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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Blair reveals Iraq dossier date
Missile loaded onto US plane
MPs want the chance to discuss possible strikes
Tony Blair has named the day he will unveil his long-awaited dossier of evidence against Iraq, just hours before Parliament is recalled.

Downing Street has confirmed Parliament will be recalled at 1130BST on 24 September, with the much trailed dossier published at 0800 the same day.

24 September timetable
0800 BST: Dossier on Iraq published
1130: Tony Blair speaks to the recalled Parliament
Until 2200: MPs debate the Iraq crisis

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who was briefed by Mr Blair on Thursday, wants a long debate and MPs will meet until 2200.

Speaking after his meeting with the prime minister, Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith MPs should be given a vote so they could send a strong warning signal to Saddam Hussein.

'Urgent'

US President George Bush has delivered a stern warning that the United Nations had to act against Iraq - a message "warmly welcomed" by Downing Street.

President Bush told the UN general assembly that Security Council resolutions on Iraq had to be honoured "or action will be unavoidable".

Iraq's ambassador at the UN called the speech a "series of fabrications" which failed to prove Iraq was involved in terrorism.

Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith says the threat of force is needed
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the UK would be working closely with America and other nations on the Security Council.

"No one who heard President Bush's speech can be any doubt about the urgency of dealing with Saddam Hussein," said Mr Straw.

He too stressed the responsibility that rested on the UN's shoulders.

Tory leader Mr Duncan Smith suggested the UK would be pushing for a time limit for Saddam Hussein to comply with a new UN resolution.

He was clear about what an MPs' vote could achieve.

'Military backing'

"Parliament should send now a strong signal that... they are in favour of a very, very strong message being sent to Saddam Hussein," he said.

That message had to be "backed by military force if necessary if he fails to comply absolutely and in a limited timescale" with UN resolutions, he added.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Kennedy said his party could easily adjust its conference agenda
Earlier, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said 24 September was a "sensible" date for Parliament's recall, despite it falling on the second day of his party's conference.

The conference agenda could easily be adjusted, said Mr Kennedy.

"What I've pressed the prime minister on... is that we make that sitting as long as possible, right throughout the day, beyond the normal parliamentary hours, so that as many members of Parliament can contribute," he added.

UN route 'encouraging'

MPs were not due to return from their long summer break until October, but the prime minister has acted following growing concern about the prospect of a US-led attack.

On Thursday, Mr Blair also saw the chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, Donald Anderson, who has called for greater evidence of the threat posed by Iraq.

Mr Anderson said a "number of unanswered questions" remained.

But the MP was glad Mr Blair, and indeed President Bush, were firmly committed to acting through the UN.

And the prime minister wanted to make a new push for Middle East peace "in tandem" with dealing with Iraq, said Mr Anderson.

Commons Leader Robin Cook said it was important MPs held their debate after the long-awaited dossier of evidence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction was published.

Vote needed?

"It is inconceivable that any British government could commit British forces to military action without the support of Parliament," Mr Cook told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He cited the 1998 Kosovo conflict and the 1991 Gulf War as examples where MPs had been given a vote on military action.

Both those precedents, however, suggest the vote would be after a decision was made.

That did not impress former Labour minister, who wants a vote on a substantive motion next week.

"It's too late once the country has been committed to war, whether it's under a UN mandate or not, frankly," Mr Kilfoyle told BBC Radio 4's World At One.

Number 10 have confirmed there will be no substantive vote next week, but the longest serving MP, Tam Dalyell, plans to force a vote on the adjournment of the Commons to gauge the extent of backbench opposition.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"The US is determined to bring Saddam down, and Britain will be involved"
Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith
"Parliament should send now a strong signal"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
"It is essential that Parliament meets"

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See also:

12 Sep 02 | Middle East
11 Sep 02 | Politics
11 Sep 02 | Politics
11 Sep 02 | Politics
11 Sep 02 | Politics
10 Sep 02 | Politics
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