Wednesday, 10 December 2008

More on the Iraq Inquiry - and the leak

I've just done a piece for Independent Minds on David Miliband's (sort of) announcement on the Iraq Inquiry.

Here's what William Hague said on that and on the briefing on the planned withdrawal:

The first issue is that it was announced to the Press overnight that “the withdrawal of the 4,000 British troops in Iraq will be completed by next June, a senior defence source has disclosed”, that “the Prime Minister is expected to make an announcement in the New Year laying out the timetable for the troops to pull out”.

‘This information, if true, should have been given to Parliament in the form of a statement to the House of Commons.

‘It has the appearance of an authoritative leak, and since this time it does involve national security, it might be appropriate for the perpetrator to be arrested.

‘We have a government that deplores leaks by day and lives by leaks at night, and in which ministers either have no control over their departments or are deliberately sanctioning such behaviour.

‘Perhaps the Defence Secretary can tell us when he winds up the debate which of these alternatives is true, and whether the leak is correct. We certainly hope that our troops can be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as is consistent with the security of that country.’

In his speech in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, the Foreign Secretary said that “Despite good intentions in Iraq, and current progress, it is clear that serious mistakes were made” and he must surely agree that if that is the case, it is important to examine what these mistakes were and what has been done to ensure that they will never be repeated.

‘When we last debated this issue in the House, on 25th March he said that “there is agreement across the House that an Inquiry into the Iraq war will be necessary” and that “the dispute between us concerns not substance, but timing”. Since the government now speaks of “tasks completed” and “fundamental change” in our mission in Iraq, it must surely be the time for them to make clear their intentions on an Inquiry and I once again serve notice that if they fail to do so, we will again be returning to the issue this session and that the continued absence of an Inquiry, or its setting up on an inadequate basis will be rectified immediately upon the election of a Conservative government.’

No comments: