Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden 11:38 am, 18th July 2019

I will resist the temptation to reply to the failure to provide a judge-led inquiry in four words; those words being, “See you in court,” because it is quite plain that this decision will face a judicial review and that will take even more time and give less closure.

My right hon. Friend asked us to accept that the Government have solved the problems, and ironically he cites as evidence of that a number of ISC reports from some years ago which are now understood to have got the answer wrong because they were misinformed. The current ISC report—much better, much higher quality—was of course limited, as we heard from its Chairman, by the restriction on witnesses.

So the Government are asking us to allow them to mark their own homework. If we want a real coruscating comment on that, we need only look back at the Binyam Mohamed case and the remarks of Judge Neuberger on the Government’s and agencies’ handling of it throughout. The Government should simply not be allowed to mark their own homework.

On the point that the Government have solved the problems, I am afraid that that is plainly and demonstrably not true. That is illustrated most clearly in the point raised by the shadow Foreign Secretary that there is no prohibition on Ministers approving torture. My right hon. Friend the Minister says that they are required to obey the law, but they were required to do so in 2002 when the law was precisely the same in terms of international convention, so that does not apply either. We have evidence from one month ago, Mr Speaker, when you allowed an urgent question in this Chamber to the Ministry of Defence, which had produced internal policy documents that explicitly conceived of Ministers approving co-operation with states that had used torture to acquire information. So, plainly, the Government have not learned their lesson yet. There are a number of reasons for having an inquiry—legal, reputational, operational, closure and the simple one of keeping the promise we gave—and I am afraid that the Government will eventually be forced into that position.