06/07/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


06/07/2016

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.

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Coming up in the next half-hour After seven years in gestathon,

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Sir John Chilcot's report on the war in Iraq is finally published.

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David Cameron sets out the conclusions to MPs.

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Sir John finds that, at crucial points, Mr Blair

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said personal notes

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and made important commitments to Mr Bush that had not been

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discussed or agreed with Cabinet colleagues.

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At Prime Minister's Questions, government's urged to put

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an end to agency Britain.

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And the Health Secretary saxs he'll impose new contracts

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on England's junior doctors after they rejected a deal hammered

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out between the government and the doctors' union.

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An elected government, whose main aim is to improvd

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the safety and quality of care for patients,

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has come up against a union which has stirred up anger

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amongst its own members it hs now unable to pacify.

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But first, it was a day long awaited at Westminster, the publication

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of Sir John Chilcot's report into the Iraq war.

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The inquiry was set up in 2009 to look at the run-up to thd US led

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invasion in 2003 and its aftermath.

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It concluded that the decishon to go to war was made on the basis

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of flawed intelligence and troops were sent in before peaceful

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options had been exhausted.

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Sir John went on to criticise the planning for the period

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after the fall of Saddam Hussein and said many lessons

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could be learnt.

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Sir John said more than 200 British citizens died as a result

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of the conflict in Iraq and at least 150,000 Iraqis had been killed

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by 2009 as a result of the hnvasion and the instability it causdd.

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Outlining the report's findhngs in the Commons, David Cameron began

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with some of the central qudstions.

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Did the UK go to war on a f`lse premise and did Saddam Hussdin had

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weapons of mass destruction?

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David Cameron said the report had found there were some good reasons

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to believe at the time that Saddam Hussein had weapons

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of mass destruction.

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He'd given international we`pons inspectors the runaround for years

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and the report clearly refldcts that the advice given to

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the government by the Intelligence and Policy Community was th`t

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Saddam Hussein did indeed continue to possess and seek

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to develop these capabilitids.

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However, as we now know, by 200 , this long held belief no longer

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reflected the reality.

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Sir John says that, at no stage was the proposition that Ir`q might

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no longer have chemical, biological or nuclear

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weapons or programmes identified and examined,

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either by the JIC or the Policy Community.

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And, as the report notes, the late Robin Cook had shown

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it was possible to come to a different conclusion

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from an examination of the same intelligence.

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Sir John finds no evidence that intelligence was improperly included

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or that Number 10 Mr Blair personally improperly infludnced

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the text of the September 2002 dossier.

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But he does find that the use of joint intelligence committee

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material in public presentation did not make clear

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enough the limitations or the subtleties of assesslents.

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The inquiry had not expressdd the view on whether or not the UK's

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participation in the war was legal.

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Nevertheless, Sir John is hhghly critical of the processes

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by which the legal advice was arrived and discussed.

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He says this, the circumstances in which it was ultimately decided

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that there was a legal basis for UK participation were far

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from satisfactory.

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And I'm sure honourable gentlemen and ladies will want to study that

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part of the report carefullx.

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Sir John also finds that the diplomatic options had not

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at that stage been exhausted and that military action

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was therefore not a last resort

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He turned to the process of decision-making.

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A number of ministers had bden involved but there were specific

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criticisms of the process.

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Sir John finds that, at crucial points, Mr Blair said

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personal notes and made important commitments to Mr Bush that had not

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been discussed or agreed with Cabinet colleagues.

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However, while Sir John makds many criticisms of the process,

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including the way information was handled and presented,

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at no stage to see explicitly say that there was a deliberate attempt

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to mislead people.

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As for after the initial opdration, Sir John had concluded.

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The government, and here I lean officials in the military

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as well as ministers, remain too fixed on assumpthons

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that the Americans had a pl`n, that the UN would play a significant

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role with the international community sharing a burden

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and that the UK role would be over 3-4 months after the

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conflict had ended.

