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Lord Burnham: My Lords, reservists are being sent to the Gulf and regulars are being retained at home because reservists are not allowed to partake in measures designed to alleviate the effects of the firemen's strike. Can the Minister give an assurance that the same does not apply with regard to security measures and that reservists can be used in full, where required, for the purposes of security? Secondly, what was the security state on Monday?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, as the noble Lord implies, we are facing a number of potential threats and problems at present. Without going into detail, I have discussed the issues with relevant officials and I am confident that the police and the Armed Forces are capable of coping with all the emergencies currently facing us. Therefore, I can give the assurance that the noble Lord sought.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, every Member of the House is aware that the state of security fluctuates from time to time. We can all observe when there has been such a fluctuation on entering the House. We may not like what we see, but we accept it because it protects us. Did the Minister see the early television newscasts last night when reporters were with members of the public in the approaches to Heathrow? Every person who was asked said, "I do not like this much, but I am glad that they are looking after me". That was their basic responsebefore the newspapers got to put a spin on the whole matter.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, I regret that other duties meant that I did not see the early evening news, but the noble Baroness has put her finger on the issue. Members of the public are not foolish; they know the risks they face. They have the greatest respect for our security services and our police in making operational judgments in such respects. They know that there is not total security; but they know that those responsible are striving their utmost to provide protection. Individual members of the public then make their judgments on how to behave in those circumstances. I am sure that the security services, police and the armed services appreciate the support given for their efforts and would compliment the public for their common sense.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, one must treat the public as mature, intelligent and adult. We have a highly educated, literate and commonsense public, who, especially in London, have experienced living with those threats for 30 years. They do not like it but they know the reality and recognise that if they gave in to every possible anxiety, they would cease to live their
It will have been absolutely apparent to the public that a heightened state of alertness has existed as a consequence of a heightened security risk assessment by the Metropolitan Police during recent days. I cannot believe that anyone in the country who watches the media or talks to any other person would not be aware of that. On Monday, we remained at a heightened state of alert. It has been a long-standing policy not to give details of alert states, which is no doubt why I could not remember the answer to the question posed by the noble Lord.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the most important sources of intelligence is the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad? Does he further accept that in the Middle East context it would be a grave error to place too much reliance at this time on those sources?
The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on Iraq. The Statement is as follows:
"Security Council Resolution 1441, agreed three months ago, placed the onus squarely on Iraq to co-operate fully and actively with UN inspectors in the disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction. It gave Iraq a final warning: comply with the UN's terms immediately or face 'serious consequences'. European Union Foreign Ministers expressed clear support for that goal last month, when they declared unanimously that,
'the Resolution gives an unambiguous message that the Iraqi Government has a final opportunity to resolve the crisis peacefully'.
'appears not to have come to a genuine acceptancenot even todayof the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world'.
'mostly a reprint of earlier documents',
"Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei said that Iraq had failed to account for 6,500 bombs that could carry up to 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent, or for 8,500 litres of biological warfare agent and a large amount of growth media that could be used to produce about 5,000 litres of concentrated anthrax.
'the tip of a submerged iceberg'.
'at any time to comply with, and co-operate fully in the implementation',
"The briefings by Dr Blix and Dr El Baradeias well as that of Secretary Powell to the Security Council last weekleave no doubt that Iraq has failed to meet both tests. The conclusion is inescapable: Iraq is in
"We have only got this far in exposing the lies, deception and above all the danger from the Saddam regime by that pressure. For the international community now to lose its nerve would significantly undermine the authority of the United Nations and make the world a much more dangerous place as dictators got the message that international law was mere words.
"The Franco-German proposals announced this week to bolster the inspection regime will not deliver the assurance the world needs about Iraq's weapons. They are unrealistic and impractical. They shift the burden of proof from Iraq to the inspectors. And they send Saddam Hussein the signal that defiance pays. What is the point of sending three times as many inspectors for Saddam to deceive? As Dr Blix himself said on Monday,
"the principal problem is not the number of inspectors but rather the active co-operation of the Iraqi side, as we have said many times".
"I am glad to see that other proposals attributed to the French and German Governmentssuch as the establishment of a No Fly Zone over the whole of Iraq, and the insertion of armed UN troopshave now been officially denied.
