tv [untitled] CSPAN June 15, 2009 11:00am-11:30am EDT
conflict itself and the reconstruction after it. it covers eight years of our history and will be very detailed work -- piece of work, that has to be done. the inquiry will be able to call any witness. it will be able to call for any evidence. the report will then be published and debated in this house. it is exactly the way the franks inquiry -- and to be fair, he disagrees with using that as a model although the opposition party always wanted it to be the model. . . gggggggggggggggg gggggggggggggggg
reflection of the names of those who have been selected and ask to take part of this inquiry and have good reputations and to do a good job for this country. >> mr. speaker, as one who supported the iraq war, i did so on human rights grounds. i saw no secret material, had no private briefing, but i had a 30 year involvement with the iraqi opposition. i personally would want assurances from the inquiry as to why, prior to the war, this country failed to indict leading members of the iraqi regime when we had the legal evidence to enable us to do so. >> i'm grateful for the work my hon. friend has done in iraq, particularly with the kurdish population. she is regarded highly by all those i meet when i go to iraq, particularly for the way she has protected the interests of the kurdish population and who
otherwise, under saddam hussein, were facing very difficult times. she is party to binding that group together with the rest of the country to make for a stronger future. obviously, the inquiry will look at events from 2001 onwards. if the inquiry feels necessary to look behind that and before that, they will do so. >> mr. speaker, as someone who supported the war, and i have to say unashamedly continues to believe what was done at the time will, as history will record, turn out to be a cause for good and a stable, democratic iraq will be a force for good in the reason -- in the region. on that basis, i hope the prime minister will consider some slight adjustments to this welcome the inquiry. one is there could be a slightly wider membership to include acts military members and to give it a little more -- to include ex- military members and to give it
a little more edge. the committee without that edge would be less credible. and because i believe there is nothing to hide, the reality is some of these hearings must be held in public and i urge the prime minister to think again about that. >> first of all, all the military personnel at a senior level and are retired or serve in the offices will be at a position to give evidence to the inquiry. gggggggggggggggg the sessions would be held in private and not in public. as far as serving politicians are concerned, if you go back over this time, there's not anyone in this house who has not commented in detail on the iraqi situation. i think it is better to look outside this house that once you can take an objective view and are seen as politically
impartial. i hope on reflection, he will understand the difference between the membership of the inquiry and the membership of this one is because of these reasons. as far as public sessions are concerned, the opposition called for a frank style inquiry and they knew that francs was held in private. the essence of the franks was that it be held in private. if people in the opposition benches want to change their mind, it is their right to do so, but it is inconsistent with what they have said previously. >> mr. speaker, i also welcome the removal of the pearl fascist regime and i think iraq is a better country today than it could ever been if the regime had continued. i believe it important, however, this inquiry should also look at the origins of the conflict which did not start in 2001. we were bombing iraq in 1998. saddam hussein was gassing the hurt -- guessing occurred in
1988. there is a context of history and i hope the inquiry will the context of history and not just art event on 9/11. >> i do agree there is a whole series of events in the lead up to and the conflict broke out in 2003. it must -- the inquiry must focus itself on the immediate run-up to the conflict, the conflict itself, and the reconstruction efforts. i have to remind the house we have had four separate inquiries into some of the events surrounding iraq. we've had the affairs of inquiry, the intelligence inquiry and it to others. it's not as if the issues have not been addressed, they have been. it is important to look at this in the round because what we want to do is learn the lessons so they can be applied for the future. >> we all welcome the demise of the saddam hussein regime, but the question is could it have
been -- could it have been done differently and could saddam hussein have been indicted and could more iraqis not have lost lives. we all grief the soldiers that have lost their lives, but should we not regret the deaths of hundreds of thousands of iraqis and the displacement of means? when he is ringing prime minister benjamin netanyahu, such as the expansion of the settlements that's not good enough, the settlements are illegal and there will be no two-state solution unless the settlements are closed down. that is something no one is talking about and we will might get peace without a willingness to move on settlements. third, i agree with those who said a membership with this inquiry is feeble. we do need senior politicians to understand political decision making and senior military people who can understand the decisions that were made and surely, the inquiry is welcome, but it should be allowed to take hearings in private or public as
it sees fit rather than kept completely secret. >> first of all, i do regret the lives of all those who have suffered and the loss of life amongst any community and nation. and we regret the loss of iraqi lives. but we cannot deny the responsibility for what has happened in iraq play at the hands of saddam hussein. those of us who served in the government knew exactly what he was trying to do and how he had broken every single united nations resolution he said he would uphold. as far as israel, i agree the settlements must be stopped. this is the advice we should give to the new israeli government and in addition to embracing a to-state solution that would give security to israel as well as a viable state to the palestinians, an announcement about stopping the growth of settlements and halting settlements is something
that is important to move the peace process for. as far as the inquiry, i beg to disagree. i feel people who have been selected for the inquiry have respected positions in the public life of this country and when people look at what they have achieved, they have a great deal to offer. in the last eight years, the members of this house to have said nothing more not been involved at all in iraq, it's better to have a non-partisan and impartial group looking at the issues. >> can i welcome the inquiry and say i'm surprised the two leaders of the opposition parties are insisting their own political placement should be put on this inquiry. now is a time when parliament is not held in high esteem to have an independent inquiry. he is no friend in times of this government. will the prime minister extend
the inquiry to take evidence from people in iraq, those who suffered under saddam hussein's dictatorship, those who were freed from it, and then those who had to [unintelligible] against which our troops helped to resist. they are stossel for the deaths of people in iraq and which not but the lights go out that it -- >> i am grateful for the interest you've taken in these issues for many years. sometimes in this house, we should have the ability to accept the fact that we have people outside this house who can contribute to an impartial review as to what happened in iraq both in the run-up in the reconstruction that has taken place afterward. when people look at the list of names before them, they will take the view that this is not only a very responsible group of
people, but one that can conduct the review with great efficiency and with great care. i also agree we must have the power to be able to listen all voices that may have something to say to them, but that is a matter for the review itself. >> as a declared skeptic as early as november 1992 of the existence of these weapons of mass destruction and the subsequent opponent of the invasion of iraq, may i put it to the prime minister that the disastrous effect of the war has been to make iran the dominant power in the whole of the middle east. what the british people will understand is that after the capture of baghdad, the political management of the occupation was extremely incompetent, as we all recognize now in america and europe. what the british people want is
an explanation, well before the general election 11 months from now, of how it came about that mr. blair was able to persuade this parliament to vote in favor of the war on facts which he knew would not stand up to proper examination. >> i disagree, but the point is to look at all these issues and that is what will happen. it will look at whether there were failures in the reconstruction as well as before that and it will report on these issues. what happened after the fall of baghdad will be as much a subject of the report as what happened before. i hope he will agree that all these issues, will all looked at by this inquiry and looked carefully indeed. >> in the history of this conflict, to political matters cry out for explanation more than any other. the first is why this house was
never informed of the contents of the downing street minute which revealed knowledge six months before the conflict that the bush administration had decided on the inevitability of war, whenever the concessions were made. the second requires explanation is why the attorney general's opinion on the legality of the war was never shown to the cabinet before the decision to go to war was made. neither of those matters, neither of them affect state security, neither of them require balances of lawyers, why cannot be ventilated and can best in public and without delay? >> my hon. friend has a deeply held views on issues he has raised. he will also be able to give than to ease of use during the inquiry and perhaps he may wish to offer evidence to the inquiry
if he has it. >> may i say to the prime minister that i regret the nature of the inquiry which he has announced which is disappointing response to what is by common consent regarded as a catastrophic foreign-policy decision. on the form of inquiry which he proposes, he -- can he tell us if the inquiry will have the power not to ask for witnesses, but to compel witnesses to attend and put them on a oath so there evidence may be verified against that background? let me ask this question finally -- how does he think the kind of inquiry he proposes will satisfy the millions of britons who marched against this war when the inquiry will meet in private, even when the national interest will not require it? >> i sometimes think the liberal party -- this is an independent inquiry, independent of government.