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Sir John concludes that the government's failure to prepare

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properly for the aftermath of the conflict reduced

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the likelihood of achieving the UK's strategic objectives in Irap.

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Overall, Sir John finds that the policy of Her Majesty's

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government fell far short of meeting its strategic objectives

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and helped to create a space for al-Qaeda.

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Mr Speaker, of course the ddcision to go to war came to a vote in this

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House and members on all sides who voted for military action

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will have to take our fair share of the responsibility.

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We cannot turn the clock back.

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Many of the failures in this report were not directly about the conduct

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of Armed Forces as they went into Iraq but rather the fahlures

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of planning before a shot w`s fired.

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Jeremy Corbyn said the invasion of Iraq was the most signifhcant

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decision taken by the British government in modern times.

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It divided this House and sdt the government of the day

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against a majority of the British people as well as against

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the weight of global opinion.

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The war was not, in any way, as Sir John Chilcot

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says, a last resort.

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Frankly, it was an act of mhlitary aggression launched on a false

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pretext, as the inquiry accdpts and has long been regarded

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as illegal by the overwhelmhng weight of international

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legal opinion.

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The decision to invade Iraq in 003, on the basis of what the Chhlcot

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report calls flawed intelligence about weapons of mass

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destruction, has had a far-reaching impact on us all

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It's led to a fundamental breakdown in trust in politics and in our

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institutions of government.

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The tragedy is that, while the governing class got it

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so horrifically wrong, many of our people

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actually got it right.

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Many, on the 15th of February 2 03, 1.5 million, spanning

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the entire political spectrtm, and tens of millions of othdr people

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across the world, marched against the impending war -

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the biggest ever demonstrathon in British history.

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Quite bluntly, Mr Speaker, there are huge lessons for dvery

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single one of us here today.

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We make decisions that have consequences that do not just go

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on for the immediate years.

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They go on for decades and decades afterwards.

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We need to reflect very serhously before we take any decisions again

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to take military action without realising the consepuences

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of those will live with all of us for many decades to come and have

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often incalculable consequences as a result.

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The SNP leader at Westminstdr was equally damning.

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The lack of planning has also been evident

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since in relation to Afghanhstan, to Libya, to Syria and, most

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recently, with absolutely no plan whatsoever in regards to Brdxit

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So when will UK governments of either Tory or Labour hud

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actually start learning from the mistakes of

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the past so we are not condemned to repeat them?

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I hope and I expect that, in the months ahead,

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there will be the opportunity to hold to account those

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who are associated and responsible with taking the UK the war hn Iraq

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that has only caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

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Not just that.

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It has undermined people's faith in Parliament and government

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in the UK and left an indelhble stain on Britain's

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standing in the world.

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Angus Robertson.

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The Lib Dem leader turned to the role of his predecessor,

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Charles Kennedy, who led much of the opposition to the invasion.

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So will the Prime Minister now take the opportunity,

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on behalf of his party and this House, to acknowledge that

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Charles Kennedy was right all along in leading the opposition

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across this country against the counter-producthve war?

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And should not those who accused Charles Kennedy of appeasemdnt,

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some of whom are still on these benches today, apologised

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to him, to his family, to our service men and women,

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to our country and to the people of Iraq?

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People who voted for the war, like me, have to take their share

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of responsibility.

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That's important.

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But I don't think it's right to accuse people who voted

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against of appeasement.

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But deep divisions after thd war remained.

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Each of us in Cabinet or in this House are responsible

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and should take responsibilhty for our own individual decisions,

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albeit taken in good faith on the basis of evidence before us.

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But equally, does he agree that the men of hatred and death

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in al-Qaeda and Daesh/Isil should take responsibility

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for their actions and for the blood and honour they inflict on others?

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The horrors of Saddam Hussehn, what he did to his own people were

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clearly documented and I thhnk we were right to take part hn that

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invasion.

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The main element in that debate which is the debate upon

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which parliament decided on 13th March 2003, wasn't the 45-mhnute

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claim, which wasn't mentiondd anywhere in those hours of debate.

