Iraq — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:50 pm on 18th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord Ryder of Wensum Lord Ryder of Wensum Conservative 2:50 pm, 18th December 2008

I express my own tribute to the skill and professionalism of the British Armed Forces in Iraq. I welcome today's Statement because it marks the beginning of the end of one of the most foolish acts of British foreign policy. Is the Minister aware that the picture she paints of Basra is not a complete one? Over the past 12 months in Basra, religious deaths have increased by 70 per cent while convictions have stayed static. Is she further aware that the Iraqi commander in Basra—referred to, I think, in the Statement—said a fortnight ago that vast tracts of Basra were still in the hands of militias and insurgents and that he needed at least another two brigades to begin to come to terms with the problems he was confronted with. Is she aware that, although this is one of the most regrettable pieces of British foreign policy, she must not give the impression that the work undertaken so courageously by our troops in Basra has been as successful as the Statement seems to imply?