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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his congratulations. My

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noble friend used the phraseology, "the battle for hearts and minds". That is exactly the phraseology that I and my colleagues have been using over the past few weeks. However, the fact is that my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, my honourable friend Mr. Fatchett and my noble friend Lord Gilbert have been engaged in a clear diplomatic offensive, if I may put it that way, in the Gulf in trying to ensure that the battle for hearts and minds is being engaged.

It is of course difficult to know how far one is succeeding on those issues. But it was very evident by the end of last week that the stance taken by Her Majesty's Government was gaining much greater support in the Gulf states than we had at the beginning of the initiative.

I also hope that the clear statements made by Her Majesty's Government on the humanitarian interest that we have in the Iraqi people do not go unnoticed in that country. As I said, we have taken the lead in ensuring the expansion of the oil for food resolution. We have more than doubled the amount of oil for food going into Iraq every six months from 2.2 billion to over 5 billion US dollars. That is something in which Her Majesty's Government can take some pride. We have always said that our argument was never with the Iraqi people; it has always been one of pinning down Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. We must go on saying that, and I agree with the noble Lord that we must ensure that the battle for hearts and minds is not now put on one side but that we continue to engage in it.

4.18 p.m.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, on exactly that point, will the noble Baroness accept that most of us, following my noble friend, believe that the Government are quite right to accept the result of the Secretary-General's negotiation, subject to the points that she made, and to link that acceptance to a new insistence that if Saddam Hussein were to breach the terms of the new agreement, he would at once be forcibly punished.

But will she also accept, following points made from all parts of this House, that if we are now going to sustain pressure over weeks and months of the kind she indicated, we need a firmer basis of support from Arab governments and Arab public opinion than we have at present? I was much struck by the absence of support in Egypt last week. It is one thing to have tepid acquiescence--that may be enough if you are in for a short sharp strike. But if you are in for sustained pressure over weeks and months, you need more than that.

As the noble Baroness has already said, there is no valid comparison between the conduct of Iraq and the conduct of Israel. But is it not important that the Government should now use their support for the United States, which has been total and in my view correct, to ask and press hard that the United States insist that the

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Prime Minister of Israel carry out Israel's obligations as regards the peace process so that the process can have some life breathed back into it?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I believe that Her Majesty's Government have always made clear that the president of Israel and the Israeli Government should comply with Security Council resolutions. In particular, we have expressed enormous concern about the annexing of the whole of Jerusalem and the illegal settlements. Of course, we need a firm basis of support in the Gulf over the coming weeks and possibly even months.

However, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, accepts that the support we have had in the Gulf from a number of states may not have been articulated as loudly as we might have liked. Nonetheless there was a great deal of support. We must understand that for a number of Gulf states, saying what they did to us in private might not have been entirely judicious in public because of the threat of retaliation to which they felt they were susceptible. But, yes, the basic point that the noble Lord made that this is now a sustained effort and we must not let the diplomatic initiative fall away is well taken.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, will the noble Baroness accept congratulations from a reactionary anachronism? That may possibly embarrass her, but it seems to me that the Government have played their hand extremely well. They have been further helped by the fact that the French and Russians were saying: "No, we don't agree with the British and the Americans but, O Saddam Hussein, if you don't do something, the British and Americans will thump you!" Consequently, that shows it is much better to have a slightly diverse European foreign policy with people acting in concert in Europe in their own diplomatic interests than to try to run a committee on foreign policy. That will obviously not work if we have an Austrian or a Luxembourger sticking his oar in.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I may say that I am never embarrassed by a compliment which is well meant. I shall certainly convey it to my right honourable and honourable friends who have done so much of the hard work in relation to Her Majesty's Government's efforts on the matter. The noble Earl made the point about a diverse European foreign policy. The point is that we need effective foreign policy. On this occasion we have had it.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, the mandate refers to eight presidential sites in Iraq which will be subject to the special procedures. Do we have absolute confidence that eight is the final number and that there are not additional presidential sites which might be added at some future stage?

Perhaps I may also take the opportunity of asking whether Her Majesty's Government will bear in mind the importance of the ability to deploy forces rapidly

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and sustain them overseas at some distance from home in contributing to the successful outcome that we have achieved?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am sure that we all join the noble and gallant Lord in his compliment to Her Majesty's forces who are doing such an excellent job on our behalf.

The noble and gallant Lord asked whether eight presidential sites were enough. It is eight presidential sites that will be subject to the special provisions which were referred to in my right honourable friend's Statement which I read to the House. However, the noble and gallant Lord must remember that none of the sites is excluded. If the sites are not among the eight they will be in other sites which are covered quite unequivocally in what has been agreed in the memorandum of understanding. The memorandum of understanding is triggered immediately, unconditionally and without restriction. To say anything more at the moment would not be sensible. Indeed, I cannot do so, as the matter will be discussed in the Security Council this afternoon. I hope that the details will emerge in due course.

Lord Elton: My Lords, at present we have inspection teams in Iraq under the cover of a series of resolutions and an agreement that they shall complete their work. When they have completed their work and are confident--if they ever are--that all weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed, presumably they will be withdrawn. It occurs to me that in the debate on her last Statement, the noble Baroness was convincing in telling us that any brewery or chemical factory could swiftly be turned into a factory for making weapons of mass destruction. Presumably, when their task is completed, the inspection teams will be withdrawn and the resolutions will cease to have force. Can the noble Baroness assure us that thought is already being given to how we then secure the interests of the rest of the world against a further onslaught of this kind?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the Statement that I read to the House referred to Saddam Hussein complying fully with Security Council resolutions. That includes Security Council Resolution 687 which refers not only to the destruction of current weapons of mass destruction but also the destruction of the means of making more.

My right honourable friend's Statement also referred to making sure that the very threat from the weapons of mass destruction was also gone before Security Council resolutions are lifted. So it is perfectly clear that those who are looking at the detail of these issues are looking not only at the weapons which already exist but at the way in which such weapons might be manufactured in the future. For that reason, it is important that we find the precursors which we know exist for the biological and chemical weapons which so far UNSCOM has been unable to find. So I can give the noble Lord, Lord Elton, the assurance that he needs on this important question.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, during this crisis a number of the Iraqi people in Iraq

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and the surrounding countries have been in touch with me. Perhaps I may, on their behalf--if it does not seem forward--offer their gratitude to the British Government and to the noble Baroness for the exceptional work they have carried out in assisting in the facing down of Saddam Hussein. I offer their gratitude for ensuring that the British Government and the British people are in the forefront of this effort. They are deeply grateful. There should be no misunderstanding about that.

However, also on their behalf perhaps I may ask the noble Baroness whether we can now think profoundly as a nation about their human rights. We should recognise that Saddam Hussein has dragged their rights down to the pit of hell, that Iraq as a modern state has the capacity to be successful and wealthy. That has been destroyed by Saddam Hussein himself. The rights of the Iraqi people as well as those of the Kuwaiti and Iranian prisoners of war inside Iraq should now be uppermost in our minds.


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