"Let me now turn to the position within NATO. Discussion began in the Alliance in mid-January of the need for contingency planning to cope with potential threats to the security of a NATO ally, Turkey, in the case of military action over Iraq. Sixteen NATO alliesincluding 14 European nationsall supported this entirely reasonable and responsible proposal simply to set in hand some military planning for very limited defensive mutual assistance. France, Belgium and Germany have resisted, on the grounds that a NATO decision on this very limited mutual assistance would somehow pre-empt any Security Council consideration of Iraq's further material breach. Faced with this deadlock, Turkey on 10th February requested consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty. These discussions are continuing, with the United Kingdom fully supporting Lord Robertson's efforts to achieve consensus.
"Given the obvious risks, and the possibility that military action may prove necessary, we are keeping under very close review the safety and security of both visiting and resident British nationals in the Middle East. We make assessments on a case-by-case basis for each country in the region and will make announcements as necessary.
"Even at this late stage, armed intervention is not inevitable. A peaceful resolution of this crisis remains in Saddam Hussein's hands. Full Iraqi compliance with the terms of UNSCR 1441 will deliver the outcome the UK and the entire international community wish to see: an Iraq no longer posing a threat to its neighbours and the region.
Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, in the absence in Japan of my noble friend Lord Howell, and of my noble friend Lady Rawlings, I thank the Minister for the Statement. No noble Lord is in any doubt about the gravity of the Statement. It has been made in advance of a very important report to the UN by Dr Blix, but it already contains a judgment and conclusion by Her Majesty's Government that there has been a further serious material breach; and the implications of that will be well recognised in your Lordships' House.
On a separate point, we on this side of the House strongly support the Government's position and that of the majority of countries in NATO. It is extremely important, at all times but at this time above all, for the unity which NATO has preserved over so many years to be sustained. We support the application of Turkey.
We would say this to our friends in the United States. While there is understandable anger and criticismat this time of some difficulty for the United States the activities of France, Germany and Belgium may be singularly unwelcomesome of the language used and threats of retribution are not wise when there is a need for some calmness, rebuilding of bridges and unity. The current situation requires unity as we move forward. The Blix report will be made to the United Nations tomorrow. The spotlight will shift to the United Nations.
We endorse strongly the comments made about Resolution 1441. We recognise that Resolution 1441 is not a new invention of the United Nations. It is an extremely belated attempt at last to gain compliance with the undertaking that Saddam Hussein himself gave to achieve a ceasefire in what otherwise may have been a further crushing defeat. He gave solemn
It is said that the spotlight now moves to the United Nations. The Statement made no mention of any second resolution. Can the Minister say anything about the Government's position on that? Does the tone of the Statement imply that, as there has been further material breach and even Saddam Hussein could be in no doubt as to what Resolution 1441 meant, the Government believe that no further resolution is required?
Can the Minister comment on the somewhat strange statement which appears to have been made by the Secretary of State for International Developmentand reported in another placewhen asked about humanitarian aid in Iraq, that there will be no aid unless there is a second UN resolution? Is that the Government's position? I welcome anything that the noble Baroness can say about humanitarian aid. It is an important issue. Were the situation to move forward to military forcewe would all regret that and hope it can be avoidedit is important to have confidence that the UN would be able to support a programme of humanitarian aid for those who might suffer, with an active programme of preparation for alternative arrangements in Iraq.
At present, there is welcome news that Mr Ariel Sharon has had talks with Mr Abu Ala from the Palestinian Authority. Will the Minister confirm our view that any action in and around the Middle East needs to go hand-in-hand with a revival of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, without which there will never be stability in the wider Arab world?
At this time, when the chances of avoiding conflict are critically dependent on the absolute conviction by Saddam Hussein that he faces military force unless he complies, it is vital that the United Nations speaks with a united voice and that there is seen to be clear will in this country by the Government, Parliament and the people in support of UNSCR 1441 and any action that may flow from it. We repeat the plea from this side of the House in respect of our concern to improve the presentation of the Government's policies. They are perfectly respectable policies but have not been adequately explained and have been tragically undermined by such issues as the issue of the dossierwhich invited nothing but criticism at the time. Furthermore, we are concerned at the less than adequate and clear demonstration of some of the
We strongly support the Minister's final conclusion. The matter is now in the hands of Saddam. He lied before. He said that he did not have weapons of mass destruction. He had them and they were found. There are not many people who believe that there are not significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction still present in Iraq. It is not a question of hide-and-seek or 'catch as catch can', it is a question of total compliance with United Nations resolutions to make available, to indicate and to guide inspectors to the materials and to organise their destruction.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we also thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. However, we reiterate that while Statementsincluding regular Statements on what the Leader of the House described to the leader of my group as a very fast-moving situationare welcome, your Lordships' House and another place need a full debate on the situation in order to give people from all sides the opportunity to state their views. We need a good, long debate.
