thinks that I am wrong, doubtless I shall be told, but I do not think that I am.
Angus McGrouther, professor of plastic surgery, who helped to treat soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war, said:Casualties likely to arise from a war in the Gulf would rapidly exhaust the facilities available in military hospitals. Even health service facilities to treat burns and major injuries would be fully occupied within days or weeks. Hard choices will need to be made about the priority of different patients.I wonder whether in the reply to the debate we can be told about the hospitals and treatment.
889 I intervened in the speech of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). He is so right. There is confusion between dialogue and appeasement and we must embark upon dialogue.
§ Sir Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
I do not often agree with the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), but tonight I do. Any war would be ghastly and horrible. Also, I was fortunate enough to listen to General Powell. The House should be indebted to him for giving us such a marvellous dissertation.
The debate serves two purposes. First, it brings home to the British people what a dangerous situation the nation is facing. In fact, I think that it is probably more dangerous than 1939 because the conflict in 1939 was on our doorstep, but this one is a long way away and is not seen as being as immediately dangerous to them. Secondly, the speeches in tonight's debate serve as a signal to Saddam Hussein that we intend to go forward with our allies and bring his aggression to an end. Of course, we all hope that it will be a peaceful conclusion.
The weapons that may be used in the conflict are far worse than those used in the second world war, with the possible exception of those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The weapons are horrific and I am certain that there will be many casualties in a war such as this. The debate could be entitled, "The Rape of Kuwait". Like most rapes, it cannot be repaired, but compensation can be exacted from those responsible—[Interruption.]
§ Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)
Order. Will the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Sir A. Glyn) continue with his comments?
§ Sir Alan Glyn
We are all pleased to see that the hostages have been released, but one wonders why they were liberated. Was it to gain time, or was it for some other reason? We do not know. However, I am sure that the House is glad that they have been brought home safely.
It is important that we adhere to the United Nations resolutions. We have to see this conflict through. We have one of the most powerful forces that has ever been raised in a limited area and it has the most devastating weapons. One only hopes that they will not have to be used. The hon. Member for Linlithgow talked about what General Powell said, but we all hope that it will not come to that.
We do not know—my hon. Friend the Minister may know—the comparative strength of the two sides in the military terrain and the weapons that Saddam Hussein has in his arsenal. There are many ways of finding out approximately but when it comes to war it is difficult to estimate the balance. All wars are horrible. Mention has been made of the weapons used in Vietnam. I fought in Vietnam, and it was not very pleasant. However, it was nothing like what I imagine a war in the Gulf would be like.
There must be no possibility of our giving in to the dictator. Although we hope that there will be a peaceful solution, whatever hon. Members think, we have the authority to use whatever means we need to stop Hussein. That is useful. I hope that the means that we have discovered—this international force—can be developed and used not only in Kuwait but anywhere else in the 890 world where it may be necessary. I hope that in any conflict involving factors of this nature it may be used. Britain, together with the Americans and our other allies, could form a force, perhaps with NATO, that could be used as a world peace force. That would be a great step forward. Perhaps the war can bring with it some lessons of international co-operation and working together for the sake of peace.
As many of my hon. Friends have said, we must not allow Saddam Hussein to get away with or gain anything. The damage that he has inflicted and the casualties that he has caused must be paid for. I see no reason why he should not be forced to pay for them. This is not because of a greed for oil or the profits made by oil companies. However, hon. Members on both sides have said that oil is essential in this century whether it be for the peasant in India, the factory in Leeds or elsewhere. We must not allow Hussein to become a sort of king of the middle east able, as one hon. Member said, to dictate the price of oil.
Whatever the conflict brings, we have to look at the aftermath and what is to be done. Obviously the problems in Israel and Jordan have to be solved and we have to encourage the Arabs to work out a peaceful solution to the problems in the middle east after we have accomplished our task. I hope that the international armed forces will be able to maintain their determination. However, armies do not like sitting doing nothing. One danger is that Saddam Hussein may realise that our armed forces are perhaps getting bored. I hope that we shall be able to find a peaceful solution rather than having to go to war.
§ Sir Jim Spicer
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The unfortunate interruption just now is bad enough in itself. However, when five hon. Members applaud such action and, thereby, encourage it, one can envisage the headlines tomorrow morning.
§ Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East)
There is no doubt that my position is the same as that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) and as expressed in the early-day motion. I am opposed to a war in the Gulf and I am specifically deeply disturbed at the danger that we face as we give a blank cheque to an American-led assault some time after 15 January. I shall be voting against the Adjournment because I do not want in any way, by silence, omission or vote, to give any encouragement to the Government to think that they can continue propping up American policy and carrying on a long tradition of being dragged along in the wake of the United States like some poodle yapping its chorus of support for American interests round the globe.
I profoundly disagree with those Members who, however sincerely they hold the view, say that the crisis is not about oil. From the opinion polls in Britain and in America, there is not the slightest doubt that the overwhelming majority of people realise that this is about oil, wealth and power. It is not a defence of a small country from some nasty, oppressive neighbour. Over the past 40 years, we have seen endless examples of aggression and of crossing borders which, in some instances, have been supported by the United States. In some instances, the United States has acted with our complicity, as was the 891 case with Suez. It ill behoves the United States now to adopt the mantle of an international judge dispensing peace and brotherly love; it is a cover for its own financial interests.
Early in the evolution of the conflict, I was especially struck by a statement from the Iranian news agency, which is not a body with which I normally find myself in agreement. The agency said that Frankenstein's monster had turned on his creator. The Iranians were reminding us that Saddam Hussein, his Government and his state have been a creature of western interests for a long time. Evidence has been provided by King Hussein of Jordan that when Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party came to power in Iraq it had the support of the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA gave Saddam Hussein death lists of activists, trade unionists and members of the communist party because it saw Saddam Hussein as an instrument through which to destroy the Iraqi communist party—which he did with total ruthlessness.
Throughout the war between Iraq and Iran there was wholehearted support by the United States—sometimes covert and sometimes not so covert—for Iraqi aggression against Iran. When Iraq launched an unprovoked assault against Iran, where was the condemnation by the United Nations? The United Nations was prevented from acting by America's veto. America assisted both through the supply of arms and through the passing to the Government of Iraq of spy satellite photographs showing the disposition of Iranian forces.
I can imagine what Saddam Hussein felt when he decided to invade Kuwait. He must have thought, "They did not object when I did it to Iran, so why should they object when I do it to Kuwait?" That is the logic. In one sense, Saddam Hussein is a creature of the west. He has paid his dues to the west and he has carried out the interests of the west in attacking Iran when we saw Iran as the great danger. Now he has turned on his creator.
