Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 17th February 1998.

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Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Shadow Secretary of State 4:14 pm, 17th February 1998

I have never sought to compete with the right hon. Gentleman in his command of invective. I will not follow him precisely in the first part of his question, although I have readily acknowledged that there are many aspects of the decisions that have been taken by the Government of Israel which are the object of legitimate criticism. I agree with the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, and he makes a telling point.

I welcome what the Foreign Secretary told us about the oil-for-food resolution. It underlines the fact that our quarrel is with Saddam Hussein and not with the Iraqi people.

I hope that when the Secretary of State for Defence winds up, he will tell us a little more about the command arrangements in the event that military action should be necessary. Will British forces on this occasion defer to overall US command? If so, will there be a right of access to a higher political level, as there was during the Gulf war? I hope that we can be enlightened during the wind-up to the debate.

As the crisis in the Gulf reaches its denouement, the Government will have difficult judgments to make. Conservative Members will be scrutinising those judgments with vigilance, as is our duty. We shall continue to insist on clear objectives linked to the means of achieving them. But, in regard to the essentials of the stand that they have taken, the Government can rely on the support of Her Majesty's Opposition.