§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:
"Mr Speaker, thank you for recalling Parliament to debate the best way to deal with the issue of the present leadership of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
"Today we published a 50-page dossier detailing the history of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, its breach of United Nations' resolutions and the current attempts to rebuild the illegal weapons of mass destruction programme. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.
858 "At the end of the Gulf War, the full extent of Saddam's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes became clear. As a result, the United Nations passed a series of resolutions demanding Iraq disarm itself of such weapons and establishing a regime of weapons inspection and monitoring to do the task. They were to be given unconditional and unrestricted access to all and any Iraqi sites.
"All of this is accepted fact. In addition, it is fact, documented by United Nations' inspectors, that Iraq almost immediately began to obstruct the inspections. Visits were delayed; on occasions, inspectors were threatened; material was moved; special sites, shut to the inspectors, were unilaterally designated by Iraq.
"The work of the inspectors continued but against a background of increasing obstruction and non-compliance. Indeed, Iraq denied its biological weapons programme existed until forced to acknowledge it after high-ranking defectors disclosed it in 1995.
"Eventually, in 1997, the United Nations' inspectors declared they were unable to fulfil their task. A year of negotiation and further obstruction occurred until finally, in late 1998, the United Nations' team was forced to withdraw. As the dossier sets out, we estimate, on the basis of the United Nations' work, that there were up to 360 tonnes of bulk chemical warfare agents, including one-and-a-half tonnes of VX nerve agent; up to 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals; growth media sufficient to produce 26,000 litres of anthrax spores; and over 30,000 special munitions for delivery of chemical and biological agents. All of this was missing or unaccounted for.
"Military action by the United States and the United Kingdom followed and a certain amount of infrastructure for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and missile capability was destroyed, setting the Iraqi programme back, but not ending it.
"From late 1998 onwards, the sole inhibition on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programme was the sanctions regime. Iraq was forbidden to use the revenue from its oil except for certain specified non-military purposes. The sanctions regime, however, was also subject to illegal trading and abuse. Because of concerns about its inadequacy—and the impact on the Iraqi people—we made several attempts to refine it, culminating in a new United Nations' resolution in May of this year. But it was only partially effective. Around 3 billion dollars is illegally taken by Saddam every year now, double the figure for the year 2000. Self-evidently there is no proper accounting for that money.
"Because of concerns that a containment policy based on sanctions alone could not sufficiently inhibit Saddam's weapons programme, negotiations continued after 1998 to gain re-admission for the United Nations inspectors. In 1999, a new United Nations' resolution demanding re-entry was passed and ignored. Further negotiations continued. Finally, after several 859 months of discussion with Saddam's regime this year, Kofi Annan, the United Nations' Secretary-General, concluded that Saddam was not serious about re-admitting the inspectors and ended the negotiations. That was in July.
"All of this is established fact. I set out the history in some detail because occasionally debate on this issue seems to treat it almost as though it had suddenly arisen, coming out of nowhere on a whim, in the last few months of 2002. It is an 11-year history: a history of United Nations' will flouted, lies told by Saddam about the existence of his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, obstruction, defiance and denial. There is one common consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain the programme; to risk war, international ostracism, sanctions and the isolation of the Iraqi economy, in order to keep it. At any time he could have let the inspectors back in and put the world to proof. At any time he could have co-operated with the United Nations. Ten days ago he made the offer unconditionally, under threat of war. He could have done that at any time in the past 11 years. He did not. Why?
"The dossier we publish gives the answer. The reason is that his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programme is not an historic leftover from 1998. The inspectors are not needed to clean up old remains. His weapons of mass destruction programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down. It is up and running.
"The dossier is based on the work of the British Joint Intelligence Committee. For over 60 years, beginning just prior to World War II, the JIC has provided intelligence assessments to British Prime Ministers. Normally its work is secret. Unusually, because it is important that we explain our concerns over Saddam to the British people, we have decided to disclose these assessments. I am aware, of course, that people are going to have to take elements of this on the good faith of our intelligence services. But this is what they are telling me, the British Prime Minister, and my senior colleagues. The intelligence picture they paint is one accumulated over the past four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative.
"It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons; that Saddam has continued to produce them; that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population; and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons' capability.
"On chemical weapons, the dossier shows that Iraq continues to produce chemical agent for chemical weapons; has rebuilt previously destroyed production plants across Iraq; has bought dual-use chemical facilities; has retained the key personnel formerly engaged in the chemical weapons' 860 programme; and has a serious ongoing research programme into weapons' production, all of it well funded.
