The 7 March election was evidence of Iraq’s progress towards full democracy, a particularly important development in the middle east. It is important that the result is respected by Iraq’s political leaders.
It is also the case that Iraq’s neighbours have a key role in supporting Iraq’s democratic future. A democratic Iraq can play an increasing part in maintaining a stable and secure middle east.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer and welcome the progress being made. In terms of further progress for Iraq, does he agree that contact with businesses is enormously important? Will he continue to do all that he can to improve the situation, particularly in relation to visas—the current arrangements mean that Iraqi business people are more likely to go to Europe than the UK?
My hon. Friend speaks with a good deal of expertise in these matters. She is absolutely right: as we have drawn down our military contribution in Iraq, there is growing importance for our economic, political, cultural and educational engagement with Iraq. That was the purpose of the Iraq investment conference in April 2009, and we are absolutely determined to make sure that British companies get the full benefit of a growing and more stable Iraq.
In the parliamentary elections five years ago, the then Prime Minister sent people out from the policy unit here to assist then Prime Minister Allawi with his election campaign, which actually looked like fairly discreditable interference in the affairs of Iraq. Can the Foreign Secretary confirm that Mr. Allawi succeeded this time without the assistance of anyone from the United Kingdom?
Certainly, I have no information to suggest that there was any support from the United Kingdom in that respect. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman knows, on that occasion the result did not work out in favour of the Government in the Iraqi election.
I hope we continue to assist Iraq by all means possible, particularly in rebuilding the rule of law. I want to place on record an e-mail that I received a few days ago from the very brave judge who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death:
“I am…former chief investigative judge in the Iraqi High Tribunal…I am writing today after a long time to say thank you very much for your help”—
which means this country’s help—
“to restore the Iraqi justice and rule of law. Without your support we could not have done what we did.”
Although my right hon. Friend is not retiring, I think the whole House owes her a huge debt of gratitude for the way in which she has conducted her work as the Prime Minister’s special representative on human rights in Iraq. She has stood up for the rights of people in Iraq in a remarkable way, and although there was deep division in the House on the Iraq war, I hope that there is unity around the commitments that she has reported and made in respect of human rights, an independent press and a free and independent judiciary.