It is most important that we wait for tomorrow's report. I heard very little that is new in the Statement. At present, inspections appear to be making rather good progressthat is what they are supposed to do. Can the Minister give us any information on how much extra range the Al Samoud missile has? My information is that it has now added a further 30 kilometres to its 150 kilometres. Whether that is a massive increase is something that one may want to question.
The pressure must be maintained. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, said. However, we must also be concerned with the maintenance of the rules of international order. I reiterate what is said in the Statement regarding the concern that the authority of the United Nations must not be undermined because that would make the world a more dangerous place. The authority of the UN is already at risk in this situation from a number of possible sides.
On these Benches, our assessment as to what needs to be done is in line with a number of principles. We are concerned to disarm the regimenot to change the regime, unless that is a necessary consequence. Therefore, we support very much the implications of the final paragraphs. We are also concerned, unavoidably, that any intervention in Iraqif it proved necessaryshould not make the struggle with the threat of terrorism worse. It must be managed so as to alleviate the terrorist threat and not to provoke a further surge of terrorism.
We are also concerned that any intervention in Iraq or any attempt to disarm Iraq is about Iraq itself and should not be seen as part of a larger planas too many people in Washington are already sayingto remodel the whole of the Middle East. So far as possible, Britain should maintain co-operation with its European partners. I agree strongly with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord King, concerning the unhelpfulness of the current very aggressive anti-French rhetoric being heard from the United States. The fact that we are also hearing it on British radio and television does not help to swing the British public in support of American motives.
On the question of Turkey, I should like to ask the Minister specifically whether she is confident that the Turkish Government put in their own request. My understanding is that this was an American request to provide forces to support Turkey. It was only on 10th February, under American pressure, that the Turkish Government formally asked for support. I note that on 11th February, the Turkish Prime Minister said that Turkey does not need these extra forces. He said:
I have some sympathy with the actions that the French, the Germans and the Belgians have takenthough not the way in which they have done itin that their argument is that the United States was using this to try to bounce NATO into accepting the logic of preparations for war. We do not yet accept that there is an unavoidable logic for war. I welcome the restatement in the Statement that the Government still believe war may be avoided.
I urge the Government to provide accurate information for a mature democracy. Misleading representations do not help. The phrase in the Statement about the Iraqi report including a reprint of earlier documents could also be applied to some of the things which the British Government have provided, but which have not helped to sway public opinion.
We need a debate in both Houses before a second UN resolution is agreed. If the Russian Duma can be allowed that, perhaps the British Parliament might be considered sufficiently part of a mature democracy to be allowed that too. The British people, as we all know from public opinion polls as well as from conversations, are not yet persuaded of the case for military intervention in Iraq. At present, a great many people in all parties and both Houses are not persuaded of the case for war.
It is a matter for concern that there are many within the Bush Administration who appear determined to go to war to remove the current Iraqi regimewhether the UN permits it or notand to move on from there to reshape the Middle East as a whole. I ask for
I have one final question. We hear in the Washington debate various comments about planning for after the war. It is suggested that British troops will be used mainly to mop up and occupy afterwards. I trust that this will not meanas has often been stated in Washington op-ed columnsthat the Americans do the fighting and the Europeans do the washing-up. Is it intended that the British will be washing up?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their broad welcome for my right honourable friend's Statement. In particular, I welcome the noble Lord, Lord King, to his job of substituting, which he did so ably today.
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, asked about a debate on Iraq. I understand that conversations are taking place in the usual channels at present. I hope that we will manage to resolve them successfully and reach a mutually agreed understanding on when a debate will take place.
