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Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many scientists and other personnel linked to Saddam Hussein's regime have been identified by the Coalition as key figures in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; how many of these have been interviewed; and how many have refused to be interviewed. [115512]

All scientists and others associated with Saddam Hussein's regime and who were involved in Iraq's weapons programmes could potentially provide key information to assist the search for weapons of mass destruction.A concerted effort is being made to encourage all such people to come forward. However, in the current climate in Iraq, some are still fearful of providing information to the coalition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether his Department has been given access to Iraqi documents seized by supporters of the Iraqi National Congress; [116602](2) what reports he has received of the seizure of documents from the offices within coalition-occupied territory of

(a) the Mukhabarat, (b) the Special Security Organisation and (c) the Ba'ath Party by supporters of the Iraqi National Congress; and if he will make a statement; [116601]

(3) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Coalition's arrangements to seize Iraqi Government documents; [116598]

(4) on what date documents from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry were first seized by Coalition forces; [116604]

(5) whether his Department has taken steps to secure copies of Iraqi Government documents seized by (a) British and (b) foreign journalists after the fall of Baghdad; [116600]

(6) whether Iraqi Government documents seized in Iraq have been removed (a) to the United Kingdom and (b) to the United States; and what arrangements are in place for Coalition members to share their contents. [116596]

Instructions were issued to both UK and US Coalition forces to attempt where possible to secure documents that might provide evidence for possible prosecutions. The Coalition partners in Iraq have secured a large number of official Iraqi documents. We are working on the analysis of these documents and such information is routinely shared between the US and UK Governments as partners in the Coalition. We are also actively seeking to establish whether the claims made by some newspapers about the import of other unseen documents are genuine. We would welcome the sight of any documents discovered by journalists or private individuals so that experts can analyse those too. It will take some time to analyse all the secured documents and make judgments on them, and there is no guarantee that it will be possible to publicise the results of such analysis. If it transpires that the Government can make public any new insights, they will do so. We are withholding some of the detailed information sought by the hon. Member both under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, and since it relates to information obtained from the security and intelligence agencies, which are not within the scope of the code (Part I, paragraph 6).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he held with his US counterparts (a) before and (b) during the Gulf conflict on the desirability of seizing Iraqi government documents; and on what dates he held such discussions. [116606]

I am withholding this information under Exemption 1.C) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, as it concerns confidential exchanges with a foreign government, the disclosure of which would harm the conduct of international relations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2003, Official Report, column 853W, on Iraq, if he will name those invited to the Nassiriya Conference on 15 April; what the rationale was for each of their invitations; and if he will make a statement. [114864]

The meeting in Nassiriya took place on 15 April, while the military campaign was still under way. Invitations were issued to individuals and the aim was to attract a broad range of Iraqi opinion, including opposition and exile groups and those newly liberated. While the UK was invited to suggest names, the final decision on invitees rested with the US organisers of the event. I am withholding the names of those invited under Exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information "Privacy of an Individual".