Iraqi Refugees

Part of Constitutional Reform – in the House of Commons at 6:54 pm on 3rd July 1991.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 6:54 pm, 3rd July 1991

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall), I am in favour of the lifting of sanctions forthwith.

A fortnight ago I shared a platform with the actress Vanessa Redgrave who had just come back from Iraq. Her report, which I believe was factually accurate, was along similar lines to the Harvard report, from which I must quote: The study team gained the first unsupervised access to Iraq's electrical power plants and finds that Iraq today generates only about 20 per cent. as much electricity as before the Gulf War. The Harvard doctors write: There is a link in Iraq between electrical power and public health … Without electricity, water cannot be purified, sewage cannot be treated, water-borne diseases flourish, and hospitals cannot treat curable illness. One of the study team's findings, which has been repeated today, was that at least 170,000 under-fives will die this year. The team also found that water purification, sewage disposal and electrical power plants have been incapacitated. Without imported parts one cannot run generators, and without generators there will be no electricity to deal with sewage and water purification.

I realise that there are problems in lifting sanctions. I refer the Government to Aviation Week and Space Technology of 1 July, which states: Estimates were received that 6 million Iraqis could have died from dispersion of stored anthrax and botulism viruses. Can the Minister comment on the leaking of chemicals stored at the Muthanna military complex near Samnarra? They may have been badly stored, but apparently they may well be leaking as a result of bombing and poor maintenance.

What do the Government propose to do about the recommendations of the United Nations inspection team, led by the Australian, Dr. Peter Dunn?

As I said, I realise that there are difficulties in connection with lifting sanctions. What is the latest information about the nuclear issue, for example, and what were the results of the presentation of classified spy satellite photographs to the United Nations Security Council? Did the Iraqis remove nuclear equipment from Abu Ghurab, north of Baghdad, last Monday? Were the inspectors denied access, and what do Ministers propose to do about their statement that activities which had been observed from a distance during a first visit had ceased and objects that had been seen had been removed"? I admit that that is part of the difficulty in lifting sanctions but—but, but, but—as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton says, in humantarian terms, the public health catastrophe that is upon us simply does not bear thinking about.