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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 12:44 GMT
MPs 'will oppose' attack on Iraq
Tam Dalyell
Mr Dalyell: MPs must be allowed to vote on the Iraq issue
Any moves to endorse military action against Iraq will encounter opposition from Labour MPs, the father of the House of Commons has warned.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said that Britain would back US action against Saddam Hussein's regime "if conditions were right".

Many of my friends in the Parliamentary Labour Party who are not the usual suspects are deeply, deeply uneasy.

Tam Dalyell
But Tam Dalyell told the BBC on Saturday that such a move would be extremely dangerous, and MPs must be allowed to vote on any action.

His comments comes amid mounting speculation that America is preparing to target Saddam Hussein's regime as phase two of the war on terror.

Mr Dalyell dismissed as "make believe" suggestions that Saddam Hussein's enemies could be armed in the same way as the Northern Alliance that fought against the Taleban.

Vote plea

"The situation is entirely different," the Labour MP for Linlithgow told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I shudder."

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein denies hiding weapons of mass destruction
Other backbenchers will be voicing their concerns next week at a debate about the current policy toward Iraq, Mr Dalyell said.

"Many of my friends in the Parliamentary Labour Party who are not the usual suspects are deeply, deeply uneasy," he said.

"Before Britain endorses any military action there really should be a substantive, precise vote in the House of Commons.

"Parliament surely is entitled to make a judgment on what is called, on your programme the Fourth World War," he told Today.

Phase two

Mr Hoon stressed on Friday that "absolutely no decisions have been taken about any prospect of an attack" but said the lesson of 11 September was that threats to stability could not be ignored.

Iraq denies claims it is hiding away plants making weapons of mass destruction.

On Thursday, the Iraqi Government said it was ready to let in British arms inspectors if the UK can say where the weapons of mass destruction are being kept.

Mr Hoon said the UK would examine such an offer, which would be welcome if it allowed full inspections.

Mr Blair has appeared to support George Bush's tough line against Iraq and other countries he says pose a military threat.

In a telephone call on Thursday, Mr Blair and Mr Bush discussed how to respond to the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blair's spokesman said the issue had to be addressed but no decisions had been taken yet on the best strategy for dealing with them.

Mr Bush has threatened unspecified consequences against Iraq unless UN weapons inspectors, who left in 1998, are allowed back into the country.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said "any attack on Iraq at this stage would be unwise".

See also:

01 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Britain backs US over Iraq
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Annan to tackle Iraq over arms
24 Feb 02 | Middle East
Blair and Bush 'to discuss Iraq action'
23 Feb 02 | Middle East
Saddam scorns Bush 'baby talk'
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