New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: For the reasons outlined by the Secretary of State, there can be no doubt in my mind that the Prime Minister took the right decision – the only question is whether that decision was communicated quickly enough to the Italians. According to what my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) cited from the Italian press, it would appear that the decision was communicated quickly but that it perhaps did not then reach up into the Government in Italy as quickly as it should have done. Will the Secretary of State confirm that we did convey the information about the decision as quickly as we could, and that there was no question of our deciding not to do that because of doubts about the information leaking, the Italians wanting to pay ransoms or anything of that sort?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that there was no question of information being withheld. There were two clear, separate channels of information. The intelligence agencies were communicating on a regular basis, and the British ambassador in Rome went as soon as he practically could to deliver the information to the Italian Government, once the operation had got under way.]