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Prime Minister's Question Time

I've sent a letter to my local MP with a copy of the EDM and this
response to PMQ's. I've also sent copies to the MPs who asked the
questions, and the PM. Thought you people on the CASI list might like to
see it too. I've put my comments in [*]. Sorry that its a bit long, and
sorry that in text-only i can't make my comment stand out more.

best wishes 

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On Monday night, some 5 or 6 million of
our fellow citizens watched a programme produced by John Pilger, showing
horrendous scenes of what was happening in Iraq. Can we be happy to
pursue a policy for nine years that has such an effect? 

The Prime Minister: No, we cannot be happy to pursue such a policy at
all. We are not happy to pursue it, but the way to get the sanctions
lifted is for Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq to come into line
with UN resolutions, and stop trying to develop weapons of mass
[Why does Mr Blair insist on punishing an entire nation because of one
man? Does he or does he not believe in Universal Human Rights? This
government rightly respected the human rights of a man suspected of
torture, and 'disappearances'. Why isn't this respect being extended to
the people of Iraq?] 
This Government have taken the lead in the United Nations in trying to
find a better method of ensuring that food and medicine get through to
the Iraqi people.
[I question the truth of this claim; this Government has blocked
numerous shipments of medical supplies to Iraq, through both the UN
Security Council and through the DTI and FCO.] 
The opportunity exists for Saddam Hussein to feed his people and to
provide them with medicines. He has billions of oil dollars that he
could use for that purpose, but he does not. [What opportunity does
Saddam Hussein have to feed his people? The amounts that are made
through oil-for-food are not enough to run a country on, especially
since something like 33% goes towards reparations to Kuwait and UN
administration expenses.  And why is the British Government leaving it
up to Mr. Hussein to feed his people.  It is illogical to say the man is
an insane dictator (as Government sources have said in the past) and
then rely on the insane dictator to feed the people of Iraq. I would be
grateful if Tony Blair could explain his logic here.] 
He uses the money to prop up his regime, and spends it on weapons of
mass destruction. 
[I would like to see some facts and figures regarding this.  The fact
that we have no inspectors in the country means that we don't know what
weapons Iraq possesses.  Even if we did have inspectors, they are given
the impossible task of proving a negative, namely ensuring Iraq has been
100% disarmed.  Does Mr Blair dispute Scott Ritter's statements that
Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction? And why is Iraq the only
country to suffer in this way? Many other countries have weapons of mass
destruction, and some of these others have even used them. For example,
USA dropped the first atomic weapon, USA and UK use Depleted Uranium and
indiscriminate bombing, and sanctions themselves are now being used as a
weapon of mass destruction. There is an inconsistency and hypocrisy in
UK policy towards weapons of mass destruction.] If my hon. Friend wants
to help the people in Iraq, I urge him, as I have urged him often, to
help put pressure on the Iraqi regime and Saddam Hussein to fulfil their
humanitarian obligations. The way to end sanctions is for them to come
into line with the United Nations resolutions. If they do that, no one
will be more pleased than the Government.
[Again, Mr Blair is trying to reason with a madman, and the Iraqi people
suffer for it.]

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Is it not unfortunate that the
person who made the programme that 8 Mar 2000 : Column 1006 has been
mentioned and which was broadcast on Monday night minimised the
responsibility of the criminal dictator of Iraq for the suffering of the
people there? In acknowledging the necessity for sanctions, is it not
important to try to find ways in which to assist the children who
urgently need medicine, while bearing it in mind that the criminal
dictator has never shown the slightest interest in the people who live
in that country? 

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If Saddam
Hussein co-operated with United Nations resolutions, money could go into
Iraq to feed his country; the sanctions would be lifted and there would
be no difficulty. However, he refuses to co-operate with the inspectors
of weapons of mass destruction or to get money to his people through the
oil for food regime. It is a tragedy; what is happening in Iraq to
children and their families is terrible, but the answer is to ensure
that Saddam Hussein comes back in line with international law. If he
does not, the money will go to him, not to families in Iraq. It will be
spent on weapons of mass destruction and we will be back where we were a
few years ago.
[No-one is suggesting that military sanctions should be lifted. The main
concern is a humanitarian one.  Furthermore, Saddam Hussein's weapons
from before the Gulf War came from British suppliers under the Tories,
which the labour leadership at the time did not speak out about.]
Instead of producing a programme that presented only one point of view,
the makers of Monday night's programme should understand that the
international community is desperate to get help to families in Iraq,
but that we cannot do it at the expense of allowing Saddam Hussein to
develop weapons of mass destruction.
[It cannot do so because of UK and US delegates to the UN blocking
contracts for medicines destined for Iraq.]
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