On 22 February, during the debate on Iraq, in response to a question by my noble friend Lady Gould of Potternewton, I said: “The review of the constitution is due to end on 15 May 2007, and I assure my noble friend that the removal of Article 41 indeed remains one of our objectives” (Official Report, col. 1260).
I should have said that the Constitutional Review Committee, which was formed on 15 November 2006, is due to present its proposed amendments for the Council of Representatives’ consideration by mid- May 2007, and that while there is no stipulated time frame for the whole review process, Iraq's political party leaders have committed to completing the constitutional review process, including the required referendum, within a year of the review committee forming. We are making clear to the Government of Iraq that Article 41 must be implemented in a way that does not contravene the various human rights provisions in the Iraqi constitution. I apologise to my noble friend and to the House for this inadvertent error.
We are also supporting Iraqi women’s groups with concerns about the impact of the constitution—helping them make their voices heard. We will continue to press the Government of Iraq about the important role of women in society and to develop policies and laws in line with the constitution which states that all people should be treated equally irrespective of gender, race or ethnicity.