Iran General NewsBritish Parliament debates Iran policy – Part 3

British Parliament debates Iran policy – Part 3


Iran Focus, London, Feb. 10 – The following is part three of the text of a debate on Britain’s Iran policy in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords on February 9. Iran Focus, London, Feb. 10 – The following is part three of the text of a debate on Britain’s Iran policy in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords on February 9.

Part one of the text can be found here: British Parliament debates Iran policy – Part 1

Part two of the text can be found here: British Parliament debates Iran policy – Part 2

House of Lords, United Kingdom
09 February 2006

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I join with others in warmly thanking my noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell for initiating the debate and for the magisterial overview with which he launched it. I thank also your Lordships for the brevity and briskness of many of the contributions. The digital clock seems to have gone a little awry, but the good old analogue clock tells us that the Minister will have ample time in which to answer all the questions.

This is a time of great danger. I agree with noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, who emphasised that point. I agree, too, with the noble Lord, Lord Temple-Morris, that Iran is bound to press ahead. Anyone who really knows anything about the mentality and attitudes in Tehran at the moment will know that that Government and those people will press ahead with nuclear development and move towards a weapons capability. They tried to do it in secrecy with the Natanz uranium enrichment plant and other developments—which were revealed and ceased to be secret—but they have pressed on. Frankly, all that stands in the way of Iran’s move to possess nuclear weapons are technological and technical factors. Those might be considerable. There could be difficulties over the further development of Iran’s uranium enrichment plants, and there could be some delays in the missile programme as well. Most of its missiles are in the “yet-to-fly” category. That is our only hope, but it is a slender hope on which to base our intentions and our desire to see stability in the region.

It is a crucially dangerous time. It is so, first, for the obvious reason that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, proliferation will cascade throughout the region. Countries such as Egypt would perhaps want to be in on the act as well. That is an enormous danger, leading to even further instability and turmoil in the Middle East.

It is a dangerous time, secondly, because the Western response is not working and is not going to work. Many noble Lords will disagree with that. Neither EU diplomacy nor American belligerence will stop the Iranians moving ahead on the path which they have taken. On the contrary, they will make things worse. Mutterings from Washington about the use of force or the latest, almost alarmingly dotty, rumour that three brigades are being put together to invade Iran by land are just what the hard-line mullahs and Mr Ahmadinejad need. He wants nothing more than the opportunity to defy the West. The more the diplomatic gentility of the EU drags on, and the more the mutterings from Washington about the use of force and bombing continue, the more delighted he becomes and the more certain it is that the programme for nuclear development will be accelerated. I am sure that that is correct.

Will targeted smart sanctions from the United Nations help? I wish I shared the view of wise people such as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that this is the path that we should go along, and that pressure of a kind will have some effect on the Iranians. I wish that I could be an optimist along with them, but I am not—first, for the obvious reason that the United Nations will never agree.

China has stated that it is against sanctions “on principle”. It has said that it will never vote for sanctions. So that avenue is blocked. Secondly, we all know from bitter experience that sanctions do not work at all well and hit the poorest, however smart they are, and they usually have the effect of entrenching the incumbent government, which would make Mr Ahmadinejad’s position stronger, which his just what he needs.

Thirdly, and most importantly, although it was much neglected in your Lordships’ debate, Iran’s response to sanctions could be devastating. It could not only cut its own oil production—it is the second biggest oil exporter in the world and although it has promised OPEC that it will not do so, it is, in fact, perfectly ready to do so—but it could do much worse than that. It could mine the Straits of Hormuz, or sink a few vessels in them, and halt up to 18 million barrels of oil a day, which is about a quarter of the entire global consumption of oil. The outcome of that would be a massive world financial and energy crisis that would deeply hurt all countries, including our own, in ways that we have not experienced since the full-blown wars of the twentieth century. That is not appreciated when people talk about whether they would do this or that or use force against Iran. We are dealing with a desperately dangerous situation in which Iran could bring the roof down, not only own its own head, but on ours as well.

