Iraq

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6 April 2010.

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Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Labour, Sheffield, Heeley 2:30, 6 April 2010

What assessment he has made of the implications of the outcome of the recent elections in Iraq for UK policy in the region.

Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The 7 March election was evidence of Iraq's progress towards full democracy, a particularly important development in the middle east. It is important that the result is respected by Iraq's political leaders.

It is also the case that Iraq's neighbours have a key role in supporting Iraq's democratic future. A democratic Iraq can play an increasing part in maintaining a stable and secure middle east.

Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Labour, Sheffield, Heeley

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer and welcome the progress being made. In terms of further progress for Iraq, does he agree that contact with businesses is enormously important? Will he continue to do all that he can to improve the situation, particularly in relation to visas-the current arrangements mean that Iraqi business people are more likely to go to Europe than the UK?

Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

My hon. Friend speaks with a good deal of expertise in these matters. She is absolutely right: as we have drawn down our military contribution in Iraq, there is growing importance for our economic, political, cultural and educational engagement with Iraq. That was the purpose of the Iraq investment conference in April 2009, and we are absolutely determined to make sure that British companies get the full benefit of a growing and more stable Iraq.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

In the parliamentary elections five years ago, the then Prime Minister sent people out from the policy unit here to assist then Prime Minister Allawi with his election campaign, which actually looked like fairly discreditable interference in the affairs of Iraq. Can the Foreign Secretary confirm that Mr. Allawi succeeded this time without the assistance of anyone from the United Kingdom?

Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Certainly, I have no information to suggest that there was any support from the United Kingdom in that respect. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman knows, on that occasion the result did not work out in favour of the Government in the Iraqi election.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Special Envoy to PM on Human Rights in Iraq

I hope we continue to assist Iraq by all means possible, particularly in rebuilding the rule of law. I want to place on record an e-mail that I received a few days ago from the very brave judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death:

"I am...former chief investigative judge in the Iraqi High Tribunal...I am writing today after a long time to say thank you very much for your help"- which means this country's help-

"to restore the Iraqi justice and rule of law. Without your support we could not have done what we did."

Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Although my right hon. Friend is not retiring, I think the whole House owes her a huge debt of gratitude for the way in which she has conducted her work as the Prime Minister's special representative on human rights in Iraq. She has stood up for the rights of people in Iraq in a remarkable way, and although there was deep division in the House on the Iraq war, I hope that there is unity around the commitments that she has reported and made in respect of human rights, an independent press and a free and independent judiciary.