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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 10th February 1998.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn Labour, Chesterfield 3:30 pm, 10th February 1998

Is the Secretary of State aware that the most obvious gap in his strategy is that no diplomatic efforts have been made by the United States Government or the British Government to send Ministers to Baghdad, as many other countries have done? The impression is created that they are only playing for time to build up the military force for the strike that has already been decided.

Is the Secretary of State further aware that articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations charter make it clear that military action may be authorised only by the Security Council? If action were taken by Britain and America, it would be illegal in international law, and would undermine the authority of the United Nations. The moral responsibility for the deaths of civilians that could follow would rest with those who took that decision. For that reason, it would not be possible for those who believe in the rule of law and in the United Nations to support the military action that, in the view of the House, the Secretary of State clearly intends to take.