Douglas Hurd – 1985 Speech on Immigration

Below is the text of the speech made by Douglas Hurd, the then Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 29 October 1985.

Following the recent exchanges in the House, I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, make a statement about representations made by right hon. and hon. Members in immigration cases.

Ministers receive large numbers of representations from Members of this House on a wide variety of individual cases. What distinguishes those made on behalf of passengers refused entry at the ports is that they have the effect of securing an immediate change in the action that would otherwise be taken by the immigration service under the relevant statutory provisions. The service is by convention, though not by law, precluded from arranging the passenger’s removal until the hon. Member’s representations have been received and considered. In the vast majority of cases, the passenger is granted temporary admission. In a small minority of cases, he may be held in detention at the port.
Home Office Ministers received representations on immigration cases about 20 times a week in 1980. Last year, the average was some 70 a week. During the past few weeks there have been 200 representations a week. The increase since 1980 is not the result of some dramatic change in the criteria being employed by immigration officers at the ports in operating the immigration rules. Nor can it be explained by an increase in passenger traffic, which has increased by 25 per cent. while hon. Members representations have increased fivefold taking the year as a whole. What is happening is that hon. Members are being approached and asked to put stops on cases more often than in the past, and hon. Members are agreeing to ask for stops on cases more often than in the past.

That increase has created real administrative problems for the staff at the ports. People are being temporarily admitted who do not qualify as visitors under the rules, and who often spend a considerable time here. The diversion of staff to deal with increasing representations and the case work involved has meant that visitors who are fully qualified find themselves held up and inconvenienced at Heathrow.

Against that background, I believe that it was entirely right for my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State to bring the position to the notice of the House. I wish to make it clear that my hon. and learned Friend was not at any time sugesting that the law had been broken. In his letter yesterday to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), he described the ways in which the present arrangements are being misused.

It was argued yesterday that my hon. and learned Friend should have given specific examples to the House of the action taken by particular hon. Members. As he explained, he could not have done that without revealing the terms of the letters that they had written to or about individual immigrants and, in two cases, letters written by them to third parties. He is writing today to 23 hon. Members, whose cases are examples of the various problems that we are facing, seeking their permission to make such correspondence public.

There are obvious difficulties, for example when hon. Members make representations on behalf of sponsors of whom they have made no inquiries, and when they arrange for a stop to be placed on a passenger’s removal but fail ​ to follow up the initial telephone call with a confirmatory letter. There is also concern that some hon. Members are willing to take up cases from outside their constituencies, which the constituency Member has chosen not to pursue. Here again, some restatement of the agreed conventions of the House is needed.

Finally, there are one or two cases in which it seems to us that an hon. Member is deliberately facilitating the attempt to secure the temporary admission of a passenger whom he has every reason to believe would not qualify for entry under the rules approved by this House. I am not suggesting that, even where that happens, hon. Members have acted unlawfully; they have not. But if their actions were to be more widely copied, the result could only be the weakening of our system of immigration control, based at the ports of entry. I believe that our present system suits both our geography and our constitution and that we need collectively to consider how it can best continue to operate.

I ask the House to accept that we wish to make a genuine attempt to strike the right balance between the representations of hon. Members and the need for an effective and efficient control without the strains at present imposed on it. We are anxious to discuss these difficulties urgently with those in this House who are mainly concerned, in the hope of working out a sensible answer. In any case, there will not be any changes in our procedures before I have reported to the House.

Douglas Hurd – 1985 Speech on Inner City Riots

Below is the text of the statement made by Douglas Hurd, the then Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 21 October 1985.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the recent disorders. During the past six weeks there have been three serious riots — in the Lozells road area of Birmingham, in Brixton, and Tottenham. Four people have died, one a police constable who was savagely killed. There have also been disorders in Liverpool, Leicester and Peckham in south London. Many police officers and others were injured. There were appalling attacks on the police with petrol bombs and other missiles, and especially in Birmingham and Brixton there was extensive looting of and attacks on shops and cars.

All responsible members of our society will condemn the disgraceful criminal behaviour which has occurred and all responsible members of our society will applaud the courage and dedication of the police in doing their job of maintaining and restoring order on the streets and the housing estates of our major cities. Public order is essential for the maintenance of a civilised way of life and for the safety of individual citizens—on that there can be no compromise. So far 700 people have been charged with offences arising from the disorders.

The riot in Brixton was triggered by the tragic shooting of Mrs. Groce, and the riot in Tottenham followed the death of Mrs. Jarrett after a search had been made at her home. These police operations are being investigated by senior officers from other police forces under the supervision of the independent Police Complaints Authority. These arrangements will ensure that they are fully investigated and that any necessary action is taken. In the case of the Lozells road riot, the chief constable of the west midlands is preparing a report which will be published. Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary is being associated closely with the preparation of that report.