Even with Saddam Hussein's more recent abomination —the assaults on his own Kurdish minority, when his gas weapons killed them by the thousands—the United States threatened to use its veto in the United Nations to prevent it from condemning Iraq. One of the western satellites and puppets of the imperial interests of the United States is embarrassing its creator, turning on its creator and getting too big for its boots. We can only understand the debate about what has been happening over the past five months when we see matters in that international perspective.
I was amazed today. I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and, for the first time in my life, I agreed with every sentence that he uttered. I wished that he had gone one sentence further and said that the logic of his position would lead him to vote against the Adjournment, and that he would join us in the Lobby tonight. However, he made a fine speech which pointed out the nonsense and the dangers that we now face.
My right hon. Friend reminded the House that sanctions would need a year to work. He reminded us that the sanctions would destroy 43 per cent. of the gross national product of Iraq, which would be a massive assault. Such an impact would be likely to lead Saddam Husseim to withdraw. Yet we are told by America, which is exerting pressure at the United Nations, that it wants clearance for an attack on Iraq and that it wants to be able to move. Why is that? It is because there is an insufficient 892 domestic base of support for George Bush's policies. American public opinion does not support the prospect of war and the support is eroding.
We are told by independent commentators that President Bush could not get a vote for war through his House of Representatives. It is nice to think that the House of Representatives would at least be allowed a vote on whether to go to war. I sometimes think that this House has one or two things to learn from the procedures in other Parliaments.
We are also told that the Americans must move because sanctions are not working quickly enough. Why is that? The reason is that American corporations are leading the sanctions-busting. We are told by the President of the United States that we may have to lose the lives of young people in our armed forces who are stationed in the middle east because the Americans cannot impose the discipline of sanctions on their own multinational corporations. Why should young people from this country be butchered in a war that is the consequence of the failure of the Americans to carry the support for sanctions of their own business community? We are supporting sanctions. Why cannot President Bush get his own large, multinational corporations to ensure that the sanctions work? It is an obscenity that, because corporate America will not co-operate, we are now under accelerating pressure for a military solution in the Gulf. That is why there has been pressure on the United Nations.
What a weasel-worded way of proceeding there has been. The Americans have not had the courage to put down a motion saying, "We want authorisation for a military strike against Iraq." They have used the term "other means" so that they can get the support of Gorbachev and of others. While the Government here can say, "This does open the way for the use of a military strike", Gorbachev can say, "It means that the Americans will do everything but launch a military strike." Let us have some honesty about the proposal.
We know full well that if America had proposed a resolution using the words "military force", it would have been vetoed. The weaselly evasion has dominated much of the debate, with people saying one thing while meaning another. That is why I regret the fact that we shall not have a specific and clear vote tonight. Why do not the Government have the courage to table a motion calling for support for an armed strike after 15 January? The reason is that they do not want to fracture the fragile alliance. They want to minimise opposition and they want to allow hon. Members to say only, "I am opposed to that."
I should like to think that, when the Secretary of Stale for Defence speaks tonight, he will have the honesty and integrity to say that if the House votes for the Adjournment, when he is talking about it in public he will say, "We won the backing of the House of Commons for military action after 15 January." If he is not prepared to say that on the Floor of the House, he has no right to say it outside the House either nationally or at international conferences. We will press him on that point.
Many Members who are undecided about how to vote tonight want to know how the Government will interpret their vote. Let us hear how the Government will interpret the vote before hon. Members go into the Lobby. I am prepared to give way now to the Secretary of State for Defence if his integrity pressures him to feel that he wants to intervene to make the Government's position clear.
893 What is the real reason for war? It is not to uphold the law or to defeat aggression, and it is certainly not to build a new world order. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield said, war will be about re-establishing the old imperial order of the 19th century. With the weakened position of the Soviet Union, the imperial powers seek to regain some of the ground that they have lost. If any of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench doubt that —and I was much moved by the oratory and charm of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman}—I must point out that The Wall Street Journal carries more influence in the White House than Labour Members do when they speak in the House. My right hon. Friend should read The Wall Street Journal, which is the paper of capitalism. It is honest about its aim. It does not talk about defending poor Kuwait or about defeating Iraqi aggression, but about re-establishing western control over vital international resources.
We are told now that we shall prop up America in this campaign. We can look back over decades of aggression led by America and over decades of the Americans breaking international law. We think of the illegal invasion of Cuba in 1961, of the illegal complicity in the assassination of President Lumumba in the Congo, which is now Zaire, and of the invasion of the Dominican Republic to overthrow a democratically elected Government who were barely social democratic, but who were perceived as a threat by the United States. I refer also to the illegal bombing of Cambodia, the assassination of 6,000 people in South Vietnam by the CIA because they were believed to be agents of North Vietnam, the invasion of Grenada, and the arming of Israel in 1982—a massive increase in American armaments to prepare Israel for its illegal invasion of Lebanon. There was no condemnation of that. When we saw America condemned by the world court, where was its defence of the rule of international law? When the world court ruled against it for the illegal mining of the harbours of Nicaragua, it refused to comply with the judgment. Those people are not fit to determine how the world is organised.
There is no denying that Saddam Hussein is a vile, despicable and brutal leader, and I look forward to his overthrow by his own people. However, in terms of global politics he is the local mugger on the block. One does not bring in the local mafia to deal with the mugger on the block. America's record over the decades is infinitely worse. It is a record of sustained oppression. My vote tonight will demonstrate that the people who sent me here did not intend that I should simply play the role that has been part of British politics in the past 40 years—tagging along with America.
It is striking that the nations that have built successful and dynamic economies have held back from the conflict. The two leading protagonists, America and Britain, think that they can easily divert the attention of their peoples from their mismanagement of their economies to foreign adventures. That will not work. It will not be the quick surgical strike that people are talking about. It is the gravest threat that the world has faced since the Vietnam war was at its height.
I urge all hon. Members to make their commitment clear. They cannot go into the Aye Lobby and argue that 894 it was a vote for peace in the Gulf. It is a vote to carry on the policy of subordinating Britain and its interests to the United States of America, and it is time we said no.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)
I promised my colleagues that I would not take too much time because one or two other hon. Members want to speak.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) that we should be debating another motion because our position at the end of this debate will be farcical. The Government opened the debate by moving,That this House do now adjourn.When the Division is called, the Government will vote against their own motion. If they vote for the Adjournment of the House, the rest of tonight's business will fall. People outside simply do not understand the procedures that the House of Commons adopts on such great occasions. It would have been far better to debate a motion which could have been the subject of an amendment. We would then have known clearly where we stood.
I voted in the Aye Lobby in the September recall. I shall explain what I explained to my constituency Labour party on the Thursday night following that vote. I supported the actions that had been taken until that time. I made it clear that, if the position changed, I reserved my right to change my view. The position has changed. It has moved on dramatically, and we are now on the brink of war.
