Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [ Lords]

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) 3:12 pm, 1st April 2009

That was the argument when the red crescent was adopted. In the 1870s, the Ottoman empire made precisely the arguments that are being made by my hon. Friends and the international community agreed to establish the Red Crescent as a response. I am not sure that the argument was compelling then and I am not sure that it is compelling now. The cross, to a certain mind, might be perceived in the way my hon. Friend describes, but that probably says more about that mind than it does about the cross. I remain convinced that the use of the cross has immense value in the universality it provides, with all the protection that that brings. We want those who are serving noble purposes and offering humanitarian relief, aid and medical services to benefit from the protection given by a symbol such as the cross.

I remain doubtful that extending the number of symbols is likely to offer such blanket protection. Not only is there the possibility of malevolent or mischievous use, but, almost more significantly, there is the possibility of confusion. Until my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne can answer that charge, I feel that his argument has less strength than he might assume.

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