So far as police operations are concerned, although the other disorders were serious enough, the riot at Tottenham stands out for the problems which it presented to the police. In that riot, a police officer was killed, firearms were used and the police had to face a ferocious barrage of petrol bombs and other missiles. The design of housing estates like that at Tottenham poses particular difficulties in such circumstances. The Metropolitan police commissioner is urgently reviewing the tactics of the force on such occasions. There must be no no-go areas in any of our cities.

The riot at Tottenham was the first occasion in Great Britain when the chief officer of police gave authority for plastic baton rounds to be used if necessary, though in fact they were not used. Plastic baton rounds and CS gas were made available to the police in Great Britain for public order use following the riots in 1981. They may be used only in the last resort, where conventional methods of policing have been tried and failed, or must from the nature of the circumstances be unlikely to succeed if tried, and where the chief officer judges such action necessary because of the risk of loss of life, serious injury or widespread destruction of property. That threshold was reached at Tottenham. The commissioner had my full support in making it clear that such weapons would be deployed if similar circumstances arose in the future.​

Other matters need to be looked at. The defensive equipment introduced in recent years—helmets, shields and protective overalls — proved its worth. Without it there would have been more serious casualties. The Metropolitan police are acquiring more shields and other defensive equipment. We have to consider whether any further equipment is required, and that is being done. There may be lessons to be learnt in relation to police training and deployment. The commissioner is pursuing these matters and I am in close touch with him. I shall ensure that any lessons learnt are disseminated nationally.

This Government have done more to meet the needs of the police than any in recent history. Since 1979 the Metropolitan police have increased in strength by nearly 4,500 officers; and other forces in England and Wales are stronger by a similar number. Including civilians, strength has increased by some 12,000. Even after a welcome intake of recruits, the Metropolitan police still have scope to increase strength by about 300 within its present establishment of 27,165. I support the commissioner in his efforts to make good this shortfall as quickly as possible. The force’s reorganisation should, in addition, release 200 officers for operational duties; and I have authorised an increase of nearly 50 in the civil staff ceiling next year for further civilianisation.

Following my predecessor’s announcement in July on drugs, I have told the commissioner that I am prepared in principle to agree to an increase of 50 officers in the establishment next year specifically to strengthen his efforts against drug trafficking. Taken together, these steps mean that there will be a substantial strengthening of the Metropolitan police in the months ahead. Beyond that I have set urgent work in hand to assess where there are specific needs for further increases in the Metropolitan police establishment, and I shall consider applications from provincial police authorities on the same basis—namely, that the police should have what they need in the fight against crime.

In recent years, much effort has been put into establishing good liaison and consultation between the police and the community in inner city areas, particularly, for example, in Brixton and Handsworth. These disorders must be—I know that they are—deeply depressing for those community leaders and police officers who have put so much effort into establishing a better understanding. But it would be wrong to assume that these efforts were misplaced. On the contrary, they must be continued and redoubled if the police are to protect and serve the community efficiently.

More broadly, the Government will continue their strong commitment to urban regeneration. The urban programme has more than tripled, from £93 million in 1978–79 to £338 million in 1985–86, and there has been substantial expenditure in all the riot areas. The Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission are spending more than £100 million in the partnership areas, and my Department plans to spend some £90 million in 1985–86 through section 11 grants.

We must ensure that the very substantial sums that now go, and will continue to go, to inner city areas are spent to the best advantage and directed to the real needs of the people who live there. The city action teams have been set up to improve the co-ordination and targeting of ​ Government programmes in the partnership areas. We shall do everything to ensure that our objectives in the inner city areas are achieved.

These disorders are shocking events. It is of paramount interest of us all, young and old, people of all ethnic backgrounds, that public order should be maintained. I acknowledge—we all acknowledge—the social problems which exist in these areas, but it is no solution to loot and burn shops which serve the area or to attack the police. Mob violence must be dealt with firmly and effectively and criminal acts punished according to the criminal law. The police should have the support of all of us in striving to maintain order and uphold the law. It is their first priority. It is the Government’s also.

Douglas Hurd – 1989 Statement on Hillsborough Stadium Disaster


Below is the text of the speech made in the House of Commons by Douglas Hurd, the then Home Secretary, on 17 April 1989.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the disaster at the Sheffield Wednesday football club ground at Hillsborough on Saturday. Everyone has been horrified by this incredible tragedy in which 94 lost their lives and 174 were injured.
Shortly after the start of the match, there was a surge of spectators on the Leppings lane terrace, which crushed many at the front against the perimeter fence. This accounted for most of the deaths and injuries.

