The unanimous adoption last week of Security Council resolution 1546 endorsed the transfer of authority to a new Iraqi Government and endorsed future security arrangements. The resolution reflected several months of intensive discussions with our international partners and with the United Nations. We were in regular consultation with the political mission led by UN Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, and the UN electoral team led by Carina Perelli. Those close contacts will continue as the UN takes the leading role in assisting the Iraqi Government and people in their preparations for democratic elections by
I feel that my question has rather got lost by being linked with the question from Bob Spink. My question is specifically about electoral systems.
If Iraq is to move beyond a rather theoretical legal sovereignty on
On the last point, the answer is yes. On my hon. Friend's first point, an electoral commission has been established. Interestingly, there were more than 1,800 applications for appointment and a shortlist of candidates was interviewed by a panel of experts led by Judge Kriegler of South Africa. The final commission consists of seven commissioners, including two women and one United Nations member. It bodes well for the future.
On the electoral system itself—my hon. Friend takes an interest in such matters, as do I—Mrs. Perelli has recommended that the introduction of a national list system for interim elections to the national congress should take place between now and January. Obviously, the subsequent election system operated will be a matter for the constituent assembly that draws up the new constitution.
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House exactly what support will be provided by Britain in the run up to the 2005 elections? Will that involve additional British troops going to Iraq?
We will certainly provide a good deal of support through our existing troop contingents. The European Union and other institutions with expertise in monitoring and supporting electoral processes will provide support if they, in turn, can get effective security—that is a separate limb of Security Council resolution 1546. The hon. Gentleman will know that troop numbers are kept under continuous review and that any changes will be announced to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.
The Foreign Secretary will recall my question of
I do indeed recall the question that my hon. Friend asked on
On the "Today" programme a couple of weeks ago, I said that I had answered a question about the matter. I was speaking from my recollections, as I made clear at the time, but I should like to point out that I had answered a supplementary question during a statement rather than a parliamentary question—with a capital Q. I apologise for that minor transgression.
One of the key tasks that faces the electoral assistance division and other United Nations bodies is to restore the UN's reputation in the eyes of many ordinary Iraqis following its tarnishing due to the oil-for-food programme. Given that recent intelligence suggests that Saddam Hussein and his immediate family and entourage benefited to the tune of $10 billion, and that intelligence coming out of Iraq suggests that that money is being used to fund the insurgency that faces our troops and threatens the elections, what moves have the Foreign Office taken to back the Iraq governing council's call for a full and independent inquiry?
An investigation is already taking place under the aegis of the United Nations, and it is linked to investigations by law enforcement authorities in several countries. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman understands that I cannot go into further detail because that might prejudice the outcome of some of those criminal investigations, but we are certainly powerfully seized of the issue.
Is it not the case that under pressure from US Ambassador Paul Bremer, Moqtada al-Sadr and his followers have been banned from fighting elections for three years? Is that not a deeply foolish decision? Would it not be better for them to be engaged in the elections rather than outside fighting?