PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTION TIME JUNE 4th 2003
The Prime Minister was asked—
Q1.  Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 4 June.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to
my duties in the House, I will have further such meetings later today.
Ms King: UN weapons inspectors said 12 weeks ago that it was their "strong presumption" that Saddam Hussein had not
destroyed, among other things, 10,000 litres of anthrax, 80 tonnes of mustard gas and large quantities of VX nerve
agent. Where are these weapons and what does the Prime Minister say to allegations that their threat has been
exaggerated? Does he share my hope that one day, every leader who gases, tortures and buries—dead and alive—hundreds and
thousands of his own people will be removed by force?
The Prime Minister: In relation to weapons of mass destruction, my hon. Friend is of course right to say that it was accepted by the entire
international community, and not least by the UN Security Council, that Saddam Hussein did indeed have weapons of mass
destruction and was a threat to the security of the world, which is why the resolution was passed last November. In
respect of the search for weapons of mass destruction, I would point out to the House that the Iraq survey group, which
is 1,300 to 1,400-strong, is literally now just beginning its work, because the priority after the conflict was to
rebuild Iraq and to make sure that the humanitarian concerns of the Iraqi people were achieved. Perhaps I can take this
opportunity to inform the House that the Intelligence and Security Committee actually contacted the Government in early
May to conduct an inquiry into the role of intelligence in Iraq. I welcome this and I can assure the House that the
Government will co-operate fully with it.
As for my hon. Friend's other point, I hope that we all recognise that in addition to the weapons of mass destruction
issue, as I saw for myself in Iraq the people of Iraq, whatever the problems of rebuilding that country, are delighted
that a brutal dictator who murdered hundreds of thousands of their people has gone. And the British Army and the British
people should be proud of the role that this country played in removing him.
Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): The Leader of the House has said that rogue elements within the
intelligence services are undermining the Government and that their numbers are growing. Does the Prime Minister agree
The Prime Minister: It is obvious from what the "Today" programme has said—if that source is to be believed—that of course there was
somebody from within the intelligence community who spoke to the media. But I want to say that the security services and
intelligence services do a superb job on behalf of this country. Over the six years that I have been Prime Minister,
they have been magnificent in the information that they have given, in their professionalism and in their integrity.
Mr. Duncan Smith: The question is not the "Today" programme but that the Leader of the House made very serious
allegations about the security services. I agree with the Prime Minister that the security services fulfil a monumental
role on behalf of the Government, but the Leader of the House said that they are seeking deliberately to undermine the
Prime Minister. The Prime Minister can clear this up right now. Can he tell us how senior he believes these people are
and how many of them there are, and what he intends to do about these allegations?
The Prime Minister: In fairness to the Leader of the House, he did not say that the security services were engaged in anything, but that
somebody from the security services was talking—and it is pretty obvious that that is the case. The right hon. Gentleman
asks me who it is and how senior, but according to the BBC, the source is anonymous, so obviously I do not know. There
is serious point in what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I do not believe that the person who is talking is a member
of the Joint Intelligence Committee and I want to make it clear to the House—I have spoken and conferred with the
chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee—that there was no attempt, at any time, by any official, or Minister, or
member of No. 10 Downing street staff, to override the intelligence judgments of the Joint Intelligence Committee. That
includes the judgment about the so-called 45 minutes. It was a judgment made by the Joint Intelligence Committee and by
that committee alone.
Mr. Duncan Smith: But the Prime Minister is equivocating. [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. Let the Leader of the Opposition speak.
Mr. Duncan Smith: The Leader of the House, in an interview with The Times and on the "Today" programme, did not talk
about one person, but about a growing number of members of the security services. The Leader of the House made
allegations about the security services—[Hon. Members: "Ooh!"]—and the Prime Minister is not supporting him. We are also
hearing allegations from others in the social services that the Prime Minister misled Parliament and the country in the
run-up to the war. Those are highly serious allegations. Surely the essential way to deal with the problem is for the
Prime Minister to publish the dossier given to him by the JIC before the one that he published in September. Will he do
The Prime Minister: In relation to all those issues, the Intelligence and Security Committee is at full liberty to go through all the Joint
Intelligence Committee assessments and produce a report on them. Because of the importance of the issue, it is only
right that a report be published so that people can make a judgment on it. However, the claims that have been made are
simply false. In particular, the claim that the readiness of Saddam to use weapons within 45 minutes of an order to use
them was a point inserted in the dossier at the behest of No. 10 is completely and totally untrue. Furthermore, the
allegation that the 45-minute claim provoked disquiet among the intelligence community, which disagreed with its
inclusion in the dossier—I have discussed it, as I said, with the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee—is also
completely and totally untrue. Instead of hearing from one or many anonymous sources, I suggest that if people have any
evidence, they actually produce it.
Mr. Duncan Smith: But the Leader of the House is not an anonymous source. The Prime Minister stands in his place saying
that these allegations are wrong. If so, and if he did not add the 45-minute point to the dossier, why will he not
publish the dossier given him by the JIC before he finally published the one in September? Surely that would clear up
the point, because it was given to him as evidence that could be put in the public domain. He can do that now and clear
the matter up. Of course we welcome the fact that the Intelligence and Security Committee will look into it, but I
remind the whole House that the Prime Minister will let that Committee see only the intelligence reports that he wants
it to see. It reports directly to him and he can withhold any part of, or all of, its reports. However, the Committee is
being asked to investigate the Prime Minister's role and that of his closest advisers. Given the allegations made by the
Leader of the House today, surely the only way to clear up the problem is to have an independent inquiry?
The Prime Minister: As far as I am aware, the Leader of the House was not making an allegation about the intelligence being wrong. On the
contrary, he was rebutting the allegation that the intelligence was wrong. In relation to the Intelligence and Security
Committee, it is not true that I will withhold from it the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments. I will give it all
the JIC assessments. In addition, the Committee can, in accordance with its normal practice, interview those people in
the security services who drew up the JIC reports. That is surely a fair way to proceed. I will then publish the report.
If I may say so to the right hon. Gentleman, he had intelligence briefings as well. I suspect that the problem for him
is that he has been wondering over the past few days whether to jump on this particular bandwagon or not, and he has
made the wrong choice.
Mr. Duncan Smith rose—
Hon. Members: More!
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Duncan Smith: The allegations made by the Leader of the House today have changed everything. He is alleging that
elements of the security services are actually seeking to undermine the Government. The Prime Minister cannot pretend
that this is just a simple and small issue. The whole credibility of his Government rests on clearing up these charges.
I simply say to the Prime Minister that these allegations are not going to go away. He has one former Cabinet Minister
who says that he has duped the Cabinet; another says that he committed a monumental blunder; and, today, the Leader of
the House has attacked members of the security services. Surely the reality is that the only way is to hold an
independent judicial inquiry, if he will not produce the evidence, and to do it today.
The Prime Minister: I have already said that we will produce all the evidence for the Intelligence and Security Committee. I really think
that that is the sensible and right way to proceed. It can then come to a considered judgment and I will publish the
report. I repeat that all the allegations that have been made are completely without any substance. Indeed, if the right
hon. Gentleman wants me to, I shall go through a few more. For example, it was reported that there was a meeting in New
York between the Foreign Secretary and Colin Powell in which they expressed their doubts about weapons of mass
destruction. On the day concerned, the Foreign Secretary was in France. As for the allegation in The Mail on Sunday that
the German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, ambushed me over weapons of mass destruction—lies. I have the following
statement from the German embassy:
"The German embassy rejects in the strongest possible terms your"—
The Mail on Sunday's—
"claims made on today's front page article . . . The content and the quotations attributed to Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer are pure fiction."
That at least is consistent. It was alleged that the source for the 45 minute claim was an Iraqi defector of dubious
reliability. He was not an Iraqi defector and he was an established and reliable source.
Mr. Duncan Smith: The truth is that nobody believes a word that the Prime Minister is saying now. [Interruption.] That
is the truth. We now have the unedifying sight of the Leader of the House being sent out to do the Prime Minister's
bidding and to attack elements of the security services, which is disgraceful. Will the Prime Minister either publish
that dossier right now, or hold an independent inquiry so that the public can judge for themselves?
