Iraq Inquiry

Part of Opposition Day — [14th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 24 June 2009.

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Photo of Michael Mates Michael Mates Conservative, East Hampshire 3:28, 24 June 2009

I am not going to follow the line of public versus private, oath versus no oath. Those foxes have been comprehensively shot by the strength of opinion that has been expressed on both sides of the House. I am perfectly certain that if the Government wish to survive, they will have to listen to what has been said and do something about it.

I have had the privilege of being part of two inquiries into Iraq, first the Intelligence and Security Committee's inquiry and then the Butler inquiry. Both were constrained by the fact that it was our business to examine the use, gathering and consequences of the intelligence that we got, rather than the bigger picture. However, as I shall explain, we were shown very much more than was covered by those narrow parameters. Mr. Marshall-Andrews is absolutely right that there was a lot of frustration about what we had seen but were unable to report on because of the terms of reference that we had been set. That reinforces the point about terms of reference needing to be properly set by the House so that Sir John Chilcot, whom I wish well and with whom I worked on the Butler review and before that in Northern Ireland, is not in any way hamstrung by not being given adequate and full instructions and conditions under which he can do his job properly.

I turn first to the military aspect of all this, which is probably the least complex, although obviously it is very important. The operation itself was largely successful. There will be lessons to be learned, and they can all come out. For instance, issues relating to logistics, the lack of the right equipment and equipment not arriving on time must all be thrashed out.

Perhaps most important and controversial of all is the reconstruction phase. I remember my noble Friend Field Marshal the Lord Inge chuntering away beside me, as we were going through the motions in the Butler review, about how there had been no plan for what we did when we had beaten the Iraqis and won the war, as was obviously going to happen.