Is there a silver lining to all this? Yes, there is. I have tried to explain it in an article in today’s International Herald Tribune. I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, reads it. The effect of all this could be to make the move to a low energy world—the green revolution—a lot more likely. Noble Lords will remember that last time there was an oil price explosion—also triggered, ironically, by events in Iran—it all turned to dust. Oil prices collapsed, after a lot of speeches from people, including me, that they were going to stay high, from $95 equivalent to $9 in a few months. All the investment in new oil alternatives, green energy, nuclear, compact cars—the whole lot—was shelved. Nothing happened. This time, Mr Ahmadinejad and the Iranians have injected real fear into the oil market. This fear is probably as effective, or more effective, than any amount of speeches by the American president on “addiction to oil” or talk about carbon reduction targets that we all know are not being met and will not be met. While I repeat that the dangers of the situation are great, and that, in the end, Mr Ahamdinejad will ruin Iran and impoverish its people, as some noble Lords have rightly said, in the mean time, perhaps we should say “Thank you” to him for a clear sign that oil will remain not just very expensive, but extremely unreliable and a wonderful, but very dangerous commodity.

One or two other questions have arisen in the debate. One is on the role of the exiles, about which my noble friend Lord Waddington spoke eloquently and passionately. My hesitant view is that they should be listened to, but not relied upon. I hope that the position of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran will be kept under review by the Government and that they will have open minds and watch the position very carefully indeed. My noble friend Lord Waddington, the noble Lords, Lord Russell-Johnston and Lord Mitchell, the noble Baroness, Lady Gould, and other noble Lords said some very wise words. I hope that the Government are listening to what they say on what I recognise is a difficult situation on which one cannot leap to a particular position just like that.

Finally, there are two evident longer-term possibilities in what is otherwise an extremely gloomy, dangerous situation. We have inadequate responses to deal with them. They are that only the great Asian powers—China, India, and Japan—plus Russia can bring real pressure to bear on this Iranian regime with all its atrocities, evils and cruelties that we have heard described so graphically today. The Foreign Secretary should not be going to Brussels so much and thinking so much about what is said in Washington; he should be visiting—not summoning—Beijing, Delhi, Tokyo and Moscow. They are the countries with real leverage on Iran. China has a £70 billion gas contract with Iran and gets 14 per cent of its oil daily from Iran. Japan has huge investments in Iran and is in the same sort of position. Russia supplies civil nuclear assistance and air defence supplies and has major links and influence with Iran. As the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said, Russia may be offering the possibility of a way out of the labyrinth with its uranium enrichment offer. That is the first point, which seems to me to be obvious, but understated. We in the West are not in a position to solve this problem alone: it is as much an Asian problem as a European or American one. We should recognise that. A too Western or Euro-centric approach will make things worse, not better.

Secondly, it is clear that the non-proliferation treaty regime faces a crisis, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, rightly observed. It is obvious that it must be reformed to overcome its weaknesses, to embrace the new nuclear and would-be nuclear nations and to ensure that, even if they go this route, it is very transparent and collaborative and an effective pathway to the other NPT goals which people always forget about, which are sustained and organised disarmament and the development of safe, civil nuclear energy. Those are the aims and we must somehow embrace Iranian ambitions in them. These are the ways to contain a crisis—

Lord Dykes: My Lords, does the noble Lord include Israel in his suggestions?

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I accept that the position of Israel is crucial in this, as many noble Lords said. It should be fully taken into account. The new nuclear world is not the world of the existing five powers. Pakistan, Israel and India do not fit into the old treaty but have nuclear weapons, and others may, alas, be on the verge of getting them. The present treaty regime must be reformed—I will not say replaced—to cope with the facts and realities of the new situation. These are the ways to contain a crisis in the face of which—we must be honest and frank about this—current Western policy is proving entirely ineffective.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I think I understood the noble Lord to say that it is the policy of Her Majesty’s Opposition that the non-proliferation treaty should be revised to recognise the nuclear status of India, Pakistan, Israel and anyone else who wants to pop up and say that they have a nuclear programme. Is that correct?

