Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:13 pm on 14th November 2001.

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Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords 4:13 pm, 14th November 2001

My Lords, I am always sorry if material gets into the public domain before Parliament is aware of it. But I do not believe that anyone could reasonably say that the Prime Minister in the other place, and I as his messenger here, have not been diligent in keeping the Houses fully informed as soon as possible. After all, we invited Parliament to be recalled on three occasions and quite rightly. I do not know how the material got into the public domain. People talk sometimes and when decisions are made not all military men necessarily vow themselves to silence. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has had experience of such matters in the past. There was certainly no discourtesy intended to Parliament. I hope that the Statement which I read to the House was full and sensibly consistent with the occasion.

I cannot give a definitive answer on the European Rapid Reaction Force. It may be that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was just gently floating a little fly across this particular trout knowing that the trout could not really nibble at it this early.