"In respect of biological weapons, again production of biological agents has continued; facilities formerly used for biological weapons have been rebuilt; equipment has been purchased for such a programme; and again Saddam has retained the personnel who worked on it, pre-1991. In particular, the UN inspection regime discovered that Iraq was trying to acquire mobile biological weapons' facilities which are easier to conceal. Present intelligence confirms they have now got such facilities. The biological agents we believe Iraq can produce include anthrax, botulinum, toxin, aflatoxin and ricin. All eventually result in excruciatingly painful death.
"As for nuclear weapons, Saddam's previous nuclear weapons programme was shut down by the inspectors following disclosure by defectors of the full, but hidden, nature of it. That programme was based on gas centrifuge uranium enrichment. The known remaining stocks of uranium are now held under supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"But we now know the following. Since the departure of the inspectors in 1998, Saddam has bought or attempted to buy specialised vacuum pumps of the design needed for the gas centrifuge cascade to enrich uranium; an entire magnet production line of the specification for use in the motors and top bearings of gas centrifuges; dual use products such as anhydrous hydrogen fluoride and fluoride gas, which can be used both in petrochemicals but also in gas centrifuge cascades; and a filament winding machine, which can be used to manufacture carbon fibre gas centrifuge rotors. And he has attempted, covertly, to acquire 60,000 or more specialised aluminium tubes, which are subject to strict controls due to their potential use in the construction of gas centrifuges.
"In addition, we know Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, though we do not know whether he has been successful. Again key personnel who used to work on the nuclear weapons programme are back in harness. Iraq may claim that this is for a civil nuclear power programme but it has no nuclear power plants.
"That is the position in respect of weapons. But, of course, the weapons require ballistic missile capability. This is again subject to United Nations' disarmament resolutions. Iraq is supposed only to have missile capability up to 150 kilometres for conventional weaponry. Pages 27 to 31 of the dossier detail the evidence on this issue. It is clear both that a significant number of longer-range missiles were effectively concealed from the previous inspectors and remain, including up to 20 extended range Scud missiles; that in mid-2001, there was a step change in the programme and that by this year Iraq's development of weapons with a range of over 861 1,000 kilometres was well under way; that hundreds of key people are employed on this programme; that facilities are being built; and that equipment is being procured, usually in secret. Sanctions and import controls have hindered this programme, but only slowed its progress. The capability being developed is for multi-purpose use, including the use of weapons of mass destruction warheads.
"Now, that is the assessment to me from the Joint Intelligence Committee. In addition, we have well-founded intelligence to tell us that Saddam sees his weapons of mass destruction programme as vital to his survival, as a demonstration of his power, and of his influence in the region. There will be some who dismiss all this. Intelligence is not always right. For some of this material there may be innocent explanations.
"There will be others who say, rightly, that, for example, on present going, it could be several years before he acquires a usable nuclear weapon. Though, if he were able to purchase fissile material illegally, it would only be a year or two. Let me put it at its simplest: on this 11-year history with this man, Saddam; with this accumulated, detailed intelligence available, and with what we know and what we can reasonably speculate, would the world be wise to leave the present situation undisturbed; to say, despite 14 separate United Nations' demands on this issue, all of which Saddam is in breach of, we should do nothing and to conclude that we should trust not to the good faith of the UN weapons' inspectors but to the good faith of the current Iraqi regime?
"Our case is simply this: not that we take military action, come what may, but that the case for ensuring Iraqi disarmament as the United Nations has stipulated is overwhelming. I defy anyone on the basis of this evidence to say that is an unreasonable demand for the international community to make when, after all, it is only the same demand as we have made for 11 years and which he has rejected.
