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Libya

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Sir Ian Percival Sir Ian Percival , Southport 7:21 pm, 16th April 1986

We should remember that real friends are not those who help when it costs nothing, but those who help when by doing so they put themselves at risk. What nonsense it is for the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) to describe the honourable course of supporting one's friends as lickspittle. That is as cheap and nasty a thing as I have heard from any of the critics in this debate.

Those who suggest that our allies behaved rashly and without thinking might do well to read the text of the statement put out by President Reagan yesterday, when he said: We Americans are slow to anger: we always seek peaceful avenues before resorting to the use of force. And we did. We tried quiet diplomacy, public condemnations, economic sanctions, and demonstrations of military force. None succeeded.Despite our repeated warnings, Gaddafi continued his reckless policy of intimidation, his relentless pursuit of terror. He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong.I warned that there should be no place on earth where terrorists can rest and train and practise their deadly skills.I meant it.I said that we would act with others if possible, and alone, if necessary, to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary anywhere. Tonight, we have.Thank you and God bless you. I hope that our American friends will realise that the message from the Conservative Benches and, I believe, the great majority of the British people is, "Thank you for all you do to protect the freedoms that have cost this country so dear and must be worth protecting if we are to live up to the standards of those who fought and gained them for us. Thank you, and God bless you in those fearsome tasks."