Highlights of proceedings in Parliament from Wednesday 6 July, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.
Coming up in the next half-hour After seven years in gestathon,
Sir John Chilcot's report on the war in Iraq is finally published.
David Cameron sets out the conclusions to MPs.
Sir John finds that, at crucial points, Mr Blair
said personal notes
and made important commitments to Mr Bush that had not been
discussed or agreed with Cabinet colleagues.
At Prime Minister's Questions, government's urged to put
an end to agency Britain.
And the Health Secretary saxs he'll impose new contracts
on England's junior doctors after they rejected a deal hammered
out between the government and the doctors' union.
An elected government, whose main aim is to improvd
the safety and quality of care for patients,
has come up against a union which has stirred up anger
amongst its own members it hs now unable to pacify.
But first, it was a day long awaited at Westminster, the publication
of Sir John Chilcot's report into the Iraq war.
The inquiry was set up in 2009 to look at the run-up to thd US led
invasion in 2003 and its aftermath.
It concluded that the decishon to go to war was made on the basis
of flawed intelligence and troops were sent in before peaceful
options had been exhausted.
Sir John went on to criticise the planning for the period
after the fall of Saddam Hussein and said many lessons
could be learnt.
Sir John said more than 200 British citizens died as a result
of the conflict in Iraq and at least 150,000 Iraqis had been killed
by 2009 as a result of the hnvasion and the instability it causdd.
Outlining the report's findhngs in the Commons, David Cameron began
with some of the central qudstions.
Did the UK go to war on a f`lse premise and did Saddam Hussdin had
weapons of mass destruction?
David Cameron said the report had found there were some good reasons
to believe at the time that Saddam Hussein had weapons
of mass destruction.
He'd given international we`pons inspectors the runaround for years
and the report clearly refldcts that the advice given to
the government by the Intelligence and Policy Community was th`t
Saddam Hussein did indeed continue to possess and seek
to develop these capabilitids.
However, as we now know, by 200 , this long held belief no longer
reflected the reality.
Sir John says that, at no stage was the proposition that Ir`q might
no longer have chemical, biological or nuclear
weapons or programmes identified and examined,
either by the JIC or the Policy Community.
And, as the report notes, the late Robin Cook had shown
it was possible to come to a different conclusion
from an examination of the same intelligence.
Sir John finds no evidence that intelligence was improperly included
or that Number 10 Mr Blair personally improperly infludnced
the text of the September 2002 dossier.
But he does find that the use of joint intelligence committee
material in public presentation did not make clear
enough the limitations or the subtleties of assesslents.
The inquiry had not expressdd the view on whether or not the UK's
participation in the war was legal.
Nevertheless, Sir John is hhghly critical of the processes
by which the legal advice was arrived and discussed.
He says this, the circumstances in which it was ultimately decided
that there was a legal basis for UK participation were far
And I'm sure honourable gentlemen and ladies will want to study that
part of the report carefullx.
Sir John also finds that the diplomatic options had not
at that stage been exhausted and that military action
was therefore not a last resort
He turned to the process of decision-making.
A number of ministers had bden involved but there were specific
criticisms of the process.
Sir John finds that, at crucial points, Mr Blair said
personal notes and made important commitments to Mr Bush that had not
been discussed or agreed with Cabinet colleagues.
However, while Sir John makds many criticisms of the process,
including the way information was handled and presented,
at no stage to see explicitly say that there was a deliberate attempt
to mislead people.
As for after the initial opdration, Sir John had concluded.
The government, and here I lean officials in the military
as well as ministers, remain too fixed on assumpthons
that the Americans had a pl`n, that the UN would play a significant
role with the international community sharing a burden
and that the UK role would be over 3-4 months after the
conflict had ended.
Sir John concludes that the government's failure to prepare
properly for the aftermath of the conflict reduced
the likelihood of achieving the UK's strategic objectives in Irap.
Overall, Sir John finds that the policy of Her Majesty's
government fell far short of meeting its strategic objectives
and helped to create a space for al-Qaeda.
Mr Speaker, of course the ddcision to go to war came to a vote in this
House and members on all sides who voted for military action
will have to take our fair share of the responsibility.
We cannot turn the clock back.
Many of the failures in this report were not directly about the conduct
of Armed Forces as they went into Iraq but rather the fahlures
of planning before a shot w`s fired.
Jeremy Corbyn said the invasion of Iraq was the most signifhcant
decision taken by the British government in modern times.
It divided this House and sdt the government of the day
against a majority of the British people as well as against
the weight of global opinion.
The war was not, in any way, as Sir John Chilcot
says, a last resort.
Frankly, it was an act of mhlitary aggression launched on a false
pretext, as the inquiry accdpts and has long been regarded
as illegal by the overwhelmhng weight of international
The decision to invade Iraq in 003, on the basis of what the Chhlcot
report calls flawed intelligence about weapons of mass
destruction, has had a far-reaching impact on us all
It's led to a fundamental breakdown in trust in politics and in our
institutions of government.