The noble Lord, Lord King, said that the tone of the Statement suggested that we had already made up our minds that there was a further breach. That is true. The Statement says it quite clearly; but it is based on what Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei were able to report in January on the questions that had remained unanswered by the Iraqi regime in the document that they submitted to the United Nations in December, and on what was described as Iraq's lack of active co-operation in their dealings with the United Nations inspectors. There are around 20,000 security and intelligence personnel in Iraq, and only just over 100 United Nations inspectors to cover a country the size of France. It is not the inspectors' job to run around to try to find the evidence that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. It is the job of the Iraqi regime to show the inspectors that that is the case. Sometimes the failure of some of our international partners to grasp that essential point about what the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 says has led to some of the misunderstandings in recent days.
On what is happening in NATO, it is bound by solemn undertakings of the partners. We believe that the request made by Turkey is in its interests and those of NATO. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, suggested that possibly it was not a request by Turkey, and that some of the recent statements from Turkey indicate that it can manage nicely on its own. I suggest to the noble Lord that one should be careful about some public statements. Many of our friends near the region have difficultly nuanced positions. From my own recent trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, I know that there is sometimes much difficulty in people explaining in public what they can say to us in private. I had understood that the position of the noble Lord's
Meetings are continuing in NATO to try to resolve the issue. Our permanent representative, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, will be representing the United Kingdom. The work will continue throughout the weekend. The permanent representatives are meeting both in the morning and the afternoon. Sixteen countries agree on the position; three do not. As the noble Lord, Lord King, said, and the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, agreed, it is very important that we lower the temperature of the rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. It is not just those on one side of the Atlantic who have made statements that have made others concerned. The rhetoric in both directions should now be one of much more studied discussion about how the issue can successfully be resolved.
I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord King, says about the importance of credible military force to back up the position on UNSCR 1441. If credible military force is not maintained, it will undermine the authority of the United Nations, and, as the noble Lord, Lord King, rightly said, it will increase the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Since we passed Resolution 1441, it has always been our view that a second resolution is desirable. That is the position of our allies throughout. We will examine whether, and in what light, we can take forward our desire for a second resolution in the light of the statements tomorrow. My right honourable friend's Statement did not dwell on the matter, because we thought that it was right to listen to what Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei say to the United Nations tomorrow on whether they have further information to help resolve how the second resolution might be taken forward.
We hope to hear more about the Al-Samoud missile in tomorrow's statements in the United Nations. But, as my right honourable friend's Statement made clear, we raised questions about the al-Samoud missile in our dossier put forward in September. The noble Lord is right that the range then was said to be around 180 kilometres, 30 over the United Nations specification. But we will want to look carefully at the outcome of the inspectors' own view on that missile. I understand that a team of international experts is also looking at the point.
We have been discussing aid. We are in regular contact not only with our allies in the United States but with a range of UN humanitarian agencies. Everybody is making detailed contingency plans. We are confident that UN preparations are as good as they can be, given the risks and the uncertainties. We support a leading UN role in the response to any humanitarian crisis and thereafter. In response to the noble Lord's point on what he claimed my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development said, I have not seen those words. I wish to study them carefully before responding to the noble Lord, but I will do so in due course.
We shall discuss the links between Al'Qaeda and Iraq in more detail in the Question raised by the noble friend of the noble Lord, Lord King, to be discussed next week. The Government have said on several occasions that it is perfectly clear that Iraq has had considerableI hesitate over the word "linkages" because it means different things to different people. It is clear that Iraq has given succour to different terrorist organisations, including Abu Nidal and others who have been espousing the cause of terrorism in the Middle East.
I do not think that anyone is in any doubt that it is up to Saddam Hussein now to prove to the world that he does not have those dreadful weapons; it is not up to the rest of the world to prove that he has.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister further on two points mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord King. The first, on which she touched at the end of her reply, is the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and Al'Qaeda. Does she agree that the broadcast on Al-Jazeera earlier this week tends to undermine claims that there are links between Saddam Hussein and Al'Qaeda, far from supporting them as alleged in Washington? Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord King, also referred to the importance of parallel progress on the Arab-Israel situation, which I endorse. What is the present state of play on the activities of the Quartet and the roadmap? What is Washington doing, if anything, to try to bring about further progress on the Palestinian problem?
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