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Iraq

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 26th February 2003.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence) 4:50 pm, 26th February 2003

I profoundly disagree with what Mr. Hume has just said. To suggest that the lesson of the second world war is that one should not go to war is to fly in the face of the real lesson of that war, which is that when faced with dictators one should deal with them sooner rather than later.

What we face is, as always, the problem of democracies when dealing with dictators. I subscribe to the paradox of freedom. The paradox of freedom, sometimes called the paradox of tolerance, is that one must tolerate all but the intolerant, because if one persists in tolerating the intolerant, then the tolerant will disappear, because the conditions for toleration will cease to exist.

Let me say on the question of weapons of mass destruction the following: Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 litres of anthrax, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction. There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared, and that at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date. It might still exist. Either it should be found and be destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision, or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was, indeed, destroyed in 1991.

Those are not my words. They are the words of Dr. Blix in his report to the Security Council as recently as 27 January this year. They did not come from a dissertation. They did not come from a student thesis. They did not even come from a Government dossier. They are fact.

I was rather sad about the refusal by Alan Simpson, who I am sorry to see has already vacated his place, to let me intervene when he was talking about the presence in north America of a biological plant, a plant that he said produces and deals with substances that are banned under the 1972 biological weapons convention. He compared that to the situation in Iraq. I have interesting news for hon. Members. There is a plant like that in this country. It is called Porton Down. Under the provisions of the 1972 biological weapons convention it does what such plants are allowed to do, which is to work on minuscule amounts of toxic substances in order to develop antidotes to them.