The match was due to start at 3 pm. To help ensure orderly access, the gates of the ground were opened at 12 noon. At 2.30 pm most of the Nottingham fans were in the ground, but many of the Liverpool supporters were still arriving. It was clear to the police officers in charge that there was ample capacity still to be filled in some parts of the enclosure allocated to Liverpool.

At about 2.45 pm there was a large crowd of Liverpool supporters at the turnstiles in Leppings lane behind the west stand. There was difficulty in coping with the pressure on the turnstiles, and the police used loud hailers to urge the crowd to be patient. At about 2.50, more Liverpool supporters arrived and the numbers in front of the turnstiles increased. Some supporters started to climb the walls and turnstiles, and those at the front of the crowd outside the stadium were under considerable pressure from those behind.

The senior police officer present considered that there was a possible danger to the lives of the spectators at the front of the crowd outside the stadium. In order to relieve the pressure, he arranged for an exit gate near the turnstiles to be opened to let a section of the crowd through. The relationship of that action to the disaster on the terrace shortly afterwards is clearly a central question to be investigated.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I yesterday visited the football ground and the two Sheffield hospitals which received casualties. I should like to pay tribute to all those involved in the rescue operations at the ground, including the many spectators who gave their help, and to those others, including the hospital staffs and voluntary agencies, who have since been working so hard treating the injured and consoling the bereaved. We heard many accounts of courage exerted on behalf of others.

I have asked for further factual reports from the police and other services, the local authority and the Football Association. Inquests will be held in due course. But over and above this, there is clearly need for a full and independent inquiry to identify the causes of the disaster and to examine what needs to be done to prevent such an accident happening again. I have therefore asked Lord Justice Taylor to carry out an inquiry with the following terms of reference: To inquire into the events at Sheffield Wednesday football ground on 15 April 1989 and to make recommendations about the needs of crowd control and safety at sports grounds. Mr. Brian Johnson, the chief constable of Lancashire, has agreed to assist the inquiry as an assessor, and arrangements will be made as necessary for other qualified assessors to be appointed and for the inquiry to be provided with technical advice and support. I am asking that the inquiry should proceed with all possible speed. Lord Justice Taylor will visit Sheffield tomorrow to begin his investigation. I am grateful to him for agreeing to undertake this task.

However, we need also to take a wider view. The Government believe that the future of football in this country lies in a national membership scheme in designated grounds and now, it seems, also in providing all-seated accommodation at major football clubs. This would involve the disappearance of terraces at those grounds. It might also involve amendments to strengthen the Football Spectators Bill so that its provision for the licensing of grounds matched this concept. We shall be considering these matters urgently.

An appeal fund is being set up by the civic authorities of Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield. The Government will be contributing £500,000 immediately towards this fund.

This was a devastating tragedy. Our deep sympathy goes to the families of those who died, to those recovering, and—particularly moving yesterday—to those young people who are still fighting for life and health. We owe a duty, it seems to us, to these passionate supporters of football to examine urgently and thoroughly the causes and the background, and to do all in our power to prevent such a thing from happening again. We have to set our sights high and find a better way for British football.

Douglas Hurd – 1990 Speech on the Gulf War

Below is the text of the statement made by the then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, on the Gulf War on 11th December 1990.

Mr. Hurd : It is right that the House should debate the Gulf crisis from time to time and that it should require the Government to keep it fully informed, and I have tried to respond to Opposition suggestions on the timing of statements as the situation has developed.

Today is an occasion to step back from immediate events, to look at the crisis as a whole and to consider what is at stake. One immediate event is wholly welcome, and that is the release of hostages which is now under way. The total British community in Iraq and Kuwait was just over 1,100 at the time of President Saddam Hussein’s last announcement. Aircraft have been chartered from Iraqi Airways to bring our people home and we have taken space on charters organised by others. The community were informed of arrangements by our embassies and announcements over the BBC World Service.

Ninety-three people arrived early yesterday morning, picked up in Frankfurt by the British Airways aircraft that had been waiting in Amman. A further 11 arrived later in the morning by way of Rome. More than 380 arrived at Gatwick yesterday evening by Iraqi Airways and a further 380 are expected this evening. They will be mainly members of the community from Kuwait who were being taken to Baghdad in two planes this morning by Iraqi Airways. Her Majesty’s Government are bearing the full cost of chartering the Iraqi Airways aircraft. British Airways generously contributed the operating costs of its flight yesterday, leaving the Government to pay for fuel and war risk insurance. Other people are making their own way, using scheduled flights via Amman. The Government will meet the costs if travellers do not have recourse to funds and we shall organise further charters if necessary. We are strongly urging everyone to leave.