Lord Howell of Guildford: No, my Lords. That is an over-simplification of a much more complicated thought, which is that at present we are dealing with an NPT regime with the five existing nuclear powers at its core. The reality is that there are more existing nuclear powers and—the noble Lord does not accept this, but I tell him will happen—Iran will get nuclear weapons. I ask the noble Lord whether he will hang on to the NPT in those circumstances, or will he recognise that we must embrace an Iran with nuclear weapons in a new collaborative, transparent regime. That is the issue that he, and high officials of state in his former department, will have to face. I urge them to face it sooner rather than later. Those are the remarks I have to offer to your Lordships in a fascinating debate.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, it is self-evident that today’s debate is exceptionally timely. I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, not only for raising the issues but for doing so with such wisdom and generosity towards the Foreign Secretary and the Government. He will have seen frequently and at first hand the interests of this country and of our allies through the complex prism of security concerns, and that knowledge shone through. Twenty Members of the House have taken part in the debate, and I thank all 19, aside from myself.

This is a desperately dangerous moment: the noble Lord, Lord Howell, is right about that. I shall read his article in the International Herald Tribune today, even if I say little about low energy economies in general in this response. I assure him that the Foreign Secretary all the time raises the questions that he seeks to have raised in capitals around the world.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester and others have made the point that if we put the debate into context, it is a debate about a great and ancient culture that, sadly, is now somewhat isolated from international communities. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, reminds us of the dissonance and suspicion that it now has for some of the rest of the world. A good part of that is, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, because of the Iran-Iraq war. It is also, of course, about the West and its arming of Iraq, but it is also about Iraq itself and Iraq’s intentions in those years.

Last week, the 35 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency board met in special session to discuss Iran’s challenge to the international non-proliferation system and how to respond to this challenge. On 4 February, they adopted a resolution that paves the way for the UN Security Council to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme for the first time. This resolution is a clear demonstration of just how thin the patience of the international community has been worn by years of Iranian deception and delay.

The noble Lord, Lord Taverne, helped us through the key sequence, as did the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, in his introductory speech. Two and a half years have now passed since Iran was forced to admit to the IAEA that for many years it had been busily engaged in the construction of secret installations to enrich uranium and to produce plutonium, which could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. In that two and a half years, Iran has ignored repeated IAEA board resolutions calling on it to address international concerns and to take steps to build confidence that its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.

In the past two and a half years, we have attempted with France and Germany, as the E3, to find a diplomatic solution to the issue. We have negotiated with Iran in good faith, aiming to persuade Iran to take steps to guarantee that its nuclear programme will not be used for military ends. We offer Iran the prospect not only of long-term solutions to the nuclear issue, but of a stronger relationship with Europe, and the prospect of building consistently on that relationship and co-operating on political and security issues and in economic and scientific fields. Iran, however, has rejected all constructive attempts to find a solution to this issue. That is why the IAEA board has been compelled to send Iran a strong message that the international community will no longer accept Iran’s continuing failure to restore the confidence that was destroyed by 18 years of concealment and deception.

The two and a half years invested in negotiations with Iran have not been wasted. I make that point straightforwardly to the noble Lord, Lord Russell-Johnston. In that time, Iran’s nuclear programme has been slowed down and opened up to international inspections. Last week’s vote demonstrated a degree of international consensus and unity of purpose that was quite inconceivable two and a half years ago; China and Russia voting in that group—inconceivable!

The international community is now united in opposition to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, is absolutely right to say that the steps now taken in relation to the UN Security Council are the right ones. Our aim in involving the Security Council is to support rather than to supplant the IAEA’s authority. No action will be taken at the Security Council until publication of the report to the March meeting of the board of governors on Iran’s co-operation with the IAEA by the IAEA director-general, Dr El Baradei. Speculation about sanctions, as the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, said—I hope I am not trying to put words into his mouth—is premature at this stage, although of course their future use cannot be ruled out.

