Correspondence between the Chairman of
the Committee and the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth
SECRETARY, 4 JUNE
As you know, the Committee agreed yesterday
evening to conduct an inquiry into The Decision to go to War in
Iraq. The Committee intends to hear oral evidence in the week
commencing 16th June and to report to the House in July.
In order to conduct this inquiry, the Committee
will require access to relevant persons and papers.
As well as hearing oral evidence from yourself,
the Committee will wish to hear evidence from the heads of the
SIS and GCHQ. It is the Committee's wish to hear as much evidence
as possible in public session. I would be grateful for your agreement
in principle to this, so that we may proceed to make arrangements
for the hearings.
The Committee also requires access to all relevant
papers and records. We are particularly interested in papers and
records relating to the preparation of dossiers and other information
which was presented to Parliament by FCO Ministers. We cannot,
of course, identify all the specific papers and records in which
we are interested. I therefore ask for your cooperation in ensuring
that nothing is omitted which might inform our judgment when making
our Report to the House.
I hope you will agree that the Committee's track
record as responsible Parliamentarians is well proven. The quality
of our Report will depend largely on the degree of assistance
from you and your colleagues. It would be most unfortunate in
my judgment if we had to report to the House that we had not received
I am writing separately to the Prime Minister
and to officials in MoD and in the Cabinet Office.
Foreign Affairs Committee
4 June 2003
Thank you for your letter of 4 June. I am replying
on behalf of the Prime Minister and the officials to whom you
also wrote on 4 June.
As I said when we met on 10 June, I shall gladly
appear before your Committee to give evidence. As I suggested
then, I might make two appearancesat a 90-minute public
sesssion already scheduled for noon on Tuesday 24 June and at
an extended private session now arranged for 9:00am on Friday
27 June. On both occasions I would be accompanied by Peter Ricketts,
the FCO's Political Director; and on the second occasion also
by William Ehrman, the FCO's Director General (Defence and Intelligence).
Peter is well known to your Committee. He has
been the senior official covering Iraq in the Office. (He is shortly
to become our Ambassador to NATO. His previous post was as Chairman
of the JIC.) William, as his title suggests, is the senor official
who coordinates both the Ministry of Defence and the intelligence
agencies. He is a member of the JIC. As I told the Committee,
I would also be happy for Stephen Pattison to give evidence. He
was Head of the United Nations Department, responsible at this
end for coordinating the drafting of UNSCRs on Iraq.
I look forward to making a full personal contribution
to your inquiry focusing on the FCO's involvement in Iraq policy.
I intend to submit written responses to your specific questions,
drawing on FCO material and starting with the questions in the
letter of 5 June. As requested in that letter, my reply will reach
you no later than noon on Monday 16 June. As I write. I can make
no promise about a reply on Friday. But we will do our very best
on at score. I also intend to provide you with a written memorandum
outlining the development of the FCO case against Iraq in the
run up to the conflict. No doubt you will have supplementary questions
which I can cover at our sessions on 24 and 27 June.
I regret however that, as has been the case
with past inquiries of this sort by Select Committees, it will
not be possible to submit original documents, not least because
of the need to protect sensitive exchanges on a highly controversial
subject with other sovereign governments.
As you know, the Intelligence and Security Committee
is also holding an inquiry into the background to the conflict
in Iraq. Since the ISC was established under the Intelligence
Services Act 1994 specifically to deal with intelligence matters,
the Prime Minister and I feel it is appropriate that they should
lead on intelligence aspects of this subject. The Prime Minister
met the ISC on 10 June. In the House on 11 June (col 672) he made
clear that the government wouldof courseco-operate
with the ISC. In relation to the FAC, he said that, in accordance
with convention, neither he nor his officials would attend the
Committee but FCO officials and I would. The Prime Minister will
shortly be making one of his now regular appearances before the
Liaison Committee of which you are a member and where (as on the
last occasion) members may decide to major on Iraq.
At our meeting on 10 June, I made suggestions
as to the way in which you might work more closely with the ISC.
Two or three senior members of each Committee might meet; and
you would then have the opportunity to feed in the intelligence-related
questions you would like them to pursue.
I hope this is helpful.
Secretary of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
12 June 2003