"People say: but why Saddam? I do not in the least dispute there are other causes of concern on weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, I said as much in this House on 14th September last year. But two things about Saddam Hussein stand out. He has used these weapons, thousands dying in chemical weapons attacks in Iraq itself. He used them in the Iran-Iraq war started by him, in which 1 million people died. And his is a regime with no moderate elements to appeal to. Read the chapter on Saddam and human rights. Read not just about the 1 million dead in the war with Iran; not just about the 100,000 Kurds brutally murdered in northern Iraq; not just the 200,000 Shia Muslims driven from the marshlands in southern Iraq; and not just the attempt to subjugate and brutalise the Kuwaitis in 1990 which led to the Gulf War. Read also about the routine butchering of political opponents; the prison "cleansing" regimes in which thousands die; the torture chambers and hideous penalties supervised by him and his family and detailed by Amnesty International. Read it all, and again I defy 862 anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
"'Why now?' people ask. I agree I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next, that he will use those weapons. But I can say that if the international community, having made the call for his disarmament, now, at this moment at the point of decision, shrugs its shoulders and walks away, he will draw the conclusion that dictators faced with a weakening will always draw; namely, that the international community will talk but not act; will use diplomacy but not force; and we know, again from our history, that diplomacy not backed by the threat of force has never worked with dictators and never will. If we take that course, he will carry on, his efforts will intensify, his confidence grow and at some point, in a future which is not too distant, the threat will turn into reality. The threat therefore is not imagined. The history of Saddam and weapons of mass destruction is not United States or British propaganda. The history and the present threat are real.
"And if people say: 'Why should Britain care?', I answer, 'Because there is no way that this man, in this region above all regions, could begin a conflict using such weapons and the consequences not engulf the whole world'.
"That, after all, is the reason the UN passed its resolutions. That is why it is right that the UN Security Council again makes its will and its unity clear and lays down a strong new UN resolution and mandate. Then Saddam will have the choice: comply willingly or be forced to comply. That is why alongside the diplomacy, there must be genuine preparedness and planning to take action if diplomacy fails.
"Let me be plain about our purpose. There is no doubt that Iraq, the region and the whole world would be better off without Saddam Hussein. They deserve to be led by someone who can abide by international law, not a murderous dictator; someone who can bring Iraq back into the international community where it belongs, not languishing as a pariah state; someone who can make the country rich and successful, not impoverished by personal greed; and someone who can lead a government more representative of the country as a whole, while maintaining absolutely Iraq's territorial integrity.
"We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. Liberated from Saddam, they could make Iraq prosperous and a force for good in the Middle East. So the ending of the regime would be the cause of regret for no one other than Saddam Hussein.
"But our purpose is disarmament. No one wants military conflict. The whole purpose of putting this before the UN is to demonstrate the united determination of the international community to resolve this in the way it should have been resolved years ago: through a proper process of disarmament 863 under the UN. Disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction is the demand. One way or another it must be acceded to.
"There are two other issues with a bearing on this question which I will deal with. First, Afghanistan is a country now freed from the Taliban, but still suffering. This is a regime we changed, rightly. I want to make it clear, once again, we are entirely committed to its re-construction. We will not desert the Afghan people. We will stick with them until the job is done.
"Secondly, I have no doubt that the Arab world knows it would be better off without Saddam. Equally, I know that there is genuine resentment at the state of the Middle East Peace Process, which people want to see the international community pursue with the same vigour. Israel will defend its people against these savage acts of terrorism. But the very purpose of this terrorism is to prevent any chance for peace. Meanwhile the Palestinians are suffering in the most appalling and unacceptable way. We need urgent action to build a security infrastructure that gives both Israelis and Palestinians confidence and stops the next suicide bomb closing down the prospects of progress. We need political reform for the Palestinian Authority. And we need a new Conference on the Middle East Peace Process based on the twin principles of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state. We can condemn the terrorism and the reaction to it. But, frankly, that will get us nowhere. What we need is a firm commitment to action and a massive mobilisation of energy to get the peace process moving again; and we will play our part in any way we can.
"Finally, there are many acts of this drama still to be played out. I have always said that Parliament should be kept in touch with all developments, in particular those that would lead us to military action. That remains the case. To those who doubt it, I say: look at Kosovo and Afghanistan. We proceeded with care and with full debate in this House, and when we took military action, did so as a last resort. We shall act in the same way now. But I hope we can do so, secure in the knowledge that should Saddam continue to defy the will of the international community, this House, as it has in our history so many times before, will not shrink from doing what is necessary and right".
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
§ 12.14 p.m.
§ Lord Strathclyde
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lords the Lord Chancellor and the Leader of the House for arranging this recall to enable the House to express its views on the crisis in Iraq. It is entirely right that Parliament should be consulted and should provide leadership on an issue as important as this. I very much regret, though, that the dossier was not made available to the House at least last night after the Cabinet meeting. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord 864 can explain what is in the dossier that is so important that it had to be hidden from the people and Parliament until early this morning.