The tragedy is that, while the governing class got it
so horrifically wrong, many of our people
actually got it right.
Many, on the 15th of February 2 03, 1.5 million, spanning
the entire political spectrtm, and tens of millions of othdr people
across the world, marched against the impending war -
the biggest ever demonstrathon in British history.
Quite bluntly, Mr Speaker, there are huge lessons for dvery
single one of us here today.
We make decisions that have consequences that do not just go
on for the immediate years.
They go on for decades and decades afterwards.
We need to reflect very serhously before we take any decisions again
to take military action without realising the consepuences
of those will live with all of us for many decades to come and have
often incalculable consequences as a result.
The SNP leader at Westminstdr was equally damning.
The lack of planning has also been evident
since in relation to Afghanhstan, to Libya, to Syria and, most
recently, with absolutely no plan whatsoever in regards to Brdxit
So when will UK governments of either Tory or Labour hud
actually start learning from the mistakes of
the past so we are not condemned to repeat them?
I hope and I expect that, in the months ahead,
there will be the opportunity to hold to account those
who are associated and responsible with taking the UK the war hn Iraq
that has only caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Not just that.
It has undermined people's faith in Parliament and government
in the UK and left an indelhble stain on Britain's
standing in the world.
The Lib Dem leader turned to the role of his predecessor,
Charles Kennedy, who led much of the opposition to the invasion.
So will the Prime Minister now take the opportunity,
on behalf of his party and this House, to acknowledge that
Charles Kennedy was right all along in leading the opposition
across this country against the counter-producthve war?
And should not those who accused Charles Kennedy of appeasemdnt,
some of whom are still on these benches today, apologised
to him, to his family, to our service men and women,
to our country and to the people of Iraq?
People who voted for the war, like me, have to take their share
But I don't think it's right to accuse people who voted
against of appeasement.
But deep divisions after thd war remained.
Each of us in Cabinet or in this House are responsible
and should take responsibilhty for our own individual decisions,
albeit taken in good faith on the basis of evidence before us.
But equally, does he agree that the men of hatred and death
in al-Qaeda and Daesh/Isil should take responsibility
for their actions and for the blood and honour they inflict on others?
The horrors of Saddam Hussehn, what he did to his own people were
clearly documented and I thhnk we were right to take part hn that
The main element in that debate which is the debate upon
which parliament decided on 13th March 2003, wasn't the 45-mhnute
claim, which wasn't mentiondd anywhere in those hours of debate.
It was the fact that Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons had spent 13
years running rings around the United Nations, ignoring 17 UN
resolutions, including resolutions calling
for all necessary means to
Wasn't that the main issue in that debate?
And has the Prime Minister found any evidence
whatsoever of any lies told to parliament on that day?
I can't see in here an accusation of
deliberately deceiving people but there is
certainly information that
wasn't properly presented, different justifications given before and
subsequently for the action that was taken and a number of other
criticisms about processes but deliberate deceit, I can't find a
reference to it.
Sir John has been very careful about avoiding accusing
the previous Prime Minister of lying to the House but a lot of the
evidence here suggests he dhd.
What action can this House take in dealing with that?
I now have to listen and wrdstle with my own
conscience and shame on me, the then Prime Minister must wrestle
with his own conscience.
Will my right honourable friend agree with me that
the then Prime Minister must take full responsibility for encouraging
this House to take the decision that it did with disastrous consdquences
in destabilising the world?
Amid all this stuff about ilproving processes, which is fantasthcally
important and I acknowledge it, is it not at the end of the dax people
that make decisions?
And in our search for responsibility wouldn't
it help if individuals responsible were held accountable?
Given this, the undermining of the UN and the disastrous and horrible
consequences, is it not inconceivable that MrBlair should be
held to account for his acthons
This is not a day for soundbites but does the Prime Minister not agree
that the hand of history should be feeling somebody's collar?
I don't think it is a grey wash or a white
wash or anything else wash, I think this from
what I have seen so far is
a thorough effort at trying to understand
that the narrative of the
events, the decisions that were taken and the mistakes that were
made, and I think there's a huge amount to learn and I think everyone
who has played a part in it has to take their responsibilitx for it.
One of the greatest scandals out of this whole episode is, of course,
the lack of resources for our troops sent
in to battle without the
equipment that they needed `nd this must never be allowed to happen
Parts of the Ministry of Defence, including the chiefs of staff,
were not delivering the advhce that the Government needed
and elements of the Foreign Office had succumbed to a form of group
think that leaves me deeply concerned as to the structure
and advice governments can get.
Whatever we think about the judgment that was made, we should acknowledge
that the bond of trust between the Government,
this House and the public h`s been damaged by the decision
that was taken in 2003.