Our embassy in Baghdad will try to establish the exact whereabouts of all who remain. I believe that reception arrangements here have worked well and that co-operation between Government Departments, voluntary organisations and airport authorities has been good.

In two days from now, Her Majesty’s ambassador in Kuwait will be the last remaining ambassador carrying on his duties in that country. Mr. Weston and his colleague Mr. Banks have been keen to stay at their posts, so long as by doing so they could give somehelp to our community in Kuwait. If, as I hope, that community—or all but a small minority who wish to stay—is able to return—is able to return to Britain by way of Baghdad in the coming days, we shall work out with those two brave men how long they should stay. I thank them again for what they have done.

I will comment on the advice that we are giving to British communities in the Gulf region outside Iraq and Kuwait. We are talking of some 50,000 people, more than the community from any other country. At the beginning of the crisis we encouraged some thinning out, but many people have since, for understandable reasons, gone back. At the end of last month, we recommended that school children should not travel out to Bahrain, Qatar or the eastern province of Saudi Arabia for Christmas and that families should get together for the holiday in this country. We also advised that those dependants leaving the Gulf for Christmas should not return until the situation became clearer. We look carefully and constantly at that advice. It is our duty to give the communities the best possible advice, a responsibility which weighs heavily on us. We do not want to cause alarm, disrupt people’s lives or separate families unnecessarily. But many British people live in countries which, in the event of conflict, would be at direct risk from Iraqi military action. We keep a close eye on the advice and, because of hon. Members’ interest in their constituents, I shall keep the House fully informed of any changes in our advice.

President Saddam Hussein is now complying with one of the three main requirements of the Security Council. Attention can now focus on the other two requirements —the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the restoration of the legitimate Government. Ten days ago I was in New York to join in the last Security Council debate on the subject. It was a notable and dramatic occasion. The council adopted, with just two votes against, resolution 678, which empowers the international community to use “all necessary means” to secure compliance with its earlier resolutions if Iraq does not leave Kuwait on or before 15 January next year.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) rose——

Mr. Hurd : May I just proceed a little further, and then I will give way to the hon. Gentleman before I leave the subject of the use of force? The phrase “all necessary means” includes the use of force. Resolution 678 is not a call to arms or a timetable for military action. The resolution provides for what it calls a pause of goodwill. That was an idea of the Soviet Government. It gives Saddam Hussein a final opportunity to leave peacefully. We hope he takes it.

We support the United States initiative to make sure that Iraq’s leaders hear the message loudly and clearly. We agree that, in the effort to avoid war, it is worth going that extra mile. I discussed how that might be done with Secretary Baker and the Foreign Ministers of the other permanent members of the Security Council while I was in New York on 29 November, just after the adoption of resolution 678. President Bush and Secretary Baker will not be bargaining. Their purpose is to speak plainly so that Iraq’s leaders understand exactly what is required of them, not by America or Britain, but by the international community, and the consequences if they continue to defy those requirements.

There will be no concessions on the requirements of the Security Council, no partial solution or linkage to other issues. In the European Community last week we decided that the same message would be delivered to the Foreign Minister of Iraq after his visit to Washington by the Presidency of the European Community, probably in Rome.

Mr. Dalyell : Does it bother the Foreign Secretary that one of the two countries that voted against the resolution was one which is nearest and stands to lose most—Yemen —whereas others such as Zaire, where I led the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation, made it quite clear that the crisis is all about lifting the ban on American aid to Zaire on civil rights grounds, not about the merits or demerits of the Gulf? Will the Foreign Secretary look critically at what the United Nations has done?

Mr. Hurd : The two members that voted against were Cuba and Yemen. I am not sure that Cuba is situated very close to the conflict. Yemen, as an Arab country, has been closely involved, but is not one of those countries closest to the conflict. As the hon. Member knows, the Arab countries closest to the conflict—Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates—are absolutely clear and solid on the matter. The hon. Member is not on a good argument.

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield) : Will the Foreign Secretary give way?

Mr. Hurd : I shall continue a little and then give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a minute.

Mr. Benn : I just want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one clear legal question.

Is it the Government’s view that article 51, plus the resolution passed by the Security Council last Thursday, constitute authority for the use of force by the United States, Britain and others without returning to the Security Council or to the House of Commons?

Mr. Hurd : Yes, it is. We believed, and Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen agreed, that article 51 and the original request from the Kuwaitis provided a legal basis; the argument was about whether there should be an additional political basis. That has been supplied by resolution 678.

