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26 March 2007

Barrett challenges Minister on cluster bomb ban

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today challenged the defence secretary Des Browne to ban cluster munitions saying they had ‘no place in the 21st century’.

Mr Barrett, made the comments following defence questions in the House of Commons today.

The Liberal Democrat Edinburgh West MP is a key backer of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill which, if passed would, ban the development, acquisition, possession, transfer and use of all cluster munitions.

Cluster bombs are made up of small bomblets about the size of tennis balls which are typically dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground across a wide area. Although designed to explode on impact, in practice as many 40% fail to detonate, often rendering large areas of land too dangerous to inhabit and killing civilians.

John Barrett said:

“I have seen for myself the devastating legacy that cluster munitions leave behind in countries struggling to recover from conflicts. These weapons have absolutely no place in the 21st century.

“Like landmines before them, there can simply be no justification for a weapon that indiscriminately kills and maims innocent civilians including many women and children.

“In Iraq our own armed forces used a total of 113,000 of these weapons. These weapons are militarily obsolete, indiscriminate and provide a death-trap for civilians. Our armed forces deserve better than to be provided with such outdated weapons.

“Only by pressing for an outright ban will we hold the moral authority to speak out against human rights abuses caused by these horrendous weapons.”


Notes

• Mr Barrett was today due to ask the following question to the defence secretary in the House of Commons:

John Barrett: Whether British forces will take (a) M26 and (b) any other cluster munition rockets amongst the ammunition to be used by multiple launch rocket systems when deployed in Afghanistan.

• Figures on cluster munitions deployed in Iraq from Human Rights Watch.

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.