My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have repeatedly made it clear that military action is on no one’s agenda. We are committed to a diplomatic solution, and are working to see diplomacy succeed. The consequences of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are unthinkable. Central Asia and the Middle East, two of the world’s most volatile areas, would be destabilised. Other states are almost certain to seek to enhance their own capabilities, thus prompting a regional arms race. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the bedrock of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, would plainly be badly damaged, as would the goal, which we persist in achieving, of creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, a cause to which we are committed.

If Iran’s nuclear programme is indeed intended purely for civilian use, it has no economic or technical rationale. There is no requirement for Iran to resume activities now when it has no operating nuclear reactors, with only one under construction that has a long-term contract for fuel supply. More worryingly, Iran has had information that would help it to produce uranium hemispheres, which have no use other than in the development of nuclear weapons provided by the Khan operation.

We know that information has been made available to the IAEA about tests related to high explosives and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle, all of which plainly have a military nuclear dimension. Combined with Iran’s long history of concealment, these facts have resulted in a lack of international confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, as demonstrated by the overwhelming support for Saturday’s board resolution. May I say to noble Lords who have asked about the United States that I believe that it is wholly aligned with the process that I have described, as are many other countries such as Brazil, India, Egypt and China?

That brings us to the questions that have been asked about Russia in this context. With our support, Russia too has sought a way forward that is not yet wholly formally formulated but that none the less is clear and proposes that, as part of the final agreement, Iran might have a financial-only stake in the enrichment joint venture in Russia. This would help to assure Iran that it could rely on a supply of fuel for its nuclear reactors without acquiring technologies that could be used to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

The Russians, too, made it clear that in order for their ideas to proceed further, Iran would need to keep suspended all its own enrichment and enrichment-related activities. We are prepared to endorse that idea but only so long as all the enrichment took place outside Iran and in Russia. The Russians have presented it in these terms. Since then, the Iranian position has been contradictory and, I believe, deliberately confusing. At the Iranians’ request, European political directors agreed to meet one of Iran’s negotiators, Javad Vaidi, in Brussels on Monday, 30 January, but Vaidi indicated that there was no room for flexibility.

Iran’s resumption of uranium enrichment-related activity three weeks ago was a clear rejection by Iran of both European and Russian efforts to get back into the talks. Iran’s actions have shown no respect for the IAEA resolutions or for the commitments that it has made both to us and to the Russians. This cannot be portrayed as harmless research. The Iranians are developing technologies that would enable them to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. What Iran claims is a small step is in fact a fundamental one.

The consequences of Iran having those weapons—as I have said, the destabilisation of the region and the inauguration of an arms race—is unthinkable and cannot be accepted by any of us. That, in turn, raises the questions that the noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Anderson, raised about the idea of fuel banks. There are possible attractions. A lot of work has been done over the best part of 30 years in looking at the establishment of a central internationally run depository for all enriched uranium produced in the world. This is not one of the options which the IAEA’s panel of experts considers to be feasible at the moment. Apart from the implications for the IAEA of having to store and to maintain the stockpile, the stock of enriched uranium would be of little practical use. At the moment, there are too many different reactor designs, each with its own kind of fuel. Fuel would have to be fabricated to order, usually by the state supplying the reactor. Practical difficulties such as these, not to mention the responsibility for dispensing with spent fuels, have made it very difficult to find a workable solution as yet, but I do not rule out the possibility that people should carry on trying.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, would not that objection, however difficult, overcome the one real objection that any state in Iran’s position might have: that they would be vulnerable to their relationship with the supplying state—in this case, Russia—in a way that the international arrangements would not be?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I understand the point. I have no doubt that, if it were possible to see the technical solutions, everyone would embrace it very rapidly. We must overcome the practical difficulties expressed by the panels of experts, far more specialist than I am—and, perhaps I dare say, most Members of your Lordships’ House.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, at no stage did the panel, Kofi Annan or I suggest that all enriched uranium in the world should be deposited with the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is suggested that there should be a system of drawing rights whereby countries that produced enriched uranium would contribute it to the potential of the IAEA and the countries that were in good standing with it should be able to withdraw it. If the noble Lord reflects for one minute, he will notice that that is exactly what the Russian scheme consists of. The Russians are offering to make fuel rods for Iranian reactors, so why is it so impossible to put that under a general international regime?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I accept that that is precisely what the Russians are offering to do, and there may well be more general applicability in the sense of a virtual bank with a number of contributors. I just make the point that the IAEA is still expressing technical reservations about whether it can be done in reality but that does not rule out the idea in any respect.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, asked how close we thought the Iranians were to constructing a nuclear weapon. I do not want to speculate too much but by the end of the decade is the best advice that we have at the moment. Much of the technical equipment from the Khan research laboratories is plainly in their hands.

