HL Deb 17 December 1990 vol 524 cc649-722

3 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Waddington) rose to move, That this House takes note of developments in the Gulf.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in one important way the situation in the Gulf has changed for the better in that the hostages are free. But Saddam Hussein still occupies Kuwait. His army continues to pillage the country. If he does not leave, there is a real prospect of armed intervention to drive him out. It is right that your Lordships' House should debate these crucial issues and I hope the discussion will serve to demonstrate the unity of purpose against Saddam Hussein. If we can get this message across, and if, even at this late hour, Saddam Hussein recognises that the international opposition to his aggression remains absolute, he may see sense and withdraw his forces from Kuwait.

In I he exchanges that followed the Government's Statement on 6th December, my noble friend the Minister of State undertook to keep the House informed of the progress of evacuation of our citizens from Iraq and Kuwait. Your Lordships will know that the first batch of 93 hostages arrived in London early on 10th December on a special British Airways flight, after having taken a United States charter to Frankfurt. Another 750 British citizens followed on two charter flights from Iraq later that day and on 11th December. The hostages were met and assisted on arrival by representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department of Social Security and other government departments and voluntary organisations. On arrival they were all given a briefing package explaining how to get help if they needed it. We will certainly do our best to mitigate the effects of their ordeal and assist them to settle down here as early as possible.

Your Lordships will wish to join me in paying tribute to the courage of the hostages who had to live under the constant threat of imminent danger. Their families back home coped magnificently. Their patience has paid off and, on behalf of the Government, I should like to congratulate and thank them for their fortitude. I should also like to thank the many Kuwaitis who provided succour and shelter to our citizens and those of other nations held hostage, paying little regard to the danger to themselves.

The remaining British citizens in Kuwait and Iraq (about 100 all told) are being given the strongest advice to leave. Following the departure of the great majority of the British community from Kuwait we have withdrawn our remaining Embassy staff. As I speak they should now be in Jordan. They should arrive in London tomorrow. This is a purely temporary measure. We of course continue to recognise the legitimate Government of Kuwait and utterly reject the illegal Iraqi occupation. In diplomatic terms the Embassy will remain open.

Saddam Hussein is now complying with one of the three main requirements set by the Security Council but not the other two: the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the restoration of the legitimate government of Kuwait. There can be no question of his being allowed to get away with it. To allow him to gain from his aggression would set the most dangerous precedent. No small country could feel safe again. In international terms, we would be back to the law of the jungle.

In a new world order in which right thinking men and women think a very different law should obtain, Saddam Hussein believes aggression is the best way to settle disputes; intimidation the best way to rule. Like any bully he will hesitate in the face of any power likely to hurt him. But also like any bully he would quickly see through any bluff. He is not likely to give up the prize of Kuwait unless he is sure that the international community will, if necessary, force him to leave. That is why, although we do not contemplate the use of force with any relish, we have established the military option with our allies in the multinational force.

This is the last and most powerful peaceful pressure on the aggressor. It is not a bluff. This House knows of the contribution this country has made already to the establishment of the military option. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence has today announced in another place that Her Majesty the Queen has authorised the calling out of the reserve forces under Section 10 of the Reserve Forces Act 1980. Up to about 1,500 reservists with specialist skills will be required in support of British deployment in the Gulf. The Government hope this number can be met by reservists willing to volunteer. The use of call-out powers will secure job protection and other benefits for volunteers and so encourage them to come forward. However, if necessary, individual ex-regular reservists will be called out compulsorily.

The military option is effective because it is supported by the entire international community. At the Kuwaiti Government's request for help we had a legal basis to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait under Article 51 of the UN Charter. With the adoption of Resolution 678 on 29th November, the Security Council has now specifically authorised the use of all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolutions. These clearly include military force. The resolution gives Iraq until 15th January 1991 to implement fully the requirements of all the council's earlier resolutions on the crisis: and if Iraq does not comply, it must face the consequences.

But the military option is not the only way in which the international community has shown its will to reverse the Iraqi aggression. Wide-ranging economic sanctions were imposed by the Security Council on 6th August. They have been almost universally observed and have had a significant effect. Iraq is exporting no oil, is earning no foreign exchange and is importing none of the essential industrial goods it needs. However, the key test is not whether sanctions are effective in inflicting damage on the Iraqi economy—clearly they are—but whether they will persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.

Unfortunately the history of the past few years shows that he is quite capable of inflicting considerable misery on his own people in order to achieve his political ends. Against this background it seems unlikely that sanctions alone will suffice to achieve the international community's objectives. We have always seen them as an additional form of pressure, rather than as measures likely to be sufficient in themselves.

Time is not on the side of Kuwait. Day by day and in spite of the courageous resistance of many Kuwaitis, it is being obliterated from the map. In his effort to make his newly conquered territory more manageable, Saddam Hussein has evicted or terrorised into exile much of the native population. At the beginning of August there were more than 700,000 Kuwaitis living in Kuwait. There are now barely 250,000 and the returning hostages have brought back appalling accounts of the murder, torture and brutality used by Iraq in its efforts to eradicate that independent state, to destroy the very fabric of its society.

The forces of more than 30 countries are now deployed in the region with the United States at their head. They have succeeded in their first object of defending Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and deterring Saddam Hussein from extending his military adventure. Their second objective is to support the demands of the Security Council. By the middle of January the United Kingdom will have over 30,000 troops in the area standing alongside over half a million others from the United States, Saudi Arabia itself and the other nations. With this impressive concentration of military power in the region our demands for Iraq's withdrawal carry much more weight.

Like all our partners in the international coalition against Iraq we should much prefer to see the crisis resolved peacefully, and a decision to order hostilities is not one that can or should be taken lightly. That is why we have supported the initiative of the US Administration for direct contacts with Iraq. We hope that it will soon be possible to reach agreement on the dates for the meetings in Washington and Baghdad. We regret that so far that has not been possible because of the Iraqi Government's inflexibility over the date for Secretary Baker's visit to Iraq.

However, I should make clear that President Bush and Secretary Baker will not be negotiating. There is nothing to negotiate about. They will be speaking plainly so that Iraq's leaders understand exactly what is required of them and exactly what the consequence will be if they continue to defy the Security Council. There will be no concessions, no partial solutions and no linkage to other issues.

There is no linkage. The Arab-Israeli dispute must be dealt with, but it must be dealt with separately. We have long supported the idea of an international conference on the Arab-Israel problem. That support continues. However, a conference needs willing participants if it is to get anywhere.

The initiative taken by the US Government, with our support, was designed to find a basis on which talks could take place between Israel and Palestinians, with a view to a conference in due course. That was realistic. The invasion of Kuwait set back that search for peace. So did the partial support of the PLO for the invasion. However, we have no intention of forgetting the injustices and the insecurity which persist so long as there is no settlement of the Arab-Israel problem.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq has no useful contribution to make to that search for a peaceful settlement, but once the aggression against Kuwait has been reversed we can and shall again focus our efforts on that task. I hope that the co-operation in recent months between the countries of the coalition against aggression will improve the prospects of success.

We have been very patient. By 15th January it will be five and a half months since Iraq's original aggression and the international community faces a grave test. Sometimes it is more deadly, more dangerous to long-term peace, to shrink from war than to wage it. We learned that lesson in the 1930s. We failed to stand up to Hitler and Mussolini and the whole world suffered. We must not make that mistake again.

After the Second World War the international community set up the United Nations, but its powers and potential were almost immediately frozen by the cold war. The cold war is over and we have begun to make the United Nations work. Now it is already facing an acid test and it is one that it must not fail. My Lords, we want peace. Of course we want peace, but if we want that peace to endure we most be prepared to use force to ensure it.

Moved, That this House takes note of developments in the Gulf.—(Lord Waddington.)

3.15 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, it is right and proper that we should have this debate on the Gulf crisis before we rise for the recess. We are grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the House for his ready response to our request and also for his speech, which has set the scene for our debate.

We last considered the crisis in the debate on the Address on 13th November. There have been a number of important developments since then, including the United Nations Resolution 678 authorising military intervention. However, the cause of the crisis remains unaltered. As the noble Lord said, contrary to international law and the charter of the United Nations, Iraq, under the control of Saddam Hussein, remains in possession of Kuwait.

Four and a half months have now passed since the invasion of Kuwait. The central question facing us and the United Nations generally is whether by the passage of time and the gradual erosion of determination Saddam Hussein is to be allowed to remain in Kuwait, or whether the United Nations should persist in its conviction that it is only the complete withdrawal of Iraqi forces that will satisfy the international community and also preserve the authority of the United Nations.

Britain has joined in fully supporting that stand and all the resolutions of the Security Council. In this we haw supported the Government. We have further made it plain from the outset that it is of fundamental importance that it is only through the United Nations that all initiatives and action should be taken. I am glad that the Government share that view.

I mentioned the developments which have occurred since our last debate and I shall deal with them briefly. The noble Lord gave the House additional information about the hostages. The announcement that they were to be released was welcomed across the world. It was received with relief and gladness by everyone, and especially by their families who have suffered what one observer called psychological anguish. We echo the tribute paid by the noble Lord to the hostages for their courage and conduct in difficult circumstances.

However, in celebrating the good news of their return we do not forget the background to the story. Saddam Hussein has for four months ignored United Nations Resolution 663, which ordered their immediate release, and has until now manipulated them as pawns in an attempt to promote the acceptance of his occupation of another country. The way he has used the hostages has gained him nothing save the revulsion of the civilised world. The House will have noted his cynical letter to the Iraq National Assembly on 6th December in which he said that the hostages had now served their purpose, buying Iraq time to complete its mobilisation. Nonetheless, as the noble Lord said, this is the first time that Iraq has responded to a Security Council resolution, although there is more than one possible motivation for that.

We have read the evidence of the hostages who have been allowed to return to this country from Kuwait and have been appalled by the stories of cruelty, depredation and total disregard of human rights in that unfortunate country. The noble Lord underlined that in his speech. It is indeed impossible to reconcile the Iraqi claim that it is receiving its Moslem brothers back into the fold with its monstrous treatment of the Kuwaiti people and its small country. It is no wonder that the League of Arab States has supported Resolutions 660 to 678.

I refer to the impending talks proposed by President Bush. He has been criticised—I believe very unfairly —for his initiative. He has been charged with potential appeasement and some of his colleagues in Congress have been sharply critical of him. Are these talks justified? Taking account of Saddam Hussein's record, should we support them? I believe we should, and for one reason in particular; namely, that Saddam Hussein should be left in no doubt that the United Nations are determined that Security Council Resolution 660 adopted on 2nd August, condemning the invasion and calling for the immediate and unconditional Iraqi withdrawal, must be complied with.

When he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 5th December, Mr. James Baker said that this would be his purpose when he visited Baghdad. It must be accepted that if Saddam Hussein is open to conviction that a military strike is the consequence of his continued obduracy, it is President Bush and Mr. Baker who can persuade him.

It must also be recognised that there is a strong and growing view in the United States that further efforts should be made to avoid war and that sanctions should be given more time to work. We support this view that sanctions should be allowed a reasonable period of time to take effect, and we think that the talks of President Bush are a response to this; the release of hostages is also partly Saddam Hussein's response to this mood in the United States. At the weekend Iraq called off discussions with Washington, as the noble Lord said, although it is hard to believe that there is any finality about this, and we hope that the talks will take place.

Some experts have argued that for the first time in the 136 days of this crisis war is not quite as inevitable as it seemed to be and that negotiations, with peace as the objective, will have a chance of success. As I have said, there are powerful forces in the United States which support this view. I heard Mr. Brzezinski speak in favour of it on the radio a few days ago, and others like General David Jones and Admiral William Crowe took a similar line. The admiral said: If in fact the sanctions will work in 12 to 18 months instead of 6 months, the trade off of avoiding war … would, in my view, be worth it". It is as a result of all this that both sides have begun to make small concessions—the return of the hostages (the so-called human shield) is a big concession—and it is essential that the United States should not find themselves outflanked by Saddam Hussein. He has played at brinkmanship again this weekend. We know that he is a shrewd operator, capable of deploying his arguments and changing them quickly to suit his own purposes. Democracies are always at a disadvantage when dictators play this game.

Another cause for concern is that there is a danger that the confrontation and the negotiation develop into one between the United States and Iraq, thus seeming to leave the United Nations on the sidelines. Everyone recognises that the initiative from the outset was taken by President Bush, supported by the great majority of the members of the United Nations, notably by this country, and that the United States component is by far and away the largest in the United Nations force in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, will let us have the Government's view on this when he replies to the debate. We think it is imperative that any negotiation should be carried out with the authority and support of the United Nations, and that when President Bush and Mr. Baker meet the Iraqi leaders they will be speaking with the voice of the United Nations.

I note that Mr. Perez de Cuellar welcomed the intention of the United States to embark on a series of contacts with the Iraqi government, and hoped that those contacts would lead to what he called a just and peaceful settlement of the present crisis in the Persian Gulf. I was glad to note too that Mr. Douglas Hurd in last week's debate in the other place said: We agree that, in the effort to avoid war, it is worth going that extra mile". [Official Report, Commons, 11/12/90; col. 825] Let us hope that the extra mile will be available and that war can honourably be avoided.

Perhaps I may turn again briefly to the question of sanctions which has been dealt with by the noble Lord. In previous discussions, Ministers have reported that sanctions are in fact working, and that assertion is supported by reports from other sources as well. For example, a report from the CIA estimates that Iraq 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 there. Reports from Baghdad say that children are dying because of the lack of medical supplies, although they are supposed to be allowed to enter. But on television we see pictures of well-stocked shops in the streets of Baghdad. I appreciate that it may be difficult to be precise, but can the Minister say whether the Government now believe that sanctions supported by Resolution 670, which authorises measures to tighten the air embargo and deny entry to ships, are working well enough to justify a stay of military action?

Iraq has now been given until 15th January to evacuate Kuwait, although it is also made clear that an attack may not necessarily take place on that particular day. I assume that the efficacy of sanctions will be taken into account before a fatal step is taken and a military strike takes place. We have strongly supported sanctions from the start and so indeed have Her Majesty's Government. As the 15th January approaches, very careful account must be taken of the effectiveness of sanctions, and I hope the Minister will be able to confirm that this is the Government's policy. This is the point that Admiral Crowe, General Jones and others have been making in the United States.

I turn now to another development which has been widely discussed and which needs clarification; namely, the possibility that Saddam Hussein may offer to withdraw from Kuwait with the reservation that the withdrawal will be to a new frontier line reconstructed by him, thus giving Iraq the Rumaila oilfield and also enabling Iraq to keep the islands of Bubiyan and Warba. What is the Government's reaction to this? The fact is that it would not comply with the Security Council resolutions and would leave Iraq with what it originally claimed. We also have to face the fact that if the crisis were to be settled with that kind of package, then Saddam Hussein would still remain the dictator of his repressive regime—and there is no other way to describe it—with a huge army, the fifth in size in the world, with chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear potential. It is not an attractive thought.

Here again, judgments on this must not be made by the United States or indeed by us alone; they must be made by the United Nations, and we must not overlook the important fact that the Soviet Union has given its support to the United Nations and to the resolutions passed since 2nd August. As I said in previous debates, this is a factor of the utmost significance for the United Nations and for us all in the current crisis.

But the problem facing the United Nations, and the United States in particular, is a dangerous and complex one. If the United Nations accepted a settlement which involved the withdrawal of Iraqi forces but left Saddam Hussein with substantial gains, he would be regarded as the victor in the Middle East, the hero who took on the might of the United States and won. His invasion would seem to be justified and, as I said a moment ago, he would remain the dictator of Iraq with his prestige enhanced. Some noble Lords may disagree with me, but that does seem to me to be a realistic scenario. It is a dark and menacing prospect, for it would gravely damage the newly-won status of the United Nations and also diminish the United States.

I must repeat, the collapse of the United Nations' authority would have disastrous consequences for our children and the next generation. The fall of the League of Nations was bad enough; the collapse of the United Nations in a nuclear age would be infinitely worse.

When he returned home, one of the distinguished recent visitors to Baghdad said that he had "found Saddam Hussein to be a reasonable man". If that were true—and I wish it were—then it would be possible to negotiate with him with confidence and in the hope of a permanent peace. But this is the man who killed thousands of innocent Kurdish men and women with chemical weapons in their own country. This is the man who engaged in a war with Iran in which a million people were killed. This is the man who has invaded and plundered a small neighbouring state ruthlessly and mercilessly. This in short is the clever operator who has no respect for human life or for international law. Let us not delude ourselves about him.

On the other hand—and it is something I feel bound to say —we frequently hear criticisms of the United States, her policies and her leaders. We have criticised them ourselves from time to time and we shall no doubt continue to do so. But at this critical time let us pause to consider how fortunate we are to have them as our ally and our friend. If they had not sustained freedom and the rule of law during this century, what kind of world would it be today? And in this crisis America is the strongest foundation of the United Nations. Let us use all our endeavours to help it and our other allies to bring this crisis to a just and peaceful conclusion.

Finally, let us never forget that when this crisis is past, it must be for the Arab people themselves to resolve the problems of the Middle East. The UN can help if called upon but a permanent solution cannot be imposed from the outside. It is in that spirit, and with that realisation, that we must go forward.

3.33 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, I find myself, not for the first time, in pretty close agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos. However, before I come to the substance of the matter, the second speech in this House of the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, gives me the opportunity to congratulate him on both speeches and to welcome him to the leadership of this House.

The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, whom he follows, set a notable example of courtesy to this House. We shall miss him. But I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, will follow him in that respect of courtesy and in other ways too. His presence here makes five former Home Secretaries in your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, and I came to this House by a somewhat circuitous route from the Home Office after a lapse of a decade and more. The noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, is in an intermediate position; he came fairly quickly. The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, and the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, came by express train, pitchforked direct from the Home Office into the leadership of this House. However, if the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, leads your Lordships' House with the aplomb and verve which the noble Viscount achieved he will not go far wrong.

It is just over three and a half months since we last debated the issue on 6th September. The Government then received very strong support from all sides of the House and not least from these Liberal Democrat Benches. I ventured then to say that the crucial and challenging part of the enterprise was to accomplish and maintain the marriage of United States power with United Nations moral authority. If that could be done, there was a prospect that the issue could be resolved without conflict; and that if this, alas, did not prove possible, then it would be more like the Korean war, although, hopefully, less drawn out and less bloody than the Vietnam war.

The essential differences between the two were that with regard to Korea the United States had United Nations support. In respect of Vietnam, it did not. In Korea the war was essentially a success in the sense that it achieved —although at great price—the major objective. In Vietnam no success was achieved.

I still believe that that parallel has validity. However, one of my perhaps unspoken assumptions in September has turned out to be almost exactly the reverse of the truth. I thought then that the difficult part of the operation would be to keep the sustained moral support of the United Nations. The near unanimous resolution of early August, I feared, might be difficult to repeat. The military power of the United States, and its willingness to commit it, was, I thought, a more assured thing. If anything, I—and I believe a good number of others—believed that there might be a danger of the United States acting too bellicosely on its own, perhaps supported only by Britain.

In my view that is hardly the position today. First, the United Nations has turned out to be much more steadfast than I had expected. Just over two weeks ago I visited New York for four or five days to give a lecture to an organisation operating under the auspices of the United Nations and almost under the shadow of the United Nations building. By a singular feat of mistiming, I managed to arrange my lecture to coincide within 10 minutes with the key vote in the Security Council. There were less ambassadors present than had been expected but they were better occupied with other matters at that time. The result of the vote was undoubtedly highly satisfactory. It could be argued that the terms of the resolution were a little loose, but nonetheless it embraced every necessary action.

However, in contrast with the greater than expected steadfastness of the UN, during that week in the United States I gained the impression that the United States was not at the present time a nation poised for action and, if necessary, for sacrifice. The president, who certainly cannot be faulted on his desire for peace, will have to devote just as much attention to leading his own public opinion inside as well as outside the armed forces as he has paid to cosseting the marginal members of the Security Council.

