"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Clegg/Brown Exchange: PMQs

I ended the summary of yesterday's PMQs after the Cameron/Brown exchange, partly because I'd heard enough waffle and partly because I felt it was in danger of becoming too long.  I completely forgot that Clegg had raised an interesting point about the remit of the Chilcot Inquiry which deserves notice so I've dug out the relevant section from Hansard:
Mr Clegg: " ...his Government have just issued a protocol-I have it here-to members of the inquiry, governing the publication of material in the final report. If he reads it, he will see that it includes nine separate reasons why information can be suppressed, most of which have nothing to do with national security. Outrageously, it gives Whitehall Departments individual rights of veto over the information in the final report. Why did the Prime Minister not tell us about that before? How on earth will we, and the whole country, hear the full truth of the decisions leading up to the invasion of Iraq if the inquiry is suffocated on day one by his Government's shameful culture of secrecy?
The Prime Minister: That is not what Sir John Chilcot has said. The issues affecting the inquiry that would cause people to be careful are national security and international relations. As I understand it, those are the issues referred to in the protocol. I believe that Sir John Chilcot and his team are happy with how they are being asked to conduct the inquiry.
The protocol regarding sensitive information states:

Information which will not be made available to the public includes anything likely to:
  • a) cause harm or damage to the public interest, guided by the normal and established principles under which the balance of public interest is determined on grounds of Public Interest Immunity in proceedings in England and Wales, including, but not limited to,
    • i) national security, defence interests or international relations;
    • ii) the economic interests of the United Kingdom or of any part of the United Kingdom;
  • b) endanger the life of an individual or otherwise risk serious harm to an individual;
  • c) make public commercially sensitive information;
  • d) breach the principle of legal professional privilege (LPP);
  • e) prejudice, in the case of legal advice (following any voluntary waiver of LPP) rather than material facts, the position of HMG in relation to ongoing legal proceedings;
  • f) breach the rules of law which would apply in proceedings in England and Wales under the provisions of Section 17 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000;
  • g) breach the rules of law applicable to the disclosure of information by the Security Service, SIS or GCHQ, the third party rule governing non-disclosure of intelligence material or other commitments or understandings governing the release of sensitive information;
  • h) breach the Data Protection Act 1998; or
  • i) prejudice the course or outcome of any ongoing statutory or criminal inquiry into matters relating to the information proposed for release.
Here's a link to IraqInquiryDigest  which is an ongoing monitoring and summation of live proceedings at the Inquiry.  The following is from this morning's questioning of Sir Christopher Meyer:
Meyer is now saying that there is no way the Foreign Office did not know the way the wind was blowing, re regime change, in late 2001. It should be on the record, but again the despatch is missing!
Also, a link to the live broadcast of the Inquiry.

John Kampfner is very scathing of the potential outcome of the Inquiry.

On the Hansard link above you'll also find the verbatim exchange between Brown & Cameron re Hizb'ut Tahrir.


  1. GV I don't think I can name a single inquiry or enquiry that ever got through to what happened within this the most occluded/in camera/occult state.

    BTW good move on getting Subrosa to contribute on your blog. That's a top team you've got here.

  2. This one seems to be creating more of a stir than Hutton and Butler did - it's also great that it's so accessible online - but you're right about conclusions. The difference is that this time people are really angry about whitewashes plus there's more info in the public domain now. I don't suppose we'll ever see Blair at the Hague but his reputation could be trashed completely.

    Yes, I hope SR and I will be a good mix. We come at things from different angles, have different writing styles and on top of that SR favours Scottish independence whereas I've always been a Unionist until lately. If SR can have a Scottish Parliament, I want an English one :-)


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