its remit covers eight years, the buildup to war, and reconstruction after. as far as witnesses are concerned, i cannot think of the inquiry if -- being satisfied if people want to be interviewed will not be interviewed. i believe that is exactly what will happen. for the liberal party or anyone in this house to come to the conclusion that this inquiry is in some way not independent is completely wrong. it is an independent inquiry, independent of government, able to take all papers and interviews any witnesses. i know the liberal party wanted to be held in public, but they know what happens when our public inquiries. it means lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. where people can feel free to give evidence and of frankly about what we want to hear, and that is the lessons we can learn from the war. >> the prime minister cannot answer the key question. witches, will evidence be given
under oath -- which is, will evidence be given under oath? there has been delivered deceit by some agencies by agencies and individuals, proven deceit. nothing short of evidence under oath will be sufficient to give this inquiry veracity and integrity. i ask him now, will you give us an assurance that evidence will be under oath, and if not why not? >> the term to which evidence will be given as a matter we will comment on and report later. i am absolutely sure that everybody who is giving evidence will have to tell the truth to this committee. they are under an obligation by the terms of reference of the committee to do so. >> mr. speaker, the delay in this announcement by the prime minister and the details of the scope of the inquiry have plainly been designed so that it
reports the other side of a general auction. if i could just have the prime minister's attention for a moment, i'm trying to ask him a question. given that parliament and people were misled about the causes and reasons for this war, will the prime minister and to the point made by the leader of the opposition about the need for an interim report so that we can learn some of these lessons about this government before the government has its day with the british electorate? >> mr. speaker, the franc's inquiry was a report done without having an interim report. the opposition asked for a frank style inquiry and it will look at the run-up to, the conflict itself, and the reconstruction and issues about reconstruction efforts. i think that's a comprehensive agreement that will take time, but it has to be done in the best possible way. i think he will accept if the committee needs the time to do
it, should be able to have the time to do it. this is a full report on which we want to learn lessons for the future. that's the issue. what lessons can learn for the military, our diplomacy, and for country's reputation abroad for the future. that is that the essence of what we're doing. >> this inquiry is part of a process of holding the executive to count. this house is -- this house has mechanisms of holding executives to count. any members of the foreign affairs committee will experience the limitations of select committees holding the account. i find it extremely difficult to accept as a member of parliament why we're giving privileges to people outside this house under the guise of independence when we could have an inquiry of giving members of this house and select committee to get access to the kind of documents we are going to give access to these people. and if you're in public and private but that kind of access and come to a view.
>> i understand she feels strongly about this, but she has another has been a foreign affairs inquiry. there has been an intelligence and security inquiry by a committee of this house. there has also been the dollar inquiry and the [unintelligible] inquiry. we have to look at the evidence of the last eight years, the run-up to the war, the conflict itself, and the reconstruction. i cannot think of every minute that is wider than that. given this house has looked at this issue many times, it is right to counsel of the inquiry get on with the job, interview witnesses, members of this house or other people. they can take evidence from anyone in which to do so and receive all papers from government and there is nothing that will be kept secret from them. this is a model of the franks inquiry and that is what we are following. >> can i have my condolences at the losses of two soldiers in afghanistan.
the conflict has led to the deaths of 1079 uk service personnel and 150,000 iraqi civilians. their loved ones want to know the cause of this war and why their loved ones failed. if every evidence session is held in private, that may not be possible, so will the prime minister think again about holding a secret inquiry? is the wrong thing to do. >> mr. speaker, i disagree. the inquiry has to take into account the issue of our national security, as to look at the issues that reflect on the capability and a plan of our troops, in a way it may not be best made public. it also has to get people to talk frankly about what they believe are the lessons to be learned from this inquiry, surrounded by lawyers and everyone else in a public arena is more difficult, i think you have to acknowledge. i believe this inquiry will be
thorough and independent and i believe the results will be reported to this house. i think it's quite extraordinary that for weeks and months people have been calling for a francs style inquiry and now they have a franks style inquiry, they are trying to oppose it on cynical grounds. >> that was 25 years ago and the whole climate of opinion has changed since the secret francs inquiry. i want the prime minister to understand that. i had hoped for a new politics of openness after last week. i am not prepared to accept a secret inquiry into iraq and i want the prime minister to think again. why on earth, after everything he has been saying, didn't he consult with the official opposition and or the liberal democrats and the other political parties on the terms of reference, on the membership, how long it would take? why did he take it upon himself again to tell us what was in our
best interest? >> the cabinet secretary did discuss with the official opposition and the liberal party issues relating to this inquiry. he is wrong on his final point. as far as the wisdom of how we do this inquiry, let's remember that there are issues of national security, issues related to our military, serving officers who may wish to give evidence, people who are looking in other arenas at the moment. i don't think anybody look at this in detail would think the evidence all these people should give to the inquiry should be given in public. i think it would respect the fact is a degree of confidentiality necessary. i think they would understand on reflection that if people are going to be frank with the inquiry about the lessons to be learned, they would want to give their evidence in private. just look at the alternative. the alternative would mean we have a long inquiry, lasting years, where everybody would revolt -- where everyone would be represented by lawyer and i think that's not the way to learn the best lessons from this
conflict. >> of the events of the iranian relations over the weekend will demonstrate -- every in elections over this week and will demonstrate how fragile this has become. the plans and resources exist for british military greengage meant should the iraqi government ask for it? -- do the plans and resources exist? >> we have signed an agreement with the iraqi government about what support we can give them in training, what naval support, what help in the short, medium and long term. it means there is a very significant reduction in troops, the early very few british soldiers on the soil, but the arrangements we have with the iraqi government will be similar to the bilateral relationship their strong and other parts of the region.