The noble Lord, Lord Blaker, asked what we regarded as the next step. I shall put it in context. We must consider the background against which the IAEA special board meeting took place last week. That was the next step to get the agreement of the members of that board and to then take the following step of making the reference to the United Nations. It is not just Iran’s 18-year history of concealment and its failure to take steps to give us confidence in its nuclear intentions that have caused disquiet in the international community; as noble Lords have said, it is also its approach to the Middle East peace process and to Iraq, its attitude towards terrorism and its human rights record.

We have all been appalled—nauseated—by President Ahmadinejad’s denial of the existence of the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of Israel, which my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, described as,

“sickening, horrific hostility to the Israel”.

The noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, put the point in terms. Recently, the president met leaders of Islamic Jihad in Damascus while its bombs were killing and injuring civilians in Israel. The noble Lord, Lord Dykes, in a careful and balanced approach, said that it was right and important to describe the harm done to the Iranian people through this kind of demagogic statement.

We have a longstanding concern that groups seeking to undermine the Middle East peace process through violence draw support from inside Iran. We are concerned by its approach to terrorism and the nature of its relationship with Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. We have repeatedly pressed Iran to renounce all support for groups using terror and violence, and to support a solution to the Palestinian question based on the principle of two states living side by side in peace and security. The EU has said that progress in its relations with Iran will depend on action by Iran to deal with those concerns, including its approach to terrorism and its attitude to the Middle East peace process.

Iran has other responsibilities in the region. It is vital that the neighbours of Iraq and Afghanistan feel that, as things develop towards more democratic societies, they can do so also within a framework of peace and security. Iran has given many public undertakings to improve border security, fight terrorism and not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I welcome those commitments. Iran must resist the temptation to interfere in the political stability of its neighbours. We continue to investigate extremist Shia groups in Iraq and their links to Iran. The particular nature of some of the explosive devices used in Iraq against British troops lead us either to Iranian elements or to Lebanese Hezbollah.

Against that background, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, we must respect Iran; we should all make efforts to do so. But, as I am sure everyone accepts, respect cannot cloak the sense that Iran’s human rights violations cannot continue. The noble Lord, Lord Clarke, made the point with passion. I have also read Mr Gauke’s speech and think that it is an extremely important contribution. Iran’s human rights record is grim and deteriorating. The EU has been clear that our relations with Iran can move forward only if Iran takes action to address the EU’s human rights concerns. We frequently express those concerns. We are particularly concerned about Iran’s treatment of religious minorities, juvenile offenders and political activists.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gould, and the noble Lord, Lord Russell-Johnston, made the point about violence against women. The words “violation of human rights” hardly encompass what is being done to women in those circumstances. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, it does not help to apply the kind of relativism of talking about these things in a historical sequence. When faults appear in the penal system of the United Kingdom, we do not justify that by referring to Judge Jeffreys’s judicial regime. Those are not the right comparisons; there are much more direct standards that are accepted and applied throughout the world—and so they should be.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I was referring, not to Judge Jeffreys in the 17th century, but to the Shah, who preceded the revolution and was supported by us to the hilt.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I still think that that is a rationalisation to set alongside what should be a much more fundamental judgment about proper human rights.