The Prime Minister: Again, let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman that what the Leader of the House was saying was what was clearly
true, which is that there were people speaking anonymously to the media. I want to repeat, however, that in respect of
Iraq and of every issue that I have handled over the past few years, our intelligence services have been absolutely
I say, with the greatest respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that the fact is that in the end there have been many
claims made about the Iraq conflict. It was claimed that hundreds of thousands of people were going to die in it; that
it would be my Vietnam; that the middle east would be in flames; and—the latest claim—that weapons of mass destruction
were a complete invention by the British Government. The truth is that some people resent the fact that it was right to
go to conflict. We won the conflict; thanks to the magnificent contribution of the British troops, Iraq is now free, and
we should be proud of that.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Q2.  Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon): May I remind my right hon. Friend of the serious school funding problems in my
constituency? While there are arguments about whether the Government provided enough money or whether the local
authority has passed on all that it should have done, parents and teachers are not bothered about who is at fault. They
look to us to sort out the problems, to make sure that there is enough money for this year, and that there is no repeat
next year. Will my right hon. Friend do all that he can to get to the bottom of the story of what has gone wrong this
year and guarantee that sufficient money will be made available next year to ensure that education in schools in my
constituency is of the high standard that we have come to expect?
The Prime Minister: Again, let me say that I totally understand the concerns that my hon. Friend raises. They are the reason why Ministers
have had several meetings with representatives of the Barnet authority. As he knows, Barnet received a 7 per cent. floor
increase in education formula spending share per pupil. That was a significant uplift, but it is true that some schools
still have problems. We are working hard to see exactly where those problems are located and how to deal with them.
However, along with a significant uplift in pension contributions and extra teachers' pay, there has been real pressure
on local education authority budgets. In some cases, the full amount of education spending has not been passed through.
We need to make sure that it is passed through. That is what we are looking at, in respect of both this year and next
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West): The Prime Minister is saying that more time is needed and asking
for public patience when it comes to finding categoric evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but does he not
understand that many people, in this country and internationally, treat that with some scepticism? More time and a
degree of patience with regard to the progress already being made were exactly what Dr. Hans Blix appealed to the UN
for. The Prime Minister was unwilling to extend that courtesy to Dr. Blix, despite having voted for it. Why then does he
expect people to extend that courtesy to him?
The Prime Minister: For two reasons, the situation is completely different. First of all, what I said in relation to Hans Blix: I do not
have the words in front of me now, but I think that what I said in this House, when asked many times, was that, if
Saddam was co-operating fully, time was not the issue. The process could take as much time as Dr. Blix needed. However,
if Saddam was not co-operating fully—and even Dr. Blix found that he was not—that meant that Saddam was in breach of
The second point is that of course the situation is different now that Saddam has been removed from power. The first
priority after the conflict—and this, quite rightly, is the reason for the pressure on us—is to take the humanitarian
and reconstruction measures necessary to put Iraq back on its feet. The Iraq survey group is 1,300 or 1,400 strong, and
it is the main group charged with going into Iraq, investigating all the sites and interviewing the scientists and
witnesses. That group is starting its work now—literally now. The reason I ask people to be patient is that the group
has just gone into Iraq: it should be allowed to get on with its job, investigate the sites, interview the witnesses and
then report back to us.
Mr. Kennedy: If the Prime Minister acknowledges that public scepticism exists, rightly or wrongly, will he acknowledge
also that it is liable to increased by the comments of the Leader of the House about the rogue elements in the security
services? Whom are the public to trust if the Government are letting it be known that they cannot wholeheartedly trust
their own security services? Does not that underline the need for a fully independent judicial review of just what has
The Prime Minister: The intelligence that formed the basis of the dossier that we put out last September was based on Joint Intelligence
Committee assessments. There was never any question of Ministers, officials or anyone else trying to override that. With
the greatest respect to the right hon. Gentleman, the Intelligence and Security Committee will be able to go through all
those intelligence assessments. If the Committee wants to refer to those assessments, it can. That will then be
published in its report. Rather than having allegations made by anonymous sources that are completely untrue, is not it
better that people with evidence should present it to the Intelligence and Security Committee and allow that Committee
to make a judgment?
The right hon. Gentleman says that there is scepticism about the matter, but perhaps he should go back and look at some
of the words that he has used and the false allegations that he has made. Then he will see where the scepticism might
Q3.  Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): What plans he has to visit Bethlehem before 25 December to discuss progress
on a settlement of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
The Prime Minister: I have no current plans to do so.
Mr. Griffiths: I am sorry to hear the Prime Minister say that. Christmas could not be celebrated last year in Bethlehem
because of the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. International voluntary workers, including Alistair Hillmans,
a constituent of mine, were illegally arrested by the Israelis on territory that is not theirs. Given the new
determination under the new middle east peace plan—the road map—would it not be good if the Prime Minister could say, "I
will be in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas this year."? Would it not be good if such towns as Jenin, Tulkarm, Ramallah,
Bethlehem, Dura and Dhahiriya were all part of a consolidated Palestinian state?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend's point is right. It is important to do all that we can to make sure that there is freedom of access to
Bethlehem this year. As he rightly points out, as a result of the situation in the middle east, people were not able to
celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem last year. However, it is worth pointing out that, for the first time in several years,
we have the prospect of the peace process in the middle east moving forward. I very much welcome the initiative that
President Bush has taken in that regard. If we can get some sort of normalisation under way, I have no doubt that it
should include access to Bethlehem. I am sure that that will be one of the points that those who are trying to negotiate
the first steps in reviving the peace process will take into account.
Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): Why does the Prime Minister not grasp the nettle and reaffirm the probity
and efficacy of his Government by holding a clear judicial inquiry into the matters that are of public concern? The Prime Minister: I have answered the allegations that people have put. I have answered them not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of
the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. There is a proper way of proceeding. The all-party Intelligence and
Security Committee will look into these matters, as it has asked to do, and will make a report. The specific allegation
made about the 45 minutes is one that the Committee is perfectly able to investigate and reach conclusions on. I hope
that if it concludes that what I have said from the Dispatch Box is correct, our security services—never mind the
Government—will receive an apology from those people who made that allegation.
Q4.  Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North): Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating Liverpool on becoming the
European capital of culture? Will he also congratulate Cardiff, which put in a great bid, and the other cities on the
shortlist? What plans are there to build on the success and momentum created in Cardiff and the other shortlisted
The Prime Minister: I offer my warm congratulations to Liverpool on becoming the European capital of culture. For my own safety, I should
point out that the decision was taken on a recommendation by an independent committee—
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Publish the evidence!
The Prime Minister: There is an established and reliable source for that, anyway.
My commiserations go, of course, to those cities, not just Cardiff, that made fantastic efforts in their bids. Because
they have done so well, the Government intend to invest a particular sum to ensure that those cities that did not win,
because Liverpool did, will still be given a chance to develop as cities of culture.
Q5.  Mr. Mark Hoban (Fareham): The governors at Neville Lovett community school, in my constituency, are likely
to have to disband its learning support unit in order to balance the books. Does the Prime Minister think it right that
those who need support in their education are likely to lose it because the Government have not got their sums right on
The Prime Minister: Obviously, I do not know the situation in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. However, we have put in a huge increase in
his area, Hampshire, over the past few years, and there was a particularly large increase this year. I cannot say for
sure exactly how the money has been allocated by the local education authority, but I do say to Conservative Members who
say that they want even more money to go into education that it is curious to demand that when their policy has been not
to support extra investment, but to cut it by 20 per cent. across the board.
Mr. Robin Cook (Livingston): Does the Prime Minister recall saying in the September debate that we knew that Saddam had
been trying to buy uranium from Africa? Has he been advised since then that it is accepted that the documents on which
that claim was based were forged? I have never questioned the good faith of my right hon. Friend, so could he not save
the Intelligence and Security Committee a lot of time in its inquiry by correcting the record now on the alleged uranium
from Africa, and on the alleged weapons ready in 45 minutes, and say that he regrets that, in all good faith, he gave
the House information that has since turned out to be wrong?
