Gulf War

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1991.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West 12:00 am, 17th June 1991

To ask the Attorney-General if he has received any representations concerning the legality of weapons used by coalition forces in the Gulf war.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I have received representations on this subject from the hon. Member and from the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell).

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

Does the Attorney-General agree that the world community should consider carefully the use of those weapons, which had never before been used on the scale on which they were used in the Gulf war? They are not conventional weapons in the usual sense. They are weapons of mass slaughter which resulted in the deaths of between 100,000 and 200,000 conscripts and injury to 300,000 to 700,000. Is not it time that we viewed air fuel explosives, cluster bombs and daisy cutter bombs as an entirely new way of waging war which should be included, in the interest of the world community, in the inhumane weapons protocol? We must think carefully about the manufacture, sale and deployment of those terrible weapons.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the future line taken by Britain in international legislation or conventions is not a matter for me. The hon. Gentleman particularised his question and mentioned air fuel explosives. He has asked that question before, and he knows that they have been used by only the United States in the Gulf war and only for the purpose of detonating minefields. They have never been used against personnel.

On the larger issue, it must be recognised that there will be casualties if an aggressor occupies a country and the United Nations determines that force must be used as a last resort to throw it out. The responsibility for that lies with the aggressor.