Whatever else may be said, I am the first to concede that, in a moderate speech today, the Foreign Secretary made it abundantly clear to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) that the Government considered that they had a mandate to take the country to war without further reference to the House of Commons. That is untenable and I will not support it, and I urge my colleagues not to support it. We should not place the Labour party in such a position.
The Secretary of State for Defence will no doubt talk about the need to preserve the coalition. The coalition has a far better chance of survival through the operation of sanctions than it will have if we go to war. What is the composition of forces presently in the Gulf? They are from Syria, Egypt—even some mujaheddin—Britain, France and America. No one can tell me that the Syrian forces are going to go to war. The Egyptians will not go to war. Francois Mitterrand is already making it clear that there are serious doubts whether the 5,000 French troops in the Gulf will be committed to conflict. The coalition will not survive; it will flounder on war alone. The Secretary of State for Defence had better understand that the best chance of survival for the coalition is the imposition and preservation of sanctions, not war.
In an earlier intervention I asked whether there are contingency plans in the Ministry of Defence for the reintroduction of conscription. No one has given thought to the continuing troop commitment in the Gulf even after the conflict is over. We have seen the continuing commitment that we need in the Falklands. We have commitments in Ireland. We will continue with commitments in the Gulf states after the conflict is over. No one has given any thought to that question. We have had no comment and no analysis of the required continuing commitment.
895 My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) said that he was worried about being accused of hypocrisy for voting with the Government. I do not tag any of my colleagues with the label of hypocrisy. I give them the credit of knowing exactly what they are doing, just as I shall know exactly what I am doing when I go into the Aye Lobby tonight.
I finish with the same comment as I made to the parliamentary Labour party. An allegation about appeasement has been thrown about left, right and centre. That charge is laid by those who make the fundamental blunder of believing that the opposite of war is appeasement. The opposite of war is not appeasement; it is peace. The Labour party, of all parties, should give peace a chance.
§ Mr. Terry Davis (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)
The question is not whether we should allow Saddam Hussein to get away with it. It is not whether anyone approves the invasion of Kuwait, or whether we support the United Nations, or whether armed force should ever be used to enforce United Nations resolutions. The question is whether the time has now come—or will come in January —for armed force to be used to enforce United Nations resolutions about Kuwait.
It was clear from the speech of the Foreign Secretary that, in his opinion, the time for war is close. He told us that war should be a last resort, that United Nations resolution 678 is not a call to arms, and that the Government are working for a peaceful outcome. He also told us that sanctions are having an effect, but then he went on to tell us why he thought war was justified. He gave us four reasons.
The first is that Kuwait is being dismantled piece by piece. The House will remember the American officer who explained the destruction of a village in Vietnam by saying that the American army destroyed it in order to save it from the communists.
Secondly, the Foreign Secretary told us that murder, torture and brutality are commonplace in Kuwait. Of course they are—they are commonplace in Iraq and in many other countries, especially in the middle east—but let us not pretend that we are going to war in defence of human rights.
Thirdly, the Foreign Secretary told us that Iraq is improving its defences. Of course it is—what else would we expect? That might have been an argument for going to war last August or next August after sanctions have affected the Iraqis' ability to defend themselves, but it is the worst possible argument for going to war in December or January when their defences are at their best.
Fourthly, the Foreign Secretary told us that it has taken a long time to establish collective security, that collective security has a subscription, and that the subscription is collective action. We all agree with that, but economic sanctions are collective action and that is a subscription to collective security.
The point is that economic sanctions take time. It was clear from the Foreign Secretary's speech that the Government are not willing to allow enough time for sanctions to take effect. That is why when I vote tonight I shall be voting not against the United Nations but against the Government and their rush to war.
§ 9 pm
§ Mr. Roger King (Birmingham, Northfield)
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who has now left the Chamber. I have yet to hear a more anti-American speech or a worse diatribe against one of our oldest allies. The hon. Gentleman uttered not one word about the plight of Kuwait and the Kuwaitis. That country has been invaded by Iraq and dominated by it and its population is tyrannised by the forces of Iraqi occupation. If our history as a nation is anything to go by, we should understand what that can lead to if it is not firmly addressed.
The United States and this country have taken an admirable lead in the United Nations to garner world-wide support for the actions that have been taken, first, in introducing sanctions and, secondly, to back that up with military forces which are designed, initially and, I hope, eventually, to persuade Saddam Hussein that he must withdraw from Kuwait without reservation, or face the consequences—consequences that none of us want to face. War is a dirty and distressing business and those who took part in the second world war and other wars since will be fully aware of the death and destruction caused by it. We do not know, because we have not used them, what destructive capacity our sophisticated weaponry now has and we do not appreciate what that will cost in lives.
It is all very well to say that we can leave sanctions indefinitely, and that at some stage in the future, perhaps, Saddam Hussein will withdraw because he has been obliged to do so by the stranglehold exerted on his country by the world. Can Kuwait and its population wait that long? If we were in a similar situation, would we have wanted that? In the second world war, when the forces of Nazi Germany surrounded us, would we willingly have allowed the United States to say that it would wait and see how long the United Kingdom could hold out in the hope that something would be resolved? Instead, it came to our rescue with military aid and then with its army, air force and navy and, together, the great allied forces of the west pushed back the Nazi threat and exterminated it. As we now appreciate, had we been a little more resolute to start with, that destructive war, which cost 50 million lives, might not have come to pass.
The hon. Member for Brent, East, among others, suggested that the issue is all about oil, and there is an element of truth there, in that oil is the basis of our civilisation. The United Kingdom need not worry overmuch about an adequate supply of oil, but the vast majority of countries, particularly those in the third world, owe their very existence to a supply of relatively cheap oil. If, at any stage, one country obtains a stanglehold on oil supplies, we shall not be affected half so much as the economies of the third world, which will be destroyed. Those who have the third world's interests at heart had better understand that only by resolving the Gulf crisis can we hope for the third-world countries to make anything of themselves in terms of economic viability.
The conduct of the west during the crisis has been very good. I sincerely hope that there will not be an armed conflict. However, if it comes to that, I am certain that our officers and generals, with their military expertise, in conjunction with our allies and the United States—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the men?"]—and the men, of 897 course, all of whom are professionals in this country—will all discharge their duties with outstanding vigour and determination.
The exercise of armed conflict will naturally have been considered by the planners. I hope that, at least initially, we shall fall back on the role of the air forces of the allies to conduct the initial operation against Iraq before committing any ground forces. It is extremely difficult from this position to second-guess how our military men will plan such an exercise, and we hope that it will not come to pass. Clearly, we hope for a gradual escalation which will give the time—all the time—for Saddam Hussein to reflect and to make some arrangement whereby he can withdraw even after a conflict has started.
