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Mr. Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton, North-East): I too welcome the statement on Iraq and the progress that is being made, particularly in reference to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's words with regard to governance and democracy. Great patience will be needed on the part of the coalition to bring about the successful governance of Iraq. I share his view that democracy is perhaps the greatest force for progress that the world has ever seen. Regrettably, however, that ancient doctrine is not necessarily shared by those who are of a fundamentally religious turn of mind. In view of the fact that he was prepared to give assurances about the role of women in the governance of Iraq, can he give similar assurances that we will not see the rise and rise of religious fundamentalism and the clerics taking over the governance of Iraq, perhaps bringing about just as oppressive a regime as that which we have successfully dismantled?
Mr. Straw: My point to my hon. Friend is that, in the end, that is something for the Iraqi people to decide. If they have strong representative institutions that are democraticthe essence of democracy is that people are able to change peacefully a Government with whom they disagreethat is for them to decide. I do not believe for a second that any future Government will remotely meet the terrible standards set by Saddam Hussein: quite the reverse. If my hon. Friend looks
Mr. Paul Marsden (Shrewsbury and Atcham): What steps are the Government taking to destroy safely the unexploded munitions littered across Iraq, which, since the end of the war, are believed to have killed some 80 civilians and wounded another 400, many of whom are children?
Mr. Straw: Every step is being taken to deal with those munitions. It is in the interests of coalition forces as much as it is in the interests of local people to ensure that they are disposed of safely. It is a further indication of the utter irresponsibility of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen that he left those munitions in such dangerous places in the first instance.
Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge): What representations has my right hon. Friend made to the Israeli Government about two British subjects: Tom Hurndall, who was shot in the head and seriously injured by Israeli soldiers, and Ian Hook, a UN worker, who was shot and killed by the Israelis?
Mr. Straw: I have personally made a number of representations in respect of the second gentleman to whom my hon. Friend refers, including to the previous Foreign Minister, Bibi Netanyahu. As to the first gentleman she mentioned, our concerns about what happened to him were raised by the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office in a conversation with his counterpart at the end of last week. I am happy to give her further details.
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): May I take the right hon. Gentleman back to the questions asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) regarding the possible trial of members of the former Iraqi Administration? I am sure that he will agree that he has had ample time, together with the American Government, to reflect on that matter. Will he please tell us what is the likely mode and venue of trial? Will he also please tell us what steps he will take to ensure that the trials are fair? Lastly, will he give an assurance that those people will not be dropped into the legal black hole that is Guantanamo Bay?
Mr. Straw: I cannot give the right hon. and learned Gentleman a precise, definite answer because these matters are still subject to discussion with the United States Government, and they will not be resolved until a functioning interim authority has been established. We want the Iraqi people, in the main, to take responsibility for ensuring justice in respect of former members of the regime. They had no effective justice system during the 24 years of Saddam Hussein's rule, but historically Iraq had a reasonably well functioning and fair judicial system. I held a discussion last week with British
There is a question as to whether an international tribunal should be established to try the leaders of the regime. We have not ruled that out, but I am sceptical because of the vast costs of the international tribunals set up to deal with Yugoslavia and, even worse, Rwanda. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention the International Criminal Court, but let me say that it does not have a direct role because its jurisdiction is only for events that took place after July last year.
David Winnick (Walsall, North): Can my right hon. Friend explain why anyone here should not be absolutely delighted that a murderous tyranny has been destroyed, and why they should not congratulate those involved in the armed forces? As to the middle east conflict, does my right hon. Friend accept that there will need to be a great deal of pressure, not least from the United States, on Israel to give up the illegal occupation that dates from 1967 and the notorious settlements that are in defiance of international law?
Mr. Straw: I share my hon. Friend's sentiments; it is for others to explain if their sentiments are different. On pressure on the Government of Israel, I have to say that from my direct conversations with President Bush I am quite clear about his commitment to push forward the road map and to engage in robust conversation with the Government of Israel. As I have said, there must be an equivalent response by the Palestinians and the Arab states if the progress charted in the road map is to produce a reality.
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): To achieve a settlement by 2005, the Foreign Secretary has called for visionary leadership and courageous statesmanship that has probably not been seen in Israel and Palestine since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. He has already intimated that the British Government are open to the possibility of enforcing the road map through a chapter VII resolution of the United Nations under international law. What prospect is there of the United States at least admitting that possibility?
Mr. Straw: I am sorry that I cannot, in that respect or any other, speak directly for the United States Government. However, I can repeat that they are completely committed to implementing the road map. At Hillsborough, President Bush did not have to say that he would devote to that the same energy as the Prime Minister has devoted to the Northern Ireland peace process, but he did say it, and it is an indication of the way in which he has gripped the issue and is putting his own reputation and great office on the line to ensure that, after so many decades of strife, we secure the prize of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): To what extent has my right hon. Friend used his influence and friendship with the regime in Iran to try to persuade it to withdraw from Iraq the Iranian-based activists who are intent on
Mr. Straw: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have repeatedly made it clear that there are no plans or intentions to take any kind of military action against Iran: quite the reverse. I commend the constructive approach that the Iranian Government had taken even before military action was taken against Iraq, and we are grateful to them for the co-operation that has been achieved. We look for the Iranians to continue to play a constructive role in supporting the establishment of Government and political institutions, and to do so in a benign way.
Bob Spink (Castle Point): Would the right hon. Gentleman congratulate the Kurdish people on the help that they gave during the conflict, and would he take all possible steps to ensure that Turkey does not in any way interfere with their right to govern themselves within a Kurdish region under a single Iraqi democratic federal state?
Mr. Straw: I am happy to do so. The Kurdish people were very courageous indeed in resisting Saddam Hussein's tyranny. Their current leaders are involved in the conference in Baghdad and we hope that they play a constructive role in Iraq's future. It is important that they, as well as countries in the surrounding area, recognise and respect Iraq's territorial integrity. If that happens, the stage is set for the stability of the whole region. If, however, there are challenges to Iraq's territorial integrity, we will have greater problems than anticipated.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Does the Foreign Secretary recollect from his history that on orders from Washington in 1945 one of the first things that the American and British armies entering Berlin had to do was get hold of Nazi documents because of likely trials? Why have the answers on documents that have already been given this afternoon not been at all convincing? It is not difficult to seize documents and take them into custody, so why were they left for other people to go through?