Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-62)



  Q60  Mr Horam: So what would you do now?

  Mr Ross: Put more forces in, not less.

  Q61  Mr Horam: More troops?

  Mr Ross: Yes. You make damn sure that the experiment works. We have a duty to those people.

  Q62  Chairman: Do you take the same view about responsibility to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi democratic institutions, or do you take a different view?

  Mr Ross: I have the same view about our responsibility to the Iraqi people. After we have created that chaos, we have a duty to do our best to put it right. I am impressed by the views of what is still a democratically elected Government in Baghdad and what they say. I take those as my lead in these matters. I must say that it is not unpersuasive when the commander of the British Army tells us that the presence of British troops is actually a further provocation for violence. That has to be taken seriously too.

  Chairman: Mr Ross, Black Rod is now approaching to end the proceedings, and that might be a good point at which to conclude our discussions. I say personally that I think that you should take advice before you hand over anything that might get you into problems, despite Mr Mackinlay's protestations.

  Andrew Mackinlay: As long as it is on the record—

  Chairman: Yes, it is on the record.

  Andrew Mackinlay: I am surprised. As Chairman, you should be coaxing and encouraging witnesses to give full disclosure, and I hoped that you would do that in discussions with the Clerk.

  Chairman: I am trying to ensure that witnesses do not make a decision on the spur of the moment that might have wider consequences without thinking through those consequences.

  Andrew Mackinlay: I absolutely agree. It has to stand up in Parliament.

  Chairman: It is up to Mr Ross what he chooses to do, but I think that he should give it considered thought rather than give way to being pressured. It is his decision, but I am just saying that as we conclude the proceedings today.

  Mr Ross: Mr Chairman, I have given it years of thought. This has been on my conscience for a very long time, and I was waiting for an opportunity under privilege to share my evidence to the Butler inquiry. I would be happy to share it at this point with the Committee.

  Chairman: That is fine. That is your decision. I therefore conclude the proceedings and wish everybody a very happy end to the parliamentary year. We will be back next week. Thank you, Mr Ross.

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