Iraq (Humanitarian Contingency Plan)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:14 pm on 30th January 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dr Jenny Tonge Dr Jenny Tonge Liberal Democrat, Richmond Park 3:14 pm, 30th January 2003

No, I will not give way again. I have nearly finished my remarks and I want others to have a chance to speak.

If war is waged on Iraq, a humanitarian catastrophe could spread all over the middle east and not be confined to Iraq's borders. How much money will be needed to deliver aid and reconstruction to Iraq during and after the war? What proportion of that—the Secretary of State touched on this—will once again have to come out of the DFID budget? I say this every time these things happen. That budget is bled for reconstruction and aid once a war is over. Why does the Ministry of Defence not pay for cleaning up its own messes? DFID's money is supposed to be used to meet the millennium targets on health, education and clean water for the poorest people of the world, and not—I repeat, not—to clean up the mess of yet another war.

The Prime Minister was fond of telling us during the run-up to the bombing of Afghanistan that, following much pressure, he had a two-pronged approach: military and humanitarian. I believe that it was a three-pronged approach at times, with diplomatic efforts being made too. He has been only too ready this time, backed by the official Opposition, to use the military option, paying scant attention so far to other issues. The Opposition motion recognises the humanitarian crisis, and we will of course support it.

Destruction is so easy. The USA and its allies can perhaps annihilate Iraq and Saddam Hussein, but at what cost? We will risk alienating Muslims for ever. We will certainly increase the risk of terrorist attacks here at home. We must not make war on the Iraqi people—only on their Government. Massive humanitarian aid, backed by patient diplomacy to encourage co-operation with the weapons inspectors, must go hand in hand with the threat of military action.