HC Deb 09 July 2002 vol 388 c760 4.24 pm
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that yesterday I raised a point of order, asking that a statement be made on arms sales to Israel. I think it even more important today, because Jane's Defence Weekly published this morning reports that the Israel Defence Force employed a huge amount of munitions during the offensive against West Bank cities that took place in April. The report continues: The amount of weapons and munitions used in the operation was more than had been used by the Israeli Defence Force over the last decade. It is therefore even more important that we get a statement from the Minister on the Floor of the House so that we can discuss the matter. It is totally objectionable that we should be selling even a component or any more munitions to Israel that could be used against the Palestinians.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In a written answer to a Member of the House yesterday, the Foreign Secretary effectively changed Government policy. It is in stark contrast to his previous position on 16 April, when the Foreign Secretary told the House: I am profoundly concerned about the scenes of widespread destruction of densely populated refugee camps."—[Official Report, 16 April 2002; Vol. 383, c. 465.] Later, he protested at arms that had been sold by this country to Israel being used against Palestinians. Selling parts of F-16s to the Israeli Government will simply cause more destruction in densely populated refugee camps because, as we have seen, the Israel Defence Force will use them against civilians. Can you advise me how we can get that change in Government policy debated on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not additionally important that there should be an explanation from the Foreign Secretary, in view of the fact that the reason that he has given for part of these decisions is relations with the Americans? The House of Commons deserves some explanation of precisely what these relations with the Americans amount to. Are we to do the bidding of the Americans, whatever they ask, even if it means jeopardising the British position in the middle east?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) raised the matter with me yesterday, and shortly afterwards a parliamentary question was answered by the Foreign Secretary.

With regard to raising matters with the Government, we have Trade and Industry questions this Thursday. The hon. Members may be able to catch my eye. Within a fortnight there will be Foreign and Commonwealth questions.

As for initiating a debate, the hon. Ladies are experienced in these matters and know how to go about seeking a debate. I have no doubt that they will continue to pursue this very serious matter.