We continue to read in the media that the unity of purpose in the coalition against aggression is disintegrat-ing. We have read such reports more or less continuously ever since the coalition was formed. Sometimes it is the Arabs in the coalition, sometimes it is the French or the Russians, and sometimes it is the Americans, who, according to the reports, are looking for some compromise that falls short of the requirements of the Security Council. Now, after these weeks, the House can judge for itself and see that that is not true. We are all working for a peaceful outcome. None of us is ready to settle for less than the Security Council requires.

As for linkage, it is common ground between most of us that we have long supported the idea of an international conference on the Arab-Israel problem. That support continues. A conference is a technique, not an end in itself. It needs willing participants if it is to get anywhere. The initiative—Jim Baker’s initiative—taken by the United States Government with our support was designed to find a basis on which talks could take place between Israel and the Palestinians, with a view to a conference in due course. That was before the invasion of Kuwait. We believe that the Baker plan was a realistic effort. The invasion of Kuwait set back that search for peace and a settlement between the Arabs and Israel, as did the partial support of the PLO for the invasion. We have no intention, however, of forgetting the injustices and insecurity that persist so long as there is no peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israel problem.

Iraq under President Saddam Hussein has had and could have no useful contribution to make to this search for a peaceful settlement, but once the Iraqis’ aggression against Kuwait has been reversed we can and shall again focus our efforts on the search for a peaceful settlement. I hope that the co-operation in recent months between the different countries of the coalition against the aggression will improve the prospects of success.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow) : Given the emphasis on the need to find a peaceful settlement, why do the Government and President Bush appear so impatient with sanctions? Surely, even if they take more than a year to work, they are a much more effective, humane and peaceful means of bringing this man down than the sacrifice of even one British service man.

Mr. Hurd : I am just coming to that argument; it is a serious one and it needs to be dealt with.

I come now to the pressures that the international community—not just British and America—is exerting on Iraq. More than four months after the aggression, those pressures are all peaceful. The most important of them are sanctions, mentioned by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), and the build-up of allied forces representing the so-called military option. There are signs in Iraq that sanctions are having an effect. Basic foodstuffs have been rationed since September. But the Iraqi people are used to hardship. They endured eight years of one of the most bloody and futile wars since 1945 —the Iraq-Iran war. It must be questionable whether sanctions, even if applied over a long period, will undermine the resolve of Saddam Hussein to keep his grip on Kuwait.

Meanwhile—the point omitted by the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow—day by day Kuwait is being obliterated from the map. We can read what the hostages are saying as they come back and we can read the Amnesty report and listen to the Kuwaitis. There is no secret about what is happening. Whatever can be removed has been taken to Baghdad. Murder, torture and brutality have been commonplace, as the Amnesty report and later evidence shows. With each day that passes, the likelihood that we shall be able to restore Kuwait to its former position decreases. The Iraqi aim is clear. Iraq is out to eradicate Kuwait as an independent nation. We all welcome the return of foreign hostages from Iraq, as we have just done, but we should not forget the thousands of Kuwaitis who are virtually hostages and prisoners in their own city.

President Saddam Hussein’s sophisticated war machine will continue to take advantage of the time allowed to improve its military position. There are now nearly 300,000 Iraqi troops and nearly 2,000 tanks in Kuwait, and work continues every day on improving the defences. Every delay risks increasing the casualties in an eventual conflict. Those are sobering facts which the House needs to take into account in assessing the situation.

Sir Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead) : What will happen to the Iraqi civilians now in Kuwait? Will they be removed? I refer to civilians, not military personnel.

Mr. Hurd : If the Iraqi forces withdrew as the Security Council requires, I imagine that the civilians would be wise to follow them.

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) : The Foreign Secretary has said that, because of the enormity of what is taking place in Kuwait, the British Government and other Governments are not inclined to allow sanctions to have a proper chance to work. What is happening in Kuwait is very disturbing, but it will be disastrous for the population of Kuwait if war breaks out there. That is the choice. As the impact of sanctions was always to be on the Iraq Government’s overseas earnings from oil, from which they obtain 95 per cent. of their income, it is surely reasonable to allow the sanctions a proper chance to work. That will certainly not happen as a result of the months in which they have so far been applied.

Mr. Hurd : It depends what the hon. Gentleman regards as a proper chance. By 15 January the sanctions will have been in operation for five and a half months and an assessment has to be made. I have tried to give the House the means by which that assessment will be made. Members will have their own sources of information. People may say that sanctions are producing decisive shortages which may lead to Saddam Hussein changing his mind. That would produce a new situation, but, as I have said, in our our view that is not so.

