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The Prime Minister: Of course that is right, but the whole point about the evidenceand I shall deal with other aspects in a momentis that the concerns expressed by Dr. Jones were considered by the head of defence intelligence. In the end, he concluded that the way in which the dossier expressed the evidence was right. Incidentally, those concernsagain, I shall come back to them in a momentnever came to the full Joint Intelligence Committee, let alone to Downing street. I have no doubt that questions will be asked about whether that was the right way to proceed. Personally, I think that people should be allowed to manage their own departments properly. What cannot be said is that Downing street had anything to do with those concerns. They never came before the JIC, let alone Downing street. I totally agree with the right hon. Gentleman that issues may arise about procedures within departments, but those are a million miles away from the allegation that was broadcastand I think that he would accept that.
Mr. James Arbuthnot (North-East Hampshire) (Con): The Prime Minister referred to the response to the ISC. That Committee produced a balanced report: some of its comments were supportive of the Government's actions and some were less so. The Government's response picked out four key judgments, all of which happened to support their actions. On reflection, does the Prime Minister regret that selective use of material? [Interruption.]
The Prime Minister: I think that overall we gave a balanced picture to people. Those who have looked into the whole question of whether the dossier was altered in any improper way have found that we did not do so. I will come to what was being said in September 2002, not only by myself, but by everyone else. Issues arise now, because of the evidence that has been given by David Kay, who headed the Iraq survey group. The whole reason for the inquiry that was announced yesterday is that we accept that some things may have been got wrong. We cannot have a situation[Interruption.] I somehow feel that I am not being entirely persuasive in
I wish to deal with the story in The Independent today. Dr. Jones is an expert in his field and is highly respected. However, the newspapers today suggest that there is missing intelligence on the 45-minute issue. There is no missing intelligence on that issue. As far as I am aware, Dr. Jones saw all the intelligence that there was to see on it. So did Lord Hutton. The intelligence referred to the article that he[Interruption.] Perhaps people could concentrate on this point[Interruption.]
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It has been necessary to have a suspension, which has lost about 15 minutes from today's business. You will be aware of the large number of Members on both sides of the House who wish to speak in the debate. Could you make inquiries, perhaps with the usual channels, to see whether it would be possible to extend the sitting by 15 minutes and allow two more people to speak?
The Prime Minister : I was dealing with the issue of today's story about Dr. Jones, and I was saying that there are really two issues. One is whether there was some missing intelligence that was not seen, and the other is obviously about the evidence of Dr. Jones himself. I was saying, and I repeat, that Dr. Jones is an expert in this field and is highly respected. But on the 45 minutes there is no missing intelligence. Dr. Jones saw all the intelligence there was to see on it. So, incidentally, did Lord Hutton. The intelligence referred to in the article which he did not see was, I am told, about the production of chemical and biological warfare agents. He did not see it, because the Secret Intelligence Service put it out on a very restricted basis owing to source sensitivity. His superiors, however, were briefed on the intelligence. It does not bear on the 45-minute point at all, and the ISC itself saw this CW intelligence and was satisfied with it.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): In his article this morning, Dr. Jones says that he formalised complaints about the September dossier because he did not wish to see himself and other experts scapegoated for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Will the Prime Minister make it clear that he would not want to subcontract any such responsibility, but would accept it, as Prime Minister?
Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South) (Con): The Prime Minister says that all the intelligence about the 45 minutes was made available. As he will be well aware, it has subsequently emerged that this related to battlefield weapons or small-calibre weaponry. In the eyes of many, if that information had been available, those weapons might not have been described as weapons of mass destruction threatening the region and the stability of the world. When did the Prime Minister know that information? In particular, did he know it when the House divided on 18 March?
The Prime Minister : No. I have already indicated exactly when this came to my attention. It was not before the debate on 18 March last year. The hon. Gentleman says that a battlefield weapon would not be a weapon of mass destruction, but if there were chemical, biological or nuclear battlefield weapons, they most certainly would be weapons of mass destruction. The idea that their use would not threaten the region's stability I find somewhat eccentric.
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Brian Jones suggests that the particular intelligence information was made available only to a limited number of people. He suggests that it was confined to the chief of defence intelligence, and not even shown to his deputy. He also suggests that those to whom that intelligence was made available were not sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to assess its importance. Can my right hon. Friend comment on those suggestions?
The Prime Minister : I can comment on them, and it is helpful that my hon. Friend intervenes in that way. First, the particular intelligence that she is talking about is not intelligence on the 45 minutes; it was intelligence on the different issue to do with chemical and biological weapons. The ISC considered this in its report. It was not seen by everyone within DIS. The procedures of SIS are that where there is a very sensitive source it will go on a restricted access to people, but they were briefed on the details. However, people on the Joint Intelligence Committee were able to know exactly what the provenance of that intelligence was and exactly what its significance was. But the point that I was making was that it does not relate to the 45 minutes. What has happenedit is perfectly understandable, because this gets extremely complicated over timeis that people have conflated a different piece of intelligence with assuming that there was some secret bit of 45-minute intelligence that was not seen. Lord Hutton saw all that there was to see on the 45 minutes.
Jim Knight (South Dorset) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that those who are quoting Dr. Jones should also look closely at the evidence given by Dr. Kay to the Armed Services Committee on 28 January? He said, for example:
I should like to say exactly what the point is that Dr. Jones was making in the course of his evidence. The whole issue was gone into in minute detail by Lord Hutton. It is true that Dr. Jones was expressing concern about the strength of the language used to describe the 45-minute claim. But it is important also to contextualise that. In his evidence, to be found at page 120 of the Hutton report, he makes it clear in an answer to Lord Hutton that
I agree that there is a difference between the two. But let us be quite clear. It is hardly of earth-shattering significance in terms of how the whole dossier would be perceived. In any event, I do not pass judgment on whether it was right to say "indicates" or right to say "shows". That judgment was made by the Joint Intelligence Committee. It never reached this difference within the DIS. In the Joint Intelligence Committee as a committee it did not reach the chairman of the committee, let alone Downing street.
Therefore, when people ask why the judge concluded that Downing street had not interfered improperly with the dossier, it was because even on that small issue, which is the only issue that has allowed Mr. Gilligan's claim to have any provenance at all, it never came anywhere near Downing Street.