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It was the fact that Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons had spent 13

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years running rings around the United Nations, ignoring 17 UN

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resolutions, including resolutions calling

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for all necessary means to

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stop him.

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Wasn't that the main issue in that debate?

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And has the Prime Minister found any evidence

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whatsoever of any lies told to parliament on that day?

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I can't see in here an accusation of

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deliberately deceiving people but there is

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certainly information that

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wasn't properly presented, different justifications given before and

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subsequently for the action that was taken and a number of other

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criticisms about processes but deliberate deceit, I can't find a

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reference to it.

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Sir John has been very careful about avoiding accusing

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the previous Prime Minister of lying to the House but a lot of the

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evidence here suggests he dhd.

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What action can this House take in dealing with that?

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I now have to listen and wrdstle with my own

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conscience and shame on me, the then Prime Minister must wrestle

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with his own conscience.

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Will my right honourable friend agree with me that

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the then Prime Minister must take full responsibility for encouraging

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this House to take the decision that it did with disastrous consdquences

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in destabilising the world?

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Amid all this stuff about ilproving processes, which is fantasthcally

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important and I acknowledge it, is it not at the end of the dax people

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that make decisions?

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And in our search for responsibility wouldn't

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it help if individuals responsible were held accountable?

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Given this, the undermining of the UN and the disastrous and horrible

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consequences, is it not inconceivable that MrBlair should be

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held to account for his acthons

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This is not a day for soundbites but does the Prime Minister not agree

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that the hand of history should be feeling somebody's collar?

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I don't think it is a grey wash or a white

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wash or anything else wash, I think this from

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what I have seen so far is

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a thorough effort at trying to understand

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that the narrative of the

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events, the decisions that were taken and the mistakes that were

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made, and I think there's a huge amount to learn and I think everyone

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who has played a part in it has to take their responsibilitx for it.

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One of the greatest scandals out of this whole episode is, of course,

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the lack of resources for our troops sent

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in to battle without the

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equipment that they needed `nd this must never be allowed to happen

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again.

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Parts of the Ministry of Defence, including the chiefs of staff,

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were not delivering the advhce that the Government needed

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and elements of the Foreign Office had succumbed to a form of group

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think that leaves me deeply concerned as to the structure

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and advice governments can get.

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Whatever we think about the judgment that was made, we should acknowledge

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that the bond of trust between the Government,

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this House and the public h`s been damaged by the decision

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that was taken in 2003.

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And we here in this place today now have an absolute need to put that

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right for the future.

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The Prime Minister should bd prepared to accept a mistakd,

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a Government should be prep`red to accept a mistake

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and a parliament should be prepared to accept a mistake.

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If this House today does not accept that the invasion of Iraq

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was a disastrous mistake thdn we have learned nothing

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whatsoever from this.

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My responsibility is to handle the publication of this,

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to draw out the lessons, which I think I have

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done, and to let others who were responsible at the time

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account for themselves.

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You're watching Wednesday In Parliament with me, Alicha

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McCarthy.

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Jeremy Corbyn has demanded the government puts an end to what

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he called Agency Britain and helps communities which feel left behind.

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At Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour

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leader claimed the North was

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being neglected in favour of investment in the South.

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But David Cameron attacked Labour's opposition

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to the economic choices which had to be made.

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The Labour leader began with a specific case he wanted to

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raise.

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30 years ago, Mr Speaker, the Shirebrook Colliery employed

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thousands of workers in skilled well-paid, unionised

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jobs digging coal.

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Today, thousands of people work on the same site - the vast majority

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on zero hours contracts, no union recognition,

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where the minimum wage isn't even paid.

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Doesn't Shirebrook sum up Agency Britain?

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On the issue of what has happened in our coalfield communities to see

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new jobs and new investment come, we have made sure that therd is not

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only now a minimum wage but now a national living wage.

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And yes, he talks about one colliery.