The Prime Minister: No, I am afraid that I have to say to my right hon. Friend that I will not do that, for this reason. There are two quite
separate allegations. My right hon. Friend started with the allegation about uranium from Africa. There was intelligence
to that effect. I shall not go into the details of the particular intelligence, but at the time it was judged by the
Joint Intelligence Committee to be correct. Until we investigate properly, we are simply not in a position to say
whether that is so. In respect of the 45 minutes, however, that is a wholly different allegation. I have to say to my
right hon. Friend that the Joint Intelligence Committee made that assessment on its own behalf with no interference from
anyone. I shall certainly not stand here and say that that assessment is wrong, as the committee's judgment is that it
was right. The committee is in a better position to make that judgment than either me or, with respect, my right hon.
Q6.  Sue Doughty (Guildford): Yet again, Greenpeace has today highlighted the use by the Government, in the Home
Office, of timber from unsustainable sources. Will the Prime Minister accept that the use of unsustainable timber must
Mr. Speaker: Order. The House must let the hon. Lady ask her question. [Hon. Members: "Why?] Because her name is on the
Order Paper and she is entitled to ask a question.
Sue Doughty: There is evidence from Greenpeace. We should declare war on the illegal use of timber and end the mass
destruction of forests once and for all.
The Prime Minister: I am getting instructions from further along the Bench. Is this to do with a fence around Marsham street?
Sue Doughty indicated assent.
The Prime Minister: I regret to say that, along with everything else, I am not 100 per cent. up to speed about the fence around Marsham
street. The Home Secretary seems to be disputing rather vigorously the claim that is being made.
Bob Russell (Colchester): Well, he would.
The Prime Minister: Probably he would. I shall look into the matter and drop the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) a line about it. It
may be an issue to take up with the contractors rather than with the Government.
Q7.  Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): What action he has taken since 14 May to gather documentation in relation to
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The Prime Minister: We believe that documents relating to Iraq's WMD programmes have been carefully concealed, including at the homes of
scientists and other personnel connected with those programmes. As I informed the House a moment or two ago, a new
organisation, the Iraq survey group, has been set up to take charge of the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,
among other things. The group will harness intelligence resources and the investigatory skills of about 1,300 to 1,400
staff from the US, the UK and Australia. It will subsume the existing smaller operations and investigations being
carried out by the US military. It will also include former United Nations arms inspectors, and it represents a
significant expansion of effort in the coalition hunt for weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Dalyell: Tonight at 7 o'clock, Mr. Speaker has given me an Adjournment debate on the situation in detention of Tariq
Aziz. Could the Prime Minister ask the junior Minister at the Foreign Office who will be replying to the debate to
enlarge on the processes by which the documentation that is found may relate to trials, not only of Tariq Aziz but of
some others? Do we not have to be rather careful, whatever our views, about victors' justice? Surely those people have
to be brought to trial one way or another?
The Prime Minister: I agree with my hon. Friend: they have to be brought to trial in a proper way. That is something that we are discussing
at present both with our allies and with the United Nations. I shall certainly pass on to my hon. Friend, the Foreign
Office Minister who will reply to the debate, the points that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has
made. I hope, however, that he will recognise and support us in one thing. Sometimes over the past few days, it has been
almost as if the whole issue of Saddam and weapons of mass destruction were a curious invention. The weapons of mass
destruction issue and Saddam have been around for 12 years in the UN, as have Saddam's efforts at concealment. When I
was replying to my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), I forgot one point. It is sometimes said that
it is very curious that, if those weapons were ready to fire, they were not found immediately. The answer to that lies
in the very point we made in the dossier, which is that once Saddam started to realise that United Nations inspectors
were coming back in, as I think I said continually at the Dispatch Box, there was then a concerted campaign of
concealment of the weapons. Indeed, I think I also said—if not at this Dispatch Box, then elsewhere publicly—that one
benefit of that, although there were obviously a lot of problems with it, was that it would make it more difficult to
reassemble those weapons; but that does not in any shape or form dispute the original intelligence.
As for the other point that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow makes, about the tribunal and how these people are
tried, I can assure him that if they are tried they should be tried according to proper and due process.
Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): Those of us who argued that the conflict in Iraq was illegal continually had
the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction thrown at us by the right hon. Gentleman and others. Is it not high time
to have a full public inquiry? It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to rely on a report by the Joint
Intelligence Committee, because he can be selective as to what he produces, and when all is said and done, the Committee
is answerable to him.
The Prime Minister: I suspect that whatever we did would not be good enough for the hon. Gentleman. The fact is that he and his colleagues
were opposed to this from the very beginning, and from the moment the conflict ended and all their predictions of
disaster turned out to be untrue, they have been looking for a way of getting back into the argument, saying it was all
a terrible mistake.
Let me tell the hon. Gentleman one thing. I have been to Iraq and spoken to those Iraqi people; yes, it is true that
there is an enormous job of reconstruction to be done in that country, but seeing the literally tens of thousands of
bodies in mass graves uncovered in Iraq, and realising that these people had been deprived of freedom for decade upon
decade, let us be thankful that someone who was a threat with his weapons of mass destruction and also a brutal tyrant
has been removed once and for all.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement about the G8 summit in
I pay tribute to President Chirac's very skilful chairmanship in guiding our deliberations. We reached significant
conclusions on the middle east, on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, and on Africa and sustainable development.
In addition, we committed ourselves to strengthening the conditions for growth in the world economy. In all, 16 action
plans and statements were released at the summit, copies of which have been placed in the House Libraries.
First, on the middle east, we all recognised that a solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem is not only vital for
stability across the middle east but would deprive terrorists of an issue that they exploit for their own inhuman ends.
I need hardly remind the House of the bleak pattern of mistrust, hatred and violence that has blighted the lives of
generations of Israelis and Palestinians. Children have been growing up in an area with seemingly no prospect of peace.
From the beginning of the intifada in September 2000 until the end of March this year, 2,300 Palestinians and more than
600 Israelis have been killed. There have been too many dashed hopes to be anything other than cautious in assessing the
current situation, but since I last reported to the House, the road map for peace has been published, the Israeli
Cabinet has accepted it and there has today been the historic meeting between President Bush and the Palestinian and
Israeli Prime Ministers in Jordan.
The whole G8 summit united behind the initiative that President Bush is taking, and fully endorsed what is now agreed on
all sides as the only ultimate answer to this problem: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.
That is an objective of historic significance both for the middle east and indeed for the whole world community, and we
in the United Kingdom will continue to support it with every means at our disposal.
Secondly, on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, there was a striking unanimity of purpose that we must urgently
strengthen our co-operation in the fight against those two closely related threats. On weapons of mass destruction, we
underlined that North Korea's uranium enrichment and plutonium production programmes and its failure to comply with
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards were a clear breach of its international obligations. We called on it to
dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes. We emphasised the proliferation implications of Iran's advanced nuclear
programme and called on Iran to sign and implement an IAEA additional protocol without delay or conditions. President
Putin made it clear that in the meantime Russia would suspend its exports of nuclear fuel to Iran. Those are important
steps to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and I welcome them.
In addition, we took stock of progress on the $20 billion programme launched last year to prevent terrorists from
acquiring nuclear, biological or chemical materials left over from the former Soviet Union, to which Britain has made a
commitment of up to $750 million. We put in place mechanisms to improve the prioritisation and co-ordination of
technical assistance for countries seeking to assist in the war against terrorism. We launched new initiatives to tackle
man-portable surface-to-air missiles and to tighten security controls on radioactive sources, and we agreed on measures
that represent a new drive to cut off terrorist financing.
Thirdly, on Africa and development, the summit brought about the welcome participation of many African and developing
nations. We all agreed that a successful outcome to the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Mexico in
September and the successful completion of the development round by 2005 are of central importance. The wealthy nations
of the world simply cannot any longer ask the developing world to stand on its own two feet but shut out the very access
to our markets that is necessary for it to do so. Reform of the European common agricultural policy will be vital in
In addition, we agreed to resolve all other outstanding WTO issues including the compulsory licensing of drugs—the
so-called trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, or TRIPS, question—which is important for poorer
countries to access drugs for their people, and also essential for progress in the Doha round.