Despite that somewhat disturbing lack of a concentrated national will in America, I nonetheless believe as strongly as ever that the issue has to be seen through to a successful conclusion. There is nothing discreditable about trying to achieve that conclusion by diplomatic means. That was indeed specifically envisaged in the third part of the governing Security Council resolution of 2nd August. But the satisfactory conclusion has to be achieved and there is precious little sign at the moment of a promising negotiating framework. Therefore the possibility, putting it at its lowest, of having to do so through military action looms closer. Obviously, it is not a pleasant prospect but the very fact that United Nations support has been so successfully mobilised makes it all the more difficult to dodge. If, having mobilised such an international front against Saddam Hussein, he nonetheless gets away with it, the consequences for any authority in the world will be devastating.

If that were the outcome it would never again be possible to mount a major United Nations action to deal with a world crisis in the way that has been done during the past three to four months. Without doubt the reaction of the Security Council to a crisis would become a matter largely of indifference. The devastating position—a word which I use with care —would be that both the United Nations and the United States would be fallen idols. In other words, both the idealistic and the realpolitik theories of world authority would come crashing down together and the post cold war world could be an even more dangerous place than when the two superpowers could at least take the strain against each other in a predictable way.

The paradox of the world today is that, while America has emerged as the clearly victorious superpower, the other having been forced to desert the field, she has done so as a somewhat exhausted victor. We in this country have been through that experience and ought to be sensitive to it. Neither the strength of the US economy nor the psychology of her people leaves her fitted to discharge the world leadership role which she brilliantly and responsibly carried out during the zenith of the American imperial age from 1947 to 1965. It is probable that she would now like to hand on that baton of leadership as we did to America during the second quarter of this century. But the fact is that there is nobody to whom she can hand it on. That is the paradox of the world today.

The relatively large dynamic economies of the world at the end of the century—that is, Germany and Japan—have powerful muscular bodies but reclusive temperaments. Perhaps that is natural and desirable in view of their history, but it is a fact. As I have previously said in this House, I do not share the view that Germany is a potential and dangerous juggernaut. I agree with the comment made by President Bush in Baden-Wurttemberg four weeks ago; he said that he would like to see Germany play a greater not a lesser part in world affairs. Nonetheless, there is a danger that we shall enter the post cold war world without many sinews of world authority and without much sureness of world leadership. If we can resolve this crisis satisfactorily we shall minimise that problem; if we fail do so we shall vastly maximise it.

3.46 p.m.

The Archbishop of York

My Lords, in this present crisis the Government have not been short of moral advice from the Churches. The most reverend Primate sitting on my right has made two notable speeches: one in this House and the other more recently in the General Synod. Statements have been issued by the Pope, the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the presidents of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland and the World Council of Churches. Since then, countless individuals and groups have put forward their beliefs. In one way or another most have appealed to the principles of the just war. The fact that not all have agreed precisely on how those principles apply is hardly surprising given the complexity of the issues at stake.

That is not to imply that the attempt to think in just war terms is necessarily deficient; nor need it ignore the fact that the just war theory has its critics. It is only that moral reasoning cannot by itself provide answers but must be combined with and inform political judgment. Inevitably any advice which goes beyond general statements of principle runs into all the usual political disagreements. Therefore, it is not surprising that Christian spokesmen have disagreed.

However, I hope that we are agreed upon one issue. Perhaps I may say a word in praise of the way in which the crisis has been handled politically. Among the major powers there has been an admirable combination of firmness and restraint. Those qualities have been exemplified in the speeches of noble Lords who have already spoken in the debate. Despite the extreme perils which the world now faces there is agreement that the enhanced effectiveness of the United Nations is the real ground for hope, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, so graphically illustrated. We must not let that hope be dashed by backing away from the policies which the United Nations has agreed.

It could be argued that one of the new factors which the just war theory must take into account is the whole concept of international authority and collective security. In its original inspiration during the period after the First World War that factor owed a great deal to the Christian leaders of those days. That concept of working together collectively for our security is the best hope for lasting peace in the modern world. We have already learnt the hard way that it can be fatally undermined if we are not prepared to fight for it.

While thinking in these moral terms we must also recognise the fact that the end of the cold war has made the dream of collective security attainable. Therefore, we should not be inhibited by those who argue over our failures to act collectively in the past. However, the recognition that war might in practice be necessary should not be allowed to diminish the sense of restraint with which the allied governments contemplate it. Time and again Christian statements have emphasised that it must be thought of as the last resort.

I believe that in the end that is what the just war theory adds up to. It is the setting of restraints on our motives, aims and methods. In the present crisis it is of the utmost importance to be restrained, first, about our aims. While those aims are confined to the two remaining Security Council resolutions—the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and the reinstatement of its government; and, one might add, the stabilisation of relationships in the Gulf area—the moral case for pressing on with them appears to be unanswerable even if it means war, which God forbid. However, if there are suspicions that the aims go beyond that and that they need to include the removal of Saddam Hussein or the demilitarisation of Iraq, however tempting those aims may be, it seems to me that the moral case is weakened. I believe that we could be heading for disaster.

In war, restraint in terms of method is enormously hard to apply. That is why it is all the more important to be clearly and explicitly restrained in our aims, so that if our troops must fight they know precisely what they are fighting for.

There remains the strong and urgent moral imperative to go on looking for alternatives to war. I believe that that is one reason for not being too cynical about the motives behind the welcome release of hostages. We can only guess at the actual motives, but to interpret the action as a first step towards bringing Iraq back into the framework of normal international relations may provide something on which to build. It seems to me that steps of a similar kind could be taken from the other side. If, for example, not only do we say, as noble Lords have said in this House this afternoon, that we support a solution to the Palestinian problem but we go beyond that to reaffirm the United Nations Resolution 242, that may provide something on which to build from the other side. No principle would be sacrificed because the world is already committed to solving that problem. In my mind there is no question of embarking upon negotiations with Iraq of which the settlement of the Palestinian problem would form a part. However, public assurances at the highest level that this question is not being swept under the carpet can help to create an atmosphere in which a solution to the present crisis becomes psychologically possible.

Another move of that kind which might begin to be taken by the United Nations, prior to any peace talks, could be the commencement of the setting up of a United Nations' peace-keeping force. That would not pre-empt a peaceful solution to the problem but might make easier its attainment. The purpose of such a force would be to facilitate military withdrawal, both by the Iraqis and by the allied forces, leaving a demilitarised buffer zone between them. To start planning for such a force now would be to give a powerful signal to Iraq that withdrawal from Kuwait is practicable without further danger to itself. That may seem a tenuous hope but I believe that we are moving in a realm in which signals of that kind could be enormously important.

I hope also that moves are being made to agree on a list of the main political problems in the area which will need to be tackled once Iraq has complied with the United Nations demand for withdrawal. That seems to me to be the kind of list which, without any commitment on either side and any hint of appeasement, could give a sense of long-term purpose to more immediate peace-keeping moves. Surely it is obvious that to do nothing now or in the future will simply restore the status quo in the Middle East. Therefore, for that reason if for no other we are forced to look at the wider pattern of Middle East relationships whatever the outcome of the present crisis. I see no harm in signalling that intention in quite specific terms.

Perhaps I may make one final point—

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, before I sink back in despair, can the most reverend Primate assure me that he is not suggesting that such moves to deal with the many problems of the world and the Middle East will be allowed to overcome the clear aggression and danger which flow from the occupation of Kuwait?

The Archbishop of York

My Lords, I give the noble Lord complete assurance on that point. I hope that in what I say I make it abundantly clear that Saddam Hussein must comply with the United Nations resolution. That goes without saying. However, we need to create a psychological atmosphere in which that compliance can take place without the appalling dangers of war.

At this stage we need to look at every means to change the psychological situation so that he can withdraw with what is essential in an Arab state; namely, a sense of honour. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, was right to speak of the terrible events which have taken place but we must recognise the psychology of the situation and not simply look at it from our own perspective. That is what I am trying to say.

Perhaps I may make one specifically religious point. I urge our political leaders not to overlook the religious dimension in this conflict as it is perceived by the Iraqis because the worst possible scenario could occur if we went to war in such a way as to engage those religious feelings and to make it seem to them like a religious war. It seems to me that that would be a recipe for reckless self-sacrifice on their part and would undermine our own normal expectations about the ways in which wars should be fought. It would make the winning of such a war immeasurably harder. That is why some preliminary signalling of our intentions, both in the short and long term, is so important to a solution of this conflict.

3.58 p.m.

Lord Bridges

My Lords, speaking as I do directly after the most reverend Primate, I am sure that the House would wish me to thank him for the authoritative contribution which he has made to our debate this afternoon. I admired greatly his observations that—and I believe I have his words correctly—moral reasoning cannot itself provide answers but it should guide the activities of each of us involved in this affair. On my own behalf, I warmly thank him for the contribution which he has made.

I welcome a further opportunity this afternoon to debate the Gulf crisis. There have been significant changes since the last debate on this subject and, so far as I can judge, we may reach the turning point in this crisis between now and mid-January. Therefore, a reappraisal of the situation before us seems highly appropriate.

In introducing the debate the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal and the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition said that there have been two significant and positive steps in the recent past; namely, the Security Council resolution of 29th November and the release of the hostages. However, Iraq cannot now be in any doubt about the dangerous situation which its activities have created. That situation is extremely hazardous. It will improve only when we see clear signs of Iraq's willingness to comply fully with the resolutions of the Security Council, and in particular of its willingness to withdraw from Kuwait. There is at present little sign of that.

The two general considerations I should like to put to the House involve separate issues. The first relates to the importance of the crisis for Britain; the second relates to the role of the European Community. The scale of international political change over the past year or so has been so great that at times there has seemed to be some danger of our overlooking the fundamental significance of the crisis. The period through which we have just lived saw the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, the end of the Marxist-Leninist challenge, the arrival at last of arms control after decades of wrangling, and the new steps contemplated for the future of Western Europe.

Reading the newspapers and watching the television, with those events occurring before our eyes, a smash-and-grab raid in the Gulf looked rather unimportant. However, I am sure that it would be a mistake to look at the situation in that way. There are issues of cardinal importance which come together in the Gulf crisis. I believe it is worthwhile mentioning a few.

First and foremost, as has already been emphasised, we must consider the future of collective security under the aegis of the United Nations. Indeed, if things go wrong the future of the United Nations itself must be considered. There is the relationship between the super-powers. Despite what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said regarding the decline in their relative power, they are still the super-powers. This is their first attempt at joint management of a global strategic crisis and the outcome will much depend upon whether or not they are successful. There is also the struggle for leadership and influence within the Arab world. Who comes victorious out of this particular crisis will be a significant factor for the future of the Middle East. There is also the role of the European powers, about which I shall say more in a moment. Finally, inevitably, there is the availability and price of oil to consumers around the world which must be considered.

I do not believe it is an exaggeration to stress the importance of the outcome of the crisis for our own national interest. What happens in this affair will affect our standing in many countries. It will affect also our prosperity and, in the longer term, our safety. We must see the crisis through, and if need be by the use of arms. On that point I found the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, extremely telling and convincing.

Although as an active participant, we can bring some important influence to bear on what happens, we are not a protagonist. The greatest responsibility rests on the United States and the Soviet Union, both because of the strategic power which they alone possess and also the support which each gives to its friends in the neighbourhood. After all, it was the Soviet Union which armed Iraq to the teeth and gave it the ability to act as it has done. Our influence is less than theirs, although it is not inconsiderable. In the Security Council and as a notable contributor of substantial military forces in the Arabian peninsula, I believe we have fully and seriously discharged our responsibilities. On the other hand, the contribution made by the European Community to date is disappointing, and less than it might have been. Of course, we could not expect Western Europe to play a military role in the crisis. However, more could have been done to exert political influence.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that until now Europe's collective voice has been most audible in attempting to discourage missions by senior politicians intent on liberating hostages. Even the co-ordination of naval activities in the Gulf was undertaken by the Western European Union. Odder still was the independent line pursued by France at the Security Council last week, which sought to insert a reference to a peace conference in a draft resolution still under discussion. That separate initiative by France contrasts starkly with the ambitious ideas for European union in the letter sent a few days ago by Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterrand to their colleagues in the European Council.

I cite those examples not because the policy of the European Community has been at fault in the crisis; rather because the Community missed an opportunity to enhance its international credentials. Although individual member states have done a lot, it does not seem to me that collectively the Community will be playing much of a role toward the resolution of the crisis beyond perhaps picking up some of the bill. The promise to help the hard-pressed government in Jordan is welcome. But according to what I read in the press that financial assistance has not been given. That lack of engagement by the European Community may become even more marked in the near future if the inter-governmental conference of political union proceeds to discuss the future constitutional shape of the Community in a rather abstract way at the specific time fighting may be breaking out in the Middle East.

I hope that the debate will encourage the Government to continue their existing policy; namely, to base their actions firmly on resolutions passed by the Security Council. I believe that policy to be the correct one, and that it probably enjoys the support of the majority of public opinion in this country. The broad support given by Members of all parties in both Houses of Parliament is very welcome. But a larger controversy may yet arise over the possibility of a negotiated solution. That notion can be examined seriously only if Iraq first accepts the Security Council resolutions as the starting point. At present it shows no sign of so doing.

There is not much time left for the leader of Iraq to convince us that he is seriously interested in that possibility. Therefore for the present the Government's policy of solidarity and firmness is the correct one. But it would not be wholly inconsistent with that policy to express our interest in the process of pacification in the Middle East after withdrawal from Kuwait.

In that context I mention something which I believe to be significant and which so far has not been mentioned in the debate; that is, the news which appeared last week of Prime Minister Shamir's apparent agreement during a visit to Washington that he would be willing to accept a ban on nuclear and chemical weapons in the Middle East. If confirmed that could be a significant step towards the wider issues of security in the region, and it could have a bearing on the resolution of the present crisis.

I have no wish to over-dramatise the situation. I speak as I do because I believe the issues to be of great importance to us, and that the possibility of war is a real one. As the stakes are so high we need to proceed on the basis of a clear understanding of what we are about, and with the maximum degree of consent in our country to the actions the Government are likely to take. I hope that the debate will contribute to those very important purposes.

4.9 p.m.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I shall not detain the House for longer than a few moments. I should like to start by saying that I was a little disappointed by the intervention a few moments ago of the most reverend Primate. If I may say so, I much preferred the speech of the other most reverend Primate made to the General Synod a few weeks ago. I was able to understand that more clearly than I was the speech of the most reverend Primate today. However, perhaps today's speech will benefit from an examination of the text in Hansard in the future, and I shall certainly give it that.

Nearly 50 years ago President Roosevelt described the occasion of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbour as, "a day which will live in infamy". Sadly, there have been several such days since then: notably 2nd April 1982; and now we have to add 2nd August 1990. But of course since the late 1940s we have had the benefit of the United Nations Charter and, above all, the Security Council. The virtual unanimity of the Security Council on this occasion is much to be welcomed. I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, when he said a few moments ago that this really marks the coming of age of the United Nations and of the Security Council. Let us hope that they will not falter at the last hurdle.

These latest resolutions underline the gravity with which the international community regard this appalling aggression. But I think it is important to recognise that these resolutions, welcome though they are, are not essential, at least as far as international law is concerned. There is, I believe, no serious doubt that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter entitles the Kuwaitis to defend themselves and to seek such help as they may need, and entitles nations to respond to such requests. But certainly the various Security Council resolutions, including especially the latest ones, give added strength, if that is necessary, to the underlying provisions of the United Nations Charter.

Now Saddam Hussein is confronted by one of the largest bodies of military force that has been assembled for a very long time indeed. Upwards of half a million men, together with awesome firepower, are now arrayed against him. I fear greatly that if war cannot be avoided—and every day that passes makes that more difficult—the Iraqi people will pay a terrible price for the wickedness of their leader. I deeply regret that, but the right of every nation, however small, to live free from the fear of aggression and, above all, from aggression itself, is absolutely fundamental. A much greater evil would be to allow Kuwait to be swallowed up and vanish forever.

In parenthesis, I should just like to make one observation at this point. During the recent changes in the leadership of the Conservative Party there was an observation by the retired chiefs of staff—noble and gallant Lords who sit in your Lordships' House—by means of a letter to The Times that it was not the right time to change the leadership, I think they said, of the Government. I must say that I rather regret that intervention. The retired chiefs of staff, representing the armed forces as they do, of course serve every government, under whatever leader, with equal loyalty. They have demonstrated that time and time again continuously in recent times. That intervention would, frankly, have been better not made. I have no doubt it was made with the best of intentions, but I hope that it will not be repeated.

So far as the policy of Her Majesty's Government is concerned, I believe that on this occasion the Government have responded entirely correctly. They are entitled to our full support. Speaking for myself, they surely have it.

4.14 p.m.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, I wish, if I may, straight away to submit an apology to this House. For a sad and personal reason I may not be able to remain for the full time of this debate, and I feel that I should say so. I also want to express immediately the thanks of us all to the Leader of the House for mentioning, quite correctly and properly, how grateful we all are to the people of Kuwait. Despite the terror under which they live they have managed to give some help to our countrymen, to save their lives on many occasions, and to sustain their courage, so that we can welcome them back in freedom to this country. I am happy that the Leader of our House did that, and I completely support what he has said.

At this stage I should like to express my appreciation of the Kuwaiti and the Saudi Arabian Ambassadors to the Court of St. James, and the many other ambassadors to whom I spoke when I was gravely concerned at the appalling attitude of Saddam Hussein when he called my fellow countrymen, whom he held as hostages in dangerous situations, his "guests". I know that every one of them would rather die than be a guest in any way of Saddam Hussein. We must beware of the sort of things that this evil person says and does.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, that anyone who steals all, or a part, of somebody else's country has committed a crime against all humanity. The wonderful thing is that Resolution 678 unites the United Nations and its members, who are now prepared to resist Saddam Hussein when he has stolen someone else's country. We must also bear in mind the words of Lord Caradon, who sat in this House and at the United Nations, when he was successful in moving Resolution 242. We can in no way say that Resolution 678 is different, when it applies to Saddam Hussein from when it applies to the Palestinians and Israelis.

I believe that at this point in time they should not be linked one with the other. I can understand that argument. But I hope that this Government and our country will not remain either sycophantic or show lack of courage in seeking to implement Resolution 242. I know all the terrible things that were said about the creation of the state of Israel. The fact is that the state of Israel has a right to exist. It was indeed created by the United Nations, and that will always be its strongest point. That is why I hope that at some time it will also adopt those United Nations resolutions that seek its withdrawal from the Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

I also believe that we have to face, for example, the appalling situation of Saddam Hussein withdrawing just half a mile over the border and then, with the largest army in the Middle East, staying there as a permanent threat. Will we be able to stay there for a few years with our American allies? Speaking parenthetically, despite the criticisms that have been made of President Bush, I for one certainly believe that he immediately did the correct thing. I was happy when it was our country that supported him in word and deed—and in getting troops there to support our American allies. I am convinced that if that had not been done Kuwait would not have been the only country invaded.

The Saudi Arabians know full well that at this moment they are free because of Resolution 678, because of the swift action of our American allies, the support of the British, and the support of so many other Arab countries. That is a good thing. I said in the debate on the Address that as I had heard from people who had managed to get out of Kuwait that there was some dissention among the Iraqi troops. They are becoming worried because they are killing fellow Arabs. Such a reaction might not occur among Europeans. We in Europe have never minded whom we killed or where they came from, but that is not true in the Middle East. I suggest therefore that we ought to take advantage of the situation. I have been given realistic information by our countrymen who have escaped that the anxiety exists among middle grade officers in the Iraqi army; and we have heard recently of the dismissal of a number of very senior officers of the Iraqi army.

