Iraq (Legal Advice)

Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th March 2005.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point 11:30 am, 24th March 2005

What recent representations she has received on publishing the Attorney-General's advice on the Iraq war.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Since 1 January 2005, my office has received 20 requests for disclosure of the Attorney-General's advice on the legality of military action against Iraq. Those requests have been received from hon. Members, journalists and members of the public.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point

Does the Solicitor-General accept that the Government's continued refusal to publish that advice has put the trust and integrity of the Prime Minister right at the centre of this general election?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

No, I do not. The Government's position is consistent with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which was passed by this House and which contains an exemption that was accepted without demur in this House for legal professional privilege. That exemption has been accepted under the ministerial code as recently as when there was discussion of the Freedom of Information Act. It was also accepted by previous Administrations, and it is what the Government are acting under.