We had extensive discussions about the problem of HIV/AIDS, which now afflicts 42 million people around the world. All
of us welcomed President Bush's recent announcement of a $15 billion US initiative to combat it, and I hope that at the
European summit in Greece, the European Union will agree to match the US commitment to the Global Health
Fund—potentially up to $1 billion a year. We remain on course, too, to eradicate polio from the face of the globe by
I also set out in some detail my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's proposal to establish a new international finance
facility, which could deliver a doubling of current aid flows for recipient countries committed to economic reforms and
good governance. Finance Ministers have been asked to report back to leaders on the proposal by September. It is
important that we now sustain the momentum behind the initiative.
G8 leaders also took the opportunity to discuss with President Mbeki and other African leaders the good progress that we
have made in partnership with the NEPAD—New Partnership for Africa's Development—leaders over the past year in
implementing the Africa action plan that was launched at Kananaskis. Over the past year, we have seen the largest ever
US commitment to aid for Africa, and many European Union countries, including our own, are increasing substantially aid
and development programmes. Consistent with the African-led initiative, we discussed the steps that are being taken to
resolve the appalling crisis in Zimbabwe. We condemned the action taken by the Zimbabwean authorities on Monday against
their own people and called on the Zimbabwean Government to accept their citizens' rights to demonstrate against the
I was also pleased that we endorsed the initiative that I launched last year to reduce corruption by getting companies
in the extractives industry to make public the tax and royalty payments that they make to Governments, and for those
Governments to publicise their receipts. I believe that this simple idea could have a powerful impact. Transparency and
increased accountability are the best defences against corruption.
Leaders also had a full discussion on the world economy and agreed on the central importance of fostering macro-economic
stability and intensifying structural reform as the essential preconditions for strengthening growth. Chancellor
Schröder also briefed us on the steps that Germany is now taking to modernise its health and pensions systems and to
increase the flexibility of the labour market, and President Bush expressed confidence in the strength of the US
economic recovery, based on rising productivity and a pickup in domestic demand.
Finally, G8 Heads agreed to step up our collaboration on science and technology to help combat the long-term problem of
climate change. It is crucial that we tackle this, but in ways that encourage sustainable growth and development. The G8
must lead the way, working in partnership with developing countries. We will focus on renewable energy, the hydrogen
economy for transport, fuel cells and biodiversity.
After the sharp disagreements in the world community over Iraq, the summit represented an important coming together of
leading nations. In the past few weeks, we have seen the restoration of unity in the UN with resolution 1483. As
important as anything else, on the very issue of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, there was a renewed sense of
urgency and purpose. Of great significance, we have seen the middle east peace process, despite all the cynicism, moving
forward again. Whatever the differences of the past few months, the summit showed common purpose on these key issues. It
is now the task of the whole world community to build on the objectives that have been reached which are of such
fundamental importance to us all and to the wider world.
Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement.
The G8 meeting in Evian came at a time of rapid change in world events. Renewed optimism characterises the middle east
peace process, as the right hon. Gentleman said, and we face a massive obligation to rebuild Iraq and to equip it to be
governed at last by its own people. International institutions and relations between countries are still under strain,
and the continent of Africa is threatened by widespread famine, the blight of HIV/AIDS and the disastrous political
collapse in far too many countries.
I begin by expressing the hopes of Conservative Members for the success of today's potentially historic meeting in Aqaba
between President Bush, Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas. We support the creation of a Palestinian state living alongside
a secure and respected Israel, as the Prime Minister said. We therefore join him in warmly welcoming President Bush's
commitment to the great prize of peace in the middle east and realise that great perseverance will be required from all
sides if that peace is to be achieved. Continuous reciprocal steps are essential for the success of the road map. The G8
summit talked of a comprehensive peace settlement involving Lebanon and Syria. As the Prime Minister knows, for the road
map to work it must be more than just a bilateral agreement between Israel and Palestine, so how will the Lebanese and
Syrian tracks, as referred to in the discussion, be integrated into that road map process? What admission in Evian did
the Prime Minister receive from the Russians, Germans or French that the removal of Saddam Hussein has assisted rather
than retarded the momentum towards the middle east peace settlement?
The G8 summit represented an important opportunity for divisions between world leaders over the war in Iraq to be
addressed. Some nations, such as Russia, with its willingness to halt nuclear exports to Iran, appeared more willing to
address those divisions than others. We should welcome that, and I agree with the Prime Minister that that was a
significant step. However, in welcoming the unanimous adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 1483 and
the more positive signs of co-operation between the G8 member states in building sustainable peace in Iraq, what is the
Prime Minister's latest assessment of the timetable under which Iraq will be equipped to govern itself? Are there any
hospitals that, even now, weeks after the military action has ceased, still require basic medicines and supplies? If
there are, what plans are in place to ensure that that is resolved?
On Africa, last week Bob Geldof powerfully warned that famine and disease are once again stalking that continent, and
Ethiopia is running out of food. Some 8,000 people a day are dying of HIV/AIDS across the continent, and Zimbabwe has
been brought to its knees by the contemptible conduct of a dictator, Robert Mugabe. I welcome the fact that the G8 at
last discussed Zimbabwe. That is vital. I also welcome its condemnation of Mugabe's brutal actions and his continuing
activities. What action is being taken in response to the emergency in Zimbabwe? What future action does the Prime
Minister believe we can take, and what do his Government believe they will do alongside other Governments to resolve
that? What action is being taken in response to the emergency in Ethiopia?
We welcome the expressed intention of the EU heads of state to support President Bush's commendable initiative to fight
HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. We hope that the next EU summit will at last turn those words into firm action.
Does the Prime Minister think that that will be the case?
We are surprised and disappointed that the Prime Minister's statement makes no mention of the Congo. The country is on
the precipice of the most bloody ethnic genocide. The French were the first to refer to the issue of troops, and were
even critical about British troop deployments, which I find a bit rich. Is it not right that France and Belgium should
take the lead in ensuring that, if necessary, security forces go to the region, where historically they had such an
influence, or would that in itself cause a major problem? Will the Prime Minister tell us what sort of troop deployments
he believes Britain is capable of committing, and whether he considers such a commitment necessary?
While every effort must be made to alleviate the suffering of so many Africans, we must also lay the basis for
self-government in Iraq. The search for WMD must continue urgently, without let-up. I do not believe that the issues
raised in this country in the past few days were about weapons of mass destruction. I believe that Saddam Hussein had
them, and I hope and believe that we will find them. It is right for Britain to have liberated Iraq; the Prime Minister
was right to do so. However, the reconstruction of Iraq requires that there should be a foundation of trust in the
Government's actions at the time and subsequently. There is the risk of jeopardising that trust. I hope that over the
past half hour, the Prime Minister has had time to reflect on the need to re-establish that trust, and that he will now
review his position and grant an independent judicial inquiry.
The Prime Minister: On that last point, I have said all that I need to say, except that it is a bit much that when a series of allegations
are made, all of which are untrue, people say what a terrible thing it is that trust in the Government has been damaged.
It is important that if people have evidence to justify allegations, they give that evidence, and so far they have not
In relation to the right hon. Gentleman's comments on the G8, the Jordan meeting is extremely important. I agree that
the road map must be amplified to include the Lebanese and Syrian tracks, and it will be. That must be another dimension
of moving the middle east peace process forward. It is important to recognise that America always said, and President
Bush made it clear, that once the issue of Iraq was dealt with, he would move on to the middle east peace process. There
is no doubt that it is much easier to make progress on that now, with the regime in Iraq changed.
In relation to Iraq and resolution 1483, because the UN is now involved in the process again, we are better able to
access support for the hospitals and the infrastructure, medicines, supplies and so on. My assessment, although
obviously my visit was only brief, is that real efforts are being made by our troops and by the authorities on the
ground to improve the situation as rapidly as possible, but it is a massive undertaking. One of the things that I was
told by our military out in Iraq is that, for example, when the Iraqi special republican guard were retreating, they
sabotaged much of the machinery, which must be replaced. As we know, looting and problems of security were experienced
at some of the hospitals, but I am informed that the situation is improving. It is not improving as fast as we would
like, but it is improving. However, we must be clear that the job of reconstruction is massive. That is why it is
important that we redouble our efforts, and ensure that we show the same vigour in prosecuting the peace in Iraq as we
did in prosecuting the war.