I suggested previously that perhaps we should drop leaflets printed in Arabic, into Kuwait. I do not think that much thought has been given to the suggestion. I was surprised to hear on the television last week that President Bush had similar ideas. Therefore I hope that the Leader of our House will ask the Prime Minister whether he could have further talks with President Bush to see whether the proposal can be instigated. There is nothing to lose by it and it might provide us with something very worth while.

I should like to underline the fact that we must get rid of Saddam Hussein. One reason is that he has such a powerful army. Anyone who builds up a strong and powerful army can cock a snook at the United Nations. That is why the Americans were correct in what they did and why we were correct in giving them our full support in every way. I hope that we shall continue to do so. We must bear in mind that we are not dealing with a normal idiot; we are possibly dealing with a dangerous idiot and a cunning idiot who may stay there. Having obeyed the United Nations and listened to the entreaties of the allies to withdraw from Kuwait a quarter of a mile, we might be faced with the entire Iraqi army. What would we do then? If there are to be negotiations we must make absolutely certain that we are invited by the new Kuwaiti government, together with American and other allied troops, to move into Kuwait. Then we should be certain that we could not be hoodwinked by Saddam Hussein. That is very important.

We should consider giving help to Jordan, Egypt and other countries that have suffered due to sanctions. I hope that we, America and our other allies will not forget that those countries will be in economic need because they have given us their support in terms of troops and troop movements.

If a war breaks out it will be absolutely horrendous. Nobody wants a war. Those of us who served in the last world war know what it is to experience the bands playing while lads are badly wounded, blown up or killed. Everybody knew what was happening to London and would have said at the time that Hermann Goering had the right policy: bomb and bomb and bomb this great capital city. He did it, but the more he bombed the more aggressive in their determination to win were the Londoners who set such a splendid example. When comes the time to help the countries like Kuwait that have suffered so terribly, we shall remember them.

A number of other nations ought to give these countries a little more economic and military help. We and our American allies have shown the way. We have taken a magnificent step which has been thoroughly endorsed by Resolution 678. The British and the Americans have acted on behalf of the greatest forum that mankind has ever known, the United Nations, against one of the biggest bullying thugs that ever broke an agreement. It is to our credit that we stood by our American allies. I hope that we shall stand by those people who have suffered.

If a war is imposed upon us I hope that we shall be able to say that we, with our American allies and countries in the great Commonwealth, particularly Australia and New Zealand, were prepared to negotiate to see whether something could be done to avert war, including the complete withdrawal of Saddam Hussein many, many miles from Kuwait and the occupation of Kuwait by liberating forces. Let us make that transparently clear. If war comes, let us fight it with all we have. We shall be able to say that we stood up against an appalling bully. We tried to debate with him and negotiate in a civilised, sensible and proper manner—a course which endangered no one. If war does come, history will record that the United Nations, with America and Britain in the lead and with the support of so many Arab countries, did their best to avoid a war. But, they also showed their guts and courage in not giving in to an evil dictator like Saddam Hussein.

4.25 p.m.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, I should like to thank the Government for allowing me to visit the forces in the Gulf. I hope that many others will make that trip. They will find our servicemen there well equipped, extremely well trained and in good spirits. They will also make closer acquaintance with the terrible weapons that those young men have at their disposal and the terrible weapons that could be used against them. They will come back more resolved than ever to do what they can to find an honourable and peaceful resolution of the Gulf crisis.

My noble friend has set out the very wide area of agreement between these Benches and the Government. He has stressed that which we all believe: that Saddam Hussein must be required fully to implement the Security Council resolutions. My noble friend has set out truthfully that in the last resort the military option must be maintained. In all of those things he has my very warm support.

However, my noble friend has freed me to tread on more controversial ground, which I propose to do. I was very struck by the speech of the most reverend Primate. He stated that if the Security Council is allowed to raise the question of Palestine, not linked with negotiations with Iraq but on its merits, that could help to create a climate in which a peaceful resolution of the crisis would be more possible. I would warmly support him in that event.

Those remarks distinguish the most reverend Primate from the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, who also stated that the Palestine question must be addressed by the Security Council but not until after the Kuwait crisis had been dealt with. That is also the view of the American Government.

I should like to speak frankly about what I believe to be the double standards of American and British policy in the Middle East and the obstacle which they present to the honourable and peaceful resolution of the Gulf crisis. There are of course differences between the Israeli occupation and the Iraqi occupation. The Iraqi occupation results from an absolutely clear act of aggression, whereas Israelis will argue that, although they struck the first blow in 1967, that was because they were about to be attacked themselves. That one major difference. Again, there is no parallel in Palestine to the wholesale looting and destruction of Kuwait and the cold-blooded ill-treatment and murder of individual Kuwaitis. Nevertheless, there are very bad elements on the Israeli side as well, particularly the indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians, including small children. It is true to say that in the past three years the Israelis have shot dead or beaten to death 169 Palestinian children. The average age of those dead children was 10 years and 2 months.

There are similarities between the occupations. Both are obnoxious, both must be ended and both frequently and flagrantly violate the fourth Geneva Convention, the Security Council resolutions and international law. There is an extraordinary contrast in the treatment of the two occupations by the American and British governments. The Iraqis are quite rightly met with sanctions and the threat of imminent and devastating war. The Israelis are informed —we heard it this afternoon from the noble Lord, Lord Waddington—that in the future the Security Council will handle this problem. But both governments make it quite clear that there will be no sanctions, let alone military action, and that unless the proposals are freely accepted by the Israelis they will not be pursued.

I am much obliged to the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, who wrote to me a short while ago setting out quite plainly the British Government's attitude on this point. It is the same as the attitude of the American government. He said: We have long maintained that if a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute is to be just and durable, it must be freely accepted by all parties". That is to say, any proposals to end the Israeli occupation must be freely accepted by the Shamir government. In effect the Israelis are to have a veto; and while Shamir and his government remain determined to maintain the occupation, the Security Council should allow the occupation to continue. That is the only possible interpretation of the noble Earl's letter. It also says specifically that the Government will not in these circumstances threaten Israel with sanctions.

The noble Earl should explain why the authority of the Security Council should not extend to Israel as to every other country in the world. He should explain why the proposals favoured by the Security Council would be less just and durable than proposals acceptable to the Shamir government. If he uses his opportunity at the end of the debate to explain, that will be reassuring. I concede readily that the British and American governments are absolutely right in the case of Kuwait to be supporting the Security Council resolutions and international law. But it is also true that, by following the policies which the noble Earl outlined in his letter, both governments have been aiding and abetting violations of international law and violations of Security Council resolutions on Palestine. That is a serious obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the Gulf crisis, as I shall try to show.

First, these double standards are easily exploited by Saddam Hussein, who is a master of political warfare. He is easily exploiting these double standards to weaken the coalition and undermine its cohesion and moral authority. But worse, they are leading the Government to oppose, as the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, did this afternoon, proposals for the Security Council to address itself to the Palestine problem, proposals not linked to negotiations with Saddam Hussein but proposals with their own merits, something that should have been done years ago and which the Security Council has tried to do before, something made urgent by the growing extremism and violence on the West Bank and in Gaza. Such an initiative would definitely help us towards a peaceful solution in the Gulf.

It is true that Saddam Hussein may try to claim credit for activating the Security Council and may use it as a face-saver for withdrawing from Kuwait—that is possible —but I cannot see anything appalling about that. I do not see why that should be regarded as a disaster. The Security Council would not be breaching any principle. The British and American governments could support tackling the Palestinian problem without breaching any principle. If Saddam Hussein were to take credit for it and use it as a ladder, so to speak, to climb down, that at least would be a better alternative to war.

In this view I am supported, I am glad to say, by a very interesting statement by my party leader, Mr. Ashdown. He said that the search for a peaceful solution, should be part of a broader move to establish long-term security in the Middle East, including a settlement of the Palestine problem, on which work should be starting now". My point is that we should start now. I believe that to be the point made by the most reverend Primate.

That would weaken Saddam Hussein. To the extent that the Security Council handled this problem it would show that it, and not Saddam Hussein, has the legitimacy and the means to make effective progress. It would attract to the Security Council and move away from Saddam Hussein the backing of many Arabs, including the Iraqi people themselves, the Palestinians in Jordan and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who are now looking to Saddam Hussein. It would undermine Saddam Hussein's bogus posture of being the champion of Arab interests.

Why then do the American Government and the British Government take the line that they do? They are not supported by other members of the Security Council such as the French and the Russians. Why do they oppose this constructive concept? Why do they have these double standards? An example of the double standards is the different treatment of Saddam Hussein and Shamir. There are differences between these fellows but they are both directly responsible for maintaining illegal occupations; they are both flagrantly violating the fourth Geneva Convention; and they both have terrorist records and have shown no remorse for them. Yet whereas Saddam Hussein is threatened with trial as a war criminal, Shamir is readily received in the White House and at No. 10. Why are these double standards practised?

I think that everyone knows the answer but few are masochistic enough to give it plainly and publicly. I shall do so. The main reason is the strength of the Israeli lobby in Washington and London. That is the truth. American politicians will readily explain the penalties of falling out with the Washington lobby. They will talk of the loss of media support, of the time spent receiving delegations, of the loss of campaign contributions, and so on.

An enterprising journalist recently matched up the voting records of Congressmen on Israeli related issues with the contributions they received from the Israeli lobby. For example, Mr. Robert Torricelli followed the lobby line on 10 votes out of 10 and received 62,000 dollars. Representative Martin Frost followed the line nine times out of 10 and received 35,000 dollars. Representative Austin Murphy voted the right way on only two occasions out of 10 and received no money at all. Those are comparatively small sums. However, so far as concerns senators, especially those in marginal seats or those who belong to some important committee, the tariff rises. For example, Senator Harkins is a member of the Appropriations Committee which deals with aid for Israel. In this year's election he received 123,000 dollars and Senator Simon, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, received 132,000 dollars.

Facts such as those are not widely publicised in the West. However, they are well known in the Arab world, especially among Palestinians. They do nothing to improve the respect for American policy on Palestine. To be perfectly frank, I believe that the Government should be ready to distance themselves a little more from American policy on Palestine, especially now that unity against the Soviet Union is perhaps less pressing than it was.

The penalties for British politicians falling out with the lobby are much less heavy and less tangible. There may well be some black marks in the Maxwell or the Murdoch press, the possible loss of support of some party members or even the possibility of a covert accusation of anti-Semitism. The penalties are there, but they are not prohibitive and they are less than they used to be. Nevertheless, it is surprising how few people seem to be prepared to risk them. They slip into an equivocal position on Palestine or into silence on the matter.

However, all that is by the way. I return now to my main point. The double standards of the British and American governments on Palestine are easily exploited by Saddam Hussein. They weaken the anti-Saddam coalition. In the future these governments should show the same determination to support international law and the resolutions of the Security Council over Palestine as they have done so magnificently over Kuwait. In particular, they should end their opposition to the proposal that the Security Council should now address itself again to the Palestine problem, thus markedly increasing the possibility of a peaceful solution in the Gulf. It would be a crime if the Government were to lead this country into war with all the horrors that that entails without having first tried every possible peaceful alternative.

4.43 p.m.

Lord Greenhill of Harrow

My Lords, this is the fourth time in recent weeks that we have discussed the situation in the Gulf. However, the threat of war remains—a war which would be shown throughout the world on the television screens and one which we would see in frightful detail, safe in our own homes. The reaction internationally and domestically cannot be foreseen. We in this country shall have seen nothing like it before.

Members of the House will remember the indifference with which the Korean war was treated by the British public. It was much to the chagrin of those who had relatives involved in it that they could see none of the terrible happenings on their television screens. We are all familiar with the effect of television programmes on American conduct in the Vietnamese war.

We are asked by this Motion to take note of recent developments in the Gulf. First, as has already been mentioned, there is the welcome return of the hostages with their tales of horror and their stories of personal courage,. There can no longer be any doubt about the ruthlessness or villainy of the Iraqi regime. However, in my opinion the most important development has been the proposal of President Bush to seek direct contact with the Iraqi leadership.

When I suggested in the debate on 13th November that such direct contact between the principal antagonists was a sensible aim, the Minister who concluded the debate said that there was nothing to discuss. I thought, with respect, at the time that that reply was inappropriate; I still do. I very much hope that the President's proposal, or some version of it, can be agreed with Saddam Hussein. If there is no face-to-face contact, I believe that war is virtually inevitable.

There must be no misunderstanding between President Bush and Saddam Hussein. I am sure that the President will remember how careful President Kennedy was at the time of the Cuban missile crisis to leave absolutely no doubt in Kruschev's mind of the US Government's intentions. Many notable historians have suggested in the past—I think with reason —that the 1914–1918 war could have been avoided if there had been some direct face-to-face contact between the antagonists before the outbreak.

The problem of what is to be discussed between the antagonists is, I agree, very difficult and very sensitive. It is proposed that it should be only the matter of Iraq's withdrawal; in other words, only the acceptance of the Security Council resolution. The implication for Saddam is clearly: accept the resolution or risk the use of force.

However, is that the right way to exploit direct contacts if they take place and will it solve the crisis? What I say will be controversial, but it has already been Kid. Nevertheless, before it is dismissed, I ask noble Lords first to remember the chequered history of the Middle East since 1918: how far was justice done? Secondly, how far and for how long would its problems be solved by the defeat of Saddam Hussein in war?

It is constantly asserted that there must be no link between the Iraqi attack on Kuwait and the other problems which have been overshadowing the Middle East for the past many years. Here I find myself very much in agreement with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, said. I do not see how it can be asserted that there is no link with the Palestinian or Lebanese problems. Surely such an assertion cannot be sustained: there is a link and we all know it.

President Bush and the Soviet Foreign Minister have just met Prime Minister Shamir of Israel in America. It is clear from reports in the United States' press that the Gulf crisis must have been discussed. Prime Minister Shamir told the Soviet Foreign Minister, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, that he was prepared to consider in principle a nuclear-free zone. President Bush seems to have promised that Israeli interests will be protected. If contact is made with Saddam Hussein, there must surely be similar discussion with him, however culpable he may be. All those problems are inextricably linked and how we proceed must be influenced by that fact.

In my opinion, the solution of the Iraqi crisis must achieve the following objectives. First, there must be an immediate Iraqi withdrawal from all of Kuwait—I emphasise the word "all". That will be a humiliation for Saddam Hussein, but the consequential benefits can, when the time comes, he explained to the Iraqi people. The second objective is the restoration of the legitimate government of Kuwait. The third objective is compensation for the various categories of people who have suffered great loss, like the inhabitants of the third world who were working in Iraq.

The fourth objective is an agreement between the Middle East states of outstanding boundary problems. Most of such agreements can be reached by Arabs with Arabs. Fifthly, there should be agreement with Israel on the establishment of a Palestinian state. Sixthly—this is most important —there should be a disarmament agreement between Israel and Iraq involving the mutual destruction of weapons of mass destruction and a reduction of conventional forces.

Lastly, there should be a guarantee of these agreements by the Security Council powers and a United Nations permanently strengthened by Saddam's acceptance of the resolution of last August. This could be maintained or very much helped by the temporary retention of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the area. An unattainable solution in the foreseeable future, noble Lords may say. I wonder. When we think of the benefits worldwide which would flow from such a solution on the lines I have described, we see that its attractions not only to the Arabs and the Israelis must surely make it eventually possible to achieve it.

How will it be possible to proceed from the present impasse? By conference; secret diplomacy; or both? The meetings between Bush and the Iraqis could be the first step. If, when the possibilities have been explained to him, Saddam continues to deny the world the benefits of such a settlement, I agree that his destruction by force may well be the only course. However, if he shows a readiness to negotiate, after compliance with the UN resolution, in my view he should not be treated as a pariah.

What would be the benefits which would flow from such a settlement? I believe that they would be largely as follows: first, the establishment of a strong United Nations, capable of achieving the purposes for which it was set up. That is the first priority for the present alliance and it is a safeguard for all members of the United Nations. A second benefit would be the assurance for the people of Israel of freedom from Arab attack and vice versa.

Thirdly, a benefit would be a home for the Palestinians who have been appallingly treated by both Arabs and Jews and who have been let down in the past by inadequate United Nations action. A fourth benefit would be the fulfilment of the Arabs' wish for a greater status and recognition. A fifth benefit would be the possibility for the Arabs of using some of their enormous oil resources for the settlement and betterment of their people, rather than for their excessive armament. Finally, there would be the safeguarding of the justifiable achievements of the Israelis. Such a settlement would remove the most potent threat to world peace which, if left unsolved, could only worsen.

4.52 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, your Lordships are discussing a situation of considerable danger. Characteristically in those circumstances, your Lordships' House has shown a high degree of unanimity. We began with two most admirable speeches from my noble friend Lord Waddington and the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos. I am sorry that he is not in his place. Both noble Lords made speeches of high, statesmanlike quality, exemplifying the broad degree of unity which, despite one or two differences of emphasis, this debate has shown that your Lordships' House feels on the issue.

There are two dangers, which is why I referred to the dangerous situation. One is the danger of war; war with a country with a large, battle-tried army, capable of giving a good account of itself, particularly in a locality with which it is familiar. The other even greater danger, it seems to me, is that if after the action it has sought to take in this matter the United Nations is seen to fail, if it is unable to impose its will on Saddam Hussein and Iraq, we shall face a deteriorating world situation. It would not be going too far to say that in those circumstances the United Nations—which many of us regard as one of the major hopes for a peaceful world—will be likely to go the same way as that unhappy body, the League of Nations, before the war.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential to the security and future of the world that the will of the United Nations that Saddam Hussein and his people should withdraw from Kuwait is achieved. That is why most of us who hate the idea of war feel particularly embarrassed that, if we support war at our age, we support a war fought by our younger brethren. That is a matter of perhaps some embarrassment and awkwardness. Nonetheless, we feel that if this is the only way to achieve the role of the United Nations—to be able to maintain the position, to be able to impose its will on those who seek to snatch a small country from its people—in those circumstances the horrors of war will have to be faced. Those horrors are real, as most of us recall from our own experience.

We all hope, and some of us say, that it is possible that sanctions may help to deal with the matter. However, the history of sanctions in recent years is not encouraging. They tend to be extremely slow in effect. This brings me to the important point in this crisis of the time factor. Time is not on the side of Kuwait; it is on the side of Saddam Hussein. He is in possession; he is removing people and goods from Kuwait. Moreover, if one believes the press, he may well perfect even more terrible weapons of war for use against anyone who attacks him. Therefore, the time factor is important.

The time factor is important in another way too. Within three to four months in the Middle East the hot weather will return. We shall expose the troops of the United Nations to extremes of climate and not all of them will be able to stand up well to it. It will be a great test of the discipline and morale of the troops there if without being able to take action they withstand the rigours of the hot climate. Therefore I stress strongly that the time factor is important. It makes me doubt very much whether sanctions can possibly do the trick.

I wish to ask the noble Earl who will reply a question which involves repeating one which I put to him a few days ago at Question Time. He succeeded, somewhat adroitly, in not answering it. If Saddam Hussein simply withdraws from Kuwait, having already withdrawn most of the property, the assets and many of the people of that country, will it be regarded as sufficient without his being compelled to make some return to Kuwait of the property and people of whom he has deprived it? We talk the whole time about his need to withdraw, but if he withdraws from a devastated country which has lost all its assets, which will not be able to carry on and which will present its returning government with impossible tasks, what is our intention? I put this question to my noble friend. Would it be sufficient for him simply to withdraw, leaving devastation behind him; or will we say that his withdrawal must involve at any rate some efforts to restore the country to the position in which he found it?

