The Gulf

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th February 1991.

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Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells 12:00 am, 4th February 1991

The hon. Gentleman knows that any advice that I give and any advice I receive as a Law Officer is, for good reasons, confidential. Throughout this affair, Britain has committed itself to acting strictly in accordance with international law. In that context, the principles of international law require that account be taken of two factors when planning attacks on military objectives. First, civilian losses, whether of life or property, should be avoided or minimised as far as practicable. Secondly, we should not cause civilian losses that are disproportionate to the military advantage expected from the attack as a whole. The hon. Gentleman will know, because it has been frequently stated by the Prime Minister and others, that British military commanders have been instructed to comply with those principles.

On the wider question with which the hon. Gentleman concluded his remarks, regrettable though environmental damage is, the responsibility for it lies with President Saddam.