Oral Answers to Questions — Iraq

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th February 1998.

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Photo of Mr Malcolm Savidge Mr Malcolm Savidge Labour, Aberdeen North 12:00 am, 10th February 1998

What assessment he has made of the welfare of children in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [26449]

Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell Labour, Cambridge

What assessment he has made of the welfare of children in Iraq, and if he will make a statement. [26455]

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The children of Iraq have suffered enormously at the hands of a ruthless dictator who cares nothing for their welfare. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we are concerned for their plight. We have provided £94 million in aid to the people of Iraq since 1991, much of which has been specifically targeted towards projects for children. Our co-sponsorship of oil-for-food resolutions has ensured that food and medical supplies reach all Iraqi people. We welcome the recent recommendations of the Secretary-General that the oil-for-food programme be expanded. That will also help to improve the situation for all vulnerable groups in Iraq.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Savidge Mr Malcolm Savidge Labour, Aberdeen North

Does my hon. Friend agree that, given the estimate that some 1 million under-fives are underfed, it is obscene that Saddam Hussein should have squandered some $1,000 million on building luxury palaces for himself, and it is dishonest that he should have sought to put the blame on United Nations sanctions?

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

My hon. Friend makes a strong and valid point. In many of the comments that we hear about the current crisis, one of the grotesque ironies is the fact that Saddam Hussein has argued about access to what may be 40 presidential palaces. At a time when, because of his own actions, his own people have been suffering, a dictator has no moral right to indulge in luxury for himself and to build palaces in those numbers. Saddam Hussein's record speaks for itself. Again, my hon. Friend makes the point on why we have to ensure total access to the United Nations inspectors.