Any conflict is extraordinarily distressing in this modern day and age. We have got used to having a long period of peace in this country, and the prospect of our military men coming home in coffins is not something that we wish to consider likely in any way. But nor are the consequences of allowing a dictator—by any standards, and by all hon. Members, Saddam Hussein is regarded as a wholly unacceptable leader—to have his way in any shape or form as a result of the action that he has taken. Only by standing absolutely resolutely with our allies can we impress upon Saddam Hussein the consequences of his remaining in occupation of Kuwait. If there is any smattering of dissent or derision about the west's stance so far, that can only encourage him to continue his occupation and will bring the threat of conflict ever nearer.
§ 9.6 pm
§ Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)
Shortly after the first emergency debate on the Gulf crisis in September, I went out to Iraq with my hon. Friends the Members for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell) and for Liverpool, Riverside (Mr. Parry). We were the first hon. Members to visit Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait, and we were members of an international peace mission with two objectives—first, to make representations for the release of hostages and, secondly, to try to establish whether there was any basis for a peaceful settlement to the crisis. In the context of the first objective, I am sure that the whole House, the country and the world will welcome last Thursday's announcement of the release of hostages. It now looks as though many families will have a happy Christmas and will be reunited with their loved ones who have been forcibly separated from them for many months.
Last Thursday's announcement was a vindication of the efforts made by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Brown) and my colleagues who took part in the mission of which I was a member. We were subjected to a great deal of criticism, vilification and verbal abuse before we even left this country on that peace mission. In September, as now, there was far too much talk of war and those who wished to speak of peace were treated almost like lunatics or traitors.
Despite all the criticism, our stance was justified. We tried to comunicate with the Iraqi authorities rather than toeing the line of our critics, who claimed that the best way to proceed was to refuse to communicate and to seek to 898 isolate the enemy. Now even the Americans have come round to the idea of talking to Saddam Hussein, and that is also to be welcomed, but I am dismayed—indeed, I am appalled—that the British Government seem simply to parrot the American line that talks should not develop into constructive dialogue and constructive dialogue should not be allowed to develop into meaningful negotiations even though negotiations are explicitly referred to in item 3 of United Nations resolution 660.
The only hope of peace in Kuwait, Iraq and, indeed, throughout the middle east is to ensure that the talks develop into dialogue and that dialogue develops into meaningful negotiations. We must try to obtain a peaceful settlement with the consistent implementation of United Nations resolutions, including Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. We must consider the wider region with Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Yet instead, the American and British Governments seem hell bent on using United Nations resolution 678 as a mandate for war, even though there is no explicit reference in that resolution either to war or to the use of force. The resolution explicitly refers to the use of "all necessary means" of implementing other United Nations resolutions.
It could be argued that the use of force may not be necessary, particularly if more effort is put into finding a diplomatic solution. In other words, non-violent means have not been exhausted. As other hon. Members have said, we must give sanctions more time to work. But above all, genuine negotiations must be entered into—we must not simply rely on a massive military build-up which could escalate into chemical, biological and even nuclear warfare, with horrendous consequences for people in the area and possibly for many of our constituents, too.
Today is almost certainly our last chance to debate and vote on this issue before the mid-January deadline, and it may be the last chance to do so before the outbreak of war. If there is no vote today, the Government will claim a unanimous mandate from Parliament for declaring war and, in effect, pronouncing a death sentence on many people, including innocent men, women and children, and many of our constituents who are out there in the armed forces.
It was interesting to note at Prime Minister's Question Time that in response to an intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) we received no assurance from the Prime Minister that he would rule out the possibility of conscription. I say this to the Defence Secretary: I would support any young constituent of mine who tore up and burned a conscription paper. I say that to the warmongers in this House, the White House, or wherever they may lurk. Why do they not ever so bravely volunteer their own services and go out to the Gulf themselves instead of sending young people out there to be killed or maimed for life?
I believe that a vote for the Government today may be interpreted as a vote for war; a vote against them will certainly be a vote for peace.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
I was about to say that I would be brief, but I think that I shall have to be! 899 First, let me tell the Secretary of State for Defence how grateful I am to him and his Ministers for the kind assistance that they have given a constituent of mine, Miss Jacqueline Noble, who will now be able to go ahead with her wedding in the Old Kirk in Kilmacolm on Friday. She is to marry Signalman Steven Alexander, who is due to go to the Gulf. When I intervened, the Secretary of State kindly allowed the young lad to come up to Scotland to marry his fiancée. I sincerely hope that he and all his comrades in the British armed forces will return unharmed from Saudi Arabia when Saddam Hussein withdraws from Kuwait.
As I think the Secretary of State knows, I tried to intervene in his speech in the September debate. I now seek an assurance from him —if I can attract his attention—that our medical facilities in Saudi Arabia are, in his opinion and that of his officials, entirely adequate to meet any contingency.
I have argued the case for sanctions all along. I said earlier, when I intervened on the Foreign Secretary, that, even if sanctions take a year or 18 months to inflict a crippling blow on Saddam Hussein's evil regime, that will be infinitely preferable to the sacrifice of the life of a single British service man—or any service man—in that troubled part of the world.
In that connection, I was heartened to read what James Schlesinger had to say in The Guardian on 5 December. Mr. Schlesinger, a former CIA director, said:The embargo, backed up by a naval blockade, is the most successful ever achieved aside from time of war. Early on, it was officially estimated that it would require a year for the sanctions to work. It now appears to be working more rapidly than anticipated.Just three weeks ago in the United Nations building in New York, in the presence of several hon. Members, Ms. Marjetta Rasi, the Finnish ambassador to the Security Council and chairman of the Security Council's sanctions committee, told me—and other members of a small delegation to the UN—In over 40 years of UN peace-keeping Missions, this is the first time sanctions have ever been effective.I dissociate myself from the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who referred to sanctions-busting by American firms. Ms. Rasi told me that sanctions were working, and that the Iraqi economy was being crippled. That, in my view, is how we must proceed.
While in America, I paid a weekend visit to some friends in a small town in rural New Jersey. Regrettably, the inhabitants of that small town to whom I spoke were much better informed of the implications of a military strike against Saddam Hussein than others to whom I have spoken in my constituency and elsewhere in Scotland. I support what was said by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath): the savage and dreadful consequences of a military strike have not been spelt out by the Government to the British people.
When I was in America, I read in the newspapers and heard on television and radio how the Catholic bishops there had sent a letter to President Bush warning against military intervention and arguing for continued adherence to sanctions. A couple of days later the Episcopalian bishops sent an identical letter to the President. We in the United Kingdom should be doing the same—supporting sanctions, even though they may take a long time to take effect.
