HC Deb 16 January 1991 vol 183 cc848-50
14. Sir Hal Miller

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in the Gulf following the expiry of the period set by the United Nations Security Council for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

16. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in the Gulf.

Mr. Hurd

I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave earlier.

Sir Hal Miller

Will my right hon. Friend make it plain that if there is a wish to preserve peace, to protect property and to prevent damage to the environment, all that can still be achieved if Saddam Hussein withdraws from Kuwait, and that we have no long-term intentions of remaining or exercising any colonial influence in the area?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Our aim is simply to carry out the repeatedly restated aims of the United Nations and bring about the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait and the restoration of the Kuwaiti Government.

Mr. Greenway

In evaluating the state of morale of the Iraqi forces, has my right hon. Friend taken account of press reports of large-scale desertions and low morale in those forces? What effect does he believe that that would have on the war, if it comes about?

Mr. Hurd

Morale is certainly patchy. I noticed that after his recent visit to his forces in the Gulf, President Saddam Hussein found it necessary to give them all a considerable pay hike. I am not sure that that is a good sign of future morale.

Mr. Galloway

When I was leafing through the list of the legitimate Government of Kuwait I discovered that 11 out of the 12 top Ministers and three out of the four provincial governors had the same surname—as-Sabah. That is not so much a one-party state, more a family business. I was wondering whether the Secretary of State had any plans, if—it is a big if—there is any Kuwait after the war which was declared in the House last night, to encourage a democracy in Kuwait which might be worth the lives of those who will die for it.

Mr. Hurd

Before the hon. Gentleman thinks himself so pleased with that question, he should recognise that it is for not the British Government but the Kuwaitis to make such plans and that they have done so. If the hon. Gentleman knew about the subject, he would be aware of the conference held in Jedda recently attended by Kuwaitis of many strands of opinion. The conference looked forward to the restoration of the 1962 constitution. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will now turn his attention to the constitutional arrangements in Baghdad.

Mr. Nellist

Leaving aside my total opposition to this war, will the Foreign Secretary make the following suggestion at the next meeting of the war Cabinet? As war is not only terrible but terribly profitable and many companies, especially arms and oil companies will make a great deal of money in the weeks ahead, could that money be put to public good—confiscated if necessary—so that hospital beds that have been closed can be reopened and so that there is not competition between civilian patients and casualties returning from the Gulf? That would show the hundreds or perhaps thousands who will be bereaved in the weeks or days ahead that their sacrifice is worth more than mere shareholders making rich pickings out of the next few weeks.

Mr. Hurd

If the hon. Gentleman suggests that the purpose of the Government's policy, supported by the Opposition Front Bench to this time, has anything to do with the point that he makes, he is wrong.

Mr. Nellist

I was referring to the effect, not the purpose.

Mr. Hurd

The effects are substantial. The effects of any war are substantial and must be dealt with equitably. That does not affect the principle that the House debated and approved yesterday.

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