Perhaps I may also ask the noble and learned Lord to underline assurances that there will be a further recall in the event of any serious escalation of the crisis or active engagement of British forces beyond their present duties in enforcing the no-fly zone. Furthermore, will an updating statement be made or a short debate allowed in the House when we return? The fact that 65 speakers are listed to speak in today's debate demonstrates the interest in this issue. I shall limit my remarks in reply to the Statement so that we can start the debate as soon as possible.
The Statement comes soon after the first anniversary of the war against terrorism, the successful dismantling of the Taliban regime and the weakening—though, sadly, not yet the destruction—of the vicious network of Al'Qaeda. President Bush's response to the outrage of September 11th was swift, proportionate, effective and just. The British Government were right to support the President and the United States in this fight and we on this side of the House record our respect for the Prime Minister in the energy and commitment he has given to the fight against terrorism. Whatever voices may be raised behind and perhaps even next to him in another place, he and our Armed Forces will carry our support in resolutely confronting terrorists everywhere and in aiming to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Perhaps I may tell the House the revulsion which we on this side feel for the regime of Saddam Hussein and his murderous clique of cronies. They have written a catalogue of slaughter, tyranny, aggression and oppression unparalleled in the recent history of the Middle East. Those who now accept his pretended good faith to admit UN weapons inspectors—an offer made at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour—would do well to reflect on his record. It is a record of prevarication, deceit, trickery and perverted ambition, set out clearly by President Bush to the United Nations and in the Government's dossier.
I believe that we should never take Saddam Hussein's promises at face value. This is a man who has sought and is still seeking a nuclear weapon; a man who has viciously invaded his neighbour; and a man who has attacked sovereign nations—Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia—with ballistic missiles. He is a man who has used chemical weapons, even against his own people; a man who dreams of unleashing deadly diseases against fellow human beings—Christian, Muslim or Jew it does not matter to him, for disease knows no frontier of age, sex, race or religion.
Perhaps I may also express my horror at the growing visceral anti-Americanism that we see today, not just in elements in this country but particularly in the countries of the EU. I hope that the noble and learned Lord can join me in saying that there can be no moral equivalence between the United States of America and an Iraq led by Saddam Hussein; between a tyrannical regime and one based on parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
865 In expressing support for the Government, perhaps I may ask the noble and learned Lord some specific questions about the present situation. In the light of the apparent offer by Iraq to receive UN weapons inspectors, how have we adjusted our current diplomatic objectives? Does he agree with the assessment of the Bush administration that the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq is not in itself enough? If so, is our objective the total disarmament of all Iraqi capacity and potential in the fields of biological, chemical and nuclear weaponry? How will it be accomplished and how will it be verified?
Are the UK Government prepared to join in action to achieve it, even if it has to be done outside the remit of current negotiations at the UN? Indeed, are we prepared to go to war to remove him even if weapons inspectors return to Baghdad? What vision do the Government have of a post-Saddam Iraq, which is surely in itself the most important question for those who want regime change? This is a grave and dangerous time, but if we prevaricate the danger will only grow. Now is the time for international resolution to be nurtured and sustained.
In conclusion, will the noble and learned Lord join me in praising the outstanding leadership of President Bush so far in this crisis? Did the noble and learned Lord note the remarks of the Secretary-General of the United Nations that President Bush had galvanised the international community by his address to the General Assembly a fortnight ago? I believe that Mr Annan was right. It is essential that the British Government stand with Mr Bush in the fight against terrorism and its backers worldwide.
But where we root out dictators or terrorists we cannot simply walk away. It is essential, too, that we go beyond military action, necessary though that may be, to remove the underlying causes of terrorism without ever for a moment condoning or excusing its perpetrators. We and our allies must be ready also to assist countries and peoples caught up in conflict to achieve the lasting peace with freedom and justice which others enjoy and on which true prosperity alone can rest. The Iraqi people, and freedom-loving people everywhere, must understand that and that alone should be our objective.
§ 12.21 p.m.
§ Baroness Williams of Crosby
My Lords, may I also thank the Leader of the House for delivering the Prime Minister's Statement to us? I thank the Government too for making the dossier available. I strongly urge Members of the House to read it in full alongside the Statement. It is a great credit to our intelligence services that the dossier is so balanced, so objective, so factual and so much eschews rhetorical flourishes. I believe it to be a very great credit that we have an intelligence service able to deliver a statement of this kind.