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I very recently visited the site of the Grimethorpe Colliery where,

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actually, there is now one business there -

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Asos, I think - now employing almost 5000 people.

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So we are never going to succeed as a country if we try to hold

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onto jobs of industries that have become uncompetitive.

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We've got to invest in the industries of the future

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and that's what this government is doing.

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Jeremy Corbyn said the problem was that, for people

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on zero hours contracts, their earnings did not add tp

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to a weekly living wage.

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He moved on to the Chancellor's decision to end his plan

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for a budget surplus by the end of this Parliament.

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The Chancellor finally did this week what the Shadow Chancellor `sked him

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to do in the Autumn Statement and what I asked the Prime Linister

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to do last week, and abandoned a key part of the fiscal rule.

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We now know the deficit was supposed to vanish by 2015,

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won't even be gone by 2020.

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Isn't it time to admit that austerity is a failure and the way

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forward is to invest in infrastructure, invest

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in growth and invest in jobs?

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Prime Minister.

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What he says is simply not the case.

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The rules we set out always had flexibilities in case growth did not

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turn out the way...

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But the point I'd make to hhm, I would take his advice mord

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seriously if I could think of a single spending reducthon

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that he had supported at anx time in the last six years.

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The fact is, this government and the last one, the Coalition

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Government, had to take difficult decisions to get our

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deficit under control.

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It's gone from 11% of GDP that we inherited, the biggdst

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almost in the entire world, to under 3% this year.

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That's because of difficult decisions.

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The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has stated

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he wants the UK to borrow tdns of billions of pounds to crdate

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a Growing Britain fund worth up to ?100 billion.

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Can I ask the PM whether thhs is a formal plan or whether this

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is merely an attempt to conjure up a plan amid a leadership vacuum

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of the UK Government?

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Clearly, my colleagues, during a leadership election,

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and at least on this side of the House we actually having

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a leadership election rather than the never-ending...

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I thought you wanted one!

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You don't want one?

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Hands up who wants a leadership election!

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Oh, they don't want a leadership election?

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I'm so confused.

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One minute it's like the Eagle is going to swoop, and the next

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minute, it's Eddie the Eagld at the top of the ski jump,

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not knowing whether to go or not!

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Anyway, in case you hadn't noticed, we are having

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a leadership election!

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David Cameron.

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The Health Secretary, Jeremx Hunt, has said the government will impose

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a new contract on junior doctors in England.

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It follows a decision of junior doctors and medical students

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to reject the latest deal in a ballot by 58% to 42%.

0:17:300:17:34

Soon after that result was announced, the chairman

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of the British Medical Association Junior Doctors Committee resigned.

0:17:380:17:43

Jeremy Hunt told MPs the new deal had won the support of the lajority

0:17:430:17:47

of the Royal Colleges in the health service.

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Unfortunately, because of the votes, we are now left in a no man's land

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that, if it continues, can only damage the NHS.

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An elected government, whose main aim is to improvd

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the safety and quality of care for patients,

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has come up against a union which has stirred up anger

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amongst its own members it is now unable to pacify.

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Mr Hunt said there was no one from the BMA side able to ldad any

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further negotiations.

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I have come at this morning, decided that the only realistic way

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to end this impasse is to proceed with the phased introduction

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of the exact contract that was negotiated,

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agreed and supported by the BMA leadership.

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So it will be introduced from October this year for lore

0:18:330:18:37

senior obstetrics trainees, then in November and Decembdr

0:18:370:18:41

for Foundation Year 1 doctors taking up new posts and Foundation Year 2

0:18:410:18:44

doctors on the same rotas as their current contract expires.

0:18:440:18:47

Protracted uncertainty, at precisely the time we gr`pple

0:18:470:18:50

with the enormous consequences of leaving the EU, can only be

0:18:500:18:54

damaging for those working in the NHS and on the patients

0:18:540:18:57

who depend on it.

0:18:570:19:01

At this time of general instability, I would urge the government

0:19:010:19:05

to reconsider imposing this contract at all.

0:19:050:19:09

It has not helped for the government to treat junior doctors

0:19:090:19:12

like the enemy within.

0:19:120:19:15

It has not helped their mor`le to imply, at one time,

0:19:150:19:19

that the only barrier to a seven-day NHS is their reluctance to work

0:19:190:19:23

weekends when so many of thdm are already working unsocial hours,

0:19:230:19:26

sacrificing family life in the process.

0:19:260:19:30

Public opinion is not on the government's side.

0:19:300:19:35

It is evident that the publhc will have faith in its doctors long

0:19:350:19:41

after they have lost faith hn this or any other government.

0:19:410:19:44

It is not too late to changd course.

0:19:440:19:48

I, too, am disappointed at the outcome of the ballot

0:19:480:19:50

yesterday, and I think it h`s to be recognised that this

0:19:500:19:54

reflects a real desperation among junior doctors,

0:19:540:19:57

a real unhappiness.

0:19:570:20:00

They are dealing with incre`sed demand, they are dealing

0:20:000:20:03

with increased pressure and they have felt that, at times,

0:20:030:20:05

the tone of the negotiations has left a lot to be desired.

0:20:050:20:08

The threat of imposition was there from the start and they felt

0:20:080:20:12

that hanging over them.

0:20:120:20:15

The former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has spoken

0:20:150:20:17

in the Commons for the first time since the EU referendum.

0:20:170:20:20

A prominent figure in the Ldave campaign, he had been one

0:20:200:20:22

of the favourites to replacd David Cameron as Conservative

0:20:220:20:25

leader and Prime Minister, but things changed dramatic`lly

0:20:250:20:28

when fellow Leave campaign Michael Gove cast doubt

0:20:280:20:31

on his suitability.

0:20:310:20:34

Boris Johnson spoke in a debate initiated by Labour about the fate

0:20:340:20:38

of EU nationals living and working in the UK.

0:20:380:20:42

The motion in front of MPs said the British government should

0:20:420:20:45

guarantee that anyone from an EU country should bd

0:20:450:20:49

allowed to stay in the UK.

0:20:490:20:52

I think it is absolutely right to issue the strongest posshble

0:20:520:20:56

reassurance to EU nationals in this country, not just for moral

0:20:560:20:59

or humanitarian reasons but for very sound economic reasons as wdll.

0:20:590:21:04

They are welcome, they are necessary, they are a vital part

0:21:040:21:08

of our society and I will bd passionately supporting

0:21:080:21:11

this motion tonight.

0:21:110:21:13

The Shadow Home Secretary urged other MPs to back Labour's lotion.

0:21:130:21:17

We can send a message out from this Parliament today to Europe

0:21:170:21:20

and the rest of the world.

0:21:200:21:23

Yes, people have expressed frustrations about the EU

0:21:230:21:26

but our country and its people have not changed.

0:21:260:21:29

We are still that same placd that has been renowned the world over

0:21:290:21:32

for doing the fair and right thing, for doing the decent thing.

0:21:320:21:37

Amidst all the chaos in our politics, let's take a step

0:21:370:21:40

back today toward sanity and stability and pass this

0:21:400:21:44

motion overwhelmingly.

0:21:440:21:48

EU nationals can have our ftll and unreserved reassurance

0:21:480:21:51

that their right to enter, work, study and live

0:21:510:21:54

in the UK remains unchanged.

0:21:540:21:57

We value the tremendous contribution they are making every day in towns,

0:21:570:22:00

cities and villages up and down the country.

0:22:000:22:02

We fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living

0:22:020:22:06

in the UK and that of UK nationals in EU states will be

0:22:060:22:09

properly protected.

0:22:090:22:13

Given that both the UK and DU wants to maintain a close relationship,

0:22:130:22:18

we are confident that we will work together and that both EU and

0:22:180:22:22

British citizens will be protected through reciprocal arrangemdnts

0:22:220:22:28

The ayes to the right, 245.

0:22:280:22:30

The noes to the left, two.

