Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Blair grilled: Point-by-point
Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, made up of MPs who chair Parliament's select committees. Here is point-by-point coverage.
The prime minister began giving evidence to senior MPs at 0900 BST on Tuesday
Committee chairman Alan Williams welcomed the prime minister to his third question session with the liaison committee
Mr Williams said the prime minister had been told in advance which three main themes he would be asked about
Mr Blair was asked about the way the government presented its case for going to war and responded he stood by that case entirely
Mr Blair rejected the suggestion that he had in any way misled the House of Commons
On the central allegation that he or any many of his government had inserted the 45 minute claim about Iraq's strike capability into the September dossier, Mr Blair said they had been cleared
Questioned by foreign affairs committee chairman Donald Anderson, Mr Blair acknowledged sources used to inform the dodgy dossier should have been properly attributed
Mr Blair said he stood entirely by intelligence published to reinforce the government's case for war and insisted the UK was right to attack Iraq.
Mr Blair said the jury was not out over the September dossier - there was no doubt that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destructionMr Blair said he had "no doubt at all" that Saddam's weapons programmes were ongoing and that he concealed the weapons of mass destruction
The prime minister said that he "absolutely no doubt at all" that evidence would be found of weapons of mass destruction
Mr Blair said the Iraq survey group - which is charged with finding WMD - was "just beginning its work"
Mr Blair denied Clare Short's claim that he and President George W Bush had decided to go to war with Iraq months before the Gulf state was actually attacked
Mr Blair said that President Bush agreed that if Saddam had co-operated with weapons inspectors there would have been no warHad the UK walked away from Iraq and its WMD then it would have left Britain powerless in the future to deal with other threats, said the prime ministerMr Blair said that he thought the war with Iraq would have gone on longer when asked about the state of the country post-conflict
The prime minister acknowledged it was "extremely difficult" to turn the situation in Iraq around and it would take time to improve the situation there.
The prime minister said the UK and US went the UN route because they believed it was possible to resolve the coalition's problems with Iraq without warMr Blair said it was "inherently implausible" that Saddam secretly destroyed his WMD stocks
The prime minister said he did not believe there was "any doubt at all" about the legal basis for war
Mr Blair said he had "absolutely no doubt whatever" that Saddam was trying to build up his strike capability
People should wait to see what evidence was produced on WMD, said the prime ministerMr Blair said he wanted to "reiterate the validity of that intelligence" that led to his claim Saddam could launch a WMD strike in 45 minutes
The prime minister stressed that the September dossier also suggested that once Saddam realised weapons inspectors would come back in he would begin a programme of concealmentThere were two theories about what Saddam had done with his weapons - one that they existed and were concealed, the alternative hypothesis was that Saddam had got rid of his weapons and not told anyone about itMr Blair said he was very confident that evidence of WMD programmes would be foundThe prime minister said he rejected any suggestion that he had failed to consult either parliament or his cabinet colleagues
Mr Blair said that he should have sourced the middle part of the so-called dodgy dossier
Tory MP Edward Leigh said that it was time for the prime minister to apologise to parliament over the dossierMr Blair rejected the suggestion that 90% of the dossier was from sources other than intelligenceMr Blair said he decided to go to war with Iraq just ahead of the Commons vote on the 18 MarchMr Blair said that he continued to believe the intelligence that suggested that Saddam could have launched a biological or chemical weapons strikeThe prime minister said the UK would withdraw from Iraq once the job was done thereIt was tragic that coalition forces continued to sustain casualties but that the situation was being stabilisedMr Blair said he never thought it would have been realistic to commit British troops to war without parliamentary backingThe prime minister said the dodgy dossier was cleared by the joint intelligence committee (JIC) whose job it was to evaluate the raw intelligence received by the UKMr Blair said there had been intelligence that there were elements of Saddam's regime trying to regroupFears over conflict between shia and sunni muslims in Iraq were exaggerated, said Mr BlairThe prime minister said he had no specific intelligence as to why Saddam did not launch a chemical strike against either coalition forces or IsraelMr Blair added that if Saddam had concealed his WMD it would have delayed his capacity to launch a strikeThe prime minister acknowledged that the precautions taken to try to prevent friendly fire incidents during the war could clearly be improved upon
Mr Blair said it was absolutely vital that defence and foreign policy did not fall under the auspices of the European CommissionThe prime minister said that it was crucial in an expanded EU to strengthen the European institutions although he added that ultimately the Commission should become a smaller, tighter affairThe best way of making Europe function effectively was to strengthen the Council and streamline the Commission, said Mr BlairMr Blair restated his opposition to the idea of a referendum on the proposed European constitutionThe prime minister said a majority of EU countries would not be holding a referendumThe proper time to have a referendum was when the basic constitutional method of governance was being changed, said Mr BlairMr Blair said that the strangest part of being prime minister at the moment when it came to foreign policy was that a large part of the political spectrum wanted the UK to "retreat to the margins" rather than engaging with its international partnersMr Blair said the key thing was to ensure that the UK retained its economic control when it came to issues of taxationMr Blair was then asked about financial aspects of the EUThe prime minister said he believed that the UK should be a full player in Europe including as a member of the euro but that Britain should only join the single currency if the economics were correctMr Blair said the political case for joining was overwhelming - there was still some way to go on economic convergenceThe prime minister said that his personal aspiration was to strengthen British influence and the British economy
The prime minister insisted that the removal of the post of Lord Chancellor and the creation of ministry for constitutional affairs would undergo consultationMr Blair acknowledged there had been some concern that the constitutional changes were being done "on the back of a reshuffle"But the prime minister insisted that most people had welcomed the changes, just not the way that they were presentedMr Blair said it was inevitable that some policies would develop in government
The prime minister said he did not think his government operated in any way differently to previous governments when it came to the development of policyMr Blair said that nationalism had been weakened by devolutionThe question session with the prime minister ended at 11:30 BST
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