And we here in this place today now have an absolute need to put that
right for the future.
The Prime Minister should bd prepared to accept a mistakd,
a Government should be prep`red to accept a mistake
and a parliament should be prepared to accept a mistake.
If this House today does not accept that the invasion of Iraq
was a disastrous mistake thdn we have learned nothing
whatsoever from this.
My responsibility is to handle the publication of this,
to draw out the lessons, which I think I have
done, and to let others who were responsible at the time
account for themselves.
You're watching Wednesday In Parliament with me, Alicha
Jeremy Corbyn has demanded the government puts an end to what
he called Agency Britain and helps communities which feel left behind.
At Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour
leader claimed the North was
being neglected in favour of investment in the South.
But David Cameron attacked Labour's opposition
to the economic choices which had to be made.
The Labour leader began with a specific case he wanted to
30 years ago, Mr Speaker, the Shirebrook Colliery employed
thousands of workers in skilled well-paid, unionised
jobs digging coal.
Today, thousands of people work on the same site - the vast majority
on zero hours contracts, no union recognition,
where the minimum wage isn't even paid.
Doesn't Shirebrook sum up Agency Britain?
On the issue of what has happened in our coalfield communities to see
new jobs and new investment come, we have made sure that therd is not
only now a minimum wage but now a national living wage.
And yes, he talks about one colliery.
I very recently visited the site of the Grimethorpe Colliery where,
actually, there is now one business there -
Asos, I think - now employing almost 5000 people.
So we are never going to succeed as a country if we try to hold
onto jobs of industries that have become uncompetitive.
We've got to invest in the industries of the future
and that's what this government is doing.
Jeremy Corbyn said the problem was that, for people
on zero hours contracts, their earnings did not add tp
to a weekly living wage.
He moved on to the Chancellor's decision to end his plan
for a budget surplus by the end of this Parliament.
The Chancellor finally did this week what the Shadow Chancellor `sked him
to do in the Autumn Statement and what I asked the Prime Linister
to do last week, and abandoned a key part of the fiscal rule.
We now know the deficit was supposed to vanish by 2015,
won't even be gone by 2020.
Isn't it time to admit that austerity is a failure and the way
forward is to invest in infrastructure, invest
in growth and invest in jobs?
What he says is simply not the case.
The rules we set out always had flexibilities in case growth did not
turn out the way...
But the point I'd make to hhm, I would take his advice mord
seriously if I could think of a single spending reducthon
that he had supported at anx time in the last six years.
The fact is, this government and the last one, the Coalition
Government, had to take difficult decisions to get our
deficit under control.
It's gone from 11% of GDP that we inherited, the biggdst
almost in the entire world, to under 3% this year.
That's because of difficult decisions.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has stated
he wants the UK to borrow tdns of billions of pounds to crdate
a Growing Britain fund worth up to ?100 billion.
Can I ask the PM whether thhs is a formal plan or whether this
is merely an attempt to conjure up a plan amid a leadership vacuum
of the UK Government?
Clearly, my colleagues, during a leadership election,
and at least on this side of the House we actually having
a leadership election rather than the never-ending...
I thought you wanted one!
You don't want one?
Hands up who wants a leadership election!
Oh, they don't want a leadership election?
I'm so confused.
One minute it's like the Eagle is going to swoop, and the next
minute, it's Eddie the Eagld at the top of the ski jump,
not knowing whether to go or not!
Anyway, in case you hadn't noticed, we are having
a leadership election!
The Health Secretary, Jeremx Hunt, has said the government will impose
a new contract on junior doctors in England.
It follows a decision of junior doctors and medical students
to reject the latest deal in a ballot by 58% to 42%.
Soon after that result was announced, the chairman
of the British Medical Association Junior Doctors Committee resigned.
Jeremy Hunt told MPs the new deal had won the support of the lajority
of the Royal Colleges in the health service.
Unfortunately, because of the votes, we are now left in a no man's land
that, if it continues, can only damage the NHS.
An elected government, whose main aim is to improvd
the safety and quality of care for patients,
has come up against a union which has stirred up anger
amongst its own members it is now unable to pacify.
Mr Hunt said there was no one from the BMA side able to ldad any
I have come at this morning, decided that the only realistic way
to end this impasse is to proceed with the phased introduction
of the exact contract that was negotiated,
agreed and supported by the BMA leadership.
So it will be introduced from October this year for lore
senior obstetrics trainees, then in November and Decembdr
for Foundation Year 1 doctors taking up new posts and Foundation Year 2
doctors on the same rotas as their current contract expires.
Protracted uncertainty, at precisely the time we gr`pple
with the enormous consequences of leaving the EU, can only be
damaging for those working in the NHS and on the patients
who depend on it.
At this time of general instability, I would urge the government
to reconsider imposing this contract at all.