900 There would be many casualties in a war against Saddam Hussein. In addition to the dreadful slaughter, the United Nations would suffer. When Saddam's troops have withdrawn, the border between Iraq and Kuwait and between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia must be policed by a blue-helmeted UN peacekeeping force made up of soldiers from countries throughout the world. Our first priority must be to support sanctions.
§ Mr. Ron Brown
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is a vital debate. It is about life and death, peace and war. Is it possible to extend it in some way, in view of the number of hon. Members who would like to speak but who have not been called?
§ Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan)
This is the third occasion on which we have dealt with the subject of the Gulf. Throughout Opposition Members have sought opportunities to debate all aspects of the crisis. The previous two debates were at our request, and we shall continue to press the Government to provide time for debate, particularly if there is a change in the nature of the crisis, for better or worse. We shall do that regardless of arrangements for the recess or anything else.
In this debate we have moved our attention to the prospect of the use of force as a consequence of United Nations resolution 678. That resolution does not require the use of force. Indeed, it explicitly excludes its use until after 15 January. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, the date was included as a condition for Soviet support. How much optimism was invested in that by the Soviet Union is not clear, but it has afforded the United States an opportunity to describe the extent of the military capability in the Gulf and to seek a peaceful solution.
During a visit that I paid to the Gulf, to visit our troops and to obtain briefings, it was made abundantly clear to me and to those who accompanied me that the extent of the military presence was such that the leader of any country who tempted a response, an attack, from such a military presence would be grossly irresponsible and could not be considered fit to be in charge of a country.
The task of Secretary of State Baker is clear. When he sees Saddam Hussein, he must explain in graphic detail what 2,500 aircraft could do in concerted air strikes in 60 hours. He must describe the damage that would be inflicted on the runways of air bases by Tornados going in at below 200 ft and dropping cluster bombs. Aircraft in hardened shelters are no use if there are no runways from which they can take off. Mr. Baker must point out that all the main roads and supply routes to provide logistical support will be attacked in similar fashion. Saddam Hussein must be informed that all known depots and munitions factories will be attacked. He must be reminded that the locations of chemical weapons plants are known to the allies and those plants will be destroyed. He will be committing hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen into a battle where they will be denied supply spares and many forms of reinforcement within hours of hostilities commencing.
901 The war between Iran and Iraq was a land war, with only a small part being played by the air forces. In any Gulf war, the 500,000 allied troops and the presence of carriers, frigates, destroyers and minesweepers in such numbers means that the armoured divisions will advance with air cover and the amphibious landings will be supported by massive air back-up. Saddam Hussein must be left with no excuses about the extent of his ignorance of the dreadful effect of the horrendous arsenal that has been gathered in Arabia; the implications must be brought home to him.
I regret that in some ways we seem to be personalising the issue, but we must recognise that we are talking about an absolute ruler, a fascist dictator who, like the emperor in the children's story, is not used to being told that he has no clothes. Saddam Hussein is the sort of person who is more likely to shoot the messenger and ignore the message. We must get the message across, through James Baker, that there cannot be any doubt that, after the meeting on 25 July attended by ambassador Ms. Glaspie, the United States is still equally concerned about an Iraqi invasion. At that time, the American ambassador to Iraq left an impression that the Americans would not object to an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. That is no longer the case, and it is abundantly clear that Mr. Baker has to go to Iraq and make certain that Saddam Hussein understands the consequences of military action.
Such a policy has been called the war option, and this morning's editorial in The Independent said that it might be the lesser of two evils. I totally disagree. War will unleash a conflict of unparalleled ferocity, which forces us to consider as paramount the economic option.
A number of claims have been made for sanctions. The record of sanctions is a mixed one. Two recent studies referred to in Susan Willett's book "Economic Implications of the Gulf Crisis" suggest that in the study of 100 incidences of sanctions since 1914, examined by Haufbauer and Scholt, 36 have been successful. A more recent work by Margaret Doxey of Chatan house suggests that there is little evidence to show that sanctions have achieved their objectives, and in the majority of cases have had the opposite effect to that desired by those advocating their imposition.
The key to the success of sanctions has to be the maintaining of an international consensus. That is why the Labour party has continually argued that all sanctions must first secure United Nations approval. However, greater assistance must be given to the front-line states. Jordan is likely to lose $2 billion, Egypt is likely to lose $9 billion and Turkey is likely to lose $5 billion in the 12 months up to August next year. Steps must be taken to ensure that we keep a hold on oil prices because, although the dependence of the world's poorest countries on oil is less than that of the first world, their ability to pay for the meagre amount of oil they consume is far less. The significance of oil in the distribution of food in famine-stricken sub-Saharan Africa cannot be exaggerated. It is not enough for oil-rich countries to make payments to help those third world nations; they will have to be more sensitive tc, the needs of the recipients, certainly more sensitive than organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World bank have been so far.
§ Mr. Healey
Is my hon. Friend aware that there was an extraordinarily successful example of sanctions, applied in 1956 against aggression by two large European states and by Israel, at Suez? The mere threat of American financial sanctions against Britain produced the withdrawal of all three armies within a week.
§ Mr. O'Neill
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, whom I have heard make that point before. I was not suggesting that sanctions will not work. I think that they can work, but we must make it clear that they must be applied on the basis of sustaining the international consensus, part of which involves securing the rights of the poorer nations which will make the biggest sacrifice during this lengthy process which, we are all agreed, will take longer than six months. I should like to think that the sort of sanctions imposed in 1956, which secured their objective in a matter of days, could have been imposed in this case —but I fear that this time they will take somewhat longer.
§ Mr. Healey
With great respect to my hon. Friend, I must point out that oil sanctions are robbing Iraq of 90 per cent. of its hard currency, which it requires to buy spares for its aircraft and to buy a large number of other items of critical importance. The analogy is a very close one.
§ Mr. O'Neill
The imposition of sanctions is not an easy option. It will require major sacrifices from the sanctionists, which are often countries that are already impoverished. It will require a degree of solidarity that becomes more difficult to sustain as their burden increases. The United Nations provision for humanitarian aid could be used as an excuse for undermining the economic embargo; and all the while Iraq can be adjusting to the privations and could be perfecting its weapon systems.
A recent article in a defence studies booklet by Martin Navias makes it clear that, without foreign assistance, the Iraqis would probably be incapable of producing nuclear weapons within five years. If they were to receive the sort of scientific assistance that they would require, they could at best produce nuclear weapons within 24 to 36 months. So hon. Members who suggest that we are on the verge of nuclear attack from Iraq are at best grossly exaggerating and at worst indulging in irresponsible scaremongering.
If sanctions were to fail, the United Nations would have failed the greatest ever test of its authority. At a time when it is unencumbered by cold war diversions, and when all the permanent members are seeking to work in concert, and when unprecedented backing has been given to sanctions, the price of failure with sanctions is almost too high to contemplate. Nevertheless, we must persist with them—they must be given a chance.
Those of us who urge this course must recognise that at the end of the day—I shall not say when—we may well have to use force of arms. I agree with my hon. Friends who have argued the case for persisting with sanctions, but I also believe that if sanctions are not seen to work we may have to resort to force of arms. Some of my hon. Friends have consistently opposed the deployment of troops and have abjured the use of arms, and they are entitled to their point of view, but I must tell my other hon. Friends that there may well come a time—I hope later, or better still never—when we must recognise the possibility of using force.
§ Mr. O'Neill
I will decide that when the United Nations committee reports to the effect that they are not working. The UN is responsible for the administration and control of the sanctions, and it produces reports on their effectiveness. We have given the UN that authority; now we must trust its judgment in the matter.
I do not want to hear people talking about war starting immediately after 15 January. However, for the people of Kuwait, the war started on 2 August. Hostages graphically describe the consequences of the invasion and annexation and the reduction of the state of Kuwait to a heap of rubble. The flouting and defiance of international law cannot he tolerated. I remind my hon. Friends that bad cases do not make good law.
Iraq already owes vast sums. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that about 95 per cent. of Iraq's income comes from oil. Its oil revenues are $13 billion and it has continuing expenditure of $24 billion. That does not take account of accumulated foreign debt of more than $80 billion. The bill for the post Iran war reconstruction has been estimated at $230 billion. It is little wonder that in February, at the Arab co-operation council, Saddam Hussein announced that he was seeking not only a moratorium on the Gulf states' wartime loans but an immediate grant of $30 billion.
The claims and counter claims of the Gulf states and Iraq will have to be dealt with in the kind of negotiations which have been mentioned in the debate and which follow the last and often unmentioned part of the United Nations first resolution.
As I have said, as the cost of continued failure to resolve this crisis becomes better known and better understood, the options seem to close. The options are economic sanctions with their likelihood of impoverishment, the force of arms and the certain loss of life and devastation. Against all of those, the case for diplomatic action remains unchallenged. The continued military presence represents only one stated aspect of the threat. The capability is there for all to see, and we all know what would happen if arms were used.
If the Iraqis believe that the Kuwaitis have stolen $24 billion from the Rumaila oilfield, they should go through international arbitration procedures and have their case examined. There must be no talk of giving Iraq the oilfields in order to get Saddam Hussein to leave peaceably. That would merely legitimise Iraqi aggression and place Kuwait under permanent threat of subsequent invasion.
In recognition of his isolation and of the threat to his people and to the middle east, let Saddam Hussein withdraw his troops and let talks begin. The United Nations is the place to resolve these disputes. That is why we have said again and again at the Dispatch Box, at our party conference and at every opportunity to com-municate with the public that the support of the world community must be sought before any action is taken.
I repeat what I said at the beginning of my speech, that the Opposition expect an opportunity to debate this issue if conditions deteriorate before 15 January. The House must have an opportunity to have its views heard. The UN-sponsored allies have shown their intent and willingness to deploy troops and the UN has shown support for military action if all else fails. Iraq cannot be certain about the timing of such action. Therefore, the threat of military action is greatest in its uncertainty. The answer is in the hands of Iraq. It cannot say that it has not 904 been warned or that it has not been given a chance to arrive at a peaceful settlement. Let us hope that Iraq chooses the peaceful way.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom King)
This has been a grave and sombre debate, wiith hon. Members on both sides of the House expressing strong feelings. It was admirably introduced by measured speeches from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman).
The issues with which I want to start are those on which the House is united. The first is that, although not all hon. Members mentioned it, all deplore the aggression against Kuwait and the behaviour of Saddam Hussein's regime with the atrocities and cruelty that are only now being more fully revealed to us with the return of some of the hostages.
Today's debate has been about what means might best achieve the end of that unacceptable situation. But before I address those matters, I want to mention another issue on which I know that the House is united. In that connection, perhaps I might be excused a personal comment. Like my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and many others in the House, I have been involved in this issue since 2 August, in my case in the particularly direct sense that we had a non-combatant military training team in Kuwait at the time of the Iraqi invasion. I know that the House will share something of the joy that I feel, which is felt throughout the nation, and most of all in the families of those concerned, at the welcome developments of the past week.
Another jumbo is on its way at this minute, which I hope will arrive at midnight tonight. The House may recall that, through the medium of the broadcasts of our proceedings, I assured our non-combatant military training team that we would never forget it. We never have. It has been a constant concern for us, and I pray now that that anguish has at last been ended.
Because of our experiences so far, we very much endorse what my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said about the importance of counselling. There is the joy of return, but the agony, anguish and difficulty of readjustment is not over. My right hon. Friend will know the steps that have been taken by the Government, the voluntary agencies and the Gulf support group to help those returning from, in many cases, quite appalling experiences, with counselling and information packs, and the ready presence of the Foreign Office and the Department of Social Security, with help with housing if necessary.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) for his tribute to the diplomatic service. There have been many brickbats flying around suggesting that the diplomatic service in Baghdad and, initially, in Kuwait may not have coped as competently as it should. Given all the unexpected difficulties that they faced, my right hon. Friend was right to express admiration and respect for our ambassador, Mr. Weston, Larry Banks, our consul in Kuwait, and Mr. Harold Walker, our ambassador in Baghdad, and his team for the way in which they coped with such a difficult situation.
905 Despite our joy at the return of the hostages, the agony of the Kuwaiti people continues. We have seen—I believe that it is true—the first attempt to extinguish a member of the United Nations since the founding of that body in 1945. There has been torture, murder and looting and we are now hearing the reports of our returned hostages. In addition, those who sought to escape from that appalling situation suffered the ultimate indignity of being stripped of their national identity and papers as they fled from the intimidation and terror in their country.
That suffering is not exclusively confined to Kuwait. My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup fairly referred to Jordan as a country which has suffered much in the side winds of this appalling situation. I can confirm that the Government recognise the difficulties faced by the King and the Government of Jordan and we are doing all we can to see what further help can be given to them.
Another echo sounded in the debate was picked up by the right hon. Members for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and for Gorton. I refer to the role of the United Nations on a scale quite beyond previous expectations. That is a great achievement, but it represents an enormous challenge as well. The United Nations must succeed, because if it fails the gravity of the situation will manifestly be that much greater. However, we can see clearly that, despite all the attempts at intimidation, bribery, distortion and hostage-taking, and all the other devices used by Saddam Hussein, the world coalition has worked remarkably well.
Resolution after resolution has been passed by the United Nations Security Council. It has now produced 11, culminating with resolution 678, and we see in them all the strength and determination in the world position against Iraq's aggression. That is reflected in the original resolution 660, through the imposition of embargoes in resolution 661, to the recognition in resolution 678 that although a peaceful settlement is sought as a result of embargoes, there exists also a credible military option—the backing of sanctions with a manifestly credible potential use of force.
