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Lord Renton: My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Baroness would be so good as to explain why Clause 217, Schedule 11 and Clauses 218 to 222—

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is asking about the next business on the Order Paper.

On Question, Motion agreed to; and a message was ordered to be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith.

Housing Bill

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Perhaps I can try and pre-empt the question of the noble Lord, Lord Renton. The Government are proposing this order for the sake of convenience. Since the Bill left the other place, and following discussions, we have announced considerable concessions such as the introduction of a tenancy deposit scheme. It will take time for parliamentary counsel to draft that provision. As the Bill will start its passage in this House next week but not finish its Committee stage until September or October, the Bill will have to be re-ordered. It is therefore convenient to consider the Bill in the proposed order and not to wait on parliamentary counsel to draft the provisions to which we have committed ourselves.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Housing Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 17, Schedule 1, Clauses 18 to 26, Schedule 2, Clauses 27 to 30, Schedule 3, Clauses 31 to 54, Clause 217, Schedule 11, Clauses 218 to 222, Clauses 55 to 66, Schedule 4, Clauses 67 to 70, Schedule 5, Clauses 71 to 115, Schedule 6, Clauses 116 to 148, Schedule 7, Clauses 149 to 155,
 
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Clauses 157 to 167, Clauses 172 to 182, Clause 156, Clauses 168 to 171, Clauses 183 to 188, Schedule 8, Clauses 189 to 193, Schedule 9, Clause 194, Schedule 10, Clauses 195 to 216, Clauses 223 to 226, Schedule 12, Clause 227, Schedule 13, Clauses 228 to 231.—(Lord Rooker.)

Lord Renton: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his explanation. However, taking clauses and schedules out of the order in which they appear in the Bill nearly always creates some confusion. It is much easier to take them in the order in which they appear in the Bill.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, it may be easier, but it is difficult to have proper scrutiny if the content of the clause is not in place when one reaches that point in the Bill. I pay tribute to the noble Lord's work on the conduct and proper design of legislation in the other place and his report of some 30 years ago, and I look forward to his contribution to our debates next week on the matters that we will have ready for debate. However, for good reasons which we have agreed across the House and with the other place, we will not be ready to deal with the concessions that we announced since the other place finished its consideration of the Bill.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Intelligence Review

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I should like to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

"Lord Butler's report is comprehensive, thorough; and I thank the members of his committee and their staff for all their hard work in compiling it. We accept fully the report's conclusions.

"The report provides an invaluable analysis of the general threat in respect of WMD; of the potential acquisition of WMD by terrorists; and though it devotes much of its analysis to Iraq, it also goes into detail on the WMD threat posed by Iran, Libya, North Korea and AQ Khan. Some of the intelligence disclosed is made available for the first time and gives some insight into the reasons for the judgments I and other Ministers have been making. I hope the House will understand if I deal with it in some detail.
 
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"The hallmark of the report is its balanced judgments. The report specifically supports the conclusions of Lord Hutton's inquiry about the good faith of the intelligence services and the Government in compiling the September 2002 dossier. But it also makes specific findings that the dossier and the intelligence behind it should have been better presented, had more caveats attached to it, and been better validated.

"It reports doubts which have recently arisen on the 45 minute intelligence and says in any event it should have been included in the dossier in different terms; but it expressly supports the intelligence on Iraq's attempts to procure uranium from Niger in respect of Iraq's nuclear ambitions.

"The report finds that there is little, if any, significant evidence of stockpiles of readily deployable weapons. But it also concludes that Saddam Hussein did indeed have: first,

secondly,

and, thirdly,

"Throughout the last 18 months, throughout the rage and ferment of the debate over Iraq, there have essentially been two questions. One is an issue of good faith, of integrity.

"This is now the fourth exhaustive inquiry that has dealt with this issue. This report, like the Hutton inquiry, like the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee before it and of the Foreign Affairs Committee before that, has found the same thing.

"No one lied. No one made up the intelligence. No one inserted things into the dossier against the advice of the intelligence services. Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty. That issue of good faith should now be at an end.

"But there is another issue. We expected, I expected, to find actual usable, chemical or biological weapons shortly after we entered Iraq. We even made significant contingency plans in respect of their use against our troops. UN Resolution 1441 in November 2002 was passed unanimously by the whole Security Council, including Syria, on the basis that Iraq was a WMD threat.