We have emphasised that such human rights abuses—I could go through a long list but I will not—cannot continue. Nor can we continue to see freedom of expression come under increasing attack in Iran, where investigative journalists continue to be imprisoned and censorship of all the main media continues. We are monitoring closely Iran’s response to recent strikes.

Let me make a further point about whether Iran feels under great pressure. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, asked whether it would feel more secure with a non-aggression pact in place. We are aware of no discussion between Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, but we are involved with regional security conferences.

Lord Taverne: My Lords, the time allocated for the noble Lord’s speech is running to an end. I hope that he will not ignore the point made by many speakers about the de-proscription of the PMOI.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I have not the smallest intention of doing so. I shall turn to that point immediately.

It is clear that there is a range of concerns, and I hope that that will not turn into uncritical enthusiasm for groups opposed to the Iranian regime, particularly those calling for the repeal of proscription currently in place. The MeK, or the PMOI, now tends to describe itself as a democratic party working for human rights, but there has been a history of involvement in terrorism. I have looked at the balance of the information available. In 2001 there were two armed attacks for which it accepted responsibility. It was accused of a further armed attack in June 2002, about which it has said nothing.

Let me bring us right up to date. In an interview with the LA Times in February this year, Maryam Rajavi was asked whether the use of violence was a PMOI option now and answered,

“The tactics and methods have been imposed not by us, but by the mullahs”.

Some may say that that is ambiguous rather than direct, but noble Lords have provided interesting information about the new disposition of these groups—as they have described it. I am willing to look at this group in particular. Fundamentally, of course, the whole of the question would need to be put to the review commission, although there are regular reviews. That is in the hands of the group itself. If it has things to say about a non-violent trajectory, that must be the way in which it carries it forward.

Lord Waddington: My Lords, the Minister is not quite right on that point. There could be de-proscription without an application by the party alleged to be a terrorist organisation—that is specifically provided for in the Act.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, proscription took place under my right honourable friend Jack Straw’s tenancy of the Home Office and has continued under subsequent Home Office Secretaries of State. If the organisation has new evidence about having turned its back on violence, it is its obligation to place that evidence in competent hands where it can be assessed properly. That must be the right way forward.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, is my noble friend ruling out the possibility of discussing the matter with someone else?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I repeat that if noble Lords have new information, as they have indicated they have, I am willing to hear it and discuss it. It has been a measured debate. We face a complex dilemma. Some will ask what we are going to do, others ask for an assurance that we will not do anything. The United Kingdom’s position, made plain by my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, is that we are trying to pursue peaceful and diplomatic means. We do not use the word “never” about other options, but speculation about sanctions or military action is, as the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, said at the beginning, unlikely to bolster the diplomatic effort. I think that that is right.

At this time we are trying to make sure that we are obtaining the right responses. This is not a proposition that understates the importance of nuclear proliferation and its dangers or of Iranian support for terrorism. Iran should not believe that we have no appetite; that we are, as it has put it recently, fake superpowers or, as the president put it, mangy old lions. No one should believe that proceeding carefully shows a lack of resolve. It is careful resolve, which is what is required. The bottom line is straightforward. The international community cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons capability. It cannot have the means to wipe another state off the map. It cannot export terrorism; it cannot defy the Security Council, which must ensure compliance with the Iranian international obligations. We try to make progress step by step and preferably with as little rhetoric as we can achieve.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, it remains for me to thank all those who have taken part in the debate. I thank the Minister for his measured reply and my noble friend for injecting from the Front Bench some individual ideas that carried the argument a great deal further forward. I hope that the Minister will remember what I said at the beginning about keeping us plainly informed. We need a continuous flow of information of the quality that he has given us and he will forgive us if we press him quite hard from time to time on those points. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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