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Orders of the Day — Iran (Temporary Powers) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:35 pm on 12th May 1980.

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Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Oxon Mid 6:35 pm, 12th May 1980

I have tried to deal with the second point and I am now trying to deal with the main case for the Bill which concerns the cohesion of the Alliance. In reply to the question of my hon. Friend about the Japanese, may I say that this Bill does not deal with oil; nor does the draft Security Council resolution on which it is based. The oil issue lies outside the ambit of this Bill. We are working closely with the Japanese on oil and other matters and the measures which the Japanese are prepared to take on exports are quite substantial.

The case for the Bill is clear. After five months of patience and five months of using diplomatic and legal procedures without success, the President of the United States approached us for help with the backing of the United States Congress and the United States people. All the major allies of the United States are ready to act in response. We believe that if we are to exercise substantial influence in the Alliance it is necessary that we, too, should be ready to act in response. If we were to say "No" to the President, if we were to say that our experience of Rhodesia was miserable and that we did not believe that such action would have the desired effect, however able our arguments, we would be administering a major rebuff on the most sensitive point of our major ally.

Anybody who believes that, having done that, we could pursue the argument for restraint against military action, for consultation, for fresh thinking about the Middle East and Arab-Israel, for examining the issue in the context of Soviet expansionism and for a sensible strategic approach and still have a substantial voice in Washington in expressing those arguments—which are soundly based—does not understand the present situation or the nature of the Alliance.

We are not the least of the United States' friends nor in the past have we been the last to show courage in upholding the Alliance. It is unthinkable that in this crisis we should be the first to hold back.