[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
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 destruction
  • Mr 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 war
  • Had 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 minister
  • Mr 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 war
  • Mr 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 minister
  • Mr 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 concealment
  • There 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 it
  • Mr Blair said he was very confident that evidence of WMD programmes would be found
  • The 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 dossier
  • Mr Blair rejected the suggestion that 90% of the dossier was from sources other than intelligence
  • Mr Blair said he decided to go to war with Iraq just ahead of the Commons vote on the 18 March
  • Mr Blair said that he continued to believe the intelligence that suggested that Saddam could have launched a biological or chemical weapons strike
  • The prime minister said the UK would withdraw from Iraq once the job was done there
  • It was tragic that coalition forces continued to sustain casualties but that the situation was being stabilised
  • Mr Blair said he never thought it would have been realistic to commit British troops to war without parliamentary backing
  • The 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 UK
  • Mr Blair said there had been intelligence that there were elements of Saddam's regime trying to regroup
  • Fears over conflict between shia and sunni muslims in Iraq were exaggerated, said Mr Blair
  • The prime minister said he had no specific intelligence as to why Saddam did not launch a chemical strike against either coalition forces or Israel
  • Mr Blair added that if Saddam had concealed his WMD it would have delayed his capacity to launch a strike
  • The prime minister acknowledged that the precautions taken to try to prevent friendly fire incidents during the war could clearly be improved upon
  • European convention

  • Mr Blair said it was absolutely vital that defence and foreign policy did not fall under the auspices of the European Commission
  • The 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 affair
  • The best way of making Europe function effectively was to strengthen the Council and streamline the Commission, said Mr Blair
  • Mr Blair restated his opposition to the idea of a referendum on the proposed European constitution
  • The prime minister said a majority of EU countries would not be holding a referendum
  • The proper time to have a referendum was when the basic constitutional method of governance was being changed, said Mr Blair
  • Mr 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 partners
  • Mr Blair said the key thing was to ensure that the UK retained its economic control when it came to issues of taxation
  • Mr Blair was then asked about financial aspects of the EU
  • The 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 correct
  • Mr Blair said the political case for joining was overwhelming - there was still some way to go on economic convergence
  • The prime minister said that his personal aspiration was to strengthen British influence and the British economy
  • Constitutional issues

  • The prime minister insisted that the removal of the post of Lord Chancellor and the creation of ministry for constitutional affairs would undergo consultation
  • Mr 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 presented
  • Mr 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 policy
  • Mr Blair said that nationalism had been weakened by devolution
  • The question session with the prime minister ended at 11:30 BST



  • RELATED BBCi LINKS:

    RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific