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Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, was it not a foreseen consequence that once the devolution measure was through, Welsh Members of Parliament would not be able to ask Questions in the House of Commons about almost any of the issues which most concern their own constituents? Does it not follow that they will have little else to do but to make inquiries about England and help to interfere with the government of it? Will England be happy about that?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, my experience of English Members of Parliament and English hereditary Peers is that they are constantly very happy about most things. The Speaker made it perfectly plain that there are significant continuing areas where the Welsh Members of Parliament will have a proper function in questioning Welsh Ministers. There is no reason why that should not continue. A close scrutiny of what she said in another place yesterday would be quite valuable.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I did not see the Question and its Answer because we were otherwise engaged here until about quarter to one this morning on the Immigration and Asylum Bill. I would respectfully and I hope helpfully ask the noble Lord to revisit what the Speaker said in another place. I believe that there are many Questions which are proper to be asked in the Westminster context following devolution. Returning to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, the foreseen consequences post-devolution were that some matters would be devolved and therefore would be the responsibility of the devolved Assembly and Parliament.
Lord Elton: My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me coming back, but my question related to this House and not another place, because we need to develop conventions here as to how to deal with this the difficult matter.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am sorry, there was a certain amount of extraneous noise and I plainly misheard the noble Lord's question. It is a matter for the House, but it seems to me that his question has point and purpose. With respect to the usual channels, it seems to be a matter that they should consider and develop.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, while my admiration for the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is undying, can he assure me that he will not have his workload increased by being made spokesman for the Scottish Office towards the end of the month when the Prime Minister has his reshuffle, and that we will continue to have at least one Minister representing the Scottish Office here as a Scottish Office Minister and not on loan from the Home Office?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, that is almost the language of asperity. I am pleased to have the undying support of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, particularly as he looks in remarkably good health.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, there is no prohibition on sending medical supplies by post to Iraq on a non-commercial basis provided that a licence is first obtained. Security Council Resolutions 661 and 687, which imposed sanctions on Iraq, made exceptions to the prohibition on exports to Iraq. Medical supplies were included within those exceptions. Resolution 666 recommends that governments strictly supervise the export of medical supplies. The Government implement those resolutions by licensing arrangements.
Lord Islwyn: My Lords, will the Minister recognise that in Iraq 5,000 children under the age of five are dying each month, many suffering from stunted growth due to chronic and long-term malnutrition? Yet before 1990 Iraq's health standards were among the highest in the Middle East. Will the Minister appreciate that sanctions are a most insidious form of warfare, for they target the poorest, weakest and vulnerable of the population? Even when ordinary citizens of this country, some from Wales with whom I am in contact, try to help by sending medical supplies, toys and pencils for school children, they have to obtain an export licence and are subjected to inordinate delay. Surely the Minister will recognise that whatever the inequities of Saddam Hussein might be, the sanctions are uncivilised and should be ended without further delay?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am extremely sorry to say that I cannot agree with my noble friend. I explained in my initial Answer why the export licences are required. The Government must strictly supervise the export of medical supplies. While my noble friend points to the dreadful number of children dying in Iraq, I ask him to draw to the attention of his friends in Wales who are trying to help the fact that Iraq is selling food to Syria and is trying to sell food to Jordan.
Since January, Iraq has imported more than 5,000 cases of whisky and more than 53,000 cartons of cigarettes. The funds used to purchase those goods could have been used to purchase humanitarian goods, but the Iraqi Government chose otherwise.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, in the light of the consideration of the UK/Netherlands draft resolution by the Security Council, can the Minister confirm that, while allowing the expansion of the oil-for-food programme on the basis of humanitarian need, the Government will not agree to any suspension or lifting of sanctions in the absence of Iraq's full compliance with its obligations under all existing Security Council resolutions?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I believe that I can confirm the position which the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, articulates. The purpose of our draft resolution is to be as generous as we can in proposing measures aimed at bringing more revenue through the oil-for-food programme in order to meet the
The Earl Listowel: My Lords, are the Government at all concerned with the effects of uranium depleted rounds on the general population of Iraq? Has there been any recent research into the consequences of their use?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, of course the Government are always concerned about the effect of the use of depleted uranium. I can tell the House that the UK Government have not used any such weapons at any time during the recent exchanges with Iraq.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I hope that it has been noticed that the draft resolution to which I referred was drawn up by us and the Netherlands. We now have five more co-sponsors. The US supports our overall approach. However, the US would like to see some further changes in the text. As with amendments proposed by others, we and our co-sponsors are considering them. I stress that while we often try to ensure that we keep a proper relationship with the US, given the fact that both countries have been engaged in the exchanges with Iraq, there is no question that the United Kingdom is in charge of its own policy as regards that country.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, will the noble Baroness join me in paying tribute to the memory of the late Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham, who personally carried medical supplies into Iraq, as he had already done to the Spanish Sahara? Does she agree that the personal commitment of individuals and voluntary organisations should be encouraged wherever possible when governments are unable to communicate?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am happy to join the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, in that tribute. Many of us heard the heart-rending account that Lord Winchilsea gave to the House of his experiences in a children's hospital in Iraq. That personal commitment and first-hand experience is very important, because it often gives us the human perspective that we need when dealing with such issues.
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