As for the weapons of mass destruction, I point out again that the Iraq survey group is the body that will be able to go
and interview the scientists and experts and visit the sites. There are literally thousands of sites. As I was told in
Iraq, information is coming in the entire time, but it is only now that the Iraq survey group has been put together that
a dedicated team of people, which includes former UN inspectors, scientists and experts, will be able to go in and do
the job properly. As I have said throughout, I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
The alternative thesis is that, having for years obstructed the UN, having had 12 years of sanctions, having kicked out
the inspectors in 1998, and having invited an invasion by defying the UN, Saddam decided to get rid of the weapons of
mass destruction anyway. That is an odd thesis to accept. [Interruption.] Someone is shouting out "Rumsfeld". I have
read carefully what the Secretary of State for Defence in the US said, and the comments of Paul Wolfowitz. It should
come as no surprise that their comments have been taken completely out of context. If people read the full transcript of
both interviews, they will see that what they are arguing is that it will be difficult to say exactly what has happened
to the weapons until we collect the evidence through the Iraq survey group. That is precisely what we would expect. I
repeat that it has always been the Government's case that there was a systematic campaign of concealment once Saddam
knew that the inspectors were going back in.
On Africa, the right hon. Gentleman made some important points. We recognise the urgency of the crisis in Ethiopia. We
have raised with the European Commission the importance of Europe stepping up its efforts to get its own money through.
We have already allocated £48 million of emergency aid, and we will see what more we can do.
On HIV/AIDS, I believe that the European Union will match whatever commitment to the Global Health Fund the United
States has given. It is important to realise that the $15 billion commitment of the US is not just to the Global Health
Fund but to bilateral projects between the US and recipient countries. The situation is the same with us. We put
hundreds of millions of dollars a year into HIV/AIDS programmes all over Africa and elsewhere, but we are also
increasing our commitment to the Global Health Fund. There is recognition that this pandemic scourge—thousands of people
die every year—has to be tackled. What is more, if it is not tackled, many African countries will not have the human
resources to rebuild themselves.
It is important that the summit made the statement on Zimbabwe. Measures can be taken, such as sanctions, but we must
recognise the limitations on what they can achieve in Zimbabwe. The most important thing is that we work closely with
the surrounding countries in Africa to get them to realise and understand that we must deal with the problem in
Zimbabwe, because it threatens to blight and destroy the lives of many people, not only in that country but all over the
south of Africa. We must work with the countries in the region on that.
In respect of the Congo, we will make a UK commitment in so far as we can, but that will be for logistics and support.
The French and others are willing to take the lead in the force around Bunia. The UN MONUC force is also there. I have
to be frank about the fact that I do not think that these plans are in a sufficient state of readiness. We are seeing
what more we can do with others to ensure that we can make a better and swifter response. I am convinced—this was also
discussed at the summit—that the ultimate solution to this problem is for Africa to take on these peacekeeping tasks.
That is why the UN plan that we agreed to back is so important. It will mean that in the next few years there will be
properly equipped and properly trained regional peacekeeping forces all over Africa, with which the developed world can
help and which can move swiftly into any conflict. The number of troops required in these situations is not great, as we
found in Sierra Leone, but if they are not properly trained and equipped they cannot do the job. In the end, this is
something that we have to help Africa to do for itself.
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West): Although there are obviously some disappointments about the
summit, welcome progress has been made on a number of key fronts, not least nuclear non-proliferation, the new practical
assistance for Africa in the field of peacekeeping, and the big tantalising prize of the further advancement of the
middle east peace process. Let us hope that the steps under way as we speak will eventually lead to the emergence of two
stable and secure states, living side by side in peace and security.
We very much welcome the announcements on Iran and North Korea, urging them to cease their nuclear developments and to
verify their progress. There is no doubt that the non-proliferation treaty must be upheld, and there is an obvious need
for the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect Iran's facilities. Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the
United Kingdom must continue to preserve its balanced and sensible policy on Iran? It is distinct from the stance
adopted by the United States, as he knows only too well. Will he spell out what mechanisms he would consider if the
Iranians did not respond to the call issued in the past few days by the G8 membership? Will he rule out taking military
action against Iran? Does he see further potential for the development of a common European front on this issue?
It is correct to welcome the movement, such as there was, towards rapprochement among the nations that were in
disagreement with our country and, primarily, with the United States over what has taken place in Iraq, although there
is a great deal further to go. Does the Prime Minister acknowledge that the Germans and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the
French bridle somewhat at the sight and sound of the American President arriving on continental Europe and remonstrating
with those who, in a candid and upfront international way, chose to take a different view from his own and that of his
Administration of what took place in Iraq?
Does the Prime Minister share the sense of disappointment at the lack of progress on debt relief? The statements on
water, sustainability and NEPAD were full of worthy sentiments but rather empty of content. Does not that pose a
longer-term danger to the G8, which is losing credibility, especially in the eyes of the developing world?
Given the aid that is being provided to Africa, which is welcome, does the Prime Minister acknowledge that those
countries would benefit from a big improvement if they had the capacity to produce their own generic drugs? Does he see
scope for further progress on that? What contributions are the British Government making towards such an end?
Does the Prime Minister see scope for the cutting of farm subsidies and export credits? What is his view of the
proposals from the European Union and the United States currently before the World Trade Organisation?
Did the Prime Minister have an opportunity at the summit to raise again the position of the nine British citizens held
at Camp Delta? They are in a legal no man's land. In response to the Father of the House in a different context, he
referred to the need for trials. No charges have even been brought against those British citizens. That is contrary to
all the principles of international justice to which our country subscribes. If the boot were on the other foot, and we
were holding American citizens in a similar fashion, all hell would have broken lose on Capitol hill and we would not
have heard the end of it. Did the Prime Minister have any opportunity to raise that fundamental concern about our own
passport holders with the President and representatives of the United States?
The Prime Minister: That last issue did not come up at the summit, but we have raised it with the US Government. I have said what I have
said about it already. Obviously, that situation cannot continue indefinitely, although it is complicated by the fact
that information is still coming from the people detained there. I cannot say any more than that. That information is
On the middle east peace process, I think we are agreed that what is happening is an important step forward.
It is important that Iran realises the seriousness of the international community's intent on this issue. The IAEA must
be able to carry out its work without any conditions. No one is threatening military action in respect of Iran, but it
must understand that the whole of the world community—there was complete unanimity on this at the G8—does not find it
acceptable that this nuclear weapons programme continues to be developed in Iran. Both on that issue and in relation to
the issue of terrorism and its support for terrorists, it has to understand that we are very serious about the
unacceptability of these activities. We have worked very long and hard to have a proper dialogue with the Iranian
Government. I welcome that and I think that it is good to do so, but it has to happen on the basis of being absolutely
up front with them about the concerns that we and the whole of the international community have.
In relation to President Bush's speech in Europe, I thought that, far from being a remonstration with the Europeans, it
was a reaching out to Europe. I think that he did that very effectively, and he made it very clear that there were
issues such as the middle east, tackling global poverty and HIV/AIDS, on which he wanted a good and robust partnership
with the European Union. Of course, he defended his position in respect of Iraq, as we would expect him to do. What is
more, he was in Poland, where I had been the day before, which had fully supported our action in Iraq.
On debt relief, we are making progress. There are certain issues to do with exactly how the highly indebted country
programme works and the issue of topping up. We are trying to resolve those issues, but I point out to the right hon.
Gentleman that, in terms of debt relief, as a result of the measure that was driven forward by my right hon. Friend the
Chancellor, we have now seen $62 billion worth of debt forgiven. That is very important indeed.
On generic drugs, we have given tax relief for research on the development of those drugs by our countries in respect of
diseases that are the particular problem of developing countries. We have to resolve the issue of the so-called TRIPS by
the time of the WTO meeting. I hope that it will be resolved, because it is very important that, when we have the drugs
that can help developing countries, we make them available to them.
Finally, in relation to the WTO, a change has happened in the sense that the French proposals on agriculture in respect
of Africa are a step forward, because they recognise in principle that export subsidies are unacceptable and should go.
