New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Will my right hon. Friend reassure us that there will be no change in the mission – no mission creep? A no-fly zone can be successful in preventing civilians from being massacred – that is why I voted for it – but what would the Government do if it became clear that the air raids have succeeded in preventing that and that Gaddafi is desisting from threatening to massacre whole swathes of his own people, but that he is staying in place? Would we then call off the campaign because the threat of massacre had been reduced to the point that it did not need to concern us any more, or would we say, “As long as Gaddafi is in place, the campaign goes on”? That is where we might find ourselves in legal difficulties?

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): Of course it is open to Colonel Gaddafi to comply with resolution 1973, to end violence against civilians and to have a genuine ceasefire. President Obama and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear at the beginning what he would need to do in order to do that; he would need to disengage from battles in places such as Misrata, to cease using his forces against civilians who try to protest in Tripoli, and so on. So it is open to him to do this. It would certainly not bring to an end the enforcement of a no-fly zone, the arms embargo and so many parts of the UN resolution, but in that situation the position – the need to protect civilians from attack – would be different. However, Colonel Gaddafi does not do this, presumably because if he did he would no longer be able to maintain himself in power, as he relies entirely on force to keep himself in power. That is why the question of his being there and remaining in power is, in practical terms, intimately bound up with resolving the conflict.]