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Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We understand that internal agreement of extra expenditure in Northern Ireland of some £1.2 billion has been announced today, so I wonder whether you, Mr. Speaker, have had notice of any emergency Budget statement concerning Northern Ireland?
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would it be in order to request that an urgent question on precisely that issue be directed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for tomorrow?
Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring) (Con): On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. Reports are appearing in the media that there may have been a major security breach, with a top-level intelligence report on al-Qaeda having been left on a train. Will it be possible for a Minister to make a statement to the House as soon as possible on what might be a very serious issue?
That the draft Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 6th May, be approved. [Steve McCabe.]
That the draft Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 2008, which was laid before this house on 8th May, be approved. [Steve McCabe.]
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On Saturday, I attended an open-air protest meeting with more than 100 driving instructors, complaining about the closure of Wellingborough driving test centre as a result of the Government not getting a derogation from European Union law. I would like to present their petition, which states:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.
The Humble Petition of residents of the Borough of Wellingborough and surrounding areas,
That the Government is forcing the closure of the Wellingborough Driving Test Centre which is a loss of another public service to the local area. Wellingborough is part of the South Midlands and Milton Keynes Core Spatial Strategy and is expected to expand by between a third and a half in the next few years. Driving instructors and pupils will have to travel to Kettering Driving Test Centre, 9 miles away. This will cause inconvenience, increased CO2 emissions, additional cost and annoyance to the residents of Kettering.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Transport to reconsider her decision to close Wellingborough Driving Test Centre.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
Mr. George Galloway (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Respect): A Government ready to rely on those friends of liberty, the Democratic Unionist party, to shred the liberties of our own people are almost by definition unembarrassable, but I hope this evening to add to the issues ventilated in a recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme to adumbrate the extent to which the tragedy in Somalia, which so many people are now becoming aware of, is another of our Governments dirty little secrets.
We must start the story in Ethiopia, where 4 million people, according to the United Nations, are facing starvation and 120,000 Ethiopian children have just one month to live, according to last weeks media reports. Television viewers were shocked to see the pictures last week of the widespread suffering redolent of 1984 and the great famine of that year.
The US and Britain immediately pledged $90 million in famine relief. Just one week after its appeal to the international community for famine relief, the Ethiopian Government increased their military budget by $50 million to $400 million. The regime in Addis Ababawhen I knew them in the 1980s, they were pro-Albanian Maoistsare the most militarised and heavily armed in Africa. They are in a state of perpetual war or preparation for war with one neighbour, Eritrea, and they are supporting anti-Government rebels in Sudan, many believe with western connivance.
Most astonishingly of all, the Government of Ethiopiathat starving country whose little children are fly infested, kwashiorkor swollen, famished and famine strickenhave been encouraged, armed, trained, financed and otherwise facilitated to invade and occupy their neighbour, Somalia, and create a reign of terror in that land, which is testified to by this voluminous Amnesty International report, which, if I had time, I would extensively quote from.
Somalia has lost thousands of dead as a result of the Ethiopian invasion. Millions have been displaced. Somalia, under Ethiopian occupation, is the grimmest prison state in Africafar worse than Mugabes Zimbabwe. Who has done the encouraging, the arming, the training, the financing and the facilitating? The same US and British Governments who donated the $90 million to the same Ethiopian Government who are burning their money and burning the villages, the neighbourhoods and the people of occupied Somalia.
This Government are never done talking about the shortcomings of African leaders. Just last week in Rome, the Secretary of State for International Development was roaring at Robert Mugabe, yet there has not been a squeak out of him, or any other Minister, about the much bigger crime in which we are ourselves deeply complicit. Is it any wonder that African opinion considers so much of what we have to say about misgovernance in Africa to be the deepest, most cynical hypocrisy?
Two weeks ago, Channel 4s Dispatches team took terrifying risks to bring us the latest from occupied Mogadishu. That was undoubtedly an award-winning
documentary. It was memorable for many reasons, not least the scene in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when the Minister of State, Lord Malloch-Brown, his face frozen in horror, was confronted by Aidan Hartley with the central case of the documentary makers. For the benefit of Members who did not see the programmethe Minister will certainly have seen it; she would hardly be sent out to bat on this wicket without being shown itthat central case was that, in the grim prison state of occupied Somalia, the fingerprints of our country and our Government were all over the scene of the crime.
The President of the puppet regime imposed by the Ethiopian army in Somalia turns out to be British. He spends much of his time herewell, it is dangerous in Somalia, after alland has property and family here. After presiding over a gang of torturers, murderers, grand larceners and extortionists, he flies back to England. Then there is the police chief whose officers kidnap people for ransom, which they extort from people living in our own countryin Leicester, in Birmingham, in London. They torture people, make them disappear, and kill them if their families will not pay. He too is British. As for the former Interior Minister who presides over an interior of mass refugee camps, starvation and misery, and who stands accused of stealing international aid and diverting food for political purposeswhy, he is British as well.
Guess who is paying the wages of the murdering, kidnapping, torturing, quisling police force in Ethiopian-occupied Somalia? Thats right: we are. The public dictatorship in Somalia is a very British crime, especially as our own Governmentin particular, that pocket-sized Palmerston to whom I referred earlier, the Secretary of State for International Developmentare so voluble on the subject of other problems in Africa.
So how did we get here? How did we get into bed with the former pro-Albanian Maoists of the Government in Addis Ababa? I am afraid that the answer is our old friend, our old acquaintance, the policy of my enemys enemy is my friend. The policy that has got us into so much trouble, from Afghanistan to Iraq and many other parts of the world, is what lies behind this obscene paradox.
We are supporting the Ethiopian Governments occupation of Somalia because George Bush told us to: because Somalia is a front line in George Bushs ill-conceived, counter-productive, utterly discredited, about to be booted out in the United States so-called war on terror. We were against the former Government of Somalia because they were an Islamic Government, just as we are against the Government in Sudan because they are an Islamic Government, and just as Ethiopia, on our behalf, opposed the Government in Eritrea because they are an Islamic Government.
This policy, having been such a disaster around the world, is now in full force in Somalia, and but for Channel 4s Dispatches hardly anyone in Britain would know anything about it. No British Minister has come to the Dispatch Box to explain why British taxpayers money is being paid to a police force in Mogadishu that is accused of kidnapping people and extorting ransom money from British citizens. No British Minister has come to explainunless we interpret Lord Malloch-Browns frozen face as an explanationwhy we are so heavily involved with a puppet regime that is bereft of political and public support in Somalia.
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