As I have said, the time factor is important. If I may use a historical analogy, I would say that we are rather in the situation that occurred during the occupation of the Rhineland in 1936. At that time if we and the French had moved in firmly, the Germans would have been thrown out. Everyone who has studied the matter knows that Hitler would have been thrown out by his own army. However, we did not move in. I believe it is fair to say that the French were keener to act than we were. The British Government had a serious responsibility in that situation. I hope that we have learnt the lesson that one cannot let these situations drift on or they become infinitely worse and infinitely more dangerous. The importance of the matters that I have referred to is real.

The other matter which seems to me of great importance is our relations with the United States. For the future of this country and for the peace of the world it is enormously important that our ties of alliance and friendship with the United States should be strong and should be reinforced. The United States is making an enormous effort in this situation. That contrasts wonderfully and encouragingly with its attitude in 1914 and 1939. As your Lordships will recall, on those occasions it took some years and some outrages upon the United States by our enemy to bring it into the conflict. Now the United States is taking the lead. That is wonderfully encouraging.

I shall recount to your Lordships a scene that I shall never forget. I, along with a number of other Ministers, was summoned by Sir Winston Churchill to No. 10 Downing Street on the afternoon when he had just returned from the Palace to tender his resignation. He spoke to us at some length in the Cabinet Room, which was filled with the changing light of a rather stormy afternoon. He was quite obviously leaving the matter with us and leaving it to our judgment when he emphasised that the future of peace in the world and the future well-being of this country turned strongly on our remaining in close friendship with the United States. He added that if we remained in a close alliance with the United States, despite the perils that seemed to loom at that time, all would be well. He said that if we allowed ourselves to be separated from the United States, things would be very different and great dangers would come upon the world and upon us.

Those words, spoken by the greatest man I have ever met on an occasion when he was in a state of deep emotion at the end of his immensely distinguished public and political career, are true and have enormous relevance to the situation with which we are faced. If we can remain in a closely knit alliance with the United States and at the same time fully support the United Nations, we shall bring this country through the dangers which face us in the next few years and perhaps for many years to come. However, if we falter or weaken, and if we suggest that sanctions will solve the problem or that a conference on Palestine may relieve the situation and try to avoid the challenge which we are facing, the situation of 1936 will occur all over again. Weakness will lead ultimately to disaster. Therefore I support most strongly the line which the Government are taking in this matter. I further support the courage and the resolution which they have shown and I wish them all good fortune in seeing the matter through to the end.

5.4 p.m.

Baroness David

My Lords, the Inter-Parliamentary Union sent eight government and opposition Members in the past month to the countries most affected by the Gulf crisis. I was the only Peer among them. In all, seven Middle East countries were visited. The purpose of the visits was threefold. First, we wished to explore the attitude of those countries that favoured an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait but opposed the presence of Western forces. We wished to ask them how they would enforce the UN resolutions. Secondly, we wished to express solidarity with the 30 nations that had joined in making a contribution in the Gulf. Thirdly—this is very important—we wished to recognise the sensitivity of, and the need for understanding towards, some of the countries that faced particular problems in this situation.

Dr. Michael Clark and I visited Israel and Jordan. I wish to tell the House something of our experiences. However, in the light of the long list of speakers I have shortened my remarks on Israel. In spite of the undoubted feeling of tension in Israel, we both felt that a spirit of compromise existed. I hope we were right about that. The low profile that Israel was keeping, and intending to keep, was constantly emphasised. There was no question of Israel making a pre-emptive strike. Israel felt it could absorb a first attack by Iraq, whether by missile or chemical weapons. However, if attacked, Israel said it would retaliate massively.

Israel was unhappy about the situation that would occur if Saddam Hussein pulled out of Kuwait as it believed he would be left with his large army intact and with the potential for developing nuclear weapons. Israel wanted Saddam Hussein to go and would remain distrustful while he was in power. Israel feared that sanctions would take at least a year to bite as it was certain that smuggling was occurring over the borders with Jordan, Turkey and Iran. Israel thought that Saddam Hussein did not really believe the West would fight. It felt that he would withdraw only if he believed that the West would fight. Perhaps the new build-up of forces and the latest UN resolution will convince him that the West is serious. I hope that that will be the case.

The statement from Dr. Kramer of the Dayan Centre that in many ways this conflict was a godsend to the Middle East surprised us. Dr. Kramer said that aid from the West would be diverted from Iraq to others and Egypt had had its debts cancelled. Saudi Arabia was getting a better price for its oil and its internal security was guaranteed. Turkey could expect more aid and greater sympathy for its entry into the EC. Iran had prisoner exchange and capitulation by Iraq on its borders. Israel benefited because the Arab world was divided and therefore Israel did not have to face Iraq alone. However, Dr. Kramer found it difficult to define a benefit to Jordan. We certainly had not thought of the matter in those terms. However, we had pondered on think-tanks and academics. The Dayan Centre is a sort of think-tank. In fairness I should say that Dr. Kramer envisaged that the benefits he had referred to would evaporate in a war scenario.

I now wish to turn to Jordan, which has certainly suffered more than any other country except Kuwait. We were warned before we went to Jordan that we would receive a critical and hostile reception, but those we met were courteous and friendly. There was emphasis on the strong bonds between our two countries. The special relationship between King Hussein and Britain was spoken of. However, strong words were used and the Jordanian case was put forcibly in meetings we had with parliamentarians from both the upper and lower Houses and later with two members of the Crown Prince's entourage, his economic and legal advisers.

Jordanian anger was primarily directed at the United States, but Britain was not far behind. The Jordanians hoped for a less aggressive attitude from the United Kingdom now that a change of Prime Minister had occurred. The Jordanians said that we had not given time for an Arab solution to an Arab problem to be found. King Hussein had worked hard for that and had been snubbed by Mrs. Thatcher when he visited England. The Jordanians said that Jordan had condemned the invasion and the taking of hostages and had taken a lead in urging their release. The Jordanians believed there could be a peaceful solution to the crisis without recourse to war. The chairman of the foreign affairs committee and an ex-Ambassador to the UK, Mr. Masri, emphasised the need for an Arab solution to an Arab problem. He said the King had moved quickly in going to see President Mubarak and Saddam Hussein, but that a mini-summit had been sabotaged. He insisted that an Arab solution was still possible if we left the Arabs to themselves and forces were withdrawn.

He and many others criticised the West for double standards. Those were words that we heard often. He said that the West had rushed to implement the UN resolutions condemning Iraq and imposing sanctions whereas other UN resolutions had been paid lip service only and the West had done nothing. He quoted Israel and the occupation of Arab territories, and the US, Panama and Nicaragua.

Other accusations were that the West had gone in because of the oil and, in the need to strengthen its position in the Middle East, had over-reacted. A few went so far as to say that the West saw the campaign as a way to discredit an Arab country and to see Arabs powerless and downgraded. Suez was mentioned. This group said that the West does not want to see a strong Arab country, hence the over-reaction of the US and the UK. However, the Bush offer of the Baker visit and the offer for Tariq Aziz to go to the United States which occurred just before we arrived in Amman, were welcomed and helped us.

Replying to their case, we stressed that there had been aggression by one Arab state against another, Arabs had killed Arabs, Arab states supported sanctions and Arab troops were in Saudi Arabia, which had requested help from the West.

Our impression was that Jordan has suffered greatly from the crisis. It has accepted sanctions, although paying a high price economically. Mr. Ripert, sent by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to assess the special economic difficulties being faced by Jordan as a result of implementing sanctions according to Resolution 661, said that: The overall economic burden on Jordan, relative to its economic activity, is much larger than on any other country, except Kuwait … Jordan is not the target of the embargo: but it may be its greatest victim. As it is, the economy will be crippled within a few weeks if emergency financial support of the international community is not forthcoming, beginning immediately". His report showed a 36 per cent. loss of GDP in 1990 and a 77 per cent. loss in 1991. All that we heard supported those figures. Our ambassador urged greater help from us.

Jordan, which already had camps of Palestinian refugees before the Gulf crisis (and we saw one), is absorbing hundreds of thousands of Jordanians and Palestinians who were in Iraq and Kuwait.

We learned that although the actions of Saddam Hussein were condemned by many parliamentarians and the intelligentsia, public opinion was very strongly in favour of him. His popularity and Jordan's economic plight put tremendous strain on Jordan's freedom of action.

Huge numbers of families are suffering, not only as a result of sanctions but also because remittances from those working in Iraq and Kuwait have stopped. As a result many families are in dire straits. The tourist trade, which is important for foreign currency, has gone. There is an energy crisis. Mr. Al Tahir, the Minister of Energy, whom we saw, told us that at the moment oil is coming from Iraq as Iraq owes Jordan large debts. Therefore, while the credit lasts—and we could not get a clear answer as to how long that would be—Jordan has some oil. However, economies are being made. For example, half the street lights are out.

We see Jordan as being of immense importance in the Middle East. It is pivotal to a peaceful solution of the Arab-Israel problem—physically as a buffer between Israel and Iraq and politically because of its influence, through King Hussein, with the other Arab states. It is vital for us to understand Jordan's difficulties, and we urge more aid for the country. I hope that when the Minister replies he will tell us that the Government have the plight of the Jordanians very much in their mind.

5.14 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I should not like it to be thought that, in speaking from the Back Benches, I am in any way in disagreement with my noble friend the leader of my party. I do so symbolically because I am not speaking from a party political point of view but as chairman of the Middle East committee of the Refugee Council. I should like to widen the debate somewhat to cover the problems arising from the Gulf crisis which affect people in all parts of the world.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, has already touched on the problem of the impact of the crisis on developing countries. I should like to talk about refugee problems, the third world and developing countries. Noble Lords are no doubt aware that the problems exist but may be unaware of the scale. I am indebted to the relief agencies, and in particular CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, the Save the Children Fund and the World Development Movement for briefings.

Recent reports have documented growing concern about the devastating economic effect of the crisis in the Gulf on third world countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. Those particularly affected are the oil importing countries and also those having to resettle large numbers of workers. The development agencies are working with the most vulnerable groups. They say that to the problems of economic slow-down, contracting job markets, price rises and losses of government revenue must be added the ability of the agencies to sustain their own project work in order to encourage sustainable development in those areas. They believe that their work is being seriously undermined. Moreover, they do not believe that the crisis is likely to be short-lived. They all believe that it may worsen if there is war.

Developing countries face the following problems. The first is obviously higher oil bills. UNCTAD estimates that the increased cost of importing oil for the lesser developed countries will amount to 920 million dollars in 1991 if the price of crude oil remains at about 25 dollars a barrel, or 1,600 million dollars if the price goes up to 30 dollars a barrel. In the event of war, who knows what the price of crude oil will be.

A report by the Lutheran World Federation Department of World Service concerning its emergency operations in Sudan shows that between early August and the beginning of November the cost of one day's flying of one Hercules aircraft had risen by 3,850 dollars per day—a 46 per cent. increase. That is the cost of getting food aid to some of the most seriously afflicted starving people in the world.

The second problem is the slow-down in world economic growth which is leading inexorably to the erosion of primary commodity prices on which those countries' economies depend. A reduction in the domestic growth of the poorest countries and a deterioration of private investment in those countries will result in serious problems for them in servicing their debts.

The third, and perhaps the greatest, problem is the loss of remittances from their own nationals who have been working in the Gulf. Bangladesh received one-third of its foreign exchange from 110,000 workers in the Gulf. In India 170,000 people have returned from the Gulf, and in Sri Lanka, a much smaller country, the number is 85,000. The loss of those remittances can devastate the whole social structure of a developing country.

A joint agency briefing states that: In Dafour and Kordofan regions of the Sudan the symptoms of drought and economic hardship are remarkably similar to the famine of 1984. During that time the most vulnerable communities and families sent members to the Gulf to work and send back badly needed money. Now a similar food crisis is approaching but their backstop has disappeared". If one adds to that the loss of aid from Kuwait and other OPEC countries, one can see the difficulties that they face.

Finally, some have also lost important markets. Sri Lanka had an annual trade with Kuwait and Iraq of some £25 million. That is not a vast sum by our standards but it is an important sum to a country as small as Sri Lanka.

So far I have said nothing about the pressure of refugees and returnees in terms of additional unemployment and extra mouths to feed. For example, in the Israeli-occupied territories, at a time when the green line has just been re-imposed after 22 years and some 50,000 Palestinian workers are therefore unable to get to work each day, a further 30,000 have returned from Kuwait having lost their jobs and their savings. In Saudi Arabia 80,000 Yemenis have been expelled by the Saudi Government because of their political differences with the Yemeni government. Many have lived away from the Yemen for more than 30 years. The agencies would like to help but are unable to do so because the Yemeni Government do not allow themselves to recognise that a problem exists.

There is a problem with several thousand Somalis who, for obvious reasons, do not want to go home, and the authorities agreed that they must not be sent back against their will as they could be in mortal danger. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been asked to resettle them. There are the problems with Iraqi Kurds who have found their way to Greece, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, will be saying something about Kurds in Turkey. The Greeks say that these people are illegal immigrants, which is technically correct, but the alternative for them is to go into Turkish refugee camps. No aid has recently been received by these camps. The reason is that the countries giving the aid are not prepared to send it unless the Turkish Red Crescent is prepared to say that the aid is being properly used; and the Turkish Red Crescent is not prepared to go and look at the camps unless aid has been sent. We have a terrible Catch 22 situation there.

To say all this is not to question the stance taken by the Government in relation to Saddam Hussein. As I said at the beginning, I fully support the stance taken by my party, alongside all other politicians in this country. I believe, like my noble friends, that the United Nations resolutions must be upheld. Iraq must leave Kuwait and we must pay whatever price is necessary, however awful that price may be. But what we cannot accept is that the poorest countries of the world should be expected to pay a disproportionate price which will set back their development even further. I am aware that aid has been provided to the so-called front line countries of Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. The noble Lord, Lord Molloy, who I am sorry is not in his place as I say this, perhaps underestimated the amount of support that has already been given to those countries. But the Government seem reluctant to go any further than those three countries. The right honourable Mrs. Lynda Chalker, writing from the Foreign Office to the Director of Christian Aid on 6th December, said: One of the key lessons from earlier oil price rises is that developing countries must make policy changes to tackle the resulting balance of payment problems. Additional external resources will of course be necessary to assist countries while these policy changes take effect". I find that a somewhat depressing approach to the problem, and I think that these people deserve better than that sort of attitude.

As I have sought to show, this is a multi-faceted problem. I quote again from the same letter: The overall effect of the rise in oil prices on the British Economy is substantially adverse, and it is far from clear that there will be a net gain to the Exchequer after taking into account, for example, increased social security payments arising from the additional increase in the RPI". Even if that is true, even if as the Government claim in the ODA letter our total aid, including our "heavy share of the costs of the multi-national force", is relative to our GDP and is second only to that of the United States, and even if Britain is too poor to help further (although I just wonder how poor we are when we are constantly told what a wonderful economy we have), I think it is our job to press others who are perhaps not making as big a contribution as we are ourselves. I think particularly of our partners in the European Community and the Government of Japan. I believe that we should press them to give more help to these people.

I hope that what I have said is not seen as an unnecessary diversion from the important subject of today's debate. I have merely sought to show that the victims of Saddam Hussein's infamy are spread more widely than many of us may realise, and that must not be forgotten when deciding what comes next in our efforts to free Kuwait.

5.25 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Swynnerton

My Lords, there are six points to which I wish to draw attention. Many noble Lords have been even more self-indulgent; I expect others will do likewise later. The first point is simply to congratulate the Government and their allies on assembling so splendidly this great coalition of states in reply to aggression. Such a thing would have been inconceivable a few years ago. The popular press, and indeed sometimes the Daily Telegraph, have made fun of some of the European and smaller states for the relatively small size of their contributions, but I think that is unfair. We must be impressed by the fact that the Czechs are sending 200 specialists in chemical warfare, whatever they were doing three or four years ago; and the Argentinians, I understand, are sending two battleships, whatever they were doing a few years ago. The transition is obviously remarkable.

My second point is to draw a lesson for the future, a point which has been touched upon by several noble Lords. As has been pointed out by many, this is the first great post-cold war crisis. It is not as serious as a cold-war crisis because obviously we are not threatened by a world war in consequence of it. We are not threatened by an exchange of nuclear weapons between the two greatest powers in the world. Nevertheless, it is a very serious crisis.

Several noble Lords touched on the point that out of this crisis we may draw a lesson: we may in some way organise articulation of those articles in the charter of the United Nations which provide for some kind of permanent international police force (to use what I imagine is the now discredited phraseology of President Roosevelt). That would seem to me to be a very interesting development. If this crisis were to develop in that way, as Falstaff says in Henry IV, Part I: Out of this nettle, danger, we, pluck this flower, safety". Perhaps I should not use that quotation since I believe that the last time it was mentioned in this Palace was by Mr. Neville Chamberlain in another place after the Munich crisis. Nevertheless, the phrase seems to me to be a good one.

I make one qualification. There seems to me to be no reason why the international force which has been gathered together in the Persian Gulf should not contemplate staying there. After all, it is likely to continue to be a very dangerous area. It is a rich area too, and therefore it is one where the dangers will be compounded. I say with all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, that few of the regimes in the region have much legitimacy and the quarrels will obviously continue. Furthermore, the regimes in the region which have been consistently friendly to us would look upon the establishment of such an international force as the re-establishment of something they would have liked not to disappear in 1970 and for which they themselves in 1970 offered to pay.

I come to my third general point. It is sometimes said in the press, particularly the American press, that in some ways it is absurd for us to contemplate going to war about a very small country whose democratic rules and constitutional government are fairly modest. I do not consider that that is the point. The smaller the country, surely the more important it is for the United Nations to take action in respect of its troubles. We all know that a humble and poor man needs the rule of law just as much as a rich man or a Member of your Lordships' House. I do not suggest that the Emir of Kuwait is poor, but his state is tiny. Indeed, some Members of the House may recall that in the late 1950s Her Majesty's Government considered that it would be good to negotiate some degree of association with Iraq. The emir was doubtful, which was just as well for him since very soon afterwards Her Majesty's Government's chief friend in the area, Nuri-el-Said, was overthrown in the revolution of 1957.

If Her Majesty's Government find themselves engaged in a conflict they should not shrink, as they have done in the past, from using the word "war". If one examines historical records since 1945 one finds that the question, "When is a war not a war?" has been persistently asked. The answer has been, "When it is going on". The Falklands war was not a war until the liberation of the Falkland Islands. The Vietnam war was not a war until the Americans withdrew. The Suez war was not so regarded.

I believe that that may be a mistake. If we enter a conflict we should surely consider whether the psychological backing that the Government will need ought not to be assisted by the use of this formal, frightful but nevertheless serious word. The use of the word "war" could more easily justify the censorship which will be necessary if troops go into action if we are to avoid the difficulties, to which the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, drew attention, of seeing on our television screens propaganda mounted by Saddam Hussein and other actions that would injure our troops in action.

My final point is strategic. We have a mandate from the United Nations to liberate Kuwait. I agree with my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. Having assembled this great coalition, we should be in great difficulties, as would world peace in the future, if the assembly were followed by anything other than a victory in Kuwait. However, if that victory in Kuwait is not followed by the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime we should consider the next step very carefully.

My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter pointed out very clearly that we would be in a difficulty if Kuwait were completely destroyed in those circumstances. But having liberated Kuwait we ought to consider very carefully what should happen next. It would be far better if the Iraqis themselves were sooner or later to overthrow their own government than if we were to do so for them. If such action involves waiting for a long time, it should be recognised as a real alternative to the invasion of Iraq. After all, a group of states which had the patience for many years—and many more years than necessary in these circumstances, I suggest—to withstand the Soviet Union should be able to organise the situation so that it outlasts the regime of Saddam Hussein.

5.35 p.m.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I should like to start with the remark made by most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York: he hoped that Resolution 242 would not be swept under the carpet. I hope that I remember his words aright.