In August Her Majesty’s Government committed their forces to the Gulf region for a number of reasons. The first was to defend Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. The second was to deter Saddam Hussein from pursuing his military adventure further. Many other countries, including some of our closest friends and allies, have committed their forces with the same intentions. Those two objectives of defence and deterrence have already been achieved without any military action.

The third reason for sending our troops to the region was to back the United Nations demand—not that of Britain or America—that Saddam Hussein should withdraw from Kuwait. By the middle of January, Britain will have more than 30,000 troops in the area and they will stand beside more than 500,000 others, most of them from the United States and Saudi Arabia itself. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will speak further about that deployment in his winding-up speech. I am satisfied that this accumulation of allied force provides the strongest single hope for a peaceful outcome. Nevertheless—there is no point in having debates such as this if one does not speak plainly—this country faces a risk of war and in that situation every hon. Member is entitled to know on behalf of his or her constituents why that risk is justified. In the age of the sound-bite and the one-minute television interview, this task of communication becomes difficult. Secondary matters crowd in and confuse the issue and immediate questions are put and answered. That is why the House and our debates are so important.

It is not a question of who should rule Iraq—that is not a matter for us. It is not a matter of the price of oil or access to oil. If that were the issue, everyone would have settled with Saddam Hussein long ago. It is not a matter of an American—let alone a British—desire to impose some permanent presence in the Gulf. As the House knows, we are there because friendly states out of their alarm and anxiety asked us to return. The real issue is a different one and we must keep it clear.

It has taken the world a long time to create even the beginnings of a system of collective security. In the 19th century, war was commonplace. The nation states of Europe blundered through treaties of alliance and treaties of reassurance into the great war of 1914. After that war, the international community experimented, but half-heartedly, with collective security. But the League of Nations was inadequate at its birth and it failed to act successfully even within its terms of reference.

Haile Selassie came to Geneva, to the League of Nations Assembly, to plead his country’s cause. The League did not—could not—listen. We did not listen. The Hoare-Laval pact would have placated the aggressor, Mussolini, by giving him part of the country that he had attacked. Are there not echoes there for the House to catch? is it for a repetition of the Hoare-Laval pact that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) is seeking and arguing? Abysinnia was snuffed out. The axis powers saw only weakness —

Mr. Benn : As the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me, will he give way?

Mr. Hurd : May I just conclude the point?

[HON. MEMBERS: “Give way.”]

I will, of course, give way.

Mr. Benn : The first speech that I heard in the House was in 1937 when Winston Churchill denounced the Tory Prime Minister for his support for the fascists. The appeasement of the pre-war years was Conservative support for Hitler and Mussolini. There was no appeasement—there was active support for fascism. It does not fall to the right hon. Gentleman, who did nothing about Panama, Grenada, the invasion of the Lebanon or the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, to accuse those who believe that war would be a catastrophe beyond imagining, and that the United Nations should be an agent of peace, of appeasement, and he should withdraw that.

Mr. Hurd : I do not remember, but the right hon. Gentleman might remember—or his father and my father might remember—that when it became known that Sir Samuel Hoare, the holder of my office, had put together with the French Foreign Minister, Pierre Laval, an arrangement by which part of Abyssinia would be given to Mussolini, so that the awkwardness of his aggression should be forgotten, the Foreign Secretary was forced to resign and was swept from office.

Mr. Benn : I have made no such suggestion.

Mr. Hurd : I asked whether the right hon. Gentleman remembered. Some of the things that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested come close to that.

Mr. Benn : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am in no way sensitive about my personal position, but when the Foreign Secretary argues, by parallel with the Conservative Foreign Secretary, Sam Hoare, that I have argued that a part of Kuwait should be handed to Iraq, he is misleading the House and the country.

Mr. Speaker : With any luck, the right hon. Gentleman will be called in the debate and he will be able to make his points then.

Mr. Hurd : If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that he agrees with us that Saddam Hussein should withdraw completely and totally from the whole of Kuwait, I will withdraw any reference—

Mr. Benn : Withdraw it now.

Mr. Hurd : I would certainly withdraw any reference to the right hon. Gentleman. But there are certainly people who have argued that Iraq should be allowed to retain at least part of Kuwait—two islands, an oilfield, and so on. If the right hon. Gentleman is not among those, and if he is in favour of total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, I withdraw my reference to him.

Mr. Benn : As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I spent three hours with Saddam Hussein. I reported back to the right hon. Gentleman and to the American ambassador. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well, because I told him, that I told President Saddam Hussein that Iraq must comply with the United Nations resolutions, and it is in the early-day motion which I and my right hon. and hon. Friends have tabled. The right hon. Gentleman is doing what Tories always do in a crisis—they smear those who challenge them.

