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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Iraq weapons clashes: point by point

Iraq's weapons of mass destruction dominated heated House of Commons exchanges during prime minister's questions, Tony Blair's G8 summit statement and then a Lib Dem motion on Iraq. Here is point-by-point coverage: with the most recent point first

  • The government's amendment was carried without a vote.
  • The Lib Dem motion was rejected by 301 votes to 203 - a government majority of 98.
  • Mr Ancram's call for a judicial inquiry was "irresponsible", said Mr MacShane.
  • Mr MacShane said: "It is an insult to the people of Iraq who have been liberated from the tyranny and terror and torture of Saddam Hussein".
  • For the government Dennis MacShane accused the Lib Dems of "petty political point scoring".
  • Winding up for the Lib Dems Michael Moore said the continuing failure to find WMDs in Iraq raised serious questions and an inquiry was vital in order to answer those questions.
  • Mr Blunt said the war with Iraq had been right but the idea that the reason for the conflict was an imminent WMD attack on the UK by Saddam's regime was "palpable nonsense".
  • Tory Crispin Blunt - who quit his party's frontbench in protest at Iain Duncan Smith's leadership style - said the government was "reaping the whirlwind" of the culture of spin.
  • "Democracy is ill served by such opportunism and by people who are happy to be ministers for many years and then to bite the hand that fed them later on," said Mr Gapes.
  • Labour MP Mike Gapes criticised former ministers such as Clare Short for turning on the government and he argued it was right to go to war simply to liberate the Iraqi people.
  • "The fact there was deceit on the way to military action is a very grave accusation because if we can be deceived about this what can we not be deceived about," said Ms Short.
  • During the debate, former cabinet minister Clare Short said her briefings from the security services made her believe the intelligence had been exaggerated.
  • It was not enough for Mr Blair to dismiss as "absurd" allegations that the government had "sexed up" intelligence reports - he should have dealt with claims point-by-point.
  • In particular Mr Ancram raised concerns over the government's handling of intelligence information and said that the allegations made against the government were of sufficient seriousness that the prime minister should have faced MPs earlier.
  • Tory foreign affairs spokesman Michael Ancram reiterated his party's support for the war in Iraq although he said they had reservations about the conduct of the peace.

  • Mr Straw questioned whether it was more likely, "knowing that the game was up", Saddam Hussein "went to extraordinary lengths to dismantle and conceal" weapons of mass destruction.
  • "I ask those supporting this resolution and our critics, do they seriously believe that when Saddam Hussein chose confrontation rather than cooperation he possessed no weapons of mass destruction following our decision on 18 March?" said Mr Straw.
  • Addressing the Lib Dems proposal for a judicial inquiry, Mr Straw said: "We sometimes make a mistake in investing quite the faith that we do in appointing a judicial figure to chair an inquiry of this kind."
  • Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy intervened to insist the prime minister had stated that Saddam Hussein's WMD programme was active and could be activated in 45 minutes. "If that is not a direct causal link implanted in the minds of the House, I don't know what is," he said.
  • Mr Straw stressed: "For the Liberal Democrats now to come here, to imply that the whole basis of the military action that we decided on 18 March was about the 45 minutes, is utter and complete nonsense."
  • Mr Straw said the Lib Dems motion before the Commons implied that the intelligence dossier and the "45 minutes" "was a key factor" in going to war with Iraq. He insisted: "It was not."
  • Mr Straw retorted: "I simply do not accept what you are saying."
  • Referring to the "45 minute" launch time of Iraqi weapons, former Commons leader Robin Cook, said: ¿We can plainly see, now we are in Iraq, that it was wrong."
  • Mr Straw said the "45-minutes" intelligence came from "a reliable source and not a defector". The information became available at the end of August, he said.
  • "The idea that somehow the prime minister can stop the publication of the judgements of the intelligence committee is simply untrue," said Mr Straw.
  • Mr Straw said membership of the committee was drawn up in the same way as membership of select committees, by debate across the House of Commons between the Whips.
  • Mr Straw said he did not believe anyone who had served on the Intelligence and Security Committee, tasked with the inquiry into the Iraq conflict, "could have anything but the highest regard, not only for the independence, but also the professionalism and integrity of that committee".
  • Foreign Secretary Jack Straw rose at 1414 BST to speak.
  • The inquiry should also look at the extent to which the government relied upon uncorroborated evidence from a single source, said Mr Campbell.
  • Mr Campbell said the inquiry should consider "to what extent the government found itself relying on Iraqi sources that may have been motivated by a desire to overthrow the regime".
  • Mr Campbell said he did not believe a committee of the House of Commons or of Parliament would be appropriate. He said the inquiry should be headed by a judicial figure.