That situation was well echoed in the remarks of the hon. Members for Walsall, South (Mr. George) and for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy), who made their positions clear. The same can be said of the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), and of my hon. Friends the Members for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet), for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King), and for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir. J. Stokes), and of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence).
There is a credible military option. The majority of the substantial forces now in the Gulf are American, but it is truly a world effort, with more than 30 nations involved. Forces have been contributed from every continent. Sixteen countries have ground forces in Saudi Arabia, and four fifths of them are Muslim countries. We have made our own contribution. We now have some 17,000 personnel in theatre, and that figure will build rapidly in the weeks immediately ahead, taking our commitment in theatre to some 35,000, comprising the First Armoured Division, together with the naval components, which is a very credible contribution to the united effort.
906 I must strike one discordant note in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne). He asked me to agree that, while we should go ahead with deployments in the Gulf, the arrangements in respect of "Options for Change" and economies in other areas should be discontinued. I can give my hon. Friend no such assurance. It is precisely because we must ensure that we make the best use of our defence resources and do not waste them in areas where they are not needed that they can make the most effective contribution where they are wanted most.
There seems to be a rumour running around Falkirk, shared between east and west, that there is some chance of conscription being introduced. I do not know why Falkirk in particular has got that message, but I must tell the hon. Members for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) and for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) jointly that there is no truth in it. We have no plans for conscription in the sense that the hon. Member for Falkirk, East suggested. When I announced the deployment of the First Armoured Division and the hon. Members for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) both expressed their concern about medical provision, I made it clear that we shared that concern, and would examine possible selective use of reservists in specialist areas, particularly the medical field. I am glad to say that we have had a most encouraging response from people in the medical field and specialists volunteering—both reservists and Territorial Army—to go to the Gulf.
Many employers have undertaken to protect the jobs of those who volunteer, but some volunteers remain concerned about the security of their jobs if they go. At the moment I am seeing whether we can get enough volunteers who are free of that concern, so that we do not need to take any steps, but it might be necessary to call limited numbers up, under the Reserve Forces Act 1980, which would provide employment protection for any volunteers—the House will understand the importance of this.
I shall seek to maintain the voluntary basis, but I shall also seek to ensure that volunteers have employment protection. I hope that the House will think that that approach is sensible. [Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will forgive me—I have directly answered the point that he made. If it is necessary for me to take powers under the Act, I shall report to the House.
It is enormously encouraging how much suppport we are getting from other countries. I have just returned from a meeting of the Western European Union, which I attended with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I was able to ask for further medical support for our forces in the Gulf, and that is now progressing well.
There is another matter which I should report to the House which I know is of concern. Tonight we are celebrating the reunion of many families who have been separated since August. I passionately believe that one of the reasons why they are being reunited tonight is that other people in our forces have been prepared to accept separation in the line of duty, to establish the military option in the Gulf. We should recognise that. A considerable number of wives will be without their husbands for Christmas and new year —they may be in Germany, or in other theatres. Husbands and sons have gone to play their part among British forces in the Gulf. They have borne that cheerfully and have not undertaken it in any grudging spirit.
907 There have been some criticisms about whether people would recognise that fact. Therefore, I want the House to know how much I appreciate the British public's response to my appeal for support for our service men and women in the Gulf and in other areas at Christmas and new year.
I am glad to announce that the total value of gifts is now well into seven figures. Special aircraft will start leaving next week with parcels carrying the new BFPO 3000 number for our forces and a British Legion/Daily Telegraph stocking for each service man and woman. We are sending 11,000 lbs of turkey, 96,000 mince pies, 16,000 Christmas puddings and—to show that the Scots are not forgotten—we are also sending, rather unusually, more than a tonne of frozen haggis for Hogmanay. We are also sending a large range of gifts. A new local broadcasting station—British Forces Broadcasting Service—will start this weekend and will operate 24 hours a day in the Jubail area.
I am glad to say that both Mercury and British Telecom are arranging new telephone facilities. In addition to various cheap call facilities, there will be a free call for every service man in the Gulf, organised as a result of donations to the British Legion.
In a moving phrase, the right hon. Member for Gorton said that he would hate to see war in Kuwait. He would hate even more to see a wider middle east conflagration. The serious situation that we face has been recognised by the entire House. That has been shown in the debate and will be shown in the vote that we are about to take. We know that after 15 January, under resolution 678, member states are authorised to use all necessary means to achieve the United Nations resolutions.
The views expressed in the debate have been divided into three categories. One category has taken the view that force is never justified. That view is held by a small group, but their voices will be listened to with respect. I recognise that it is not cowardly to be a pacifist and to believe that in no circumstances can force be justified. However, if that was the majority view of the House or the rest of the world, Saddam Hussein could safely continue to occupy Kuwait, and he would certainly do so.
I need to address the view held by a larger group of those who are not persuaded by the Government's position. They believe not that force could never be justified but that we should wait a little longer. They argue that sanctions could work if they were given a little longer. What evidence do they have that a longer period would achieve results? How much longer should we tell the Kuwaitis that they must wait? How much longer do we tell our forces and the other allied forces that they should wait? The hon. Member for Walsall, South had it right. There is not a limitless credible military option. That has to be recognised by the House.
§ Mr. King
I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman has not been here during the debate.
Another point that has to be addressed by those who query my argument is that if Saddam Hussein is willing to go, why has he not gone already? Having had six months, why should a further six months encourage him to leave? Nobody wants to see conflict. We want to see observance of the United Nations resolutions. To do that, there must. be no uncertainty in Baghdad about our resolve. There must be no querying of our resolution. We must 908 understand that we are trustees of the best new hope of the Security Council and the United Nations that any of us have had in our lifetime. It has to succeed. To do that, it will need the support of the military option.
We have now seen the release of the hostages. I made it clear earlier that, despite the genuinely philanthropic efforts of many to try to improve the position and accelerate the release of the hostages, I believe profoundly that they would not have been released if it had not been clear that we are determined on our purpose, that we are not prepared to tolerate the continued aggression against Kuwait and that Saddam Hussein has no option to stay in Kuwait—either he leaves peacefully or, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, he will be thrown out.
There was an argument about a phrase that I used a little earlier. One of my hon. Friends asked whether it would be quick and easy. I have said that it would be short, sharp and quick.
