Does my right hon. Friend agree that we can all share an understanding of the appalling strain to which the families of service men and women serving in the Gulf are subject at this time? I refer in particular to the family of Flight-Lieutenant Peters in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight). We have all seen the outrageous photograph of Flight-Lieutenant Peters, which has been used so cruelly. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made reference to the inspirational courage of the men doing the fighting. Does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agree that the steadfast courage of their families at home, who have to wait for the warriors to return, is also deserving of all our support?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, whose views will be shared throughout the House. The families of those serving in our forces, and most especially of those who have been captured, are suffering a special agony at this time. We send them all our sympathy and we appreciate the courage that they, too, are showing.
I associate myself with the Prime Minister's remarks. Does he agree that the relatives of airmen missing in the Gulf conflict have enough to put up with without having to contend with a prying press? Does he share my view that uninvited intrusions into the lives of very anxious people cannot serve any public interest whatsoever? Will he take this opportunity to appeal to editors to desist from any invasions of privacy?
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. It is standard practice not to disclose the names of those killed without the consent of their families, and I hope and expect that convention to be observed throughout the conflict. I share the right hon. Gentleman's view that people are entitled to privacy at a time of grief and I hope that their privacy will be respected by everyone.
Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. Some of the countries concerned have constitutional restrictions against committing forces and some are already contributing substantial funds. However, as the costs mount, I hope that we may look to them to contribute further to the communal costs.
Is the Prime Minister aware that many of us admire the way in which he and his Government have handled the middle east crisis? In particular, we like the vigour of the Government's response, their clarity of purpose and their refusal to allow themselves to chase after the mirages of diplomatic and political initiatives. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that we see a sad contrast in the Government's response to Irish republican terrorism, which claimed yet another innocent victim in Ulster yesterday? The Government have allowed themselves to be mired down in political action that has inhibited the response that should be made. Will the right hon. Gentleman bring to Ulster the same clarity and vigour with which he has pursued the Gulf crisis?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while our attention is rightly focused upon the allied forces in the Gulf today, it would also be right at this time to pay tribute to the late King Olav of Norway who, in times of war and peace, did so much to cement the strong links of friendship between Norway and the United Kingdom?
Yes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend. King Olav was enormously popular in this country and there is a real affection in the hearts of many people here who came to know him. I am sure that the House would wish to join me in sending our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen on the death of her cousin, and on the death of a very good friend to this country.