Mr. Hurd : I withdraw my reference to the right hon. Gentleman —

Mr. Benn : Withdraw.

Mr. Hurd : I have already done so. But I hope that it will go out as the clear view of the House that President Saddam Hussein should withdraw not from part but from the whole of his aggression against Kuwait. If that is established as the universal view of the House, that is a major step forward.

Mr. Benn : But not to war.

Mr. Hurd : I shall come to that in a minute, though I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not blurring his position again. I hope that it is established that the withdrawal from Kuwait should be total and absolute.

For the 40 years of the cold war, the Security Council worked imperfectly and too often it was ineffective. Things have started to change and we have begun to make the United Nations work. All five permanent Security Council members are meeting frequently, talking openly and acting constructively together. We have the same aims. In fact, we have a better chance of collective security than at any other time this century. But there is a subscription to pay —if one may so put it—for collective security, in terms of collective action when aggression occurs. There can be little respect for those who want the benefits of collective security but are not willing to find that subscription.

Some senior hon. Members have fought in a war, but most of us have not. However, we all have enough imagination and sense of responsibility to know that war must be the last resort. No one should believe—here I agree with points made by Opposition Members—that forcing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait would be a quick or easy operation. No one should suppose that the aftermath of conflict would be painless or straightforward. We respect the belief held by pacifists that in no circumstances is war justified, even though that means that aggression and evil of all kinds may sometimes be allowed to succeed. The rest of us—probably most right hon. and hon. Members—accept that there are circumstances in which peace-loving nations may, and indeed should, use force to prevent and to reverse aggression.

We do not argue that in any blithe or careless manner. We prepare the military option, we seek and we gain authority for the military option because in sober judgment we see the experience of that option—the possibility of that option, the existence of that option—as the last and most powerful peaceful pressure on the aggressor.

The latest Security Council resolution—resolution 678 —is not a bluff. The legal authority to use force has been there for some time and the political authority has now been given by the Security Council. That is the strongest possible expression of collective security.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood) : My right hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance of collective security and to stress the need to prepare to use force if Iraq does not withdraw from Kuwait. Will he and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence make it equally clear that if war comes, it is likely to be protracted and bloody, and will not only engage British forces already in the Gulf but make it necessary to mobilise appropriate reserves, including air reserves? As it is likely to be largely an air war, the air element will decide the outcome of the conflict. The United Kingdom has very poor air reserves, but the United States has utilised 45 per cent. of its air transport to the Gulf from its reserves. Will my right hon. Friend make a similar commitment at this time?

Mr. Hurd : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will deal with that point when he winds up the debate. One cannot predict with any exactness the length of a conflict of this kind. I have just said that no one pretends that it will be quick or easy.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton) : The Secretary of State for Defence said so only last week.

Mr. Hurd : No, no one has ever pretended that.

Mr. Cohen : The Secretary of State for Defence said that the operation would be short, sharp and quick”.—[Official Report, 4 December 1990; Vol. 182, c. 167.]

Mr. Hurd : The existence of the military option is the strongest possible expression of collective security and the strongest possible incentive for Iraq to reverse its aggression. That military option is gaining formidable strength on the ground and in the air and Britain is adding notably to that strength.

The aim is a peaceful solution. The Iraqis see the array that is now building up against them. They know of the authority that is backing that array, which now comes from so many nations and from the United Nations. Now that it has become clear and is no longer blurred, they have a powerful incentive and reason to comply. Let us keep the message clear and not confuse it with secondary issues. The message is a double one—if the aggressor stays in Kuwait, he will be forced out; if he leaves Kuwait and complies fully with the Security Council resolutions, he will not be attacked.

There is a peace option. It is in Saddam Hussein’s hands. We are working for peace and will go on working for peace, but the doctrine of peace at any price leads not to safety but to danger.

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) rose——

Mr. Hurd : Our policy is clear, firm and reasonable. In commending it to the House, I hope that it will have the backing of all who believe in the possibilities of collective security and a safer world.

Douglas Hurd – 1974 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

It is a great honour to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and to ask indulgence as a new Member speaking for a new constituency.

Mid-Oxfordshire includes part of the old Banbury division, and part of the old Henley division. It would be impertinent to comment on my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), as he is very much with us, but it is right that I should say something about Mr. John Hay, who represented Henley for 24 years before standing down at the last election. He very kindly came to support me during the campaign, and it was immediately clear how much respect he enjoyed among the people in Wheatley and the surrounding areas, whom he represented so well for so long.

