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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:46 pm on 26th February 2003.

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Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Labour, Islington South and Finsbury 1:46 pm, 26th February 2003

Let us not forget what we are talking about. We are talking about going to war. We are talking about thousands—possibly hundreds of thousands—of innocent lives being lost. We are talking about casualties almost inevitably among our own forces. We are talking about instability across the whole middle east. We are talking about making the achievement of a solution to the Israel/Palestine question infinitely more difficult. We are talking about the alienation of moderate Muslim opinion across the world. One does not undertake such things lightly. One must have the clearest possible reasons for doing them, and I do not believe that those reasons are there.

This may be the last chance before our forces are committed to military action that the House has to make our view known. It grieves me that I am seeking to amend a motion tabled by my Government—a Government whom I applaud and support. However, these are serious times and the House must make a serious judgment. We must say here today in this Chamber that now is not the time, that the case has yet to be fully made and that war, with all its consequences, cannot be the present answer.