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Mr. Robert Jackson (Wantage): We know that the spread of scientific knowledge will facilitate the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We know that serious terrorist threats exist. Does the Prime Minister agree that no amount of media barracking or political pot-stirring about Iraq will change either of those grim realities?

The Prime Minister: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman; he is absolutely right. That is why we were entirely justified in taking the action that we did.

Barbara Follett (Stevenage): On weapons of mass destruction, can my right hon. Friend say what will be the composition of the Iraq survey group, to whom it will report, and how it will relate to the United Nations?

The Prime Minister: We have been putting together the Iraq survey group for a significant period since the end of the conflict. It will comprise roughly 1,300 to 1,400 people. In addition to weapons of mass destruction, it will consider evidence to do with mass graves and so forth. I think I am right in saying that there will be more than 100 British personnel. It is headed by an American, but the deputy is a British brigadier. It will include experts and scientists who have expertise in this area, as well as some former UN inspectors.

As for the future involvement of the UN in the process, we accept, for obvious reasons, that there will have to be some independent verification at the end of it—that is what the world community will expect and it is what we should do. In resolution 1483, which we passed in the UN a short time ago, we agreed that we would have a discussion about how the UN could be put back into the process. The Foreign Secretary is continuing that discussion with his counterparts, and when it is concluded we will state its outcome. The process must be carried out only on a considered and deliberate basis over a period of time.

It is no surprise to me that the issue is as difficult to deal with as it is proving to be, because I have to keep pointing out to people that our case—precisely the case that I constantly made standing here—was that after Saddam realised that action was under way, an instruction went out to have a concerted campaign of concealment of these weapons. That is why there is no doubt at all that it will require a concerted effort to find out from the scientists, Iraqi experts and others exactly what happened to these facilities. The alternative thesis

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is that Saddam voluntarily decided—in an extraordinary act of perversity, when he knew that he was going to be invaded through refusing to comply with the UN inspectors—to get rid of the weapons anyway. I think that that is highly unlikely.

Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle): Did the Prime Minister explain to the European leaders at Evian how he persuaded the House of Commons to vote for war on the basis of assumptions and claims about weapons of mass destruction that remain unproven? That is the essential parliamentary point that he is always seeking to blur. When he made his great speech to the House, was he deliberately seeking to mislead us or was it a blunder based on unsound intelligence reaching him? Can he not understand that an authoritative answer to that question can be given only by an independent, sovereign inquiry headed by a distinguished judge?

The Prime Minister: I do not think that I ever persuaded the hon. Gentleman of the case for action in any event. What I find remarkable about him and others who talk like that about the issue of weapons of mass destruction is that Saddam and weapons of mass destruction is a well-documented historical fact. As I say, the Iraq survey group will examine exactly what has happened in the past few months.

As for the idea that Saddam and weapons of mass destruction was some sort of whim or hunch of the security services, he was the person who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people: he gassed and killed thousands of them. He then engaged in a four, five or six-year programme of concealment. He said that he never had a biological weapons programme, and was shown to have one; he said that he never had a nuclear weapons programme, and was shown to have one; he said that he destroyed all the material back in the early 1990s, yet even Dr. Blix put out a 173-page document in March this year detailing exactly what was unaccounted for, including 10,000 litres of anthrax. So, with the greatest of respect, whatever happens now, let us please not have this ridiculous assertion that Saddam and weapons of mass destruction was an invention by the Americans, the British or our intelligence services.

Mr. Clive Soley (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush): The agenda at the G8 summit that the Prime Minister described also affects the United Nations. Was there any discussion about the need to reform the United Nations—an organisation that was established in the rather different circumstances of 1945—particularly with a view to dealing with states that are collapsing or collapsed and with psychopathic killers who take over nation states, brutalise their own populations, and destabilise regions? That is the challenge for the United Nations, and the G8 should have discussed it. If it did not, could it be on the agenda for the next occasion?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right. In fact, that was part of the discussions we had. There is a clear acceptance that we need to take seriously our responsibilities for states that are dictatorial, abusive and repressive. One of the discussions we had on the last evening of the G8 was an interesting and frank discussion between leaders about what we do about

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states that are repressive and dictatorial. It is self-evidently the fact that we cannot take military action against everyone. What is happening in Zimbabwe is absolutely appalling, but I do not think that anyone is suggesting that we take military action there. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] Perhaps some people are.

What is increasingly clear is that unless we deal with these problems to do with freedom, human rights and democracy, the world is a less stable place. That is why I have noticed that since Saddam has gone in Iraq there is a real opportunity for change across the whole middle east. States are undertaking programmes of democratic reform that were not doing so before, the middle east peace process is under way, and at long last there is at least the prospect of getting a stable and democratic Iraq. That is why the points that my hon. Friend makes are absolutely right. The question of what we do about each and every one of these states is a different matter, but he is absolutely right that it is a serious issue upon which the United Nations and the international community should unite.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): If the Prime Minister and the whole G8 are prepared to rely on the International Atomic Energy Agency and its protocols to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and Iran, why, even today, can he not bring himself to admit that that self-same agency's analysis demonstrated that the intelligence reports of African imports of uranium into Iraq were based on fabricated documents?

The Prime Minister: I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. In relation to the IAEA, and indeed to any such international bodies, I would simply say that they cannot carry out their work unless they get the full support and compliance of the country concerned. That is why the G8 called on Iran to stop putting conditions on the work that the IAEA does.

Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South): In connection with weapons of mass destruction and the inquiry by the Intelligence and Security Committee that the Prime Minister has sanctioned, would he extend that to allow the Foreign Affairs Committee likewise to be given access to that evidence and those witnesses? That would meet the problem of the independence that might perhaps be lacking in relation to the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The Prime Minister: We will proceed in the normal way in respect of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee and so on. I do not think there is any cause to change the normal rules that we apply to those Committees. I would simply point out, though, that it is not a question of my agreeing to inquiries—the Intelligence and Security Committee has the right to oversee the way in which the intelligence services and security services work. That is what it is charged with, so it is the appropriate body to do so. Of course, the Foreign Affairs Committee is entirely entitled to carry out its inquiry, too.

I hope that my hon. Friend realises that it would not be sensible to have two inquiries competing in exactly the same way. Having said that, there will be every opportunity for the Foreign Affairs Committee and the

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Intelligence and Security Committee to carry out their work, but it will be carried out in accordance with the normal conventions and traditions.

Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): I welcome most warmly the Prime Minister's statement this afternoon; I accept that conflict in Iraq was necessary with or without weapons of mass destruction. Does he agree that the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, and that that is affecting the security and economic position not only of that country but of the countries that surround it? Does he acknowledge that the only way of achieving a pluralist democracy and a sense of stability there will involve the removal of Mr. Mugabe? Without that, no progress will be made. What is the Prime Minister prepared to advocate should be done?

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