One advantage of the new state of affairs in Downing Street might be that some aspects of what is still called "the special relationship" will be re-examined. How pleasant it would be if the Foreign Office were no longer required to behave like the dower house of the United States State Department, and if Ministers were permitted, for instance, to speak as freely about the Israeli nuclear weapons programme as they are about Pakistan's, about which they are "concerned", and even Iraq's. With regard to the Israeli nuclear weapon programme, they merely "have no firm evidence".

The noble Earl, Lord Caithness—whose reply we look forward to—will recall that he signed a number of regrettably incomplete Answers to Written Questions of mine only a few days ago. They were in accordance with the Government's long inability to admit, for instance, that Iraq made regional disarmament proposals earlier this year. Acceptance of this de facto trans-Atlantic censorship makes nonsense of our declared anti-proliferation policy, just as it does that of the United States. If the United States likes it that way, that is its business. But I do not believe that the former Prime Minister served our interests by her groupie policy.

In 1982 I was among those on the Opposition Benches who backed the Government in their determination to expel the invader instantly from the Falkland Islands. It was a single, isolated and small population which undoubtedly wanted precisely that. This time, for reasons that I shall give, I am among those who counsel caution and, if necessary, delay. The Arabs of the Middle East are a very large, very diverse population, very few of whom want Western military intervention.

The first reason to counsel caution is historical. Whatever the United States and United Kingdom do by force in the Eastern Arab world stands a high chance of misfiring. In 1917 the Arabs of the Middle East were persuaded to put aside their memories of the Crusades, to invite the deployment of British and French forces, and to join in expelling the Sultan of Turkey from what they saw as their own lands. He was expelled, and a year later Britain and France - which had long occupied Egypt and the Maghreb—were occupying what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Yemen and Oman. They were decreeing the kingdoms of Iraq and Arabia into existence. They were erecting the petty fiefs of Kuwait, Bahrain and the Trucial States into potentially independent nations —which they duly became—and they were choosing hereditary dynasties for them. That process left Iraq without a proper port. It turned Kuwait into little more than a conduit for oil and money into London.

Between 1917 and now, no faction of Arabs has called in the West to help them fight other Arabs. The lesson from history is, "Go not the last mile to avoid war, but the last 10 miles". "The Gulf is an Arab problem", say all the Arab countries until, as in the case of Egypt, they are paid by the United States to stop saying it.

My second reason for caution is political. During the Iraq-Iran war we preferred Saddam Hussein to the Ayatollah. Even when Saddam Hussein used gas against the people of his own country we continued to prefer him. When President Reagan decided that selling weapons to the Ayatollah was a good way to arm the mercenaries he was unlawfully sending against Nicaragua's lawful government, he decided to keep it secret. This chaotic lack of principle was neatly expressed by Arthur Schlesinger only a day or two ago: "One year Saddam is our pal. The next he is Hitler. One year Assad of Syria is the king of terrorists. The next he is our pal".

We must remember that the United States' first declared war aim—if it should come to war—was this. Why were the American boys there? They were there to defend the American way of life. That is in a country where women are not allowed to drive; where if people are taken in adultery the woman is stoned to death and the man is not; and where Christian worship is prohibited. This continuing political chaos in war aims is obvious enough to the Arab countries. It is also obvious enough to have turned a majority of the US people against early war. Perhaps I may ask this of our new Government: is it not now time that the Foreign Office ceased to act like a respectable small dower house?

My third reason against early war is military. The Iraqis are deterred from attacking Saudi Arabia or Israel by the military power that the "anti-Iraq alliance" has deployed; and the "anti-Iraq alliance" is deterred from starting a war in which its own weapons and the weapons that it earlier placed in Iraq's hands would all be put to use. Iraq has a powerful army; so much we all know. We sold it much of the weaponry. Our political allies, the Soviets, sold them the remainder. If Saddam Hussein has indeed mined the 700 oil wells, the environmental cost of our attack would be paid over years if not over decades thereafter. Even if he has not, we know that he has weapons of mass destruction. The head of the CIA—note that it is the CIA and not the tainted DIA—said publicly at the weekend that Iraq had deployed 1,000 tons of VX on almost every type of weapon. VX is a persistent nerve gas which will contaminate a battlefield for days or even weeks. The United States also stockpiles the gas.

When our Secretary of State talks about expecting war in the Gulf to be short, sharp and quick I do not suppose that he can even expect to be believed. It is most unlikely to be what his military advisers tell him. Would such an attack be sure of not hitting chemical weapons facilities? War would be a political disaster for sure, no matter who won, and possibly an environmental disaster too.

Have the Kuwaitis and Saudis been shown the environmental studies carried out by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, or have they not carried out any? Does anyone suppose that the Middle East will be more peaceful and prosperous after a war than it is now? Furthermore, does anyone suppose that a less peaceful and prosperous Middle East will not invite more interventions from the United States?

Weapons of mass destruction raise the question of linkage. Of course it is not a question; it is a fact. I say with regret that it is laughable—or it would be were it not so dangerous—when the solemn pundits, and the new and respected Leader of this House, argue about whether linkage exists or should be permitted. Linkage between Israeli weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has existed for years. Iraq has blundered ahead in the search for a multiple holding of weapons of mass destruction for fear of Israel's nuclear weapons. That is what they say and that is what cannot be other than true. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been summoned up by Israel's, which the United States has unlawfully tolerated, just as in the first place the Soviet Union's were summoned up by the United States', and ours, France's and China's by the Soviet Union's. That is the logic of nuclear deterrence—

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I wish to follow the noble Lord's argument. Does he seriously suggest that Israel has at any point threatened the territorial integrity of Iraq? Even the wildest exponents of a greater Israel —among whom I am not counted —have never thought of Iraq as being a target. Why, then, does the noble Lord argue that Iraq needs these weapons of deterrence against Israel?

Lord Kennet

My Lords, as all nuclear powers and all nations know, one cannot base one's policy solely on the perceived intentions of a potential adversary; one must also base it in part on the weapons that he holds. I do not believe that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, will dispute the fact that Israel has been developing nuclear weapons for longer than we believe Iraq has done—we do not know too much about the matter. I know well that Iraq "threatened" Israeli integrity when it was developing long-range ballistic missiles but it did so after having said "if Israel attacks". It said that then it would flatten Israel. Moreover, we must also remember that Israel bombed and destroyed Iraq's nuclear facility in 1982. We must ask ourselves what we would have done if the Russians had bombed Aldermaston in 1950. Would we not have reacted as Saddam has reacted in his clumsy and horrible way; namely, acquiring weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible?

The crisis that Saddam Hussein has wished on us, the first since the cold war subsided, is in short a cat's cradle of all the long, unsolved problems. Everything is further confused by the economic, though not military, collapse of the Soviet Union and the ever decreasing authority of a United States Administration sinking into a complex pit of multiple debt and scandal. The US Secretary of State, Mr. Baker, is the same Mr. Baker as was Secretary of the Treasury during the "thrifts" affair.

My fourth reason for suggesting caution and delay in the declaration of war is a particular fear which lurks in this situation. Will King Fahd, at whose invitation the various forces are there and who is largely paying for them, really wish to allow Mr. Bush to inaugurate a new desertification of Arab lands? What future then for the ruling families or for anyone else? And if he does not, will Mr. Bush contemplate launching an attack from carrier battle groups in international waters in the Gulf on his own? I asked the Government a Written Question about that subject. The Minister's very incomplete Answer suggested this is an issue about which he does not care to inform the House. Perhaps he will comment upon it in reply this evening.

For all these reasons I believe that it would be wrong to attack until the sanctions have demonstrably reached and passed their maximum effect. How can we judge when that is likely to be? The Administration in Washington is developing the opinion that they must fail and that war will succeed swiftly if, unlike in Vietnam, the military is allowed to use all that it has. The opinion of the CIA has been quoted by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, and it is a contrary opinion.

On the Benches opposite there is a tendency to believe that because we do not know for certain that sanctions will work and, furthermore, work within a certain time, we must go to war now. Many Members on these Benches believe that if they might work, even within an unspecified time, we have no right to undertake the dreadful task of modern war. Back in August, how long did the Government think that a full land, sea and air blockade would take to work? In judging at any time how likely sanctions are to work we should take into account all the objective indications that we can find. Should we not, therefore, ask ourselves why Saddam Hussein released the hostages? The fact that it was inhuman and illegal to take them in the first place does not stop that being an objective indication of less than total intransigence. Did not Iraq and Kuwait co-operate constructively at last week's OPEC meeting? Why is Saddam physically dismantling Kuwait? Does that not suggest he does not really intend to stay there?

On another level—political philosophers might say on a higher level—we are living through a sudden acceleration in humanity's oldest dream: the establishment of lasting peace. We see the machinery grinding towards its own existence: the UN is now inventing itself every day. If there is a war it will be only the third which could loosely be called a UN war. I shall return to the word "loosely" in a moment. In 1950 the Soviet Union lost patience and flounced out of the United Nations. A visibly relieved United States rallied the rest of us and in the name of the UN drove the North Koreans back where they came from. An aggression was repelled, under UN command. In 1960 the Soviet Union struggled so hard against the power of the UN to enforce in the name of peace resolutions which conflicted with its dream of power in Africa that it paralysed the Security Council. The nations of the world then came together in the General Assembly and resolved there to defend the integrity of the newly independent Belgian Congo. The integrity of a new state was preserved, under UN command. From then until 1986 a catatonic Soviet Union, having learned its lesson, effectively blocked all major action by the UN.

In 1990 we have no fewer that 12 Security Council resolutions applying sanctions, ordering Iraq out of Kuwait and so on and lastly, authorising the use by member states of all "necessary means" to enforce Iraq's retreat. Why then must one cavil and say that it would be only loosely a UN war? Because the keystone of the arch is missing. The one Security Council resolution which would make this action the true successor of Korea and the Congo in the construction of a single, self-aware humanity—and would, incidentally, make President Bush the true hero that he so longs to be—is a resolution by which the UN would go beyond authorising single member states to go to war and would assume direct command of the operation. It would re-vamp the UN military committee and appoint a UN commander-in-chief and, if that commander-in-chief were a US general, what could be more natural?

The US should pay all its arrears to the UN and all the compensation awarded against it by the World Court, and should over the next few months ensure that if war is made on Iraq, it is made under UN command. That really would be in accordance with the manifest destiny of that country, or at least with the manifest destiny its friends all over the world would like it to assume. War now, without waiting for sanctions to bite and without UN command, would endanger the ability of the UN to solve major crises in the future.

In the meantime, what is the Secretary-General of the UN doing? Why is he not shuttling between Baghdad on the one hand and Riyadh, Cairo, Damascus, Washington and London on the other? The first substantive resolution of the Security Council last August, Resolution 661, laid on Iraq and Kuwait the immediate—I repeat immediate—duty of: beginning negotiations for the resolution of their differences. It also: supported all efforts in this regard and especially those of the Arab League. Mr. Heath spoke excellently on this in the House of Commons last week. That duty binds Kuwait as formally as the duty laid on Iraq to get out of Kuwait binds Iraq. Why are these negotiations not taking place? Who is preventing that or impeding the Secretary-General? It is time now for the game of chicken that Presidents Bush and Hussein are playing over Kuwait to be called off, and for them and all the other governments concerned to revert to communication. Then, when the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait has been secured, it will be time for the conference on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, which Mr. Shamir has just agreed to, to be convened, and then to grow as quickly as possible into a system for security and co-operation in the Middle East—CSME—along the lines of the precedent—CSCE.

5.52 p.m.

Lord Haden-Guest

My Lords, it is now more than four months since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2nd August and the adoption of the Security Council's first resolution on the subject in which it demanded that the Iraqi forces withdraw from Kuwait and called upon Iraq and Kuwait to begin immediately intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences. It supported all efforts in that regard, especially those of the League of Arab States.

That call for intensive negotiations may be considered to be the important part of that first resolution. As perhaps the only way to a possible peaceful settlement, a strong case can be made for a path to negotiations rather than insistence upon limiting the scope of any talks to simple statements of position, as now proposed by some leaders of the alliance.

In that connection, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, observed in a previous debate that to negotiate peace is desirable if it is a just peace. In the same debate the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, called on Her Majesty's Government to recognise that the glow of rectitude which comes from our refusal to negotiate does not last and may cost many lives and worse.

More than two weeks ago, on 29th November, the council adopted a resolution of a different type; namely, Resolution no. 678, 1990, which authorised member states to use military force. However, noble Lords must be aware that the apparent unity of the council, as shown by that adoption of the resolution, masks the real fact that it had been long resisted by some members of the council who thought, rightly, that it was premature or a hindrance to the peaceful solution needed, and had thus been imposed upon the more reluctant members by those more eager perhaps for a purely military solution.

The changes in national attitudes since the invasion explain in part the existence of those differing views in the council and outside it. They have surfaced in every country touched in one way or another by the aggression of Iraq. On the one hand, the hardening of the Iraqi position has provided a rationale for those both in the Middle East and the West to advocate not just pushing back the Iraqis to the territories from which they emerged, but also the effective neutralisation of the Iraqi state.

On the other hand, individual members of the alliance, with their troops taking up position in ever-increasing numbers in Saudi Arabia and adjacent areas on land and sea, have been and remain divided on the desirability of a military solution. In each country where there was initially strong support for what was expected to be a quick air war with few casualties, there is now a growing and more mature understanding that, should war break out, the numbers of people engaged, the power of their weapons and their determination to use them would surely make for a conflict of horrific proportions, the results of which could not possibly be foreseen.

Given that new perception of the realities, it is not surprising that opposition to such a war in the making has grown as quickly as it has. In the United States there is increasing anxiety which has been expressed strongly in Congress, the media and among organised political groups. Establishment figures including former chiefs-of-staff add their voices to the questioning.

A similar swing of opinion in this country and in Europe must be expected to gather strength as people worldwide turn to the idea of long-term sanctions as a preferred means of pressure while at the same time attempts are made to open a dialogue. Is that a real possibility? I suggest that optimism in the near future may not be called for, but we should be remiss in our duties in attempts at finding a way to some sort of tranquillity and even a fragile peace if we neglected to follow all possible leads.

In a matter connected with events in the Gulf, an article in Sunday's Independent regarding the United States/Iraqi peace talks reported that Saddam Hussein had ruled out any negotiations which did not start with the Palestinian issue. As noble Lords are aware, the idea of discussing any issue concerning Palestinians at this time has been repeatedly blocked by the United States, which has arbitrarily declared that there can be no link between efforts made to deal with the crisis in the Gulf and those which would address the Palestinian question, involving as it would discussions on the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and the political future of the Palestinians. Of course that would include as one option the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

While a large part of the world has expressed its outrage at the treatment of hundreds of thousands of Asians and others forced to leave Kuwait because of the invasion and the treatment of Kuwaitis and other nationals left in Kuwait, involving as it has both loss of life and the destruction of property, and, of course, the taking of hostages, the cause of the Palestinians has been routinely ignored.

As the matter now stands it is difficult to see how a series of talks such as those proposed by Saddam Hussein or anyone else could be other than a useful beginning to resolve an undoubtedly perilous situation in the Middle East. It is equally difficult to understand how any discussion, whenever and wherever held, even if only remotely likely to lead to an improved atmosphere in the Middle East could be consistently and cavalierly put aside because some leaders of the alliance invoked the doctrine of no linkage.

It is reasonable to suppose that either now or at a later stage more than a few Israelis with sober thoughts for the future will welcome and join a dialogue which in time may offer the prospect of a region of independent states—Israel among them—living side by side in peace. For the present, even the faintest possibility of averting a Middle East war should be pursued. That is a view I feel sure would be shared by anyone with sons and daughters in the Gulf enterprise, and not least by the hundreds of thousands of soldiers waiting with justified apprehension in the Arabian desert.

At this extraordinary and dangerous time, patience and negotiation are called for. Those and those alone will do the trick.

6.2 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, who could have foreseen a few years ago that we should be debating in your Lordships' House the possibility of a major disaster befalling the world with loss of life and property and environmental damage because a country of fewer than 20 million people is defying a coalition of countries from all over the globe whose populations and resources many times outweigh it? It is not surprising that people tend to lose their nerve in such a situation and that extravagant demands are made upon our imagination to see what would happen if the worst came to the worst. It is also not surprising that people are attempting, rightly, to find an alternative to such a conflict, even though they may believe that the weight—as I suggested—is not as even as one would have imagined from some interventions that have been made.

What are the alternatives? One alternative is negotiation. We are indebted to the noble Lords, Lord Kennet, Lord Haden-Guest and Lord Mayhew, for making clear what was not made clear in the debate last week in the other House by the proponents of negotiation—the right honourable Edward Heath, the right honourable Denis Healey, and others. They left vague what the negotiations were to be about. We have now been told. Saddam Hussein is to be bought out of Kuwait at the expense of Israel. That is a perfectly tenable and arguable point, though it was made with a degree of anti-American venom in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and with a degree of well-known anti-Israeli prejudice on the part of the other two noble Lords.

The noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, said how nice and how hopeful it would be if some moderate Israelis would get down and talk to Palestinians regarding a future which might embrace a Palestinian state. I am not an Israeli; I am a Jew with close, intimate connections with Israel. I have talked with Palestinians and with those seeking peace in Israel for years. That peace process was under way and will be renewed. I believe that what the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, said was very relevant in that regard.

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and his friends appear to have omitted from their discussion the fact that what put back that process was the decision by Mr. Arafat to support Saddam Hussein's aggression against Kuwait. Once the Palestinians threw in their lot with a regime which invaded another Arab country, which is plundering it and murdering its people, it is not surprising that the Israelis and their friend; outside Israel feel less enthusiastic regarding the peace process than they did before the invasion of Kuwait.

The linkage is there. Saddam Hussein put it there. Mr. Arafat emphasised it, and the noble Lords, Lord Mayhew and Lord Kennet, would quite happily go along with it. Therefore it is a reality. However, even if the conference was promised and was set up, and even if the conference forced Israel to accept the existence of a Palestinian state, it would not solve the problem of Saddam Hussein's aggression against Kuwait. The Israeli option is a red herring.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting. I wish to remake a distinction I made in my speech between a possible conference to redraw the borders of Israel—I believe the noble Lord is saying that that is what we on this side are demanding—and a conference of the kind recently accepted by Prime Minister Shamir; namely, one to control weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I feel that in all cases where one is dealing with arms control, political settlement and willingness come first; arms control follows. I know of no case where arms control was successful unless there was already a willingness to agree on the issues between the parties concerned. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has made a career out of arms control, but he cannot have me on that one.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, the noble Lord is most generous with his time. He has forgotten the agreement on the mutual reduction of intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, does the noble Lord believe that without Mr. Gorbachev coming into power and looking for a new relationship with the West there would have been such an agreement? If so, I am speechless. However, I am not left speechless because there are other things I wish to say.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, perhaps I may make my disclaimer covering a number of points made by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. At no stage did I say that we should negotiate about Palestine with Saddam Hussein. I made it perfectly clear that I was against that.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I am delighted to hear that. It has perhaps taken my intervention to obtain that explicit statement, which I believe was not part of the noble Lord's speech.

The second alternative to war is reliance on sanctions. There has been a good deal of emphasis on allowing sanctions to operate. I do not know, and nobody can know, the extent to which sanctions are damaging or will damage moderately or ultimately even fatally the Iraqi economy. We know from past history that one side in a conflict may decide to limit itself to economic sanctions; but that does not constrain the other side in the conflict from using other means if it sees fit.

The reason we did not proceed with the sanctions against Mussolini over the Ethiopian war was that we thought it was possible that our Mediterranean fleet might be attacked by Mussolini; that he might choose the path of war even though we were choosing the peaceful path of sanctions. That is one powerful argument against reliance on sanctions: the so-called military option is transferred to the other side.