>> i fully understand it wouldn't be appropriate to go into detail, and i don't wish anything to compromise the safety of the hostages. can he give assurances that despite the withdrawal, we would be involved in making every effort to secure the release of the five hostages? >> i understand the concerns by an art -- my hon. friend has expressed. she has been vigilant in asking about the welfare of the five hostages. i have talked to the prime minister and asked to take a matter -- to take an interest in this matter. we are determined to secure the safe release of hostages, but a great deal is still to be done. it is permanently on our desk as an issue to be dealt with and something for the safety of these five people we are doing everything in our power to make sure they can come home. >> i remind the prime minister he is yet to answer the question about evidence on oath. on his presentation on the
operation charge of the lights, one can be forgiven for thinking we have anything to do with the planning of that operation. it took place in a british air responsibility without notice to us. it is the most graphic demonstration that our troops have been invited to take a role play in advance of the political influence of their leaders and in advance of the resources the nation was willing or able to devote to support them in the role they're asked to undertake. the number of fatalities in afghanistan looks like it's about to overtake the number of fatalities in iraq. there are important lessons here for what's happening in afghanistan. will the committee have an opportunity to report a emerging conclusions on issues such as that in advance of the final report? >> i know he is an expert on many of these matters and speaks a great deal about them. but i do think he should take care not to talk down the
contribution of our military forces. in that episode where he says the british military were not consulted and involved, i don't think he is telling the full truth about what happened in that exercise. i think we need to have all the facts out there and of course that is what the inquiry will do. >> i very much welcome the announcement of an inquiry today, but can i ask my friend to revisit in some respect of the advice he has been given by the cabinet secretary. i understand why the advice was given in two respects -- one because the objective is surely not just to learn the lessons which clearly is an objective. it is to establish the truth of what happened. that must be central purpose. secondly, the committee i chair has been taking an interest in the form any inquiry into iraq
should take. we held a private seminar a very distinguished people last week and are about to issue a report. and i have to say what the people called was a francs inquiry was appropriate 25 years ago, but a private, privy council inquiry would not be thought appropriate now. the worst thing of all, surely, would be to replicate all the arguments we have had about iraq was similar arguments about the form an inquiry should take. could i just ask, and i welcome his statement, but could he regarded at and -- as the short process of consultation to carry the whole house with him? >> i have read the letter he has written and i appreciate what he has said about the views of him and other people on this. but the point is answered by the fact of the range of this inquiry goes through eight years. it goes from 2001-2009. what he wanted to be sure of was that all the issues related to iraq would be discussed.
we could have had a discussion like francs only into the run-up of the war or the conflict itself or reconstruction. all are big issues. we have an inquiry that covers all these issues. the range of the inquiry is as big as it could be as a result of the decision we made. some of the points he wanted to make was to be sure the range of the inquiry was sufficiently wide so all these issues can be dealt with and that is the case. >> in the answer the prime minister gave to my right hon. friend, he suggested that having this inquiry and secret would mean that he or we would get the answers we were requiring. does he not understand it is the british people who require these answers and what they require is the truth of what led up to this war. can i ask you will make sure that any of the taped conversations between the then prime minister, tony blair, and the president of the united states, if they are available
are made available to the inquiry? when he also make sure all the recorded telephone calls between the prime minister and president bush, which i understand are recorded, are made available from that time. and can i ask again, don't think about what he wants to hear from the inquiry. can he consider with the british people want to hear? what they do not want to hear is this inquiry is being held in secret. everyone can accept part of the inquiry would be necessarily have to cover that fact, but most of it -- >> prime minister. he asked the inquiry deal with issues but surrounding the run- up to the conflict. that is what it's going to do. it will start in 2001. he wants to be sure to look at the issues surrounding the decision made to go into conflict. that's what the inquiry will do. it will look at all these issues. the