Mid-Oxfordshire is one of those constituencies which look a good deal more rural than they really are. It contains a successful farming industry, but it also includes many thousands of people who go to work in the city of Oxford every day. It has a good deal of industry tucked away in rather improbable places behind old Cotswold facades. For example, the town of Witney has made itself famous for one industry. It is no good talking to my constituents about an energy policy which is based just on coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy. No energy policy will satisfy the people of Witney unless it includes maximum support and encouragement for the manufacture and use of blankets.

My constituency also includes the town of Burford. I was reminded of the town when the Secretary of State for Employment was fascinating us yesterday with his description of Cromwell as one of the great forerunners of Socialism. It is true that in the seventeenth century there were in this country Socialists, or Levellers. On Burford Church can still be seen the bullet marks where Cromwell lined up the Levellers against the wall and shot them. The Secretary of State for Employment is lucky to be separated by several centuries from his hero, the Lord Protector.

In the two years I have known them the constituents whom I represent have shown a keen interest in the affairs of the outside world. That is particularly seen in the degree of support which now exists for a foreign aid programme—something that has impressed me very much.

Before I say something about that, I should like to deal with a matter of great personal interest to me. I shall try to do so in an uncontroversial manner. As you may remember, Mr. Speaker, I spent four years in a humble capacity in the British Mission to the United Nations in New York. I should like to say a few words about the appointment of the British representative there in the past two weeks. During the four years that I was there under the late Sir Pierson Dixon—the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Dixon)—I came strongly to the conclusion that the top permanent job there was one for a professional diplomat. The reason is simple. He does not have to deal with just one Government, with one set of Ministers or officials. He now has to deal with a hundred missions almost in perpetual motion, as well as with the Secretary-General and his staff. If the skills of professional diplomacy are needed anywhere, they are needed in New York.

That is borne out by the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who went there with a great reputation, which he still enjoys, great eloquence and great experience of the United Nations. Yet I wonder whether that experiment was a success. It seemed to me that Lord Caradon was constantly arousing, through no fault of his own, expectations which the Government at home were not always able to fulfil. Now the experiment has been repeated in different, and perhaps less promising, circumstances. The new representative will replace a respected professional diplomat who has been there for a few months and who has worked himself into the job. He will go as the political appointment of a minority Government, with all the uncertainty which that involves. I wonder whether, through no fault of his own—this is no criticism of the distinguished person who has been appointed—he may find himself in a rather difficult and sad position.

The decision to hive off the Ministry of Overseas Development from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a repetition of what was done in 1964. I am a little puzzled why this should be done again. It seemed to me that the foreign aid programme fared pretty well under the guidance of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and also under my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home). Indeed, it survived, better than had been usual in the past, the attacks of those wishing to economise in public expenditure. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the head of the Department was a member of the Cabinet, whereas in future that will not be the case.

The argument has been that one needs a separate Department so that one can have a consistent long-term aid programme which is not bedevilled by the short-term comings and goings of foreign policy. That is an essential part of the case. Yet immediately we are up against a controversy over technical assistance to Chile and the suggestion that we should cut off that programme for short-term political reasons. This is the real problem, and it also affected the Conservative Government in respect of Pakistan and Uganda. This is what happens when one comes up against Governments whose actions are in some respects offensive to public opinion in this country. However, aid programmes are supposed to benefit people, not Governments. They are long term, and must be left to the long term if they are to be successful. If they are constantly messed about because of changes in political opinions in this country or in the receiving country, they are not likely to succeed. This is a genuine problem which has faced Labour and Conservative Governments, and I am sure that it is a topic which the Minister for Overseas Development would like to consider.

I make one final point about the aid programme. It is common ground that most Government expenditure programmes depend on public support. It is also true that in terms of the British foreign aid programme a good deal of progress has been made in recent years, thanks to the efforts of all parties—but support arises only if the programmes, as part of the foreign aid effort, are based on the real world and on what is happening in it. There have been massive changes in the real world in recent months. We now have before us a group of newly-rich States in oil-producing countries. Some, like Iran and Nigeria, have large populations on which to spend their money, but there are others which do not have large populations and which will face difficult problems when dealing with the resources to which they have suddenly become heir. Their decisions have sharply affected the prospects for developing countries, particularly those with no resources of their own. Therefore, it is reasonable that these newly-rich States should be encouraged to share the burden now borne by the aid-giving countries—a burden which we have been carrying for so long. I hope that the Government, either alone or through the EEC, in the dialogue with the Arabs to which the Foreign Secretary referred this afternoon, will make this point to them as strongly as they can. The oil-producing countries should be brought to recognise that with their new riches they carry new responsibilities. This is an important point if we are to continue to maintain progress in this country in persuading our fellow citizens to continue to bear part of the burden.