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Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he received, from whom and when, between 1 January and 20 April, regarding the threat of looting of antiquities in Iraq; what his Department's response was; and if he will make a statement. [110613]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: The Ministry of Defence was forwarded a letter to the Prime Minister on this issue from the All Party Parliamentary Group, dated 11 February. My hon. Friend the Minister of Defence Procurement (Lord Bach) responded to a Parliamentary Question on this subject from Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn on 26 March 2003, Official Report, column WA81. In addition, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Moonie) replied to a letter of 18 February from the British Council of Archaeology regarding the safeguarding of Iraq's cultural heritage.Coalition commanders were aware of the risk of looting during the planning and conduct of operations in Iraq. They worked closely to minimise this by restoring law and order as quickly as possible. In addition, the United States and United Kingdom governments have worked together to take steps to help recover any artefacts that have been removed, including a US funded reward scheme for the safe return of antiquities.