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Mr. Lang: The hon. Member for Livingston has twisted and distorted almost every single point to which

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he referred in answering my statement. [Hon. Members: "Guilty."] He has repeatedly claimed that he has not had enough time to read the report. That did not stop him spending the past three years prejudging its findings and getting them wrong.

The hon. Gentleman was invited to come to the Department of Trade and Industry at 12 o'clock to see the report, but instead of rushing in to see it, he was seen standing outside on the pavement for 10 minutes talking to the press. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker: Order. The House must come to order. [Interruption.] Order--on both sides.

Mr. Lang: When the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) arrived and saw thehon. Member for Livingston talking to the press, he asked his car to go round the block so that he too could stop and talk to the press. So much for the enthusiasm of Opposition Members to read the report; I hope that they will now read it and they will be considerably better informed.

For the past three years, week after week and month after month, the hon. Gentleman has fed the House, the press and the public a sour stream of invective, innuendo and invention. It has been one of the most odious campaigns of manipulation and black propaganda that the House will be able to recall. He repeatedly--as we now know, without a shred of justification--charged Ministers with secretly plotting to arm a foreign dictator and with conspiring to pervert the course of justice.[Hon. Members: "Answer."] Now he tries to sidle off the ground that he so malevolently pegged out for three years and pretend that it does not matter any more, but it does.

In 1992, the hon. Gentleman said:

In 1993, he was saying:

In 1995, he said:


Madam Speaker: Order. Hon. Members will have an opportunity in 10 days' time--[Interruption.] Order. They will have an opportunity then to tell us what is in the report. I shall spend the weekend reading it, as allhon. Members may. The Secretary of State has the freedom of the House to say what he wishes. [Interruption.] Order. Hon. Members will have an opportunity to put their points of view later.

Mr. Lang: Now the hon. Member for Livingston has been found out: it was all without foundation, and the Scott report shows that. It was a cheap and nasty smear campaign, with his whole party joining in the chorus. Their behaviour was contemptible.

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The hon. Gentleman asked me whether the Government accept the conclusions. On all the essential issues that concern the public, yes, the Government accept the conclusions. The hon. Gentleman referred to the changing of guidelines and to the quotation from the report, that the failure to inform Parliament about the current state of Government policy was deliberate. The point is that my right hon. and hon. Friends, as Ministers in the Departments concerned, were of the complete and sincere belief--which Lord Justice Scott accepts--that they had not changed the guidelines. There is no question of his suggesting that they had deliberately misled the House. He accepts their good faith and their integrity.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of super-gun. If he reads the report, he will find that it is accepted that the Government did not know about that until 1989. He also raised the question of the use of PII in criminal cases. The use of PII is judge made; it is court made. It is not decided by Ministers. The use of PII in criminal cases has been supported in a series of judgments, including by theLord Chief Justice.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the prosecution in Matrix Churchill. That is a matter for the independent prosecuting authority. He suggested that my righthon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General wrongly advised on PII. My right hon. and learned Friend has the support of the four judges to whom I referred in my statement on that matter.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of the treatment of civil servants. That is a matter for the Departments concerned. Sir Richard Scott's report will be examined carefully and any action taken will be in accordance with normal civil service discipline procedures. No disciplinary action will be taken if civil servants acted conscientiously, in good faith and in accordance with Government policy.

By his behaviour in the past three years on the issue and by his failure to apologise at the Dispatch Box today, the hon. Gentleman has blighted the rest of his career in this place. He will never be trusted in the House again. There is one course open to the hon. Gentleman: he should seek to make a personal statement and apologise to the House, or he should resign.

Mr. Tim Renton (Mid-Sussex): I am glad that I caught your eye, Madam Speaker. I received my copy of the Scott report at only 3.32 pm. Although there are many references to me in the index, I have not yet had time to read them--although of course I shall do so. However, I must say to the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook)--

Madam Speaker: Order. I shall put the proceedings in their proper context: we are questioning the Secretary of State.

Mr. Renton: Between 1985 and 1987, I was the Minister of State at the Foreign Office responsiblefor implementing the guidelines--[Hon. Members: "Question."] I say that because some hon. Members were not here at that time and they should know the background. Can my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State confirm my memory of events: we were the only country to introduce a published set of guidelines, in addition to export licence applications, for the export of defence equipment to Iran and Iraq? We were the only country to do that.

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Does my right hon. Friend further agree with my abiding impression, from two years at the Foreign Office, of the immense amount of trouble taken by Ministers and civil servants alike to see that the guidelines were implemented fairly and effectively? Is there any reason to believe that that ethos in Whitehall and that ingrained custom of caution about the guidelines was not every bit as prevalent in 1989-90 as it was in 1985-87? I can assure the House that that was so.

Mr. Lang: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend and I assure him that that is the case. I cannot find another country that operated such a principled and carefully controlled policy on defence exports as the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend might like to know that France was exporting Exocets and Mirage fighters to Iraq; Belgium was exporting ammunition; and the Soviet Union was selling tanks, aircraft and missiles. This country exported no lethal weapons to Iraq and Sir Richard Scott's inquiry has confirmed that.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East): Why did the President of the Board of Trade not refer us to paragraphs D4.42 and D4.43? Is not it blindingly clear from those paragraphs that the Government stand condemned of deliberately failing to inform Members of Parliament and Parliament itself of a fundamental change in policy and of a consistent failure to discharge their constitutional responsibilities?

When the Government's chief Law Officer, who has responsibilities beyond those of being a Minister, gives wrong legal advice on such matters as the use of public interest immunity certificates in criminal trials and fails to ensure that the reservations of the then President of the Board of Trade are passed to the court, how can the House and the public have confidence in him?

Why is it that the President of the Board of Trade failed to refer us to paragraphs D3.123, D3.124 and D3.125? How can anyone have confidence in the Chief Secretary to the Treasury when, in those paragraphs, his views are rejected by Sir Richard Scott as "misleading", "sophistry" and

Mr. Lang: Let me tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that the legal advice given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has been supported by all the distinguished judges to whom I referred, including the Lord Chief Justice. The Government believe that the advice given at that time was correct.

As far as the question of sophistry is concerned, the hon. and learned Gentleman is asking the House to believe that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, with two other Ministers, single-handedly changed Government policy without telling the Secretary of State--against the advice of many of his officials--and sustained that change for several years with nobody knowing. That is palpably incredible and Sir Richard Scott accepts that, although the guidelines changed over a period of time, they were not deliberately changed by my right hon. and hon. Friends, who sincerely believed--as did all Ministers and as the Government continue to do--that the 1984 guidelines remained in place throughout their existence.

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