HC Deb 25 February 1991 vol 186 c640
29. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow of 4 February, Official Report, columns 14.15, what representations he has received on the extent to which the principle of international law relating to minimisation of civilian casualties has been adhered to during carpet-bombing in the Gulf conflict, and whether these civilian losses are proportionate to the military advantage expected.

The Attorney-General

I have received two letters from the public about the minimisation of casualties. I should emphasise that allied forces have instructions to attack only military targets or facilities supporting Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the Attorney-General aware that on Saturday night I rang the ever-courteous clerk at Downing street to ask whether Her Majesty's Government had been consulted about the use of napalm in the Gulf? She in turn consulted Sir Charles Powell and the answer came back that it was far from clear. As a member of the War Cabinet, will the Attorney-General clarify whether the use of napalm, the horror weapon of the Vietnam war which gave us the image of the burning girl running in sheer horror, is legal in international law?

The Attorney-General

There is no convention or instrument of international law bearing on the use of napalm. However, its use, like that of all weapons, is governed by the principles that I described when I last answered the hon. Gentleman's question regarding the minimisation of casualties three weeks ago. To those on the receiving end of any of the modern weapons of war, each one probably qualifies as a horror weapon.