Mr. Benn rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That this House do now adjourn:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 42, Noes 455.911
|Division No. 26]||[10 pm|
|Adams, Mrs. Irene||Lambie, David|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Lamond, James|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Lewis, Terry|
|Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)||Livingstone, Ken|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||McAllion, John|
|Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)||McKelvey, William|
|Clay, Bob||McMaster, Gordon|
|Cohen, Harry||Madden, Max|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Cousins, Jim||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Cryer, Bob||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cummings, John||Mullin, Chris|
|Dalyell, Tam||Nellist, Dave|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)||Parry, Robert|
|Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Faulds, Andrew||Strang, Gavin|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Gordon, Mildred||Wray, Jimmy|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
|Hinchliffe, David||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Hood, Jimmy||Mr. Dennis Canavan and|
|Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)||Mr. Dafydd Wigley.|
|Adley, Robert||Baldry, Tony|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Banks, Robert (Harrogate)|
|Alexander, Richard||Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Barron, Kevin|
|Allason, Rupert||Batiste, Spencer|
|Allen, Graham||Beaumont-Dark, Anthony|
|Alton, David||Beckett, Margaret|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Beggs, Roy|
|Amess, David||Bellingham, Henry|
|Amos, Alan||Bellotti, David|
|Anderson, Donald||Bendall, Vivian|
|Arbuthnot, James||Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Benyon, W.|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Bermingham, Gerald|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Bevan, David Gilroy|
|Ashby, David||Biffen, Rt Hon John|
|Ashton, Joe||Blackburn, Dr John G.|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter|
|Atkins, Robert||Blunkett, David|
|Atkinson, David||Boateng, Paul|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Bonsor, Sir Nicholas|
|Boswell, Tim||Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Fallon, Michael|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Fatchett, Derek|
|Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)||Favell, Tony|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bowis, John||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Boyes, Roland||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes||Fishburn, John Dudley|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Fisher, Mark|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Flynn, Paul|
|Brazier, Julian||Fookes, Dame Janet|
|Bright, Graham||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Forman, Nigel|
|Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Forth, Eric|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Foster, Derek|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick||Foulkes, George|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman|
|Buckley, George J.||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Burt, Alistair||Franks, Cecil|
|Butcher, John||Freeman, Roger|
|Butler, Chris||French, Douglas|
|Caborn, Richard||Fry, Peter|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Gale, Roger|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Gardiner, George|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Garrett, John (Norwich South)|
|Carrington, Matthew||Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)|
|Carttiss, Michael||George, Bruce|
|Cartwright, John||Gill, Christopher|
|Cash, William||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda||Glyn, Dr Sir Alan|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Chapman, Sydney||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Chope, Christopher||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Churchill, Mr||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)||Gould, Bryan|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Gregory, Conal|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Coleman, Donald||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Colvin, Michael||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Conway, Derek||Grist, Ian|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Grocott, Bruce|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Ground, Patrick|
|Cope, Rt Hon John||Grylls, Michael|
|Corbett, Robin||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Couchman, James||Hannam, John|
|Cox, Tom||Hardy, Peter|
|Cran, James||Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')|
|Critchley, Julian||Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Harris, David|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Hawkins, Christopher|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Hayes, Jerry|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Day, Stephen||Haynes, Frank|
|Devlin, Tim||Hayward, Robert|
|Dewar, Donald||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Dicks, Terry||Heath, Rt Hon Edward|
|Dixon, Don||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Dobson, Frank||Henderson, Doug|
|Doran, Frank||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)|
|Dover, Den||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Hill, James|
|Dunn, Bob||Hind, Kenneth|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Durant, Tony||Holt, Richard|
|Eastham, Ken||Home Robertson, John|
|Eggar, Tim||Howard, Rt Hon Michael|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Evennett, David||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Meale, Alan|
|Howells, Geraint||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)||Michael, Alun|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Miller, Sir Hal|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Hunter, Andrew||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Ingram, Adam||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Irvine, Michael||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Irving, Sir Charles||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Jack, Michael||Morley, Elliot|
|Jackson, Robert||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Janman, Tim||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Jessel, Toby||Morrison, Sir Charles|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Moss, Malcolm|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Moynihan, Hon Colin|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Mudd, David|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Murphy, Paul|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Neale, Gerrard|
|Key, Robert||Needham, Richard|
|Kilfedder, James||Nelson, Anthony|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)||Neubert, Michael|
|King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Knapman, Roger||Norris, Steve|
|Knight, Greg (Derby North)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||O'Brien, William|
|Knox, David||O'Hara, Edward|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||O'Neill, Martin|
|Lang, Ian||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Latham, Michael||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Page, Richard|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Paice, James|
|Leighton, Ron||Patnick, Irvine|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Patten, Rt Hon John|
|Lestor, Joan (Eccles)||Pawsey, James|
|Lilley, Peter||Pendry, Tom|
|Livsey, Richard||Pike, Peter L.|
|Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Portillo, Michael|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Lord, Michael||Prescott, John|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Price, Sir David|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|McCrindle, Sir Robert||Radice, Giles|
|Macdonald, Calum A.||Raffan, Keith|
|Macfarlane, Sir Neil||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Randall, Stuart|
|McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)||Redwood, John|
|Maclean, David||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn|
|McLeish, Henry||Reid, Dr John|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Rhodes James, Robert|
|McNamara, Kevin||Riddick, Graham|
|McWilliam, John||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Madel, David||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Maginnis, Ken||Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy)|
|Major, Rt Hon John||Robertson, George|
|Malins, Humfrey||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Mans, Keith||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Maples, John||Rogers, Allan|
|Marek, Dr John||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Marland, Paul||Ross, William (Londonderry E)|
|Marlow, Tony||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Rost, Peter|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Rowe, Andrew|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Maxton, John||Ryder, Richard|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Sackville, Hon Tom|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Salmond, Alex|
|Meacher, Michael||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Tracey, Richard|
|Sheerman, Barry||Tredinnick, David|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert||Trimble, David|
|Shelton, Sir William||Trippier, David|
|Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)||Trotter, Neville|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Turner, Dennis|
|Shersby, Michael||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Sims, Roger||Vaz, Keith|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Viggers, Peter|
|Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)||Walden, George|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)||Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Waller, Gary|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Walley, Joan|
|Soley, Clive||Walters, Sir Dennis|
|Speed, Keith||Ward, John|
|Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)||Warded, Gareth (Gower)|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Squire, Robin||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Steel, Rt Hon Sir David||Warren, Kenneth|
|Steen, Anthony||Watts, John|
|Stern, Michael||Wells, Bowen|
|Stevens, Lewis||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)||Whitney, Ray|
|Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Stokes, Sir John||Wilkinson, John|
|Stott, Roger||Williams, Rt Hon Alan|
|Straw, Jack||Wilson, Brian|
|Sumberg, David||Winnick, David|
|Summerson, Hugo||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher)||Wood, Timothy|
|Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)||Woodcock, Dr. Mike|
|Taylor, Matthew (Truro)||Worthington, Tony|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)||Yeo, Tim|
|Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Thorne, Neil||Mr. David Lightbown and|
|Thornton, Malcolm||Mr. John M. Taylor.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.