It was not possible to reach full agreement in respect of all the aspects of the French proposals, but they are a
significant step forward. Again, I hope that there will be a coming together between all members of the European Union
and the United States on the other hand so that we all make it clear that there should be a programme for phasing out
the agricultural subsidies. If that does not happen, the developing world will be left in the position of being able to
produce crops and carry out agricultural production, but not to gain access to our markets on a fair and equitable
basis. After the G8 meeting, I am more hopeful that we will be able to resolve the matter, but it will be difficult.
Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie): I very much welcome the statement in the report that the G8 has endorsed the
initiative taken by this country to ensure transparency in the oil industry and other extractive industries and the
recognition that there should be publication of accounts, as corrupt leaders and companies have taken billions of pounds
out of Africa. Can the Prime Minister confirm that absolutely every country will now take the legislative measures
necessary to force its companies to make their accounts transparent? Can he let us know how that is to be brought into
The Prime Minister: On the issues to do with governance and corruption, the peer review group mechanism has been set up under NEPAD—the New
Partnership for Africa's Development—and I think that about 15 or 16 countries have already agreed to submit themselves
to that process, which will judge how far they have come in tackling the problems of corruption. In respect of the
extractive industries, what we have agreed is that the proposal should be taken forward. The detail has got to be worked
out, but it will not work, in my view, unless it is a clear requirement across the board. Obviously, there are companies
that want to participate in principle, but if they have to be transparent and accountable while other companies do not,
it will be very difficult for them to compete. We are now looking at how to ensure that, both in the countries of origin
of the companies and in the developing countries, we introduce mutually acceptable and binding legislation. That is what
we are doing now.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe): When the Prime Minister was discussing Iraq with his fellow G8 leaders, he presumably
recalled that they all supported the unanimous Security Council resolution 1441 saying that military force, if
necessary, would be justified to disarm Saddam. Did he remind President Bush that the case for war against Iraq without
a second resolution and in the face of the opposition of the majority of the Security Council was that those weapons
posed such an imminent threat that an immediate military invasion was justified without giving any more time to Mr. Blix
and his inspectors? Do I understand the Prime Minister's position today to be that he still believes that, and is
telling the House that he thinks that that assertion was factually accurate, is factually accurate and will be proved
factually accurate? If he is still standing by that, does he realise how serious it will be if it turns out that it was
not true at all and the consequences that that will have for our confidence that the problems of Iran and Korea will be
dealt with on a truly internationalist and legal basis?
The Prime Minister: The right hon. and learned Gentleman and I agree on some things, but I am afraid that we disagree on this matter
completely. First, let me point out to him that the basis on which we went to conflict was that in resolution 1441, Iraq
was given a final chance to comply fully and unconditionally with the UN inspectors, and the conclusion that we drew six
months later was that it was not doing so. The problem in the UN Security Council is that we could not get an agreement
even to the fact that, if it carried on not complying fully and unconditionally with the UN inspectors, we could take
action. That was obviously an unacceptable situation.
That is the first point to make. The second is that I stand entirely by the dossier that we issued and the intelligence
contained in it. I have also pointed out in the statement and on other occasions both at the Dispatch Box and elsewhere
that, of course, Iraq undertook a sustained campaign of concealment of the weapons. The Iraq survey group is the group
that is going in now and which will interview the scientists and experts and examine the sites, and it has the
expertise, including former UN inspectors, to do so. When we get a proper and fully documented account of what it has
found, we will present it to people, because it is right that they know the outcome. I suspect that both the right hon.
and learned Gentleman and I would be sensible to suspend our judgment until that time, but I stand fully by what our
intelligence agencies put out. I say to him—he will have some experience of this—that I have dealt with those involved
for six years and I have not only found them to be people of total professionalism and integrity, but found the quality
of what they produce to be among the finest anywhere in the world.
Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood): In trying to heal the divisions in the world that have appeared with regard to the
difference of view about how to handle the crisis in Iraq, did the Prime Minister apologise to President Chirac for
misleading all of us about the position of France on the second resolution? I think that he told the House, and many of
us, that France had said that it would veto any second resolution. It is now absolutely clear that President Chirac said
on 10 March that the inspectors needed longer, but if they failed to disarm Iraq, the Security Council would have to
mandate military action. Does that not mean that he misled us and should apologise to us as well?
The Prime Minister: I am sorry, but again, we have a complete disagreement on this issue. First, the remarks that President Chirac made are
now on the record and are history, and were about France saying no whatever the circumstances. Actually, there is an
even more important point. What I said to my right hon. Friend and to the House was that France made it clear that it
would not accept any resolution that involved the automatic use of force in the absence of compliance by Saddam or an
ultimatum. That was what I said to her and to the House, and it is true. That is what he said. Therefore, we would have
been back in a situation in which we would have had to come back to the Security Council once again and come to another
resolution, but without any threat to use force if Saddam did not comply. In the end, that was the problem, and it is
the problem as I explained it to the House, to her and to the country at the time.
Mr. Robert Jackson (Wantage): We know that the spread of scientific knowledge will facilitate the spread of weapons of
mass destruction. We know that serious terrorist threats exist. Does the Prime Minister agree that no amount of media
barracking or political pot-stirring about Iraq will change either of those grim realities?
The Prime Minister: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman; he is absolutely right. That is why we were entirely justified in taking the
action that we did.
Barbara Follett (Stevenage): On weapons of mass destruction, can my right hon. Friend say what will be the composition
of the Iraq survey group, to whom it will report, and how it will relate to the United Nations?
The Prime Minister: We have been putting together the Iraq survey group for a significant period since the end of the conflict. It will
comprise roughly 1,300 to 1,400 people. In addition to weapons of mass destruction, it will consider evidence to do with
mass graves and so forth. I think that I am right in saying that there will be more than 100 British personnel. It is
headed by an American, but the deputy is a British brigadier. It will include experts and scientists who have expertise
in this area, as well as some former UN inspectors.
As for the future involvement of the UN in the process, we accept, for obvious reasons, that there will have to be some
independent verification at the end of it—that is what the world community will expect and it is what we should do. In
resolution 1483, which we passed in the UN a short time ago, we agreed that we would have a discussion about how the UN
could be put back into the process. The Foreign Secretary is continuing that discussion with his counterparts, and when
it is concluded we will state its outcome. The process must be carried out only on a considered and deliberate basis
over a period of time.
It is no surprise to me that the issue is as difficult to deal with as it is proving to be, because I have to keep
pointing out to people that our case—precisely the case that I constantly made standing here—was that after Saddam
realised that action was under way, an instruction went out to have a concerted campaign of concealment of these
weapons. That is why there is no doubt at all that it will require a concerted effort to find out from the scientists,
Iraqi experts and others exactly what happened to these facilities. The alternative thesis is that Saddam voluntarily
decided—in an extraordinary act of perversity, when he knew that he was going to be invaded through refusing to comply
with the UN inspectors—to get rid of the weapons anyway. I think that that is highly unlikely.
Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle): Did the Prime Minister explain to the European leaders at Evian how he
persuaded the House of Commons to vote for war on the basis of assumptions and claims about weapons of mass destruction
that remain unproven? That is the essential parliamentary point that he is always seeking to blur. When he made his
great speech to the House, was he deliberately seeking to mislead us or was it a blunder based on unsound intelligence
reaching him? Cannot he understand that an authoritative answer to that question can be given only by an independent,
sovereign inquiry headed by a distinguished judge?
The Prime Minister: I do not think that I ever persuaded the hon. Gentleman of the case for action in any event. What I find remarkable
about him and others who talk like that about the issue of weapons of mass destruction is that Saddam and weapons of
mass destruction is a well-documented historical fact. As I say, the Iraq survey group will examine exactly what has
happened in the past few months.
As for the idea that Saddam and weapons of mass destruction was some sort of whim or hunch of the security services, he
was the person who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people: he gassed and killed thousands of them. He
then engaged in a four, five or six-year programme of concealment. He said that he never had a biological weapons
programme, and was shown to have one; he said that he never had a nuclear weapons programme, and was shown to have one;
he said that he destroyed all the material back in the early 1990s, yet even Dr. Blix put out a 173-page document in
March this year detailing exactly what was unaccounted for, including 10,000 litres of anthrax. So, with the greatest of
respect, whatever happens now, let us please not have this ridiculous assertion that Saddam and weapons of mass
destruction was an invention by the Americans, the British or our intelligence services.