"Lord Butler says in his report:


 
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But I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy.

"The second issue is therefore this: even if we acted in perfectly good faith, is it now the case that, in the absence of stockpiles of weapons ready to deploy, the threat was misconceived and therefore the war was unjustified?

"I have searched my conscience, not in a spirit of obstinacy but in genuine reconsideration in the light of what we now know, in answer to that question. And my answer would be this: that the evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction was indeed less certain and less well founded than was stated at the time. But I cannot go from there to the opposite extreme. On any basis, he retained complete strategic intent on weapons of mass destruction and significant capability. The only reason he ever let the inspectors back into Iraq was that he had 180,000 US and British troops on his doorstep. He had no intention of ever co-operating fully with the inspectors; and he was going to start up again the moment the troops and the inspectors departed or the sanctions eroded. I say further that had we backed down in respect of Saddam, we would never have taken the stand that we needed to take on weapons of mass destruction, never have got the progress, for example, on Libya that we achieved and we would have left Saddam in charge of Iraq, with every malign intent and capability still in place and every dictator with the same intent everywhere immeasurably emboldened.

"As I shall say later, for any mistakes made, as this report finds, in good faith I of course take full responsibility, but I cannot honestly say that I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all. Iraq, the region and the wider world is a better and safer place without Saddam.

"The report begins by an assessment of intelligence and its use in respect of countries other than Iraq. It points out that, in respect of Libya, the intelligence has largely turned out to be accurate, especially in respect of its nuclear weapons programmes; and those are now being dismantled. In respect of Iran, the report says that Iran is now engaged with the International Atomic Energy Authority, though there remain,

"About North Korea the report concludes that it,

The report goes on at paragraph 99:

The report also discloses the extent of the network of A Q Khan, the Pakistani former nuclear scientist. This network is now shut down, largely through US and UK intelligence work, Pakistani co-operation and the dialogue with Libya.
 
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"The report then reveals, for the first time, the development of the intelligence in respect of the new global terrorism that we face. In the early years, for example, in the Joint Intelligence Committee assessment of October 1994, the view was that the likelihood of terrorists acquiring or using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons was, while theoretically possible, highly unlikely.

"However, as the name and activities of Osama bin Laden became better known, the JIC started to change its assessment. In November 1998, it said this:

And in June 1999:

By mid-July 1999, this view hardened still further. Again, I quote:

A series of further assessments to the same effect was issued in January 2000, again in August 2000, and in January 2001.

"To anyone who wants to know why I have become increasingly focused on the link between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, I recommend reading this part of the report and the intelligence assessments received. It was against this background of what one witness to Lord Butler called the 'creeping tide of proliferation' that the events of September 11 2001 should be considered. As the report says, quite rightly, following September 11 the calculus of the threat changed.

"I said in this House on 14 September 2001:

"I took the view then, and I stand by it now, that no Prime Minister faced with this evidence could responsibly afford to ignore it. After September 11 it was time to take an active, as opposed to reactive, position on the whole question of weapons of mass destruction. We had to close down the capability of the rogue states, usually highly repressive and unstable, to develop such weapons and the commercial networks such as those of A Q Khan helping them. Again, my clear view was that the country where we had to take a stand was Iraq.

"Iraq was the one country to have used WMD recently. It had developed WMD capability and concealed it. Action by UN inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Authority had by the
 
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mid to late 1990s reduced this threat significantly; but, as the Butler report shows at paragraphs 180 to 182, by the time the inspectors were effectively blocked in Iraq (at the end of 1998) the intelligence assessments were that some CW stocks remained hidden and that Iraq remained capable of a break-out chemical weapons capability within months, a biological weapons capability, also with probable stockpiles, and could have had ballistic missiles capability in breach of UN resolutions within a year. This, of course, was the reason for military action, taken without a UN resolution, in December 1998.

"Subsequent to that, the report shows that we continued to receive the JIC assessments on Iraq's WMD capability. For example, in respect of chemical and biological weapons, in April 2000 it said:

"In May 2001, the JIC assessed, in respect of nuclear weapons:

"In February 2002, the JIC said:

"The report specifically endorses the March 2002 advice to Ministers, which states that though containment had been partially successful and intelligence was patchy, Iraq continues to develop WMD. It said:

"The report goes on:

"The point I would make is simply this. The dossier of September 2002 did not reach any startling or radical conclusion. It said, in effect, what had been said for several years based not just on intelligence, but on frequent UN and international reports. It was the same conclusion, indeed, that led us to military action in 1998; to maintain sanctions; and to demand the return of UN inspectors.

