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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is indeed, as my noble and learned friend indicated, considering this matter and it is going to be given the fullest possible assistance at the specific direction of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has said that, subject of course to the usual constraints of sensitive intelligence and on a basis to be agreed by that committee, the report will be published. My noble and learned friend

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of course serves on that committee. It is a committee of absolute integrity, and I do respectfully suggest that those who make unsubstantiated allegations might well attend to the report that is about to be published.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, when did preparation of the dossier start?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the preparation of the dossier cannot be said to have started at any particular time. The Joint Intelligence Committee, as a number of your Lordships know, produces regular assessments. It was decided that a dossier should be produced. The responsibility for the production of that dossier was with Mr Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. I repeat: he had such a close involvement that he was actually checking the proofs, the final format and the final content on the day that the printing run was to start, on the day before publication.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, the Lord President has quoted from the report of the Foreign Affairs Committee—a number of whose members made clear that they could not give a full report because they did not have access to all the material. Endorsing what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, has said—who is a previous colleague of mine on the Intelligence and Security Committee—will the Minister confirm, first, reinforcing what he said, that no reasonable request from the Intelligence and Security Committee will be refused; and that material that was refused to the Foreign Affairs Committee will be made available to the Intelligence and Security Committee? Will he further confirm that, having regard to the fact that virtually all these matters are now history and not subject to acute sensitive intelligence, the Government will raise no objection if, for part of its hearing, the Intelligence and Security Committee decides to sit in public?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I certainly give the assurance for which the noble Lord asks. He and I both had dealings together when he was a distinguished member of the ISC. So far as concerns the committee sitting in public, if the committee, having borne in mind the very sensitive ramifications which the noble Lords knows of as well as I, wished to sit in public, that, it seems to me, would be a matter for its own decision. I do not entirely agree with the noble Lord when he says that this is historic. He will know as well as I that, even if intelligence becomes historic, the danger to sources continues, sometimes for many years.

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, have not the answers that the Leader of the House has given in reply to questions on this subject revealed the weaknesses of the Select Committee system? As the noble and learned Lord has ruled out a judicial inquiry, does he not think that we could learn from the American system of congressional committees? The American constitution, in I believe Articles 1 and 2, confers on those committees what the

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constitution calls all the necessary powers in order to investigate effectively and to hold the executive to account. If there is not to be a judicial inquiry on controversial matters such as these, does the noble and learned Lord think that we could learn much from the American system when trying to correct the widely perceived imbalance that we have in this country between the power of the executive and the power of Parliament?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, whether we can learn from any other select committees in any part of the world, whatever the jurisdiction, is certainly worthy of consideration. The budgets of congressional committees of inquiry, whether in the House of Representatives or in the Senate, are very substantial and they have the benefit—some would say—of being assisted by qualified cross-examiners.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn: My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord share the reported view of the Foreign Secretary in relation to the second, February part of the report that it was a horlicks? In those circumstances does he feel that it was entirely consistent of the Foreign Secretary yesterday publicly to call on the BBC to offer an apology for its rather more circumscribed criticisms of the first September report?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the Question concerns the first dossier and I responded to that. I was never quite sure what an "absolute horlicks" meant and I am still waiting to be told. The important question in relation to the apology is that assertions were made by the BBC that have proved to be wrong. If one looks at what was said in the dossier, to which the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, referred, the 45-minute issue is dealt with there. Journalistic ethics are an important part of a civil society. With great respect, it seems to me that if the BBC sometimes gets things wrong, it would not be a bad idea to say so.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords—

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, I believe it is time to move on to the next Question.

Iraq: Post-war Security and Reconstruction

3.2 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions were held with the United States, prior to the military action against Iraq, about plans for post-war security and reconstruction.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government had a wide range of discussions with United States interlocutors on contingency plans

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for post-war security and reconstruction if the Iraqi regime failed to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. At the Azores summit on 16th March, shortly before the conflict began, the Prime Minister and President Bush set out a vision for Iraq committing the coalition to work closely with inter alia the United Nations to ensure an appropriate post-conflict administration and to support the Iraqi people.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, does the Minister recall that on 14th February Mr Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, said:

    "With Iraq . . . there has been time to prepare. We have set up a Post War Planning Office"?

That was echoed by the Deputy National Security Adviser who said that there had been extensive discussion over months between the United States agencies about the post-war planning. Can the Minister tell the House whether the United Kingdom was fully consulted at all stages and whether it raised any objections for what in retrospect now looks like a very complacent set of assumptions about what would happen to Iraq once the conflict was over?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Baroness has mentioned what was said in America about United States planning. The Foreign Office, the MoD, DfID and indeed the DTI liaised extensively with each other and liaised also with United States counterparts in the State Department, the Pentagon, US Aid and other relevant United States authorities. From the outset it was very clear that coalition forces would be responsible for humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of any fighting and, of course, that UN authority would be needed for reconstruction.

The noble Baroness says that this has been characterised by complacency. I do not agree with that. There was a great deal of work to be done and there remains a great deal of work to be done. Two months after the end of decisive combat operations, I am bound to say that Iraq is already arguably better off than a number of post-conflict areas with which we have been associated in recent years.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, do the Government agree that the experience of Bosnia and Kosovo shows clearly that the first thing that needs to be restored is law and order and a system of justice? Can the noble Baroness tell the House what criminal and civil codes are now in force or in use in Iraq?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, to be honest I do not agree that it is solely law and order and civil justice that has to be restored. There are also the vital issues of food, of water, of electricity, of sustaining the basics of life itself. The noble Lord shakes his head, but I can assure him that, were those vital necessities not being delivered to the people of Iraq, I am absolutely certain that he would be one of the first to be on his feet making exactly that point to me. It is not a matter of just shaking his head, if I may

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say so, because troops also have to be engaged in ensuring that those basic necessities of life are delivered.

As to what is happening on law and order and justice, policing is improving. There are now 33,000 Iraqi troops operating in Iraq; some 8,000 of those are in Baghdad; and there are also about 3,000 operating in Basra. The courthouses are starting to open: as I understand it, currently three in Baghdad and one in Basra. So the justice system is now starting to reassert itself.

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