  • But the intervention of Commons leader John Reid, by saying he believed at least one member of the intelligence services undermined the government, had "raised the stakes", said Mr Campbell.
  • Mr Campbell said he had believed any investigation needed to be answerable to the public.
  • "I do not believe an inquiry by that committee, in the particular circumstances of this case, is the best form of inquiry," said Mr Campbell.
  • Referring to the prime minister's announcement that an inquiry would be carried out by the Intelligence and Security Committee into events leading up to the Iraq conflict, Mr Campbell said this would not be effective unless it "can see everything" and have access to everyone.
  • Mr Campbell stressed that the proposed use of force against Iraq was "designed to bring an end to the regime of Saddam Hussein".
  • Mr Campbell argued that in his opinion there had been "mileage" in the continuation of inspections by UN weapons inspectors despite the move towards conflict.
  • Mr Campbell said the government repeatedly expressed its determination to act in accordance with international law "and it is no secret that there was a dispute as to whether action in this particular case was legitimate".
  • Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesman, rose at 1348 BST to open an opposition day debate on Iraq.
  • Mr Blair said that reason for the action was because Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with UN resolution 1441.
  • Labour's Jeremy Corbyn asked why the prime minister had blocked the return of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq ahead of the war and he said many people believed the war was more to do with American power than WMD.
  • Mr Blair said the whole of the European Union had an important role to play in the future of the Palestinians but that getting the security aspects right was absolutely crucial to the whole process.
  • Labour's Tom Harris raised a point about the Mid-East peace process and asked what help the UK could give a future Palestinian state.
  • Tory Francis Maude said he had little doubt that the inquiries into the government's handling of the Iraq affair would exonerate the prime minister.
  • Mr Blair said it was a dilemma but the international community needed to act to bring concerted pressure to brutal regimes - military action against Zimbabwe was, he suggested, not possible.
  • Liberal Democrat Alan Beith asked what separated people suffering from brutal regimes in Burma and Zimbabwe compared to Iraq.
  • Tory Patrick McLoughlin asked why the prime minister had become so "adverse" to inquiries since he had won power, to which Mr Blair repeated he stood by the dossier released by the government on WMD.
  • Mr Blair said the first priority in Iraq was to tend to the country's humanitarian situation and its reconstruction.
  • Mr Blair said that British troops were doing a "terrific" job in restoring order in Iraq's second city of Basra.
  • Anti-war Labour MP Alice Mahon said citizens in Basra remained in fear of their lives, that gun crime was rife and that unexploded ordinance lay about the city.
  • In response to a point raised about the plight of Zimbabwe, Mr Blair said the situation in the African country was affecting the whole of the region.
  • Tory Sir Nicholas Winterton said he believed the war with Iraq was necessary with or without weapons of mass destruction.
  • The SNP's Alex Salmond said claims that imports of uranium into Iraq to fuel a nuclear weapons programme were based on false information.
  • Labour's Clive Soley asked if there had been any discussion about the need to reform the UN so it could deal with failed states in the future, to which the prime minister said there had been an "interesting and frank" discussion on the last evening of the G8 summit about how to deal with countries with brutal dictators.
  • Mr Blair said it was remarkable that people cast doubt on Saddam's weapons capability when he had used WMD against his own people and engaged in a five year programme of concealment.
  • Due to Iraq's policy of concealing its WMD it would take time to find them, said Mr Blair.
  • The Iraq survey group of 1,500 people will be headed by an American with a British deputy and will be charged with looking for WMD and with investigating mass graves - there was a need for independent verification which might involve the UN, said the prime minister.
  • Mr Blair said France had said it would reject a further resolution and that he had not misled either the French president or the House of Commons.
  • Clare Short asked if the prime minister had apologised to President Chirac over "misleading" him about the second UN resolution.
  • Mr Blair insisted that he stood "entirely" by the dossier the government had released.
  • Iran has to understand that the world community does not find it acceptable that its nuclear weapons programme is continuing, said Mr Blair.
  • The prime minister stressed that "nobody is threatening military action in respect of Iran".
  • Mr Blair said it was very important that Iran realised that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to be able to carry out its work.
  • Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy rose at 1254BST stressing that the UK should continue to preserve its "balanced and entirely sensible policy" on Iran, whose nuclear programme could also lead to weapons production.
  • Mr Blair said the UK will provide logistic and support commitment to the Congo, but France and others were willing to take the lead.
  • The prime minister said problems in Zimbabwe threatened to blight the lives of its people and others in the region, but it was something that had to be dealt with by countries in Africa.
