Iraq (Exports)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th November 1992.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 12:00 am, 25th November 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the dates of each meeting held by the former Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), with private sector companies concerning exports to Iraq, during his tenure of office.

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

So far as I am aware, the only official meeting that my right hon. Friend held with a private company about exports to Iraq was a presentation by British Aerospace on 8 June 1989 at the Ministry of Defence on a proposal for the sale of Hawk to Iraq. Permission for the sale was later refused.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Is it not clear from the interdepartmental committee meeting of 1 November 1989 between the right hon. Member for Bristol, West, Alan Clark and Lord Trefgarne that, although the right hon. Gentleman tried to impose the condition that he did not want to have to answer awkward questions in Parliament, he was absolutely immersed in the problems of Matrix Churchill? In view of what he knew, how can it have been proper to allow the prosecution of three directors whom the right hon. Gentleman and many other people in the Government must have known had acted in concert with Government opinions and policy? How could those directors have been allowed to get very near to gaol?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

Those matters were fully discussed in the House on Monday, and everything that the hon. Gentleman has said falls within the scope of Lord Justice Scott's inquiry. That is the right place to carry those points further.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

I have seen many Russian armaments in southern Iraq and, given the potential for conflict in Iraq, does my right hon. Friend agree that the European Community would be best placed to make early decisions on peacekeeping missions to Iraq and other areas of the world once the Maastricht treaty has been accepted?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

We shall certainly be better able to act together in the areas—this may be one—in which we all have a common purpose and can agree on a common way of achieving it. For exercises such as those to which my hon. Friend referred to have any validity, they would also need the support of the Security Council. Meanwhile, there is a crisis in southern Iraq, to which my hon. Friend has often drawn attention, which requires the kind of effort which we have been able to mount so far.

Dr. John Cunningham:

Everyone knows that, as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Gentleman had overall responsibility for the arms sales guidelines. We know that when those guidelines were fundamentally and importantly changed, he did not inform the House of Commons. Did he tell the Prime Minister of that important and fundamental change?

Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney

The guidelines were not changed. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade took the House through the sequence of events—the meeting in July 1990 and the fact that the decision was never implemented.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory cop-out of the Foreign Secretary's reply, I hope to raise the matter on the Adjournment of the House.