HC Deb 12 May 1999 vol 331 c309
Q1. Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

What assessment he has made of the impact of the damage to (a) the water supply and (b) oil facilities in Iraq as a result of bombing since 23 March.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair)

Patrols of the no-fly zones remain a vital humanitarian task to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shias in the south of Iraq. Since 23 March, our aircraft have been shot at or threatened some 75 times. Iraqi facilities that pose a threat may be targeted in self-defence; there is, however, no question of our targeting oil facilities or water supplies. Iraq has claimed that one such strike on part of its air defence network temporarily disrupted oil supplies, although no oil pipeline was damaged. We are unaware of any disruption to water supplies.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the assessment of the effect of depleted uranium on the water supply and on the health of the civilian population?

The Prime Minister

We have no such assessment, but we take the utmost care in what we do to make sure that we do not attach ourselves to the water or oil supplies. Indeed, as I said, there is evidence that, as a result of the action, one oil pipeline was damaged, but there is no evidence of damage to water supplies.

I point out to my hon. Friend that we have the no-fly zones to protect the Iraqi people from the Iraqi leader; otherwise, he would be free to do as he did, for example, when he used chemical weapons to kill 5,000 Kurds in the north of Iraq. This is a mission of protection—protection of the Iraqi people.

Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Prime Minister's reply, I give notice that I hope to raise this matter on a motion for the Adjournment.

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