0:22:300:22:32

And when it came to the votd, MPs backed Labour's motion rejecting

0:22:320:22:35

the use of EU nationals as bargaining chips and calling

0:22:350:22:38

on the government to give ET nationals currently living hn the UK

0:22:380:22:41

the right to remain.

0:22:410:22:44

The result, however, isn't binding on the governlent

0:22:440:22:48

Now, let's go back to the Chilcot report which was repeated l`ter

0:22:480:22:52

in the day in the House of Lords.

0:22:520:22:54

Does the noble Earl, the minister, not agree

0:22:540:22:57

that the duty of a military man is to fight for his country,

0:22:570:23:00

and whatever he has been told to do in terms of fighting

0:23:000:23:04

for his country, and that the people who were involved in Iraq dhd

0:23:040:23:08

that to their very core and their families and friends

0:23:080:23:11

should be very proud of thel for doing their duty?

0:23:110:23:14

And often, in history, our service people have fought

0:23:140:23:18

in wars that one may think, well, why on earth did that happen?

0:23:180:23:21

That is not the point in terms of them and their behaviour,

0:23:210:23:24

and it is very important, I think, for their families,

0:23:240:23:28

friends and everyone to realise they did their duty,

0:23:280:23:30

they did it well and these are the issues, in a sense, yes

0:23:300:23:38

they are important but they don t have any stain on those

0:23:380:23:41

people involved.

0:23:410:23:42

Mr Blair and his colleagues were not actuated by it noble motives.

0:23:420:23:45

Mr Blair and his colleagues were not actuated by ignoble motives.

0:23:490:23:52

Rather, they were seeking to sustain the national interest.

0:23:520:23:54

And I say that as one who w`s not misled by what happened.

0:23:540:23:57

I voted against the Iraq war.

0:23:570:23:58

I'm glad to say that I playdd a part in drafting the motion against it.

0:23:580:24:02

I also had a motion on the order paper in the Other House,

0:24:020:24:05

calling for Mr Blair to be called to account

0:24:050:24:07

if necessary by impeachment.

0:24:070:24:08

But that said, is it not right that we should temper our criticisms

0:24:080:24:11

by bearing in mind that Mr Blair and his colleagues were seeking

0:24:110:24:14

to serve the national interdst and were not motivated

0:24:140:24:16

by noble motives?

0:24:170:24:18

The Lords also heard from mdmbers of Tony Blair's Cabinet at the time,

0:24:180:24:21

one reflecting on the attempts to get a second resolution

0:24:210:24:23

at the United Nations.

0:24:230:24:24

Would it not be perverse in the extreme if we were not able,

0:24:240:24:27

in future, to be able to john with our allies because our action

0:24:270:24:32

was vetoed by Vladimir Putin at a moment when he himself

0:24:320:24:35

is bombing civilians in Syrha without any process or authorisation

0:24:350:24:37

sought by this government and the previous government?

0:24:370:24:45

Will he perhaps join me in recognising three certainties

0:24:450:24:49

that have emerged from his report - first that there was no

0:24:490:24:57

falsification of the intellhgence, second that the Cabinet was not

0:24:570:25:03

deceived and third but therd was no undisclosed plan

0:25:030:25:05

between the Prime Minister and the President of

0:25:050:25:09

the United States to go to war before the processes

0:25:090:25:12

of government were invoked?

0:25:120:25:22

I welcome the report.

0:25:220:25:23

I will study it carefully.

0:25:230:25:25

We will learn the lessons.

0:25:250:25:26

But at the end of the day, it is elected ministers who must

0:25:260:25:30

exercise the judgment on sole of these questions.

0:25:300:25:34

John Reid.

0:25:340:25:35

And that's it for now but do join me at the same time tomorrow when MPs

0:25:350:25:39

ask environment questions and debate online abuse while the Lords asked

0:25:390:25:42

questions about televising the Paralympic Games.

0:25:420:25:45

But until then, from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.

0:25:450:25:52

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