The Gulf (Ecology)

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:10 pm on 15th March 1991.

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Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire 12:10 pm, 15th March 1991

If, after the debate, the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) reads the United Nations charter, he may feel that that organisation's commitment to seeking to resolve disputes by negotiation, arbitration, peace and other methods could have been sorely damaged by what has taken place in the Gulf.

On the other hand, there are agencies operating under the aegis of the UN, such as UNICEF and the World Health Organisation which are doing valuable work. The position of the UN cannot easily be judged one way or the other by what has happened in the crisis, for sometimes its right hand is trying to undo what its left hand has achieved.

The oil fires alone in the Gulf represent a massive human catastrophe, despite what the hon. Member for Gravesham said to try to alleviate the nature of that catastrophe. The situation is undoubtedly far worse than the disaster at Chernobyl and it might even be judged to be worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disastrous though those happenings were in terms of numbers of people killed, we must consider the potential that is beginning to flow from the crisis in the Gulf in terms of climatic conditions and the lives of people in the third world. We must be very concerned indeed if we are facing something that disastrous.

Hon. Members will have received copies of New Arabia, which have been sent out by the Kuwaitis. It includes an article entitled "Fires worse than nightmares" which deals with some of the points referred to in the debate. The nightmare that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) predicted has probably, in the event, turned out to be even worse than that which he painted today. It is more disastrous and more oil fires are occurring, though perhaps my hon. Friend was deliberately being modest about such matters to give impact to the points that he made.