Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Margaret Beckett - faulty recall?

From Monday's debate:

11 Jun 2007 : Column 544

Mr. John Baron (Billericay) (Con): We hope that the inquiry will be wide-ranging, and that it will include an examination of how the intelligence was assessed and presented. In the meantime, however, I have a question. The main justification for war was the weapons of mass destruction argument, and that ultimately proved to be wrong. Who does the Foreign Secretary think is to blame for that? Does the blame lie with the intelligence services for their assessment of the intelligence that came in, or with the politicians for their presentation of the evidence?

Margaret Beckett: The hon. Gentleman has just given an extremely good example of why it would not exactly promote the cause of looking to the future and rebuilding Iraq to engage in the kind of dialogue that he wants at this time. He is, of course, right to say that these are issues of importance, but I recall that in the last debate on this subject one of my hon. Friends reported to the House a discussion at which he had been present with Dr. el-Baradei. Dr. el-Baradei confirmed to those present at that meeting that in March 2003, he had himself believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that it was capable of using, and likely to try to use. So the notion that this was somehow all made up by the Government of the United Kingdom bears no examination at all. As I said, this is a good example of how the Conservative party would prefer to dwell on the past, rather than looking to what is happening now in Iraq and working with it.


Opposition Day

[Un-allotted Half-Day]



31 Oct 2006 : Column 204

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): On 17 March 2003, I voted against my Labour Government for the first time. It was one of two occasions when I have voted against the Labour Whip. When considering the motion before the House, it is relevant to look back at the reasons why I, and many colleagues, voted against the Government on that day. I was very clear in my own mind that I did not support military action because it was not supported by a United Nations resolution. I had been particularly impressed with the work of Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors in the difficult situation during the months leading up to the decision to commit troops, and therefore followed every word that he said and set great store by it. About two years after we decided to commit troops to Iraq, I attended a meeting addressed by Hans Blix in this House and was struck by what he had to say. He told us that in March 2003 it was his belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Before today’s debate, I looked at the Prime Minister’s speech from 17 March 2003. It was very clear from what he said on that day—and it has always been my judgment—that he believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but I still voted against the Government. I did so because I believe in the rule of law and that international action must be governed by the United Nations, and I took the view that we had not exhausted all available options to avoid war.


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