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Iraq

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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2.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the UK armed forces serving in Iraq are attached to the Iraq Survey Group. [120542]

There are some 54 United Kingdom service men and women attached to the Iraq Survey Group. Over the next few weeks the UK contribution of military and civilian personnel will increase to between 90 and 100.Investigation into Iraq's programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction remains a high priority for all coalition forces in Iraq. Elements of British forces are committed to this task as part of the Iraq Survey Group. Their priority will be the search for weapons of mass destruction.

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the call-up of members of the reserve forces for the conflict in Iraq. [120563]

The Government are very grateful to the members of the Reserve Forces who provided support to the military action against Iraq. The use of Reservists to support such operations is fully in line with the Strategic Defence Review, namely having more capable, usable, integrated and relevant reserve forces that support their regular counterparts on operations overseas.As previously reported to the House, a call-out order was made on 7 January in support of Operation TELIC. Over 5,000 reservists were accepted into service in sufficient time to be deployed to the region of Iraq before the start of hostilities on 19 March. This was by far the biggest call-out since the 1950s. The call-out procedures worked well. The Reserve Forces produced the necessary manpower and skills. Some served with regular units, helping to bring units from peacetime to war fighting complements, while others served with reserve units.Now that the period of combat operations is over, we are withdrawing assets and personnel where possible. However, there is still a need to maintain an appropriate military presence for as long as necessary. Thus, reservists who have a role to play in the stabilisation and rebuilding of Iraq will remain there to complete a six month deployment. In addition, others will continue to be called-out to support these activities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many interviews with Iraqi personnel thought to have information about weapons of mass destruction have been conducted by coalition forces; and if he will make a statement. [119591]

Coalition forces are currently investigating Iraq's programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, including by debriefing Iraqi prisoners of war, interviews with senior regime figures, and information from other Iraqi military and civilian sources. The breadth of such contacts means that it is not possible to quantify the number of interviews on this subject to date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many samples of suspected chemical and biological agents have been (a) found and (b) confirmed by coalition forces in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [119592]

The coalition's extensive investigations into Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are at an early stage. But we are committed to what may be a long process. At the present time, samples of suspected chemical and biological agents are taken by a range of coalition units with data logged by the unit concerned in-theatre. At the appropriate time we will make the evidence public.