National Audit Office Report on Operation Telic
Mr Michael Portillo (Kensington and Chelsea, Conservative)
Yes, Mr. Dalyell raised this point earlier and rightly received from the Government Front Bench an endorsement of their performance. I am happy to say again that theirs was a most valiant, successful and courageous effort.
The other thing that I thought worth pointing out on the success side was the achievement of the Defence Transport and Movements Agency. The report records that it went out and secured 50,000 metres linear, as is the expression, of shipping capacity, which enabled the entire force to be lifted in a single movement, which is a terrific success.
I want to endorse one point made by the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan, which is that the report reminds us that this was not the long war that many Members of the House had predicted. We did not fight hand to hand for weeks on end in Baghdad, as many had predicted. There were not an atrocious number of civilian casualties, as many had also predicted. Although the theme of this debate is accountability, I want to point out that those right hon. and hon. Members who make those gloomy predictions, and, by the way, who do so with fantastic monotony—in one campaign after another, we have to put up with what these doomsters predict for us—are never held to account. They never come back to the House to be asked why it is that once again they have got things wrong, and have contributed to lowering national morale at a time when we were about to deploy our forces.