Gulf War Church Service, Glasgow

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1991.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 12:00 am, 29th April 1991

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, whether they will be officially represented at the service at St. Mungo's cathedral, Glasgow, on 4 May in relation to the Gulf war.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

No, Sir, although each Church of England diocesan bishop attending is a Church Commissioner.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Whereas it is quite proper that service men and their families should want to give thanks for their safe return, is it really in good taste that politicians should be present, given that the Kurds are in the mountains, the Shias are in the marshes, the war is clearly not over, Karbala and Najaf are in ruins and the United Nations has disowned the whole project?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

The old Church of England litany—I know that we are talking about the Church of Scotland—prays for divine deliverance from lightning and tempest, from plague, pestilence and famine and from battle, murder and sudden death. Many hundreds of young men in our forces in the Gulf will have echoed that prayer for deliverance, as will many thousands of their loved ones and hon. Members of all parties. Most people will feel that it is no bad thing that the survivors and their families and the hon. Members responsible for sending them to the Gulf should express their thanksgiving for their safe return in a religious service that will also remember the fallen.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that those of us who lost young men from our constituencies during the war recognise the importance of the service for their families? We welcome especially the fact that it will be an ecumenical service. That does not mean that any of us who attends will forget the problems that confront the Kurds and the Shi'ites in Iraq.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her comments which, perhaps not proportionately to the strength of her party in the House, represent the overwhelming view of most Scotsmen, Englishmen, Welshmen and Irishmen of the merits of the service.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Are not we an extraordinary nation in that when we are to have a service such as this, at which church and state are to be fully represented, some seek to run it down in this House, which is supposed to represent most people in the country? Surely we should be thankful that the service is to be held and thankful to God that our men came back safely.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

I thoroughly endorse my hon. Friend's view, although I should pay the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) the credit that I am sure is his due. He will have been invited, he has a military past and I very much hope that he will take the opportunity to attend the service.