Having said that, we on these Benches wholly share the view that Saddam Hussein by any possible measure is a terrible dictator who has performed the most unspeakable acts against his own people and his 866 neighbours. Nobody can possibly forgive what happened in the battles with Iran and the treatment of the Marsh Arabs about which my noble friend Lady Nicholson will speak later. Nor can we forgive what has happened to the Kurdish people. None of us would try to defend Saddam Hussein's deliberate flouting over and over again of United Nations resolutions.
The dossier makes clear that we have today one final opportunity to avert military force. That final opportunity is to get the inspectors back into Iraq without any obstruction of their efforts and demanding the full compliance of the Iraqi Government in order to make their work not only possible but effective.
It is important to say—and on this I differ with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde—that we should do our very best to pursue this possibility and to back the inspectors under UNMOVIC. They are more professional and now have long-term contracts which their predecessors in UNSCOM did not. We should try if we possibly can to avert a war which inevitably would kill thousands of innocent people in Iraq and outside, would put some of our own forces necessarily at risk of death and injury, and could destroy the infrastructure of Iraq in a way that made recovery very expensive and very difficult. Iraq is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Much of value to history would be destroyed by such a war as well.
Those are not reasons for not facing up to the necessity of force should that be inevitable. As the Statement says, all of us recognise that the credibility of the United Nations depends on a willingness to enforce its resolutions. But it is, I hope, widely agreed throughout the House that we should do our very best to try to test out—indeed, we have a moral obligation to do so—what has been offered to us through the return of the inspectors to find out whether that offer is valid and will stand up to full investigation. I say that fully aware that we have been played games with by the Iraqi Government and that there have been continuous evasions and obstructions. But I believe that in UNMOVIC we have a group of inspectors who have every intention of making clear any systematic attempt to avoid complying with their desire to inspect all suspicious installations.
In that context we on these Benches believe that it is vitally important that Dr Hans Blix, the leader of UNMOVIC, should be given the operational capacity to report back to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council if he believes that his work is being obstructed or not complied with. It is very important that that should rest in the first stage with the United Nations rather than being second-guessed by any nation state, which would immediately undermine the faith of the international community in the inspection regime.
We also recognise, as the Statement and the dossier say, that Iraq has attempted to pursue weapons of mass destruction. I urge colleagues to read the dossier very carefully. Paragraph 23 indicates that it is very unlikely that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons in under five years through its own capacity. It goes on to 867 say that even with foreign help it would be at least one to two years before Iraq could develop a nuclear bomb. That is not to say that Iraq would not wish to do so; it is breaking every bone it has in the attempt. The dossier more coolly estimates the real capacity to achieve that aim, and indicates that there is at least some time for us to get our response right.
In Part 2, paragraph 13, the dossier says very clearly that the inspectors achieved a very great deal when they were there and that one of the reasons for believing that the policy of containment was unsuccessful in the end was not that it was not successful when inspection was allowed but that it could not work once inspection had been rejected. It is important to say that because some very influential voices have been raised, not least that of the distinguished former Permanent Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Sir Michael Quinlan, to the effect that containment was a pretty substantial and effective policy while the inspectors were in Iraq.
I now come to several questions that I wish to put to the Leader of the House. First, can we seek his assurance that the Government will do their very best to try to set up a satisfactory inspection regime, which would seek full compliance with its orders in gaining access and with its disarmament programme? I take very strongly the point made in the Statement that this matter is not just about the development of weapons of mass destruction; it is about thorough and complete disarmament. There is no difference about that on this side of the House.
Secondly, does the Leader of the House agree that if compliance is found by the inspectors and by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to be inadequate, this House and another place will be recalled and an attempt made to seek again a United Nations resolution? The world should not go to war outside the channels of the UN. It is very important that the case is put before the Security Council.
Thirdly, can he confirm that there is no indication whatever in the dossier that there are any links which can be proven between Iraq and Al'Qaeda? It is important to say that, not because it stops Iraq being an evil regime, but so that some of the wilder suppositions of weapons of mass destruction passing into the hands of terrorists are made more doubtful by the dossier's implications that it can find no evidence to show that Iraq has been collaborating with the terrorist regime of Al'Qaeda which on 11th September last year committed the terrible atrocities against the United States.
