Sierra Leone

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 2nd March 1999.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 4:27 pm, 2nd March 1999

I am addressing the problems of the region, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not. He said nothing about what more the Foreign Office could do about the problems of the region.

I intend to meet President Kabbah while I am in the region. I expect to discuss how we can best use the resources that I have announced today to strengthen his Government and promote stability in Sierra Leone. The visit will underline the Government's commitment to the region and our fresh approach to its problems. That is the conduct of Ministers on Sierra Leone that should concern the House. I am happy to be judged on it.

By contrast, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech did not contain a single policy proposal towards Sierra Leone or the region. It is worth restating that, because it remains the flaw in the Conservatives' criticisms of Ministers' conduct. They wish to debate the conduct of Ministers, but not their conduct in relation to Sierra Leone. The debate is motivated not by their support for the people of Sierra Leone, but all too transparently by their desire to wring party advantage from the crisis in that country. That approach would be massively rejected by the people of Sierra Leone and it should be massively rejected by the House.