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IRAQ: 13 February 2003

During questions to the Foreign Secretary after a statement on Iraq, Jack Straw failed to answer key questions, the Hansard record of which I have reproduced below:
Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway): May I ask my right hon. Friend for a clear statement of principle and intent? If the weapons inspectors report that Iraq is reasonably and fully complying and co-operating with them, and if, as a result of that compliance, matter is found that indicates that the original declaration was misleading, false or—to use the topical term—dodgy, would that be regarded as legitimising war?

Mr. Straw: I will send my hon. and learned Friend a copy of resolution 1441. The test for a further material breach is clearly laid out in operational paragraph 4, and we are subscribing to that.

If military action "should only ever be a last resort" as Jack Straw also stated in the debate, then he should have been able to provide a direct answer to the question put by Bob Marshall Andrews. 

Alan Simpson went on to ask the following:

Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South): I am genuinely saddened at the answer—or non-answer—given to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews), because it will only serve to reinforce the public presumption that the Government are seeking a pretext for a war on Iraq, rather than the avoidance of one. I want to ask the Secretary of State a specific question about chemical and biological weapons. On 5 February, in a testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary Rumsfeld made it clear that America has plans to use what he referred to as "non-lethal" biochemical weapons on Iraqi society. Will the Secretary of State confirm what was admitted in that testimony, and that such weapons are illegal under the chemical and biological weapons conventions? Will he also confirm that the current UK policy is for UK troops not to be involved in any operations involving the use of such weapons? If that is not the case, will he explain why it would be acceptable for such weapons of mass destruction to be used on Iraqi society, if it is unacceptable for them to by used by Iraqi society?

Mr. Straw: I think that my hon. Friend is talking about CS spray, which our own police use.

The dismissive attitude to Alan's question was very worrying.  We are not talking here about CS gas but something more akin to the agent that was used to end the siege at the Moscow theatre when it was stormed and taken over by Chechen rebels in October 2002.  Earlier this week I attempted to put down a Parliamentary question (which must be factual, not argumentative) on this issue but the wording has been rejected by the House of Commons Table Office where MPs submit questions.  After re-wording, yesterday, I asked the Secretary of State for Defence: "what his policy is on the use by HM Armed Forces of biological and chemical weapons in future conflicts".  To look up answers to questions go to  I put down my original question after reading of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld's testimony on 5 February before the House Armed Services Committee, which made it clear that the US has plans to use "non-lethal" biochemical weapons on Iraqi people.   A good source of information about America's WMD is

Two Early Day Motions on Iraq with cross party support were put down this week, text below, both of which I have signed.  To look up the signatories go to the EDM Database.

EDM 733
  That this House notes that it has not approved any military action against Iraq; believes that any such action should require prior approval by a vote in this House and not rely on prerogative power alone; does not accept in this case that such a vote would in any way compromise our armed forces; and demands an unequivocal confirmation that such a vote will be held.


EDM 716  
That this House does not believe that British forces should be required to participate in a war against Iraq unless all of the following conditions are met (a) that there is clear evidence that Iraq poses an imminent threat to peace, (b) that there is a substantive motion of this House authorising military action, (c) that there is an express resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations authorising the use of military force against Iraq and (d) that all other policy options have been exhausted.


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