It has not helped for the government to treat junior doctors
like the enemy within.
It has not helped their mor`le to imply, at one time,
that the only barrier to a seven-day NHS is their reluctance to work
weekends when so many of thdm are already working unsocial hours,
sacrificing family life in the process.
Public opinion is not on the government's side.
It is evident that the publhc will have faith in its doctors long
after they have lost faith hn this or any other government.
It is not too late to changd course.
I, too, am disappointed at the outcome of the ballot
yesterday, and I think it h`s to be recognised that this
reflects a real desperation among junior doctors,
a real unhappiness.
They are dealing with incre`sed demand, they are dealing
with increased pressure and they have felt that, at times,
the tone of the negotiations has left a lot to be desired.
The threat of imposition was there from the start and they felt
that hanging over them.
The former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has spoken
in the Commons for the first time since the EU referendum.
A prominent figure in the Ldave campaign, he had been one
of the favourites to replacd David Cameron as Conservative
leader and Prime Minister, but things changed dramatic`lly
when fellow Leave campaign Michael Gove cast doubt
on his suitability.
Boris Johnson spoke in a debate initiated by Labour about the fate
of EU nationals living and working in the UK.
The motion in front of MPs said the British government should
guarantee that anyone from an EU country should bd
allowed to stay in the UK.
I think it is absolutely right to issue the strongest posshble
reassurance to EU nationals in this country, not just for moral
or humanitarian reasons but for very sound economic reasons as wdll.
They are welcome, they are necessary, they are a vital part
of our society and I will bd passionately supporting
this motion tonight.
The Shadow Home Secretary urged other MPs to back Labour's lotion.
We can send a message out from this Parliament today to Europe
and the rest of the world.
Yes, people have expressed frustrations about the EU
but our country and its people have not changed.
We are still that same placd that has been renowned the world over
for doing the fair and right thing, for doing the decent thing.
Amidst all the chaos in our politics, let's take a step
back today toward sanity and stability and pass this
EU nationals can have our ftll and unreserved reassurance
that their right to enter, work, study and live
in the UK remains unchanged.
We value the tremendous contribution they are making every day in towns,
cities and villages up and down the country.
We fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living
in the UK and that of UK nationals in EU states will be
Given that both the UK and DU wants to maintain a close relationship,
we are confident that we will work together and that both EU and
British citizens will be protected through reciprocal arrangemdnts
The ayes to the right, 245.
The noes to the left, two.
And when it came to the votd, MPs backed Labour's motion rejecting
the use of EU nationals as bargaining chips and calling
on the government to give ET nationals currently living hn the UK
the right to remain.
The result, however, isn't binding on the governlent
Now, let's go back to the Chilcot report which was repeated l`ter
in the day in the House of Lords.
Does the noble Earl, the minister, not agree
that the duty of a military man is to fight for his country,
and whatever he has been told to do in terms of fighting
for his country, and that the people who were involved in Iraq dhd
that to their very core and their families and friends
should be very proud of thel for doing their duty?
And often, in history, our service people have fought
in wars that one may think, well, why on earth did that happen?
That is not the point in terms of them and their behaviour,
and it is very important, I think, for their families,
friends and everyone to realise they did their duty,
they did it well and these are the issues, in a sense, yes
they are important but they don t have any stain on those
Mr Blair and his colleagues were not actuated by it noble motives.
Mr Blair and his colleagues were not actuated by ignoble motives.
Rather, they were seeking to sustain the national interest.
And I say that as one who w`s not misled by what happened.
I voted against the Iraq war.
I'm glad to say that I playdd a part in drafting the motion against it.
I also had a motion on the order paper in the Other House,
calling for Mr Blair to be called to account
if necessary by impeachment.
But that said, is it not right that we should temper our criticisms
by bearing in mind that Mr Blair and his colleagues were seeking
to serve the national interdst and were not motivated
by noble motives?
The Lords also heard from mdmbers of Tony Blair's Cabinet at the time,
one reflecting on the attempts to get a second resolution
at the United Nations.
Would it not be perverse in the extreme if we were not able,
in future, to be able to john with our allies because our action
was vetoed by Vladimir Putin at a moment when he himself
is bombing civilians in Syrha without any process or authorisation
sought by this government and the previous government?
Will he perhaps join me in recognising three certainties
that have emerged from his report - first that there was no
falsification of the intellhgence, second that the Cabinet was not
deceived and third but therd was no undisclosed plan
between the Prime Minister and the President of
the United States to go to war before the processes
of government were invoked?
I welcome the report.
I will study it carefully.
We will learn the lessons.
But at the end of the day, it is elected ministers who must
exercise the judgment on sole of these questions.
And that's it for now but do join me at the same time tomorrow when MPs
ask environment questions and debate online abuse while the Lords asked
questions about televising the Paralympic Games.
But until then, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.