But there is a second reason which in one respect or another has been touched upon by a number of noble Lords who have spoken. Since we could not know whether or not sanctions were going to work, and since we would need, in order to prevent a military assault by Saddam Hussein, to have very large forces in the Middle East, even if not forces of the size that they are likely to reach in a few weeks' time when they will have an offensive as well as a defensive capacity, we would then require the United States or ourselves, or the French, to be prepared for a year or 18 months to keep troops stationary in defensive positions in the Arabian peninsula.

These are troops, the Americans already complain, deprived of the comforts of the flesh and deprived equally of the comforts of religion. It is not a hospitable country in which to spend more time than one needs. I should like to believe that sanctions would work, but I see nothing in the prognosis, and nothing in our experience, to make me feel that any government who weigh up the issues are likely to come to that conclusion. Nevertheless, it is again, like negotiation, an alternative that we have to explore, because war would be fatal.

The final point I should like to take up was made by the most reverend Primate, who thought that one indication of our good will, and therefore making more likely the possibility of negotiation, would be a public limitation of our war aims in advance: that we should publicly declare that we were limited to the liberation of the territory of Kuwait and the restoration of its legitimate government. He did not, I think, specifically refer to something that has been referred to by other noble Lords; that is, as to whether the Kuwaitis could be expected to regard that as sufficient, given the appalling regime of plunder and massacre to which they are being subjected.

But my argument would be a rather different one, and one that would be based on military rather than political considerations. I had hoped that we might in this debate have the advantage of military advice from some noble and gallant Lords who know about these things, but we, as laymen, will have to do our best. I think, however, that we can say, based on briefings that have been given by military leaders—and we cannot expect to be fully taken into their confidence; I hope that we shall not be, just as I hope that the media will be kept at arm's length—that it is difficult to conceive of a campaign to liberate Kuwait that would not involve the entry of troops into Iraq or, as a minimum, the bombing of airfields, missile sites and other possible objectives in Iraqi territory. If one looks at the history of other liberations one can see that the liberating army is almost certain—and I think that with modern technology it is more likely than it used to be—to go beyond it.

Therefore it would, in a way, not be very convincing to anyone—perhaps not even to Saddam Hussein—if we were to take literally the most reverend Primate's view as to the possibility of a public limitation of our aims; that is to say, the aims may remain—and indeed we have no right to go beyond the resolutions of the United Nations—that limit us to the liberation of Kuwait; but if we were forced, as I still hope we may not be, to use military means we cannot in advance say that they would not be of such a kind as to jeopardise both the future military capabilities of Iraq and no doubt with them the regime of Saddam Hussein himself.

I come back, if I may, to the question of negotiation. Remarks have been made about the desirability in the United Nations resolution of direct negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait. It seems to me to be a little hard to see how one could expect a direct negotiation between people whose country is under occupation and the occupier. Then it is said, "Well, if they cannot meet face to face, what about the Secretary General of the United Nations?" I think people have forgotten that in the early weeks of this crisis Mr. Perez de Cuellar and his aides were extremely active. They were in and out of the Middle East all the time, and they got nowhere. It is not surprising that he did not wish to risk the prestige of the United Nations by getting further snubs from Baghdad.

I quite appreciate—I think we all did even before we were told about it by the noble Baroness, Lady David—the difficult position of Jordan. But the King of Jordan has also endeavoured ceaselessly to find a way to what is called an Arab solution. So far as we know, he has got nowhere because of the insistence that the Iraqis would not discuss anything that involved their withdrawal from Kuwait.

Only yesterday the President of Algeria—one of the countries that was thought of as a possible Arab mediator because it was not committed to the international force in the Gulf and was not closely linked with Iraq—said that he has given up his effort. He can see no way in which there can be an Arab solution. These things have all happened. They are all lessons for us, and the primary lesson is not only that war is horrible and a last resort but that only those who look carefully at the balance of forces, and the realities of the situation, can give us any help in our last desperate effort to avoid it.

6.19 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I believe that it will help to clarify the issues in this debate if we recognise from the start that we are really discussing and debating which is the lesser of two evils. On the one hand, there is the option of military force, of war, as the noble Lord has just rightly insisted, with all its consequences, which are unknown, limitless, and unimaginable. Secondly, there is the option of the use of sanctions, which we should recognise will also bring destitution—as has been mentioned by my noble friend Lady David and others—to Jordan, Iraq and many other third world countries which are suffering from the effects of the rise in oil prices and the lack of supplies. Although sanctions are bound to bring about destitution, they also represent some hope of an alternative to military force.

In examining the first option of war, I should like to remind the House that the latest resolution of the Security Council, No. 678, does not specifically call for military force. It commits us to use all necessary means in order to restore peace and security to the Middle East. Those means could be various but they can be taken to sanction the use of military force.

It does not help the situation, and I believe that it is dangerously misleading to the British public and the British Parliament, for the Secretary of State for Defence in another place to assert that a war would be short, sharp and quick. I wonder whether the right honourable gentleman has today read the evaluation by General Norman Schwarzkopf, the United States' commander-in-chief in the Gulf, who states that war could take more than six months and could end in stalemate. That statement hardly bears out what we are being told by our own Secretary of State for Defence. I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, will tell the House where the Foreign Office stands in relation to predictions on military action.

It is not only the Americans who have been discussing the dangers of a lengthy war. Those noble Lords who have been following the hearings before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and other bodies in the United States will have read what General Schwarzkopf said about the prospects of war at the beginning of this month. He told that committee that there were perhaps two chances out of 10 that Iraq would be forced to withdraw by a quick surgical air strike. He did not know how long military action would take. He added that the United States would certainly prevail but that each side would suffer thousands of casualties. Frankly, I prefer to take the views of General Schwarzkopf than those of our Secretary of state for Defence.

It is clear that military action in the Middle East will involve the destruction of what is left of Kuwait and those who are left of the Kuwaiti population. We know that in the Middle East there are three nuclear powers: Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. We know that masses of chemical weapons are held by Iraq. We saw the terrible effects of chemical weapons when the Iraqis attacked the Kurds and their own people and when the United States used them in Vietnam. One has only to think of the name of My Lai to recognise the disastrous effect of the use of such weapons.

As has been pointed out, there are strong reports that Saddam Hussein has mined oil fields in the Gulf and in Kuwait in particular. We know that a person like Saddam Hussein is prepared to bring down the temple if he feels that his end has come. In doing so, he could well bring down the temple for the whole of Europe and probably more. The environmental effects of such a disaster cannot be imagined or calculated.

Military action in the Middle East, whoever justifies it, is bound to bring unimaginable chaos to that area of the world. What will it leave? If it leaves anything, it is clear that Syria, Israel and Iraq would be the dominant military and economic powers of that area.

Before I turn to the alternative method of sanctions and discussions, I should like to say that I hope that the noble Lord will not repeat what has sometimes been a fashionable practice in this House and another place; namely to equate discussion with appeasement. There are those of us who remember organising on behalf of the League of Nations against the whole of the Hoare-Laval Pact; in connection with the Spanish Civil War, against the Anschluss, and against Munich. It was the appeasers in Government and on the fringes of Government who at that time supported the enemies of the League and the enemies who eventually caused the Second World War.

Since that time those who have attacked international law as represented by the United Nations, whether it be in Suez, Vietnam, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Libya, Grenada or Panama, cannot be accused of appeasement. There have been double standards used in the past and they are being used today. However, those of us who opposed the situations in the countries that I have listed are those who are entitled to say: we support the United Nations; we supported it then, we support it now, and we support its authority.

There should be consideration of how the authority of the, United Nations can best be supported. In the original resolution, No. 660, of last August, the third clause called for Iraq and Kuwait immediately to begin intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that the calling for negotiations between those two countries may seem to be a very difficult task. Neverthless, it was the will of the United Nations. It should therefore have been carried into effect by the Secretary-General and his staff. I quite agree that the Secretary-General and his staff tried to talk to Baghdad, but that was a long time ago. I suggest that attempts should be made by the Secretary-General and his staff to carry out that resolution and that they should be supported fully by our Government as a member of the United Nations.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that when that resolution was passed—it was passed on the first day of the invasion—no one contemplated what was going to happen in Kuwait? It was thought that there had been an invasion and that the invading army would no doubt institute some kind of military rule. 'The rulers had escaped. It was thought that there could be negotiations. But as we were told by the noble Lord the Leader of the House and others, the population of Kuwait has been decimated by expulsion, by murder and by massacre. Kuwait has been plundered. None of those things was in the mind of the United Nations when that resolution was passed. Therefore, the situation having changed to that extent, it is doubtful whether one could now get the United Nations to pass a resolution ordering the Kuwaitis to negotiate with Iraq.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I fully accept the difficulties raised by the noble Lord. All I would say is that that resolution should still be a basis for attempted action by the United Nations. I know that it is difficult and I do not in any way minimise what that noble Lord has said. However, I still believe that there is a basis on which the Secretary-General of the United Nations could talk to the Iraqis and to the Kuwaitis, if for no other reason than to suggest logistical means for the withdrawal from Kuwait. I am not saying that it would succeed. I am saying that it is there as part of the resolution and that it is a basis on which the Secretary-General could act.

We have been debating the issue of how long we should wait for sanctions to work. Accepting that sanctions are a better method of settling a conflict than military means, I would turn to some of the most distinguished observers and most experienced administrators of this kind of situation. Again I turn to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. At the beginning of this month the chairman of the committee, Senator Pell, said: Given the human and material costs of the alternative, I believe more time should be allotted to see if the economic sanctions will work and see if a diplomatic solution to the crisis can be found". It was James Schlesinger, former Secretary of State for Defence and former CIA Director, who said on 5th December: The embargo backed up by a naval blockade is the most successful ever achieved aside from time of war. Early on it was officialy estimated that it would require a year for sanctions to work. It now appears to be working more rapidly than anticipated". If that is the case—we are entitled to know from the Government what information they have—we should be debating whether it is better to give sanctions at least 12 months to work rather than to take military action in the mean time.

I am reminded of an answer which the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, gave to my noble friend Lord Kennet a few days ago. My noble friend reminded him of the passage in the memoirs of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in which he talked about finding that sanctions were working in Rhodesia only after two years. He seemed to think that that destroyed the value of sanctions. I suggest that waiting two years for sanctions to work is better than taking military action in the mean time, with all the drastic consequences that have been outlined today. In a passage in his speech the noble Lord the Leader of the House said that we have been patient. I remind the noble Lord of the words of General Eisenhower: "It takes courage to be patient". If that patience will save life and prevent disaster and environmental tragedy, surely the courage of that patience should be shown by our Government and by this House.

I suggest that in these circumstances the correct policy to follow is that which was advocated before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee by Robert MacNamara, a former Secretary of State. He said: Our task should now be to maintain and tighten sanctions". He concluded with a sentence which I suggest could be a text for this debate. He said: Who can doubt that a year of blockade will be cheaper than a week of war". I would be cowardly if I did not accept the possibility that even in the long run sanctions will not work. What then should be done in the last resort? I echo the words of my noble friend Lord Kennet. I am not a military expert. I would hope that, if the military option were even contemplated for the future, there would be international planning in the mean time. Military action represents a defeat for the United Nations. The United Nations is based on the conception of conflict resolution without the use of physical force. The use of physical force in these circumstances would mean that we had descended to the values of Saddam Hussein. I do not say that in the long run this may not be necessary. What I do say is that, if it is necessary, we are admitting that we have destroyed the prospect of a world based on international law and that there will be a conflagration with the end of any hope of peaceful conflict resolution.

I again echo the words of my noble friend Lord Kennet. Such action must not be taken unilaterally. Such action, if it has to come, must come under the aegis of the United Nations. It should not be Stars and Stripes or the Union Jack; it should be blue berets. I say again that we should not contemplate such action for, as Robert MacNamara suggested, 12 to 18 months. I repeat, as the theme which guides me in my consideration of this desperately dangerous situation for the international community, that a year of blockade will be cheaper than a week of war.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, can the noble Lord say what his reply would be to the point I made regarding the fact that during a year or two years of blockade our forces could be attacked? Does he think that we should maintain our large forces in that part of the world during that period, or does he assume that it can all be done by us from the sea?

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I accept the second part of the question. In my view there is a need to maintain large forces in the area. I would not expect —and I do not think many people would—such a force to be attacked by the Iraqis. However, I accept what the noble Lord said in his speech about the danger of boredom and disillusionment. That point was also met by Robert MacNamara when, as I understand it, he suggested, with the backing of the American military commanders, that the way to avoid this is to organise a rotation of troops so that troops are not stationed in the area for a long period of time. I believe that that is what the United States' military commanders are suggesting.

6.40 p.m.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, within the context of this debate I should like to draw attention to an urgent humanitarian question which has certain connections with the situation in the Gulf. I refer to the plight of the Kurdish refugees from Iraq now living in three large camps in south-east Turkey. In the summer of 1988, the Iraqi army conducted a major offensive through the Kurdish areas of north Iraq. Following soon after the poison gas attack on Halabja, this so alarmed the local people that about 40,000 of them fled their homes and crossed the frontier into Turkey. They were grateful to be given a place of refuge in that country. Since that time some of them have gone to Iran, very few have returned to Iraq, while a few thousand have found asylum in Greece, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. Smaller numbers have gone elsewhere. It is estimated that about 27,000 remain in the camps in Turkey, including a high percentage of women and children. The camps are situated near the towns of Diyarbakir, Mus and Mardin.

Early last July, some Kurds in London contacted me about Mr. Akram Mayi who is the spokesman for the camp at Diyarbakir. He and I then corresponded and last week I had the pleasure of meeting him in London. I therefore had an eye witness account of conditions in the camps. Mr. Mayi's visit to London became possible because the Reebok Foundation in the United States gave him a major human rights award. The honour is well deserved and very timely.

Conditions in the refugee camps are unsatisfactory. All the refugees are in tents. Families of up to 10 people share a single tent. The tents are now over two years old and, having withstood extremes of heat and cold, are becoming worn out. The Turkish ambassador in London informed me in writing that his government was replacing the tents as soon as possible. However, 10 days ago that process had not yet started. I submit that it is vitally important that it should be completed before the worst of the winter weather arrives. I understand that Foreign Aid funds are available to meet the cost involved.

In the camps, water is not over-abundant and most refugees have to walk 300 to 400 yards to collect it. The available food is basic, with meat being available only every two months. Turkish doctors and nurses provide a limited health service, but are said to be harsh and unsympathetic in their attitude to patients. It is significant that the doctors and teachers among the refugees have been refused permission to exercise their professional skills, although they would dearly like to do so.

Uncertainty over their status and future prospect is an even greater problem for the refugees than their hard physical conditions. The Turkish Government have not so far accepted them as refugees and have refused access to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Instead, they are treated as guests, with a totally uncertain and unknown future. The Turkish Government have gone so far as to refuse the offer of permanent rehousing made by the UN High Commissioner which would have cost an estimated 13 million dollars. Access to the camps has been denied to both the ambassadors of the European Community countries and to representatives of international humanitarian organisations.

Within the refugee camps there is virtually no education for the many children. The adults are not allowed to work and may only leave the camps for a maximum of two hours. They complain of physical and verbal abuse by Turks. It is not surprising that these refugees see no prospect of improvement and that they feel vulnerable, powerless and fearful. In this difficult situation they have only survived and held together through their considerable idealism and community spirit, to which I pay tribute. It is important that the world should know the position of these refugees who have been driven out of their own country by the Iraqi army. I suggest that it is doubly important because of the great difficulties of access to the camps.

I have a number of questions to put to Her Majesty's Government. First, will they deal quickly and sympathetically with the small number of refugees —probably not more than 100—who may wish to come to Britain because of relatives, friends or other connections in this country? Secondly, will they continue to support the efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to secure a permanent solution? Thirdly, will they continue to give a lead to all countries within the European Community and within the Council of Europe in persuading the Turkish Government to ease the conditions in the camps? The most important considerations are: new tents the right to work; the right to education; and, finally, full status as refugees.

I conclude by briefly mentioning three major lessons that the invasion of Kuwait has made clear. These are over and above and in addition to the very valuable points already made by my noble friend Lord Greenhill of Harrow. First, we need permanent systems for UN peace-keeping forces, available, if possible, in advance of crises. Secondly, we must develop sustainable energy policies, thus limiting the reliance of Europe and America on the Middle East. Thirdly, the international trade in arms will have to be much more closely controlled in the future than it has ever been in the past.

6.48 p.m.

Tie Earl of Onslow

My Lords, I sincerely hope that we will all follow the example set by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in his brief, coherent and good-points speech. I believe that there is a Latin tag si vis pacem para bellum which means that if you wish for peace, then prepare for war. My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter said that he felt slightly embarrassed, as an older man, encouraging his younger brethren to go to war. As a middle-aged man, I feel just as embarrassed. There is no doubting the fact that it is rather an unattractive sight to see fat gentlemen in London clubs saying to young men that they should go off and get killed in the desert.

My wife has a godson who is due to go to the Middle East next month. He is a tank troop leader and he will probably serve in that position in a points squadron if there has to be war. Therefore, I shall simply say what I have to say with immense care and sincerity. It must be made absolutely clear to Saddam Hussein that, unless he moves out of Kuwait without any argument, any negotiation, or any form of excuse or benefit from his aggression, he will be pushed out by force. If there is any shading of those conditions by experts before the Senate Armed Services Committee or by former Prime Ministers, former Chancellors or even former Viscounts going to see him and telling him that perhaps Mrs. Thatcher's departure will make the war less likely, then the possibility of war will be more likely. He will think that we do not have the stomach for it. Consequently, he will not go and we shall be forced into the appalling death, destruction and environmental damage which war will produce.

We are in the process of achieving a new world order. The great Gothic arch of deterrence which was held up by Russian communism on one side and American capitalism on the other has now ended. What do we have? Basically, from the borders of the old Ottoman Empire to the far borders of the old British Empire there are Turkish tribes stretching from Chalcedonian Thrace to the borders of China. Kurds are in revolt against Turks and Persians. There is an immense sea without authority, with destabilisation and horrendous amounts of arms all in one place.

It is worth while remembering that in 1939 there were 250,000 soldiers between Aden and Singapore. They were all in the Indian army and most were horsed. When Baghdad was last occupied by British troops, it was done by lorried infantry because there were few soldiers. Incidentally, the present Duke of Wellington received the Military Cross in that operation. That is a useless piece of information, purely for your Lordships' benefit.

Now the area is stuffed full of arms. There are 1 million soldiers in India, nearly 1 million in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands in Iraq and hundreds of thousands elsewhere. All are being sold weapons of mass destruction and super mass destruction. It is therefore quintessentially important that the authority of the United Nations be maintained. The only way in which that can be achieved is by the grit and determination of the United States. It is up to us to support the United States in its support of the United Nations. If this man gets away with it and the United States is out-faced, the Israelis will take action. If they take action on their own it will be because they are frightened. They have cause to be frightened because of their treatment of the Palestinians. If one wishes to be stupid one calls oneself Yassir Arafat and instead of backing the Kuwaitis one backs the Iraqis. Then one loses all the sympathy one expected.

This is an immensely dangerous world with a large number of fissiparous states, all with no basic authority and too many arms. It is only with the authority of the United Nations, with the armed might of the United States and, I hope, supported by us, that we can achieve something. Perhaps it would be useful to have some Germans there. Since 18th June 1815, either their presence has been unwelcome or their absence has been regretted. We must support the United Nations. If we do not, if we miss the opportunity of imposing order and peace so that negotiations can take place, we will rue the day we started shilly-shallying. The more strongly Her Majesty's Government support the United Nations, the more strongly I shall support the Government, even though that would not make a blind bit of difference.

6.53 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, there have been differences in the debate but the majority view, which has just been given vigorous expression by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, is that the choice is between war and failure. That was quite clearly the theme which he placed before the House. I do not believe that to be true. I believe that the declaration of war would be the failure and I wish to argue the point a little.

