New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: I thank my right hon. Friend [The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs]. Will he confirm whether assessments show that a no-fly zone is likely to be effective against the ground attacks against the Libyan rebels? Will he confirm that in order to mount such a no-fly operation quickly, carrier-borne aircraft – sadly, not ours – will be essential at the beginning? Will he further confirm that if we are involved in such operations, they will be paid for by funds additional to the existing defence budget and not subtracted from it?

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): Financial arrangements will depend on the circumstances and discussions in government, and are secondary to the urgency of taking these decisions. No, carrier-borne aircraft are not necessary, as none of the contingency planning of any of the nations involves the use of aircraft carriers. I agree with my hon. Friend on one point-that a no-fly zone is not the complete answer, although it might be one element that helps. Having a no-fly zone does not mean that everything would be sorted out and everybody would be fully protected. We should not pretend otherwise. As I say, it is one element and the Arab League has called for it.]