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24 Jun 2009 : Column 899

Bill Rammell: Let me make some progress, then I will give way.

I ask those of my hon. Friends who might be considering voting against the Government to look at the Opposition’s motion and our amendment. There is very little difference between the two. The only substantive difference—we are both now talking in terms of openness—is that the Opposition call for a wider and more diverse membership for the inquiry. There are arguments for and against that. I ask my hon. Friends whether that difference is worth defeating the Government this evening. I do not believe that it is.

On the question of the oath, I understand the House’s concern. That is why the Prime Minister asked Chilcot to look at the matter. In his letter of 21 June, Chilcot said:

It is clear that the Prime Minister understands the concern and that Chilcot gets it and is seeking a way to deliver. I think that we should support him on that.

Andrew Mackinlay: But there is no way to deliver that. The Prime Minister knows that, Chilcot knows it and anyone in this House with a bit of brain knows it too. Without a statutory base, there is no way that the oath can be administered so that a person who abrogates it commits perjury. The Minister knows that, I know that, so take it back.

Bill Rammell: With the greatest respect, I must tell my hon. Friend that the problem with a statutory judicial inquiry, based on the experience that we all know, is that it would take years. It would involve legal representation for every witness and cost hundreds of millions of pounds, and it would not get to the answers that people are looking for.

Sir Menzies Campbell: If the House resolves to give the inquiry the authority to compel witnesses and to put them on oath, that is exercisable against any witness. Why is the House not being asked to provide that safeguard, so that the inquiry commands public confidence?

Bill Rammell: In all the debates that we have had on this matter in recent months, the Franks inquiry has been cited as the model for getting to the heart of these matters. That is certainly what the Opposition argued, but that inquiry was not conducted with witnesses under oath. No one has argued either plausibly or persuasively this evening that the absence of the oath prevented that inquiry from getting at the truth. Nevertheless, we have asked Sir John Chilcot to look at the matter.

Dr. Tony Wright: I think that we are making unnecessarily heavy weather of this. We have made enormous progress and consensus is within our grasp. All that my hon. Friend the Minister has to say is that, having learned the lessons of the consultations with Sir John Chilcot, he or the Foreign Secretary will come back to the House to announce the formal terms of reference for the inquiry and how it will be conducted. If he were to say
24 Jun 2009 : Column 900
that, and those points were to be incorporated in a substantive motion, he would carry the whole House with him.

Bill Rammell: I know that my hon. Friend is not driven by partisanship on this issue, and he makes a very reasonable case. We have to vote this evening on the motion before us, but we will report back to the House once those consultations and deliberations have taken place.

I turn now to the arguments advanced by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews). He made some very serious accusations about the Government’s conduct in the run-up to war, saying that the Government had deliberately misled and deceived the House. I was a Foreign Office Minister during the run-up to the war. I was not looking at the dossier, but I did look at the raw intelligence almost daily. I was persuaded by that to the extent that my biggest fear as we went to war was that chemical weapons would be used on our troops in Iraq. I would not have reached that conclusion unless I found the evidence persuasive.

The conspiracy theorists say that this was all a plot and that we misled people. Yes, the intelligence on which we formed our views was wrong, but the intelligence of every advanced intelligence agency in the world—even in those countries opposed to the war—reflected the same view and conviction.

Mr. Duncan Smith: May I return the Minister to the central issue? It is not about the war itself, but about how we inquire into it. Whether one is in favour of it or not, the reality is that the Minister must come back to the House with a substantive motion, as the hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) said. Sir John Chilcot could be told to do everything that we have described, but is it not important the he gets a vote from us? Does it not matter to him whether the inquiry gets the endorsement of the House of Commons?

Bill Rammell: Over the past 10 days, we have genuinely listened to the views and criticisms expressed. We have rightly moved, and Members now have an opportunity to make a judgment on that. That is why we are having a vote, and I urge Members to do so.

The right hon. and learned Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) said that we did not consult the armed forces. That is emphatically not true. The Chief of the Defence Staff, as the head of the armed forces, was consulted and was content with the form of the inquiry.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: The Minister says that the Government have been in listening mode and that they want to go along with the armed forces, so will he now accept the overwhelming view on both sides of the House that someone with a military background should be a full member of the committee of inquiry? If he is not prepared to accept that, will he explain why not?

Bill Rammell: Because I believe that there is sufficient expertise on the committee of inquiry. Sir John Chilcot has made it clear that some military experts will come forward both to give advice to the committee and to question witnesses. If we put that alongside the expertise and experience of the members of the committee, I believe that we have a basis of a way forward.

24 Jun 2009 : Column 901

In conclusion, the inquiry we propose closely matches what the Opposition and many hon. Members have asked for. The Opposition have consistently called for an independent Franks-style inquiry. The inquiry we propose is modelled on Franks, but it goes further. The Opposition have called for Parliament to have the opportunity to debate the findings of the inquiry, which is precisely what we have proposed. However, the Prime Minister has rightly granted significant discretion to the chairman of the inquiry and has specified that the inquiry should be conducted in a way that delivers maximum candour, openness and efficiency, and maintains full public confidence while avoiding damage to national security. The Prime Minister also made it clear—rightly, in my view—that Sir John and his colleagues should be able to decide how best to achieve that.

Mr. Jenkin: Why should the Government, and not the House, decide?

Bill Rammell: The House has the opportunity and the right to decide this evening.

Having started on the basis— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The House must come to order. I know that tempers are running high and feelings are strong, but the House must come to order.

Bill Rammell: Having started on the basis that we did, the Prime Minister and the Government, as I have said, have rightly listened to arguments about hearing evidence in public. That is why the Prime Minister asked Sir John Chilcot to consider evidence being heard in public, and Sir John has now stated that as many of the proceedings as possible will be held in public. We strongly welcome that. That has been the major point of contention in the debate of the past 10 days, and the Government have listened and moved on it, so I urge Members to support us.

A number of Members have asked whether the inquiry will have access to all Government papers. I can confirm that that will be the case, to ensure that we get to the bottom of the matter. The inquiry has as wide a remit as possible to enable it to get at the facts. The inquiry is tasked to look at the totality of our engagement in Iraq over an eight-year period, and it has a far broader remit than any remotely comparable inquiry.

As I said earlier, this is not about indictment, although if blame is to be apportioned, it will be. The fundamental issue before the House, and before the inquiry, is that it is crucial to the future conduct of our operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere that we genuinely learn the lessons from the conflict in Iraq. I believe we have the ability to do that.

The Government have rightly listened to the criticisms and the views that have been put forward. We have shifted, and I urge Members to support us in the Lobby.

Question put (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Speaker: I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 260, Noes 299.
Division No. 155]
[6.59 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Durkan, Mark
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Galloway, Mr. George
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan

Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Bill Wiggin and
James Duddridge

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian

Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Mr. Gordon
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara

Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Paisley, rh Rev. Ian
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spink, Bob
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Wilson, Sammy
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun

Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Heppell and
Steve McCabe
Question accordingly negatived.
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