One factor that has been altogether missed out is the presence of nuclear weapons in the area, perhaps because they are all at present held by one side. Iraq is probably within a year or a little more of having a nuclear capability. There are 19 ships in the Gulf with nuclear capability; between them they have about 500 nuclear weapons. Some of those are allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; there are a couple of hundred nuclear weapons in Israel which are not allowed under that treaty because Israel does not acknowledge it. Altogether there are about 750 or 800 nuclear weapons, all of which might go off by accident. However, if there is a war, so far as I judge at the moment, it would be unlikely to be nuclear. It is not impossible; it could occur; Iraq may be further advanced than we know, but it is unlikely.

With modern weaponry, a war can be disastrous from many points of view without nuclear weapons. Those of us who spend our time worrying about nuclear weapons are sometimes reminded of this. Yet it is proposed by the majority, with various degrees of enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm that a war should be launched in the name of and with the authority of the United Nations. All wars involve killing, maiming, blinding, disabling. The noble Earl made clear that he knows this very well. However much we like to forget it and talk in terms of euphemisms such as "the use of force" or "all necessary means" we are really talking about killing, injuring, maiming, blinding, burning people. That is what we advocate when we say that we may be driven to a just war. The most reverend Primate feels that that is the only kind of war that can conceivably be supported by the Church.

It overlooks the view that all wars are unjust to those who fight in them or who are the helpless victims, the non-combatants who suffer the consequences of modern war. Justice does not exist once a war starts, even though there may be the theory that one side is more just than the other. Injustice is usually fairly well distributed. Sometimes one side may be totally just and the other side totally unjust. That does not mean that the people who participate will be any more just or unjust or any less the innocent victims of the consequences of the war. That is another point which perhaps we are inclined to forget.

However, it is said that if we do not have the war, the United Nations will collapse. I wish to question that view. Let us suppose that we have the war. Iraq has been supplied by those who now regret it with ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear—if they have them—chemical or other warheads at ranges of up to 2,000 miles. Iraq produces tonnes of mustard and nerve gas every month. As has been mentioned already, it has killed at least 5,000 of its own Kurdish people with the gas. Iraq is also believed to be capable of producing anthrax. I would not put that past the present leadership of the country.

The United States has sent 100,000 body bags to the Gulf from one USAF base alone in America. Blood is being sent by Britain at the rate of 1,000 units a day and naval mortuaries are being prepared in Portsmouth and Plymouth. These are the realities of war which we cover up by "the use of force". Estimates of casualties vary from 300,000 to over 1 million. It is thought that 80 per cent. of those casualties would probably be civilian. Those may be underestimates.

Let us suppose that the war occurs and we win it, as of course we shall. I do not doubt that. Let us suppose that Baghdad is left in ruins and Saddam Hussein is toppled. Perhaps people and towns as far afield as Israel may have suffered in such a war. Lives may have been lost in countries apart from those immediately involved in the war. What would happen in such a situation? There might be a permanent occupation, but by whom? Obviously a permanent occupation is an impossibility, but extended sanctions with the replacement of troops is a possibility. We could sustain sanctions and replace troops for up to one year and probably two. However, I suggest that we could not contemplate the permanent occupation of a Middle Eastern country by Western countries. If we presume that there will be an occupation of Iraq, who will carry it out? An acceptable government may be established in Iraq but, to be on the safe side, I must say that I believe occupation would have to form part of a peace plan. Therefore I come back to the question of who would carry out such an occupation.

Perhaps with an acceptable government Iraq could become virtuous in the eyes of the world. Perhaps Iran will again become the villain and start to annex adjacent territory. Iran could take advantage of the weakness of Iraq at such a moment and easily invade new territory. What would happen then? Would a peace conference follow in such a situation? I believe that that is likely. Would there be a Middle East settlement that addressed all the troubles, difficulties and trials that face the Middle East, including the main problem of that area, the trouble between Israel and Palestine? I believe that such a conference would be almost certain to occur.

After all the bloodshed, we may finally achieve a peace settlement which we should have now. Would it not be better to reach such a settlement now and dispense with the killing? We could do so. Such a solution may involve some loss of face. Saddam Hussein must, of course, leave Kuwait but the methods of just wars are as appalling, with their Dresdens and Hiroshimas, as those of unjust wars. We must give peace a chance and we must give sanctions a still longer chance for the moment we start a war we have already lost. Our victory would be a disaster.

7.3 p.m.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, we are here to debate the Motion that this House takes note of developments in the Gulf. I believe those developments are those which have occurred since we last debated this subject on 13th November. The significant developments in the Gulf since then are, first, the increased military presence and, secondly, the freeing of the hostages whom Saddam Hussein detained in Kuwait and Iraq. However, we need to range a little wider than the matter of developments in the Gulf because the course of war that the world is bent on will not be determined in the Gulf but rather in political capitals around the world quite far from the Gulf.

Two other significant events have occurred since 13th November in connection with the Gulf. Very few speakers today have mentioned one of those events, which is that the United Kingdom has a different Prime Minister. I shall return to that point later because I believe that it is one of the most significant changes in the situation. The other change, which is horrendous in its implications, is that we have had, effectively, an American declaration of war. That will translate Operation Desert Shield into Operation Desert Sword on 15th January. We should make no mistake about the fact that some speakers in this debate have been rather worried that Saddam Hussein might comply with all the United Nations resolutions before 15th January and thereby avert a war. I do not think that that is likely. I believe we are hell bent on seeing a bloody war start in the Middle East on 15th January.

What are our aspirations and what are the problems we face? What can we do about those aspirations and problems? I hope that the three aspirations that I shall mention are shared by everyone. The first is that we should obtain a peaceful solution to the crisis that has erupted in the Middle East; the second is to secure that solution by the United Nations as a firm foundation for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the future. The third aspiration is that that peaceful solution under the auspices of the United Nations should be a long-term solution. What are the risks involved in those aspirations? The first risk is that war will break out. As I have said, I am convinced that war will break out. We have less than a month to avert that situation. A further risk we face is that the conflict will be seen as a conflict between the United Sates and Iraq. Moreover no attempt has been made to change the underlying instabilities in the region that have caused the crisis to erupt.

Would it not be much more beneficial to all of us around the world if the crisis in the Middle East and the Gulf could be resolved by the employment of what I would describe as good UK police tactics of talking out a siege situation rather than the American practice of going in with all guns blazing?

The other day I put down a Question for Written Answer. I was trying to obtain some background information on the situation in the area and on the eruption of the crisis between Iraq and Kuwait. I asked some very simple questions. I asked how many people lived in Iraq and how many people lived in Kuwait. To balance that information, I also asked how many people lived in the United Kingdom and how many people lived in the United States. The reply given was that the information requested was not available at that time. I hope that when the Minister replies he will be able to give me that background information.

One of the interesting things about parliamentary Questions is that one should never ask such questions unless one knows the answers. On 4th September the House of Commons Library produced a background paper which mentioned the number of inhabitants in Kuwait at the end of July. It also stated the proportion who were not Kuwaiti citizens. The source was the Middle East Economic Digest. Those were two reasonably authoritative sources for the information which I requested in my written parliamentary Question. The Government did not even have the ability to look up those sources and provide the information—not just to me but, because it was a parliamentary Question, to the rest of the people of the United Kingdom and whoever might read Hansard.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. I apologise for the fact that I was not in my place when he began his remarks but I came as soon as I could. Can he explain to the House the relevance of his current line of argument? Is he trying to show that the numbers in Kuwait are so small that they do not matter?

Lord Monkswell

No, my Lords. I am not following that line of argument. I am trying to ascertain some of the reasons for instability in the Middle East. I suspect that there are two main reasons. One is the fact that there are countries which are run by governments which are not elected by the population resident in those countries. In the case of Kuwait there are 700,000 citizens and approximately 900,000 non-citizens living in the country, yet it is ruled by one family. That is a source of instability.

I suspect that that is one of the causes of the problem between Kuwait and Iraq. It has not been the people of Kuwait—700,000 citizens or 1.6 million residents, depending on the criterion one chooses—who have discussed the relationship between Kuwait and Iraq and the economic benefit of their respective populations. It has been one family in Kuwait. Something like 5 per cent. or 7 per cent. of the world's oil production comes from Kuwait, yet one family determines how that money is to be spent. That must be a source of instability.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening, but is he not aware that one family rules in Iraq as well? Saddam Hussein and his family, who come from one village in Iraq, control the whole of that nation.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, that is an interesting point. The reason for mentioning who rules the country relates partly to whom they speak for and partly to the way in which the economic wealth of the country is distributed. Those were the questions for which I sought background information from our Government. Our Government appeared not to have that information. Effectively, there is no recognition by our Government of the instabilities that exist in the Middle East.

Another problem that we face is that the leadership in the United States has said that it will meet the leadership of Iraq and discuss and negotiate. When asked what they are to negotiate they say that they will not negotiate but will tell Saddam Hussein that he has to get out of Kuwait. Having some experience of negotiation in an industrial relations context, that does not suggest to me that they are going into the talks with a view to negotiating. It appears more like delivering an ultimatum.

We are continually told that the United Nations has passed this resolution or that resolution. The implication is that it is unanimous and there is complete support in the United Nations for those resolutions. If one looks at the reports from the United Nations one finds that it is not the United Nations as a whole which has passed the resolutions but the Security Council. It is the representatives of only 15 countries of the world rather than of 150. Even those 15 have not been in unanimous agreement. Most of the resolutions pertaining to the crisis in the Middle East have not been unanimous.

One or two other speakers have mentioned the problem that the forces arraigned against the Iraqis in the Middle East are deployed either under the stars and stripes of the United States or the Union Jack of the United Kingdom. I add my voice to those who say that if there is to be conflict at least let the combatants arraigned against the Iraqis fight under the flag of the United Nations and under United Nations command.

I shall not continue, because I have probably spoken for long enough. However, I should just like to say that I have spoken to a number of military men. Like most of your Lordships, I am not an expert on military affairs. However, I hope that I am open-minded enough to ask salient questions and to listen to the answers. All the answers that I have received from military men about what is likely to happen in the Middle East suggest that it will be a long and bloody war. I hope that we shall do everything we can, and I hope that our new Prime Minister will do everything he can, to ensure that that war does not take place.

7.17 p.m.

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will not expect me to follow very closely what the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, said and I do not regard myself as having a duty to defend your Lordships on all occasions and on all issues. However, I do not know to which of your Lordships the noble Lord referred when he said that some speakers were worried by the prospect of Saddam Hussein accepting the United Nations' resolution before 15th January. I believe that everyone in your Lordships' House would welcome such a happy outcome to the events that we are discussing today.

I should like to associate myself with the words of the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, in his opening remarks about the release of the British hostages. We all welcome their release and their return to their families in this country. One consequence of their release which I had not expected is that there has been a great deal more reporting of what has been going on in Kuwait than there was hitherto. We should remind ourselves that, while our hostages are now free and at home for Christmas, the population of Kuwait is still held hostage and Kuwait itself is being dismantled, obliterated and destroyed by Saddam Hussein. We should not forget that in this debate. It seems to me to be very relevant to our response.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, suggested that because Saddam Hussein was destroying Kuwait he might not be planning to stay there. I am afraid that I cannot share the noble Lord's optimism. Saddam Hussein has made Kuwait the 19th province of Iraq and the city of Kuwait is now called Kadhima. So far as we know he has shown every intention of obliterating the state, absorbing it within Iraq, looting it of its treasures and anything else on which he can lay his hands.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton and I find myself bewildered by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. The fact that Kuwait is not a democracy and that we receive a great deal of oil from it should not inhibit us from condemning the behaviour of Saddam Hussein; still less should it relieve us of our obligation to carry out the resolutions of the United Nations.

I do not think we should deceive ourselves, as it seems to me some of your Lordships have been suggesting in the later part of this debate. As my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead made clear, we should not deceive ourselves about the consequences of a failure to secure the implementation of United Nations resolutions. The consequences would be extremely severe. If Saddam Hussein is allowed to remain in control of Kuwait the effect on his Arab neighbours would not be influence; it would be hegemony. He would not merely have enormous influence over his neighbours; he would gain control of a very substantial slice of the world's oil supply as well as its price. This altogether excludes the impact of failure to secure implementation of those resolutions on the United Nations, on all the forces for international peace and order in the world, on the high hopes which had been heralded by the end of the cold war, and on the prospects and confidence of successful co-operation between the United States and the USSR in dealing with world problems.

Thus, not only would the authority of the United Nations be undermined but so would that of the United. States. In the face of this failure the trend within the United States towards isolationism would be increased, the future of Israel would be jeopardised, the spread of nuclear weapons would be encouraged, the price of oil would go up to some price which we cannot easily calculate, and an economic recession of world dimensions would be precipitated. Those are just some of the consequences which seem to be neglected by the people who appear to regard the prospect of securing implementation of the United Nations resolutions as more dangerous. That is not to mention the consequences which the action of Saddam Hussein has brought to bear on refugees, as described by my noble friend Lord Tordoff, or on the Kurds, as graphically described by my noble kinsman Lord Hylton. Hence, as the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, made clear, the stakes in this whole affair are extremely high. It seems to me they are as high as anything since Korea As it is outside the cold war the geography of the political conflict is different.

One of the problems in debating this subject among your Lordships is that, unless we are in the Government, we do not have very much information at our disposal. All we can offer and consider are various options which appear to be available. But it is difficult to discuss those options with the kind of knowledge one would like to have in the absence of that information. One option is the military one. On this point two views have been expressed in the course of this debate. One is that delay in using the military option, if I may so put it, is against the interests of allied forces because the coalition cannot be held together. I think that that was the view to which the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, referred. Moreover, after the end of March the weather will be such that military operations would have to be postponed until the autumn. The difficulties of holding the coalition together over that period of time would be acute. The second view is that sanctions must be given time to work. The military option, because of its cost and environmental consequences, and the casualties involved, as well as the political consequences in the Arab world and beyond, is such that it must be used only as a last resort.

As I said, though we have insufficient information to argue in a convincing way between those two alternative approaches, there is certain information which I think we could have. I warned the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, that I would be asking for it in the course of this debate. In relation to the command structure of the forces in the Gulf, if British troops and servicemen are to engage in military action and are to suffer casualties in what is likely to be a fairly savage war, we should know under whose command they will be serving. As I understand it, they will be serving under the command of the United States forces. That is okay. But when the shooting starts, who will have overall command of the operation? After all, there are contingents from 38 other countries there. I think we should be informed whether or not the problem of the command of the whole United Nations force has or has not been resolved. If it has been resolved, we must know how. Who will be responsible for the troops whom we have sent there and who may have to engage in this conflict?

The second question I want to ask is this: what is the Government's view of the impact of sanctions? This point was also raised earlier in the debate by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. We have heard certain statements by the Foreign Secretary, which were repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, to the effect that they thought sanctions might not be enough to do the trick, roughly speaking. But as sanctions are a central part of our strategy the public should be informed as to how the Government think sanctions are working. The support of the public is an equally essential part of our strategy and we have a right to know what is going on.

We have some information. Needless to say, it comes from the United States, not from the British Government. Mr. Schlesinger, among other things a former director of the CIA, is reported in the Guardian as saying on 5th December: 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". In evidence to Congress, the head of the CIA said recently: Iraq is now deprived of more than 90 per cent. of the goods and services it needs, and 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". I should like to know whether the Government agree with these assessments of the impact of sanctions on Iraq's economy and its war-making capacity. The answers to those questions lead to very important conclusions as to how we ought to approach the present situation.

It seems to me that what my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead achieved in his opening speech was an analysis of the options, as I have called them, open to us in this crisis. From that analysis, I believe certain conclusions may be drawn. First, one may agree with the director of the CIA, Mr. Webster, who said over the weekend that Saddam Hussein will not withdraw his troops until he is convinced that he is in peril of imminent attack. He will try to stretch out the crisis by moves short of UN resolutions. That assessment of the likely behaviour of the enemy is important to bear in mind. Hence the credibility of our willingness to take military action is crucial to our strategy. I refer to the credibility of our willingness to take military action. It does not mean that we have to take military action, but that we have to convince Saddam Hussein that we will. In those circumstances—and it is as a parenthesis—I believe that the United States would be well advised to say here and now that if hostilities occur they will not use any unconventional weapons except in retaliation for their use by Iraq.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, does the noble Lord mean that, if the Iraqis were to use either chemical, biological or gas weapons which come under the heading of unconventional weapons, therefore the United States would be justified in using tactical nuclear weapons?

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, roughly speaking, it means that. It means that the United States would not initiate them but that if the Iraqis used them it might.

The dispute between those who talk about advocating dialogue and those who oppose it seems in some respects to be a matter of appearance rather than a reality. The linkage between the Gulf and talks about the Middle East has been made apparent in this debate. We have not been able to talk about the Gulf without talking about the Middle East generally. I imagine that in any conversations that are taking place—they must be going on; the embassies are there and they must be doing something—those wider questions cannot be kept off the agenda. The contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, earlier in the debate was constructive and interesting.

Finally, I argue that the military deployment serves a number of different purposes. The first was to protect Saudi Arabia. The second was to induce the withdrawal of Iraqi forces. The third was—and in my view is—to precipitate discussions such as those proposed by President Bush—which are at present stalled—which would encourage withdrawal. The fourth and last is, as a last resort, by force to compel the Iraqi forces to withdraw. Therefore the deployment of forces is not a simple act with one purpose but serves a multiplicity of purposes.

Meanwhile it seems clear that a dialogue is taking place. At present it may be only a dialogue about talks about talks. But that agenda can, and I suspect will, be extended. However, the pre-condition of that dialogue is the existence of a credible military presence which can and will be used in circumstances where Saddam Hussein remains obdurate and unwilling to conform to UN resolutions. To avoid that prospect, we must not only stand firm; we must convince Saddam Hussein that we mean what we say.

My argument can be encapsulated in the following propositions. For sanctions to work, Saddam Hussein must be convinced that we are ready to go to war. To convince him that we are ready to go to war, we must in the last instance be prepared to do so—and that is the most likely way to secure a peaceful settlement.

7.35 p.m.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the Government for affording time for the debate at the Opposition's request. We have felt for some time that we needed a review of the position in the Gulf. For that and other reasons, I welcome the debate and I am grateful to the Government.

Before I refer to the detail of the debate I wish to make two general points. First, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York was right to point out that the policy of firmness and restraint which has been adopted by her Majesty's Government was the right policy. It is a policy that we on the Opposition Benches support. Secondly, the noble Lord, the Lord Privy Seal made perhaps too much of the analogy of the 1930s. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, got it absolutely right when he compared the present situation with the occupation of the Rhineland in May 1936. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that it was the French Government who had a general election six weeks later and who could not respond properly. However much I would have opposed them, I believe that the British Government of the day could probably be exonerated other than by association. It was the French at that point who did not take the proper action.

Let me first address the question: where do we find ourselves now? I associate these Benches with all the comments about the release of hostages. We are not "grateful" because the hostages should have been released in the first place; but the fact that they are out is good news. We are very grateful to all organisations which, at great expense and considerable difficulties to themselves have taken part in transporting hostages back to their homes in this country.

As a corollary to that—I do not believe that any noble Lord has mentioned it in the debate—I should like to offer my congratulations to the officers of the Foreign Office who were in the hot seat at the time, in particular our ambassador in Baghdad and other representatives in Kuwait. In my view they have performed quite magnificently not only in staying at their posts but in protecting British citizens and, in the end, managing to get them out. I hope that all noble Lords will welcome my comments and associate themselves with them.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, Security Council Resolution 678 imposes a 15th January deadline on the Iraqis to comply with other previous resolutions. We all hope—I do not say that we expect—that the Iraqis will comply by that date. I do not believe that there is any difference of opinion in any part of this House about that proposition. However, we have to ask ourselves two questions. What happens if they do not? What has happened since the Security Council passed that resolution?