I have two final questions. The first concerns the reference in the Statement by the Prime Minister to Afghanistan and to the hope of being able to rebuild Iraq should there be a military victory following the necessity of a military attack. I repeat and underline the word "necessity". In this House and elsewhere there are grave concerns about the exit strategy that was followed in Afghanistan, a country that appears to be sliding back to anarchy rather rapidly and where more and more requests are being made to extend the security force, ISAF, beyond Kabul. In some ways 868 Afghanistan represents a failure of the international community to build upon the military victory that it claimed would open the door to a democratic and just Afghanistan. It is a long way from that. Can the Leader of the House assure us that the Government and the Government of the United States will turn their minds more seriously to the matter of the exit strategy and what follows victory, if there is a victory? Without that I believe that many of us are unsure as to the strategy and how we can ensure that it will not enrage and unite the Muslim world against us.
My last question concerns the Muslim world. Will the Leader of the House confirm that the Government are totally opposed to a war between civilisations and that there is no attempt to identify the Muslim community as the enemy? Will they also ensure that our minds are kept, as Mr Brent Scowcroft asked, on the war against terrorism and are not diverted to inter-communal war with all its possible dangers?
§ 12.32 p.m.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, for the generally supportive approach that they have demonstrated. In answer to the last observation of the noble Baroness, this situation has nothing to do with a war between civilisations; it has nothing to do with an attack on Islam any more than we held our hand against Milosevic because he happens to be nominally Christian. It has nothing to do with that at all and I welcome the opportunity given to me by the noble Baroness to deal with that point.
I agree with her that we should all feel a sense of moral obligation and of due appropriate caution. But I believe that that is reflected in the whole tenor of the Prime Minister's Statement. Will we do our best to set up a satisfactory inspection regime? Yes. If compliance is not adequate can I guarantee the recall of this House? No, it is not within my gift, but I believe that I can say that over the past year I have done my best to ensure that the interests of the House are fully reflected in any business that we are able to deal with.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked one or two questions on similar lines. If there is a serious escalation will there be a recall of Parliament? I take his indication seriously. Can I guarantee an updating Statement on the return of Parliament or a short debate? Personally, if appropriate, I would believe that that would be a proper course for us to adopt, subject to the agreement of the usual channels.
The noble Baroness and the noble Lord had a slightly different view on the provision of the dossier. We wanted to produce as up-to-date a dossier as possible. I had my copy, along with other Cabinet colleagues, before our Cabinet meeting last evening. The decision was taken—I believe it was a proper one—that it should have been available for parliamentarians to look at and consider before the debate rather than disseminated last night so that the press and the media would have a first opportunity to 869 comment on it. It is impossible to please everyone on every conceivable occasion, but at least I please the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, on this one.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for commending the Prime Minister's energy and commitment. One has to hear in mind that we are at the stage of returning to the United Nations for a mandatory resolution, in no small part because of the energy, skill and commitment of the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. Anyone who doubts that or who takes note of the frothier headlines in the newspapers is deeply mistaken. There is no moral equivalence between Saddam Hussein and the United States. I am a great admirer, as I heard the other day the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, say she is, of the United States. This year I spent my holiday there, and had it not been for this recall this week I would have been in Washington talking to colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate about problems of common interest.
The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made it plain on numerous occasions, and I am happy to repeat it, that Her Majesty's Government have no intention of acting in any way that is not consonant with the established norms of international law. The noble Lord asked me whether President George W Bush had galvanised the United Nations with his speech. That is a fair comment which I endorse. I know for a fact that immediately after the speech many of the representatives at the Security Council and at the General Assembly made their views, supporting President Bush, known to the Foreign Secretary. A number have said that it was the most engaged speech that a United States President has made in the context of the United Nations for quite a long time.
Will the diplomatic initiative continue? Plainly, yes. The noble Baroness touched on whether Saddam Hussein will be required to disarm as well as allow the inspectors in. Secretary Rumsfeld was right when he said that it is not an issue simply about inspection; it is also an issue about disarmament. Apart from Secretary Rumsfeld being right, I must draw your Lordships' attention to Resolution 687 which says:8. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:The unambiguous answer that I am happy to give the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, is that the obligation being laid upon Saddam Hussein—an obligation of law which has been ignored for the past 11 years—is not simply to allow in inspectors on a half-hearted basis, on a deceitful and a deceptive basis, but also, once those inspectors have been allowed to carry out their work untrammelled, there is an obligation to have those weapons destroyed—that is to say, disarmament.
- (a) all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities;
- (b) all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and related major parts, and repair and production facilities".