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Orders of the Day — Iran (Temporary Powers) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:35 pm on 12th May 1980.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest 9:35 pm, 12th May 1980

I think that the whole House has listened with attention to the informed and interesting speech of the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Fletcher), with whom, some years ago, I travelled in part of the Middle East. Early in his speech, the hon. Gentleman laid it down as a principle that sanctions always produce the opposite effect to that which was intended by those who applied them. I am not quite sure, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman voted against sanctions against Rhodesia. I did.

I have not been conspicuously enamoured of economic sanctions. I expressed my opposition to sanctions against Rhodesia even before they were imposed—I am on record—and I was consistent in that point of view, not to my advantage. However, as my hon. Friend the Member of State observed, Iran today offers no comparison with Rhodesia.

Modern times afford no parallel—perhaps no times in history afford one—for so outrageous and callous a breach of the rules of international law as the seizure and holding captive of the American hostages. As was said so well from the Opposition Front Bench by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore), peaceful diplomacy rests on reverence at least for the persons of ambassadors and respect for the missions of foreign States, and the Western Powers—but not only the Western Powers—should stand together to register their repugnance at the flouting of the Vienna convention, which regulates diplomatic relations in this act of international banditry.

I rather agree with the hon. Member for Ilkeston who said that this is not so much a Bill as a declaration. It is an enabling Bill. By passing it tonight, we shall not be taking any measures of sanctions, but if it is enacted, the Bill will enable Her Majesty's Government to act in concert with Her Majesty's allies, and I hope with other countries as well, in accord with what was decided by the European Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 22 April. I stress the European commitment and European solidarity in the course of action proposed.

Of course, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant) was quite right when he said that there must be no taking advantage of partners if Orders in Council are laid under the Act—if the Bill becomes an Act.