Mr. Clive Soley (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush): The agenda at the G8 summit that the Prime Minister described also
affects the United Nations. Was there any discussion about the need to reform the United Nations—an organisation that
was established in the rather different circumstances of 1945—particularly with a view to dealing with states that are
collapsing or collapsed and with psychopathic killers who take over nation states, brutalise their own populations, and
destabilise regions? That is the challenge for the United Nations, and the G8 should have discussed it. If it did not,
could it be on the agenda for the next occasion?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right. In fact, that was part of the discussions that we had. There is a clear acceptance that we need
to take seriously our responsibilities for states that are dictatorial, abusive and repressive. One of the discussions
that we had on the last evening of the G8 was an interesting and frank discussion between leaders about what we do about
states that are repressive and dictatorial. It is self-evidently the fact that we cannot take military action against
everyone. What is happening in Zimbabwe is absolutely appalling, but I do not think that anyone is suggesting that we
take military action there. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] Perhaps some people are.
What is increasingly clear is that unless we deal with these problems to do with freedom, human rights and democracy,
the world is a less stable place. That is why I have noticed that since Saddam has gone in Iraq there is a real
opportunity for change across the whole middle east. States are undertaking programmes of democratic reform that were
not doing so before, the middle east peace process is under way, and at long last there is at least the prospect of
getting a stable and democratic Iraq. That is why the points that my hon. Friend makes are absolutely right. The
question of what we do about each and every one of these states is a different matter, but he is absolutely right that
it is a serious issue upon which the United Nations and the international community should unite.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): If the Prime Minister and the whole G8 are prepared to rely on the International
Atomic Energy Agency and its protocols to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and Iran, why not,
even today, cannot he bring himself to admit that that self-same agency's analysis demonstrated that the intelligence
reports of African imports of uranium into Iraq were based on fabricated documents?
The Prime Minister: I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. In relation to the IAEA, and indeed to any such international bodies, I
would simply say that they cannot carry out their work unless they get the full support and compliance of the country
concerned. That is why the G8 called on Iran to stop putting conditions on the work that the IAEA does.
Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South): In connection with weapons of mass destruction and the inquiry by the
Intelligence and Security Committee that the Prime Minister has sanctioned, would he extend that to allow the Foreign
Affairs Committee likewise to be given access to that evidence and those witnesses? That would meet the problem of the
independence that might perhaps be lacking in relation to the Intelligence and Security Committee.
The Prime Minister: We will proceed in the normal way in respect of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee
and so on. I do not think that there is any cause to change the normal rules that we apply to those Committees. I would
simply point out, though, that it is not a question of my agreeing to inquiries—the Intelligence and Security Committee
has the right to oversee the way in which the intelligence services and security services work. That is what it is
charged with, so it is the appropriate body to do so. Of course, the Foreign Affairs Committee is entirely entitled to
carry out its inquiry, too.
I hope that my hon. Friend realises that it would not be sensible to have two inquiries competing in exactly the same
way. Having said that, there will be every opportunity for the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Intelligence and
Security Committee to carry out their work, but it will be carried out in accordance with the normal conventions and
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): I welcome most warmly the Prime Minister's statement this afternoon; I accept
that conflict in Iraq was necessary with or without weapons of mass destruction. Does he agree that the situation in
Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, and that that is affecting the security and economic position not only of that
country but of the countries that surround it? Does he acknowledge that the only way of achieving a pluralist democracy
and a sense of stability there will involve the removal of Mr. Mugabe? Without that, no progress will be made. What is
the Prime Minister prepared to advocate should be done?
The Prime Minister: First, what the hon. Gentleman says about Zimbabwe is absolutely right. This is a very serious situation indeed; that is
clear. It is difficult to see how there can be any proper security and prosperity for people in Zimbabwe while the
country continues to be run in the way in which it is. I entirely agree with all of that. The question is, what do we do
about it? In the conversations that I had with the African leaders at the G8 summit, I impressed upon them—and I believe
that they understand this—that this is now affecting the whole region of southern Africa. In the end, they will be the
people who are best placed to take this forward, if indeed they are committed to ensuring that the changes in Zimbabwe
happen. There is a limit to what we can do, but within that limit, we will do everything that we possibly can. That is
why we put the matter on the agenda at the G8 summit. We had a discussion, and we discussed it with the African leaders,
too. In the end, however, I believe that the most powerful force for change in Zimbabwe will come from those surrounding
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax): On the discussions on the reconstruction of Iraq, may I draw the Prime Minister's attention
to the report just published by Human Rights Watch, "Basra: Crime and Insecurity under British Occupation"? It
"Basra citizens remain fearful for their lives and properties . . . Basra's hospitals reported . . . five gunshot
homicides daily, with another five to seven cases of injuries attributed to gunshots."
It goes on to state that the massive stocks of unexploded ordnance are a real threat to the children in Basra. Was that
breakdown in civil society discussed at the G8 summit, and what urgent proposals were made to stop Iraq sliding further
and further into chaos?
The Prime Minister: There are undoubtedly real security problems in Basra and elsewhere, and they are being tackled by the British troops
and the authorities. The British troops are doing a fantastic job in improving the situation there. Of course it is
going to be difficult, although I think that it is sometimes possible to exaggerate the difficulties. In relation to
Basra in particular, they have made huge steps forward. On the human rights front, my hon. Friend should not be in any
doubt. This is not a case of a country—Iraq—whose human rights record was superb and which has now been pushed into
chaos by the British and American forces. The very human rights bodies that are now able to put out information about
what is happening in Basra and elsewhere were the bodies that were kept out when literally hundreds of thousands of
people were dying in Iraq as a result of Saddam's regime.
Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): I am delighted that the Prime Minister and the French President are chums again, but
may I ask why that did not extend to the Prime Minister strongly supporting President Chirac's proposal for the European
Union to suspend subsidies on farm exports to Africa, provided that the USA did the same? Is the right hon. Gentleman
just afraid of the other President across the pond?
The Prime Minister: I thought that I had said that I supported the French proposal on this issue. With the greatest of respect, however, we
have to go further than either the US or France is going at the moment. We have to get rid of export subsidies in
relation to agriculture altogether. The French proposal is an important step in that direction, but the hon. Lady should
not be naive about it. We still need to go much further. That is also true in respect of America; it has the same
obligations. Our position, therefore, is that we need to push further than both of those countries are doing.
Denzil Davies (Llanelli): My right hon. Friend has made much of the survey teams that will look for weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, but is he not concerned that the failure of the coalition to look for those weapons as a matter of
the highest priority in the immediate aftermath of the war could well have provided the opportunity for many of the
weapons—if they are there—to find their way into the hands of the various terrorist groups that are operating in and
around the middle east?
The Prime Minister: What the survey group will do is conduct a thorough investigation over a significant period of time, because these
weapons have been concealed. After Saddam was got rid of, the first priority for the troops had to be the humanitarian
situation and the reconstruction of the country. It is obviously a different situation from when Saddam was in charge of
Iraq and had weapons of mass destruction—now that he has gone from Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction are concealed.
I am not saying that this is not a crucial issue—it is, which is why a team of 1,300 or 1,400 will go in to investigate
it. But I do not think that it is wrong for the coalition to have said that our first priority at the end of the
conflict—which, after all, ended only six or seven weeks ago—had to be reconstruction and the humanitarian position of
the Iraqi people. Indeed, we would have been criticised roundly if we had not done so.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): During the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, I, like many of my colleagues,
wrote to my constituents saying that if the American President and the British Prime Minister were telling us that there
was a serious national danger, I was inclined to believe them. I am inclined to believe the Prime Minister, but he must
realise that great questions have now been asked by members of his own Cabinet at the time he was telling us those
things. He talked in his statement about transparency and increased accountability. Why then will the American Congress
be holding its investigations into this matter in public, while the Committee that the Prime Minister wants to deal with
the issue does so in private? Why has he become so averse to inquiries over the past six years? He seemed very happy to
order inquiries into the actions of the last Conservative Government when he became Prime Minister, but I do not think
that he has ordered one into the actions of his own Government.