The United States Government have offered talks, discussions, or whatever label one puts on them—let us call them talks—about what would happen to the Iraqis should they not comply with the resolution of the United States. I fully understand what President Bush and Secretary of State Baker have said: that these are not negotiations. I fully understand that they intend in the one case to go to Baghdad, and in the other to receive the Iraqi Foreign Minister in Washington, and simply to tell him straight what would be the result of a war.

The problem is that once one offers talks about anything one tends to allow the opponent—if it be an opponent—to open up certain diplomatic initiatives. The Iraqis are no fools. They have succeeded in making more out of that offer than probably the United States meant.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, was right to remind us that we have to consider that aspect in the context of public opinion in the United States which is by no means wholeheartedly supporting any military action in the Gulf. The noble Lords, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton and Lord Jenkins of Putney, reminded us that war is war and that the Americans have had long experience of war, in particular in Vietnam. There is a very strong post-Vietnam consciousness in US public opinion which leads to doubts, of which we hear, in Congress and elsewhere about the value of military intervention. That is a problem with which we have to deal.

Some noble Lords talked about linkage, particularly the noble Lords, Lord Greenhill of Harrow and Lord Mayhew, and my noble friends Lord Kennet and Lord Monkswell. We must ask whether the Palestine problem is part of any solution that may be achieved as a result of any talks, or talks about talks, that may take place. Our view of the matter is simple. As I said in a debate in this House on 6th September, we welcome the initiative taken by Secretary of State James Baker. He said that after the Iraqis have complied with the United Nations resolutions there may be a possibility of reaching some sort of arrangement which will include discussions of other problems in the area. However, the pre-condition to that is that the Iraqis should comply in full with the United Nations resolutions. That is our position and, in so far as the Government accept it—and I believe that they do—we shall support them.

In assessing the present situation we are left with two major resolutions which have not been complied with. The Iraqis are not out of Kuwait. A member of the United Nations has suffered the aggression to which many noble Lords have referred and that aggression must be remedied. How that should be achieved—whether the Iraqis should pay compensation for the damage that they have caused and whether there should be reparation for the people in Kuwait who have suffered the appalling atrocities as reported by the returning hostages—is a matter for discussion and I leave it open. Nevertheless, the Iraqis must leave Kuwait. The second resolution is that there must be a restoration of the legitimate government of Kuwait. In so far as the Government support the UN resolutions we shall support them.

Many noble Lords spoke of the effect of sanctions. My noble friend Lady David said that they may take a year to bite. Perhaps there is still time. The noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, referred to the extent to which the Iraqi economy is being damaged by the sanctions. We look forward to hearing what the noble Earl has to say about the extent of that damage. I accept the point made by my noble friend Lady David. However, I believe that we must help the countries which are not involved in the conflict but which are being damaged by the sanctions. With their assets Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could easily contribute to the problems in Jordan and neighbouring Arab countries. However, I recognise that we and other members of the Community have some kind of obligation to third world countries.

I should like to believe that although sanctions will take time they will work. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, cast certain doubts about whether sanctions will work but I should like to believe that he is mistaken and that we should give them time. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, rightly remarked, there is no point in leaving sanctions to work without being ready to take the military option. We support the belief that we should be ready to take the military option. Nevertheless, I hope that the Government will exercise caution and restraint, as was said by the most reverend Primate and my noble friend Lord Kennet. They should not let us become involved in military action until we are absolutely certain that sanctions have not had their proper and desired effect.

Some noble Lords asked where the United Nations Secretariat stands in all this. We know that the President of the United States and the Secretary of State are negotiating. After all, they are resolutions of the United Nations. The Security Council is the motivating force for the actions being taken. For instance, what is Senor Perez de Cuellar doing, and what has he been authorised to do? Does he have a place in the negotiations? I know that he made one unsuccessful attempt at negotiations in Baghdad but I believe that a United Nations presence in the negotiations, if there are any, may oil the wheels a little.

In his opening speech the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal announced that 1,500 reservists are being called up. That brings me to the military situation in the event of a war. As the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, said, let us not be shy about calling it a war because it will be a war. Does the call-up of 1,500 reservists have any implication for other reservists? Are we anywhere near any form of conscription? I hope that the noble Earl will set out the Government's intentions and describe the way in which they wish to proceed. I do not wish to block any action that the Government may wish to take, but we require clarification of that announcement made this afternoon.

What will happen if there is a war? In my view there is no chance of a limited war. It is no good expecting a few units to move into Kuwait and then saying, "We shall simply occupy Kuwait and do nothing else". No serious chief of staff would entertain that military scenario. There will be an air strike. There will be approximately 2,500 aircraft flying at low level with cluster bombs and missiles, knocking out runways and installations and creating mayhem everywhere. There will be subsequent land and amphibious strikes. There are now more than 500,000 troops in the Gulf, including 30,000 British troops. With their substantial armour, artillery and air supremacy there is no doubt that there will be a major conflict. Any noble Lord who believes that a war will be quick, easy and fun must be misleading himself.

When military operations begin no one can predict the outcome. In respect of practically every war people said that it would be quick. In 1914 it was said that the war would be over soon. In 1939 it was said that the war would be over within six months. It was said that the wars in Korea and Vietnam would be simple.

However, when war starts no one can predict the outcome. One of the greatest generals of all time, Napoleon, said: "On s'engage et puts on voit". In other words, one engages and then one sees. That is the message that we must bear in mind when deciding—if the United Nations decides—that we want war.

If there is military action what will happen if one of two dangers occurs? In my view there are two dangers. The first is that the land attacks will become bogged down and we shall enter a 1915 situation. Having launched all our technology we discover that it is dug in to a point where we cannot remove it. There will probably be attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sectors. As my noble friend Lord Hatch pointed out, there may be environmental damage. There may be all kinds of problems with which we must deal. However, if we intend to take that action we must be able to prepare public opinion for that eventuality.

The second danger is the wild card. In this case the wild card is the unexpected move; for example, Iraq attacks Turkey—and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, referred to the Kurdish camps in Turkey; Iraq attacks Israel or Iraq occupies Jordan. Those are wild cards in the system and nobody can predict when or how they will be played. However, one can predict that in a war when people become desperate, the wild card will be played.

We support the United Nations. We should like to see time given for sanctions to operate, still recognising all the problems. We should not like to see a precipitate engagement in war.

I wish to make totally clear the policy of the Labour Party. It is not merely a question of whether or not we support this Government. We support the United Nations. If the Government support the United Nations, we support the Government. The message is that we are unequivocal in that support. We cannot pick and choose between one piece of the charter and another or between one resolution and another. For the moment, we take it warts and all. We accept the charter and all the resolutions because we believe that from this mess there is the first opportunity for a proper world order to emerge. That is what we should like to see. Failing anything else, that world order must be based on the authority of the United Nations organisation. That is our view. We have held that view consistently and shall continue to do so. I hope that there is no longer any doubt about that.

7.52 p.m.

Earl of Caithness

My Lords, today's debate has been timely. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in it. In most of your Lordships' speeches I detect what my noble friend Lord Waddington termed as a unity of purpose and indeed an underlying commitment to the firm approach adopted by the United Nations and the great majority of the international community. The Government are grateful for the support of the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. That united front by this House is to be welcomed throughout the country.

Some noble Lords have asked: what are the objectives of war? I am sure that all noble Lords would agree that the prospect of war, any war, is appalling. But if Iraq were allowed to pocket Kuwait and get away with the crime, Iraq would be in a position to intimidate the whole Middle East. Iraq might feel free in the future to move further, down into Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. We all hate the idea of a war to free Kuwait. But we should all hate even more the possibility of a wider Middle East conflagration which could involve the use of Nuclear and biological weapons.

The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York drew attention to the just war. In that context, I am reminded of the words of St. Augustine, who said: War and conquest are a sad necessity in the eyes of men of principle; yet it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men". My noble friend Lord Trefgarne reminded us that it has been and remains our intention that such a wrongdoer should not be allowed to dominate just men. No country in the world would be safe if aggression by way of an invasion of an independent country was allowed to succeed. In this instance our specific objectives are set out in detail in the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council. I assure the most reverend Primate that they go no further. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said in another place last week, the message is twofold. If the aggressor stays in Kuwait, he will be forced out. If he leaves Kuwait and complies fully with the Security Council resolutions, then he will not be attacked.

Those resolutions contain three principal elements: Iraq's complete and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait; the restoration of its legitimate Government; and the release of all foreign nationals held in Iraq and Kuwait against their will.

The last of those objectives has been achieved. As the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, reminded us, we are thankful but Saddam Hussein is not to be congratulated. He is only rectifying his crime against international law. Only a small minority of British nationals remain in Iraq and Kuwait, who have chosen to stay despite our strong advice to the contrary. The invaluable work of our Ambassador in Kuwait has been triumphantly completed. Mr. Weston and his colleague, Mr. Banks have our heartfelt thanks and warmest congratulations. The release of the hostages shows the effectiveness of the campaign that the international community has mounted against Saddam Hussein's aggression. But, as many noble Lords have noted, only one of our objectives has been achieved. Saddam Hussein has a long way to go before all the provisions of the UN resolutions have been met.

As part of its efforts to secure the reversal of the Iraqi occupation by peaceful means the Security Council has authorised those states assisting the Government of Kuwait to use all necessary means, including force, from 15th January 1991 if Iraq has not by then complied fully with the council's resolutions. This is not a call to arms: there is no obligation on the international community to take military action immediately the deadline has expired. In setting it, the council gave Iraq a "pause of goodwill". We hope Saddam Hussein will take advantage of this last opportunity.

But what if he does not? The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who at that time claimed to be speaking on behalf of the Benches opposite, urged caution and delay and that Saddam Hussein should be given more time. Many of those who accept that the international community should remain resolute against Saddam hold the sincere belief that, given time, sanctions will force him to withdraw. It is a serious suggestion and merits serious consideration.

We must always bear in mind that waiting is not a cost-free solution in human or any other terms. The major anxiety is not the financial cost of keeping thousands of troops in the Gulf; nor is it the financial costs to the rest of the world, including many developing countries, from the dislocation to their economies caused by the Iraqi invasion. The real cost is to the lives of people in Kuwait under Iraqi occupation and to the fabric of their society which is being destroyed progressively and systematically.

If this continues there may soon be no Kuwait left to save. The methods used by the Iraqi forces there are ruthle3s and brutal. Accounts abound from eye witnesses and victims who have escaped of the widespread abuse of Kuwaiti citizens and foreign nationals. Torture, executions and rape have become the order of the day. Harrowing testimony was given to the Security Council last month.

These abuses are part of a deliberate policy aimed at the systematic destruction of Kuwait as an independent state or society. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, when he said that one or two of your Lordships seem to have overlooked that. Iraq's Information Minister said on 4th November that the world should forget that a place called the Emirate of Kuwait ever existed. Kuwaiti passports, car licence plates and identity cards were declared invalid from 1st October. Many who showed passive resistance by continuing to carry Kuwaiti documents have been summarily executed. This regime of terror is designed to drive Kuwaitis from their country by making conditions there intolerable. The emigration of the young, the elderly and of women has been particularly encouraged.

In support of this policy Kuwait's economy is being progressively dismantled or destroyed. The Iraqis have organised the theft of everything moveable. This has included uprooting traffic lights and park benches, the removal of the contents of the Central Bank, and the stripping of hospitals. Even the animals from Kuwait Zoo have been taken to Iraq. Homes left by Kuwaiti families driven abroad have been allocated to Iraqis and Palestinians. I ask all noble Lords, not least the noble Lords, Lord Hatch and Lord Kennet, to reflect on that. How long can the remaining Kuwaitis afford to wait?

Furthermore, a policy of waiting also carries a military cost. Saddam Hussein's war machine is sophisticated and will take every advantage of the delay. With each day that passes Iraq is able to improve its military posture. In Kuwait itself there are now nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops and nearly 2,000 tanks working continuously to improve Iraqi defensive emplacements. Further delay will simply risk, irresponsibly, increasing the number of casualties in an eventual conflict.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl will permit me to intervene as he mentioned my name. I totally share his abhorrence of what is happening in Kuwait, but does he not agree that the invasion of Kuwait is almost certainly bound to flatten completely what is left of the city and wipe out the remaining Kuwaitis?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the one person who can solve that problem is Saddam Hussein. He should get out of Kuwait and fulfil the council resolutions.

The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, was the first of many noble Lords to raise the question of sanctions in some detail. Perhaps I may respond in rather more detail than I have so far. The test of whether or not sanctions are effective is whether they are inflicting damage on Iraq's economy. It is clear that they are. But as long as he can feed his army Saddam Hussein does not mind inflicting suffering on his own people. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, reminded us of the plight of the Iraqi Kurds.

The test is whether sanctions will persuade Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. The evidence is that sanctions alone will not be sufficient. Sanctions are having an effect, but not just on Iraq. As the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, reminded us—I see he is half-way back to the Front Bench—they are inflicting considerable damage on the oil consuming countries. A dozen countries, including Bangladesh, have lost a fifth of their export earnings thanks to higher oil prices, lost trade and lost remittances. We have always seen sanctions as an additional rather than a sufficient form of pressure. As my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter reminded the House, the history of sanctions is not very good.

The future of a peace process was something many noble Lords spoke of, including the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. But the House is agreed that Iraq must first get out of Kuwait. We can then turn back to the peace process, and we must reject the linkage of solutions to the Iraq-Kuwait problem with the Arab-Israeli problem. Once the crisis has been satisfactorily resolved it must be for the countries of the region to decide what security structures can best ensure their long-term peace and stability.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, and my noble friend Lord Thomas of Swynnerton wanted UN peace-keeping forces. It is perhaps wrong for us to impose on others what we believe to be right, for the reasons I have just given. But let me make absolutely clear that we stand prepared to play our part in any process to secure the peace of that part of the world. We look forward to the time when those countries can live, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, "side by side in peace". Of course I support what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges; if a nuclear, biological and chemical ban comes about it will be a valuable step forward and help to build a secure peaceful solution in the Middle East and the resolution of crises in that area.

The most reverend Primate said that we must not have a religious war. At this stage it is worth pausing to think who is involved in the Gulf. The majority of the substantive forces in the Gulf are American. But it is truly a world effort involving more than 30 countries. Forces have come from every continent; 16 countries have ground forces in Saudi Arabia. Four-fifths of those forces are Moslem and nine are Arab—from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Egypt, Syria and Morocco. That shatters the bogus claims of Saddam Hussein that he is fighting an anti-Arab or religious coalition.

While on the question of troops I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, for informing the House of the good morale of our troops following his visit. My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter reminded me of the question he asked before regarding reparations following the removal of Iraq from Kuwait. There is provision under international law for compensation to be sought from Iraq. I remind my noble friend of Security Council Resolution 674 adopted on 29th October. That re-emphasised Iraqi responsibility to pay compensation. We shall seek ways of ensuring that the aggressor pays for his aggression. It is too soon to reach conclusions about future action; much will depend on how the crisis is resolved.

Many noble Lords mentioned the importance of a successful resolution to this very grave problem for the whole future of the United Nations. I particularly recall the words of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. We all want the United Nations to succeed. It is worth recalling the recent declaration on the Gulf following the European Council in Rome on 14th and 15th of this month. The European Community and its member states earnestly hope that implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions can be peacefully secured. To that end they support a dialogue of the kind offered by President Bush.

When referring to those proposed talks we are disappointed by the negative Iraqi response. We still regard it as a welcome and important proposal, and urge Iraq to respond positively. I should like to refer to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow. I again re-emphasise to him that there is nothing to discuss in the sense of "to negotiate". President Bush and Secretary Baker made quite clear that they will not be negotiating. They will be speaking plainly so that Saddam Hussein understands exactly what is required of him, and exactly what will happen if he continues to defy the Security Council.

Many noble Lords spoke of the countries adjacent to Iraq and Kuwait. The noble Baroness, Lady David, helpfully recounted to the House her impressions of her visit to Jordan. We recognise Jordan's economic and political difficulties. Jordan is an important and close friend of Britain. We are encouraging others to help Jordan financially; an international support package is needed. But Jordan must ensure that sanctions continue to be properly implemented.

Naturally Israel was mentioned by many noble Lords. As the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, pointed out, Israel was created by the United Nations. It has since then been a full member. The resolutions of the Security Council extend to Israel, as has been shown by two new resolutions—Nos. 672 and 673 —in the past four months. The Security Council condemned the Temple Mount killings.

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, was not accurate when he claimed that the UN operates double standards. There can be no useful negotiations regarding the Arab-Israel problems while Saddam Hussein remains in Kuwait. Although there is no direct link, Iraq's occupation of Kuwait is undoubtedly a complicating factor. I agree with my noble friend Lord Beloff that the invasion has set back the search for peace between Arab and Israeli.

Another adjacent country mentioned was Turkey. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for giving me notice of his question. Our embassy in Ankara is considering with the Turkish authorities how best to deal with the applications that they receive. The question of granting refugee status in the United Kingdom is a matter for my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and I shall draw to his attention the points made by the noble Lord.

We continue to support the UNHCR in its attempts to provide a long-term solution to the problems faced by the Iraqi-Kurdish refugees in Turkey. We urged the Turkish Government to put forward acceptable proposals for the use of the 13 million dollars raised by the UNHCR to ease conditions in the camps.

The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, and my noble friend Lord Thomas of Swynnerton raised the question of burden sharing. In this instance we welcome the US initiative to set up the Gulf Crisis Financial Co-ordination Group. The need for economic assistance to countries most directly affected by the crisis is urgent, particularly for Jordan. The FCG donors have now pledged over 10.4 billion dollars for Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, and 2.4 billion dollars for the other countries—Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Somalia and Djibouti.

Comment was made regarding the contribution of Japan, and my noble friend Lord Onslow mentioned Germany. It is worth recalling that so far these countries have generously offered 4 billion dollars and 2 billion dollars respectively for all forms of assistance.

The noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, asked about command and control. The British forces remain under ultimate UK command. The UK forces may be under the tactical control of the US commander where this makes military sense. Equally, the 1st Armoured Division may have a United States' brigade assigned to its tactical control. Within this context the Saudi Government's position as host will of course be respected. In accordance with normal practice between host states and allies use of British forces in combat operations would be the subject of joint decisions.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, spent quite a lot of time trying to have fun with the Government about an answer that my noble friend Lord Reay gave in a Written Answer on 13th December. The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, was quite right to say that he asked what proportion of the people living in Iraq, Kuwait, the UK and the USA were citizens of the country concerted, and he is right to say that we replied that the information was not available at the time. But the noble Lord of course failed to remind the House that he gave a specific date. He asked for the figures on 31st July, and I am sure that the House would appreciate that we could not possibly give those figures.

The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, asked about mediation by the Secretary-General and what role he could play. I think it has been well said tonight in the House that the Secretary-General made every effort in the early stages to try his best to help the situation, but that every effort was rebuffed by Iraq. The Secretary-General has welcomed the United States initiative, and I am sure that he would be ready with his good offices to take the matter further if Iraq indicated willingness to comply with the Security Council resolutions.

The noble Lord also raised the important question of the announcement by my noble friend Lord Waddington about the reservists. What we are looking for is volunteers among the territorials and ex-regular reservists. If it becomes necessary to compulsorily call up specialists, only ex-regular reservists will be liable and not the territorials.

No government wants conflict in the Gulf. Security Council Resolution 678 is not a timetable for war. It is rather the last of the peaceful pressures on Iraq. As President Bush has said, we must "go the extra mile for peace". Continued pressure, through the threat of military action backed up by the will to use it, is an essential part of that effort. To remove that pressure would in effect legitimise an illegal act. It would abdicate responsibility in a way which would mean that no small state could ever again feel safe from a larger aggressor. Appeasing aggression will simply make the world more dangerous for everyone.

On Question, Motion agreed to.