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Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, first, on behalf of the whole House, I thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement.

It is a long Statement, and much of it deals with various generalities, as well, of course, as the outstanding performance of our troops and the justification for war. We agreed with the justification for the war, and we still agree with it. I reiterate our support for removing Saddam. However, the issue before us is not the war but the conduct of government and whether proper use was made of intelligence. I shall not respond to the rhetorical bulk of the Statement. Much of it smacked of the idea that the end justified the means. That is never a safe doctrine for a parliamentary democracy. The tragedy is that, although the Government had a good case for war, the way in which it was argued—as exposed, once again, in this outstanding report, which has found serious flaws in intelligence and its uses—has weakened that good case and damaged the credibility of the Prime Minister in the country.

I said that it was an outstanding report, and I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, and his committee for their work.

The report demonstrates unequivocally—the Prime Minister has accepted this—that the Prime Minister went, in his certainties, far beyond what the intelligence would bear. I shall give one example. On 21 August 2002, the JIC said:

On 9 September 2002, it said, "Intelligence remains limited". That is what the JIC told the Prime Minister. However, in his foreword to the September dossier, the Prime Minister said:

He also said that,

Can the noble Baroness explain the contrast? What led the Prime Minister so to alter the emphasis? Was he told to write that, or were they his own words, written in full knowledge of the caveats and conditions surrounding the intelligence?

The conclusion reached by the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, is stark:

Does the noble Baroness agree with that conclusion? The noble Lord suggested at his press conference this afternoon that the Government wanted the dossier as a document to back up their evolving policy. That put the JIC under what the noble Lord called "strain". He said that the 45-minute claim should not have been included in the dossier without qualifications. Can the noble Baroness tell the House who took the decision that it should be highlighted by the Prime Minister in that way? We were told time and again that the dossier
 
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attracted little attention. It is strange, then, that I am the only one who recalls the splashed headlines and the diagrams showing the great ballistic threat.

The Prime Minister has said that he did not know until later that Iraq did not have ballistic weapons. He said that he acted in good faith over the 45-minute claim. But he was preparing our forces for war. Why did he not know that the adversaries that they were being sent against did not have the capability that he had told the country they had? Did he not ask?

Like many others, I am concerned about the picture of government presented in the report and about the informal nature of this Government. There were meetings without papers and meetings without minutes or recorded conclusions. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, said that he had found no evidence of the Government planning to exaggerate the case for war. In such a context, is it possible that there may have been meetings and conversations of which no record was kept?

I turn finally to the role of the Attorney-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, who is in his place today. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, makes it clear that he did not examine the legal aspects of the noble and learned Lord's advice. How many opinions did the noble and learned Lord give? That matter remains obscure, even after the Butler report. Paragraph 374 says that, before Resolution 1441 was adopted, the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General said:

Later, we are told that the noble and learned Lord had a meeting with the Prime Minister's chief of staff and the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Huyton, about his view of the legal position. They asked him to provide a further assessment. According to paragraph 379, he said that, in the absence of a second UN resolution, the Prime Minister must be satisfied that Iraq failed to take the final opportunity to comply with Resolution 1441.

We read of a further meeting with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who was not, at that time, Lord Chancellor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan of Huyton, on 13 March and then a formal request from the Attorney-General's office for the Prime Minister to say that it was unequivocally his view that Iraq had committed further breaches. On 15 March, No. 10 Downing Street replied:

In other words, it appears that the Prime Minister himself certified the legal case for war.

The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, did not examine in detail the legal aspects of the case. Is there any reason, given the partial light thrown on this by the Butler report, why the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General should not come to the House tomorrow and explain the full background of the paragraphs? In particular, can the noble Baroness tell
 
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the House whether the intelligence evidence played any part in the Attorney-General changing the advice that he gave to the Government between January and March? If the noble Baroness cannot answer that today, perhaps she would help to persuade the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General to offer some clarification to the House tomorrow. I know that the whole House would find that most interesting and welcome.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement made in another place by the Prime Minister. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, on a detailed and careful report. However, I must add, with regret, that once again, as with the Hutton inquiry, the terms of the remit given to the noble Lord's inquiry were so tightly drawn that the key questions that the House would like answered could not be answered by the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, if he stayed within his remit. The key questions remain. Who made the decision to propose to Parliament that we should go to war? Who decided that shaky intelligence should be strengthened and firmed up, with all the conditions and qualifications left behind? Those are the key questions, and the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, was precluded from answering them, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, was before him.

First, I must draw the attention of the House to the remarkable change in the Prime Minister's stance between November 2000 and the autumn of 2002, a mere two years later. On 1 November 2000, the Prime Minister said:

A year and a half later—24 September 2002—the Prime Minister said:

Between those two dates, two major things occurred: there was a report by UNMOVIC, the inspectors in Iraq, and a report by Hans Blix, both confirming that the threat had become less and not more.

Paragraph 427 of the Butler report states:

First, what happened between autumn 2000 and autumn 2002? There was no change in Iraq's threat to the world or any change in the policy of containment. But, quite simply, there was a meeting between the Prime Minister and President Bush, of which we have not been told and of which we know little; either when it occurred or what occurred during it. Surely, that meeting must have had some influence on the quite remarkable change in the position not just of the Government but the whole of the government machine.
 
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Secondly, would Parliament have taken us to war in March 2003 if it had known that the intelligence was based on uncertain sources; if it had known that that intelligence was assessed in a very doubtful way; if it had known that some of those statements made on behalf of the Government were exaggerated and that qualifications and modifications had been removed? It is clear from paragraph 555 and other parts of the Butler report that those qualifications had gone.

Would Parliament have agreed to take us to war if it had known, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, pointed out, that the Attorney-General produced new and revised advice on 17 March following an unequivocal assurance from the Prime Minister that Iraq was in material breach of Resolution 1441? Would Parliament have taken us to war if it had seen the assessments made by no less a body than the Joint Intelligence Committee? There was assessment after assessment between October 2002 and March 2003 indicating that Iraq was not a serious and current threat. There were reports that were never published, never shown to MPs and never shown to Parliament as a whole; reports that very clearly undermine the case for war.

Finally, we turn to the question of who is responsible—that illusive question that the inquiry conducted by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, was unable to address. Who is responsible? Was it the virtual government of Mr Jonathan Powell and Mr Alastair Campbell? Was it the intelligence community? Was it perhaps the elected politicians in Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, who are meant to be responsible for the major policy decisions?

We still have not been told. To me it is a tragedy that we will now wait yet again on the Senate of the United States to show the clear line of accountability between how that decision to go to war was taken and how, thousands of lives and much destruction later, we have still not seriously addressed the question.


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