  • Mr Blair said the government recognised the urgency of the crisis in Ethiopia and had given £48m of emergency aid.
  • Mr Blair said the Iraq Survey Group, a dedicated team of people, will be able to interview scientists, experts and all the sites in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.
  • Mr Blair said he had no doubt at all that the Iraq Survey Group will find the weapons of mass destruction.
  • Mr Duncan Smith asked what action was being done in response to famine in Ethiopia and he expressed disappointment that there was no mention of the genocide in the Congo.
  • On Africa, the Tory leader welcomed the fact the G8 had discussed Zimbabwe, which had been "brought to its knees" by Robert Mugabe.
  • Mr Duncan Smith asked what Germany, France and Russia, all opposed the Iraq war, had said at the summit about how the removal of Saddam Hussein helped or retarded momentum towards the Middle East peace process.
  • Mr Duncan Smith said his party supports the creation of a Palestinian state and joined the prime minister in welcoming President Bush's commitment to peace in the Middle East.
  • Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith rose at 1240 BST to express his hopes of success in the historic meeting between US President George Bush with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
  • The summit condemned actions taken by the Zimbabwean government against its people, said the prime minister.
  • The G8 leaders discussed Aids and their aim to eradicate polio from the face of the globe by 2005, said Mr Blair.
  • Mr Blair said the summit discussed solving World Trade Organisation issues of licensing of drugs - important for poor countries to access drugs for their people.
  • Mr Blair said the summit called on Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme and Russia's President Putin made clear that Russia would suspend exports of nuclear fuel to Iran.
  • As Prime Minister's questions ended, Mr Blair rose at 1232 BST to make a statement on the G8 Summit.
  • Mr Blair said he would not do this as these were two separate allegations which will be looked into by the Joint Intelligence Committee.
  • Former Commons leader Robin Cook, who resigned over Iraq, asked if it would be better for Mr Blair to come to the House and say that in all good faith he had given MPs information, about Saddam trying to buy Uranium from Africa and the 45 minutes, that turned out to be wrong.
  • Mr Blair congratulated Liverpool on becoming European capital of culture in 2008. Referring to his wife Cherie's Liverpool background, Mr Blair stressed that this decision was taken on the recommendation of an independent committee.
  • Mr Blair said the all-party Intelligence and Security Committee will look into all the allegations and make its report. The specific allegation over 45 minutes is one the committee will investigate, he said.
  • Tory MP Richard Shepherd added his call for a "clear judicial inquiry" into the Iraq row, but this was dismissed by the prime minister.
  • The Intelligence and Security Committee will be able to go through all the JIC's intelligence assessments and that will be published in its report, said Mr Blair.
  • There was "never any question" of ministers or officials trying to over-ride that intelligence, said Mr Blair.
  • Mr Blair said the intelligence that formed the basis of the dossier put out by Downing Street in September was based on JIC assessments.
  • Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy rose from his seat at 1216 BST and called for a fully independent judicial review of the run up to the Iraq war, as the public "cannot trust the security services" in the light of Dr Reid's claims.
  • "The truth is some people resent the fact it was right to go to conflict. We won the conflict thanks to the magnificent contribution of British troops and Iraq is now free and we should be proud of that," said Mr Blair.
  • Mr Blair said a series of stories about the Iraq war, including predictions that it would be his Vietnam, had proved to be untrue and this row was no different.
  • Mr Duncan Smith called on the prime minister to publish the JIC dossier or agree to an independent inquiry into the row over weapons of mass destruction.
  • Mr Duncan Smith said the allegations are not going to go away, citing Commons leader John Reid's claims about "rogue elements" in the intelligence services briefing against the government.
  • Assertions that the 45-minute claims were added to the dossier to the disquiet of the intelligence committee were also "totally untrue", said Mr Blair.
  • Mr Blair said claims about the Saddam Hussein's weapons capability being ready in 45 minutes "at the behest of Number 10" were "completely and totally untrue".
  • Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith called on the prime minister to publish the JIC dossier given to Mr Blair before he published the disputed dossier in September.
  • Mr Blair said he had conferred with the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and there was no attempt at any time by any official to over-ride the intelligence judgements of the JIC.
  • The Intelligence and Security Committee contacted the government in early May to conduct an inquiry into Iraq, which the government will cooperate with fully, said Mr Blair.
  • Mr Blair said the Iraq Survey Group is beginning its work, but the priority after the war was to rebuild the country.
  • Labour MP Oona King asked Mr Blair where were the weapons of mass destruction and expressed her hope that murderous dictators would be removed by force.
  • Prime Minister Tony Blair rises to speak at 1200 BST with details of his engagements on Wednesday.



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