"We published the dossier in response to the enormous parliamentary and press clamour. It was not, as has been described, the case for war, but it was the case for enforcing the United Nations' will. In retrospect, it has achieved a fame it never achieved at the time. As the report states at paragraph 310:
 
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"It goes on to say:

"The report, at paragraph 333, states that in general the statements in the dossier reflected fairly the judgments of past JIC assessments. The report, however, goes on to say that, with hindsight, making public that the authorship of the dossier was by the JIC was a mistake. It meant that more weight was put on the intelligence than it could bear and put the JIC and its chairman in a difficult position.

"It recommends in future a clear delineation between government and JIC, perhaps by issuing two separate documents. I think that is wise, though I doubt it would have made much difference to the reception of the intelligence at the time. The report also enlarges on the criticisms of the ISC in respect of the greater use of caveats about intelligence both in the dossier and in my foreword, and we accept that entirely.

"The report also states that significant parts of the intelligence have now been found by SIS to be in doubt. The chief of SIS, Sir Richard Dearlove, has told me that the SIS accepts all the conclusions and recommendations of Lord Butler's report that concern the service. The SIS will fully address the recommendations that Lord Butler has made about its procedures and about the need for the service properly to resource them. The service has played, and will continue to play, a vital role in countering worldwide the tide of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, its successes are evident in Lord Butler's report.

"I accept the report's conclusions in full. Any mistakes made should not be laid at the door of our intelligence and security community. They do a tremendous job for our country. I accept full personal responsibility for the way the issue was presented and therefore for any errors that were made. As the report indicates, there is no doubt that at the time it was genuinely believed by everyone that Saddam had both strategic intent in respect of WMD and actual weapons.

"I make this further point. On the sparse, generalised and highly fragmented intelligence about Al'Qaeda prior to September 11, it is now widely said that policy-makers should have foreseen the attacks that materialised on September 11 2001 in New York. I only ask: had we ignored the specific intelligence about the threat from Iraq, backed up by a long history of international confrontation over it, and that threat later materialised, how would we then have been judged?
 
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"I know some will disagree with that. There are those who were opposed to the war, remain so now and will forever be in that position. I only hope that now, after two detailed parliamentary committee reports, a judicial inquiry more exhaustive than any has ever been in examining an allegation of impropriety against government, and now this voluminous report, people will not disrespect the other's point of view, but will accept that those who agree and those who disagree about the war in Iraq hold their views not because they are warmongers on the one hand, or closet supporters of Saddam on the other, but because of a genuine difference of judgment as to the right thing to have done.

"There was no conspiracy. There was no impropriety. The essential judgment and truth, as usual, does not lie in extremes. We all of us acknowledge Saddam was evil and his regime depraved. Whether or not actual stockpiles of weapons are found, there was not and is not any doubt that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction and retained every strategic intent to carry on developing them. The judgment is this: would it have been better or more practical to have contained him through continuing sanctions and weapons inspections; or was that inevitably going to be at some point a policy that failed? Was removing Saddam a diversion from pursuing the global terrorist threat, or part of it?

"I can honestly say that I have never had to make a harder judgment. But in the end, my judgment was that after September 11 we could no longer run the risk; that instead of waiting for the potential threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to come together, we had to get out and get after it. One part was removing the training ground of Al'Qaeda in Afghanistan. The other was taking a stand on WMD; and the place to take that stand was in respect of Iraq, whose regime was the only one ever to have used weapons of mass destruction and was subject to 12 years of UN resolutions and weapons inspections that turned out to be unsatisfactory.

"Though in neither case was the nature of the regime the reason for conflict, it was decisive for me in the judgment as to the balance of risk for action or inaction. Both countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, now face an uncertain struggle for the future, but both at least now have a future. The one country in which you will find an overwhelming majority in favour of the removal of Saddam is Iraq.

"I am proud and remain proud; was proud and remain proud of this country and the part it played, especially our magnificent Armed Forces, in removing two vile dictatorships and giving people who were oppressed, almost enslaved, the prospect of democracy and liberty. This report will not end the arguments about the war, but in its balance and common sense it should at least help to set them in a more rational light; and for that we should be grateful".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
 
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3.50 p.m.


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