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Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

8. What her Department’s involvement was in the production of the dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in September 2002; and if she will make a statement. (134738)

Matters relating to the dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction have been examined in great detail by the inquiry led by Lord Hutton, Lord Butler’s “Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction” and the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report “Iraqi WMD—Intelligence and Assessments”. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office co-operated fully with those inquiries and FCO officials gave evidence to them.

In answer to my written questions, the Foreign Secretary has again refused either to publish the draft dossier, written by John Williams, a press officer in her Department, on 9 September 2002, or to explain why those papers were not made available to the Hutton inquiry. The reason cited for the refusal is national security, but how can the Minister justify that cloak of secrecy when the paper was a draft document intended for publication, and when previous and subsequent drafts have been made available? Or is the real reason because the Williams draft was the first to mention the 45-minute claim and was the basis for John Scarlett’s draft the following day?

Lord Hutton had access to all documents he wished to see. [Interruption.] Both John Scarlett and John Williams—[Interruption.]

Order. Mr. Wishart, you are out of order. In no circumstances should you keep shouting at a Minister.

That is right—Ministers like me get sensitive about it.

Both John Scarlett and John Williams referred to the draft dossier in their evidence sessions. There is, therefore, no question of its existence being hidden from the inquiry.

When Colin Powell gave evidence to the United Nations Security Council was he fully aware of all the hesitations and qualifications in the intelligence community behind the dossier, which only subsequently became apparent?

I do not want to tread on the Minister’s sensitivities but he should recall that of the four inquiries two were by Committees that were cheerleaders for the Iraq war and the other two dealt only with certain parts of the evidence. We have not had a full inquiry. That dossier was a disgrace. It was presented as evidence to the House on which a decision was taken to take this country to join in Bush’s war in Iraq. If the evidence in the document was true, I do not believe—

Thank you for that, Mr. Speaker, as I did not hear a question either and I would certainly not recognise the two Committees as being “cheerleaders” for any war. They were filled with very distinguished Members of this House and the other place, so I think that my hon. Friend does them a great disservice.