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Orders of the Day — Iran (Temporary Powers) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:34 pm on 12th May 1980.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone 8:34 pm, 12th May 1980

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) into speculations as to the situation inside Iran and the effect that the Bill might have. I agree with the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) that at this time it is proper that certain steps should be taken against violations of international law. For that reason I shall support the Government, whatever my doubts about the effect of sanctions, and whatever the failure of sanctions in the past.

There is good argument in the view that to support the United States' request at this stage has merit. The right hon. Member for Down, South said that all had been changed by the American military adventure in Iran. I agree with him that to call this a rescue operation is a misuse of precise language. This is a question not of a Suez, but rather of a Navarino, when the Duke of Wellington used the famous phrase "this untoward event."

That untoward event consisted of the British fleet allied to the French under Admiral Codrington blowing the Turkish fleet to smithereens. In the King's speech of that day the Duke of Wellington got His Majesty to announce that, despite this untoward and regretted event, he trusted that the interests of those persons who had suffered would fundamentally and swiftly be reconciled. If there be a political message in history—not that I wish to add knobs to the coronet of the Foreign Secretary—it is that the Duke's advice at that point would be wise advice today.