The Prime Minister: First, the position that we set out is the correct position. The reason that we took the action that we did was for the
reasons stated. As I said earlier, I stand entirely by the dossier that was put out by the Government based on the
intelligence that was authorised by the Joint Intelligence Committee. It was not made up by the Government; it was not
overridden by the Government in any shape or form at all. In relation to what is happening in America, that is the
normal way in which the Americans deal with congressional oversight of the Government there. I think that they would be
quite surprised at how much prominence has been given to this issue by our media here, when in America it is simply seen
as part of the normal way in which congressional hearings work. In relation to us, we have a particular way of dealing
with these issues, and that involves the Intelligence and Security Committee. It was voted for by both sides of the
House of Commons. It can look at all the Joint Intelligence Committee reports, it can interview the intelligence people
concerned, and it can give a judgment. I have said that that judgment will be published for the House. Frankly, if it
looks into those Joint Intelligence Committee reports and interviews the intelligence people, it will get to the truth
about the 45 minutes, and so forth. The reason that I am speaking so confidently about this from the Dispatch Box today
is that I am quite sure of what it will find.
Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): Since President Chirac has been mentioned today in relation to overseas trade and
development, will the Prime Minister reiterate his welcome for the fact that the President has altered his position on
the common agricultural policy in relation to export subsidies to Africa? Will he confirm again that an agreement on the
so-called TRIPS question will be signed—or that there is a commitment to a signature—before the Cancun conference in
September? Does he agree that the opening up of world trade would be of the utmost interest to the developing world—the
third world—so that it might avail itself of the prosperity to which we have become accustomed?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There are two really big outstanding issues for the WTO round in Cancun in
September. One is the issue relating to pharmaceuticals and TRIPS; the other is to do with agriculture. We did not reach
agreement at the G8, but I think that the atmospherics—if I can put it like that—are now much more positive towards
reaching agreement. My hon. Friend is quite right; we should welcome the fact that France has taken a step forward on
the issue of export subsidies, but we have to go further, and that then has to be echoed by other countries. There is,
however, a better prospect of getting movement on this issue now than there has been for some time. That is vitally
important, for the reason that my hon. Friend has just given; the developing world really needs this to work.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): The Prime Minister has referred to the question of what we do about other brutal
regimes. Did he discuss with the international leaders the much-needed development of international principles—the sort
that we have tried to develop in regard to genocide—to establish when it is right for states to intervene militarily to
remove brutal regimes? After all, we intervened in Sierra Leone to restore an elected Government, the Americans
intervened in Grenada, and—much more controversially—the Prime Minister now rests much of his case relating to Iraq on
the removal of that ghastly regime.
Is it not very difficult to see what separates those suffering under brutal regimes in Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea
from those suffering in the other countries that I have mentioned?
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman raises a good point. It is at the heart of the dilemma. If the international community cannot
reach agreement on an issue, in what circumstances should military action be authorised? We supported it in Iraq, in the
end, because last November I felt that we had reached an effective agreement in the international community that Saddam
was to be given a last chance, and that if he did not fully comply he was to be dealt with by military action. He did
not fully comply.
The history of UN resolutions speaking of a specific security threat in relation to Saddam was well known, but the right
hon. Gentleman's point is valid, and there is no easy answer to it. We know of the appalling way in which the Burmese
authorities have once again treated the opposition leader in Burma. These are difficult issues. I have been met by a
chorus of "We should take military action in Zimbabwe" on the Opposition Benches, but if people actually think about
that they will realise that it is quite a difficult thing to do.
The point is that there is a need, at the very least, for the international community to come together and exert
concerted pressure on those brutal and repressive regimes. History teaches us that if we do not deal with those regimes,
in the end they become worse and worse, and finally their impact affects us all.
Mr. Nigel Beard (Bexleyheath and Crayford): Did the G8 consider the worrying signs that the world economy might be
moving towards deflation? In particular, did the group consider what concerted steps might be taken to counteract
deflation if the threat proved more definite?
The Prime Minister: There was a discussion about the world economy, obviously. Most people, in fact all people, indicated their belief that
the world economy would pick up. I think that the two most necessary things are a sense of confidence in both the United
States and the eurozone—there are at least some signs that that is happening—and, obviously, an improvement in the
security and terrorism situation in the world as a whole. Part of the downturn in confidence has resulted from the
security and terrorism threat.
I would say that the consensus around the table was that the prospects of the world economy, and those of the American
economy in particular, are rather better than they were.
Mr. Francis Maude (Horsham): I supported the coalition action in Iraq without reservation. I believed what the Prime
Minister said then, and I believe what he says now about intelligence information on weapons of mass destruction. I have
little doubt that the inquiries being held by the various committees will find nothing other than that the Prime
Minister dealt with that information properly. Does he understand, however, that there would not be such widespread
scepticism about what he is saying today had not he and his colleagues, for the past six years, subordinated the
instruments of the state to the narrow partisan interests of his Government?
The Prime Minister: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the first part of what he said. As for the second part, I recall exactly the same
allegations being made about a previous Government in the 1980s.
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): By you!
The Prime Minister: Probably by us, yes. That is absolutely true.
There is often a very great gulf between what is actually the position and the exaggeration that is sometimes simply
part of the business of politics.
Mr. Tom Harris (Glasgow, Cathcart): Given the positive signs emerging from both the Israeli and the Palestinian
negotiating teams, we seem to see a real prospect of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the next
three years. Does the Prime Minister agree, however, that a viable state alone is not enough? Such a state must also
have the economic means to lift its people out of the grinding poverty that they have endured for more than 30 years.
What economic aid will the United Kingdom Government give the nascent Palestinian state, and will it be reflected in aid
from the other G8 countries?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point. We will do what we can in the United Kingdom, and also in the European Union.
There is an important role for Europe, which often wishes to play a bigger part in the middle east peace process. We can
help the Palestinians with their living standards, infrastructure, investment and development of the country. That will
not work, however, unless we ensure that the peace and security situation is better stabilised. The truth is that if we
did manage to secure greater security normalisation, the lifting of restrictions accompanying that would of itself have
a huge and beneficial impact on the Palestinian people.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): We welcome what the Prime Minister said about tackling AIDS and HIV, and look
forward to a more positive outcome at the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Mexico.
In answer to a question, the Prime Minister spoke of people being naive. Does he not accept that some of the countries
at the summit were naive in not recognising the possibility of evil regimes? Can we trust North Korea and Iran, which
have been brutalising their own people in different ways, subsiding terrorism with Hezbollah, and threatening South
Korea and Japan, to act on the guidance given by the G8?
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman's point is well worthy of consideration. That is why the G8 agreed that we must call on both
countries to co-operate with the international authorities in respect of their nuclear weapons programmes.
The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the central point. The weapons of mass destruction programmes of some countries
allow them to divert enormous amounts of energy and resources, and to justify the repression of their people. That is
why it is important to deal with them. The thought of either North Korea or Iran having a serious nuclear weapons
capability is a thought that should trouble everyone.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): Can the Prime Minister explain why he and President Bush blocked the UN weapons
inspectors' return to Iraq earlier this year, just before the bombardment started? Can he also explain why the current
weapons inspection in Iraq is being undertaken not by the UN, but by an American and British operation? Does he not
think that if people are to believe his assertion that weapons of mass destruction exist, there must be an independent
inquiry in Iraq and an independent, open and public inquiry in this country? Many people simply do not believe that the
cause of the war had anything to do with weapons of mass destruction. They think that it had everything to do with
American military power and with handing out contracts to American companies—which is now happening.
The Prime Minister: Let me try to disentangle the various conspiracy theories from what my hon. Friend is actually saying.
We did not continue weapons inspections because back in November we said that Saddam Hussein would have a last chance to
co-operate fully and unconditionally. He did not do that. Indeed, we believe—and our belief is based on what we know and
the information that we have received—that instead he embarked on a systematic campaign of concealment. That is
precisely what he did last time. It is not as if Saddam had no track record on weapons of mass destruction; he has
always had a track record. We took the action for the reasons stated.
I want to make this absolutely clear. We agreed on the basis of that resolution last year that Saddam should have a
final chance to comply fully. If he had complied fully, there would have been no conflict; but he did not, and that is
why there was a conflict.