BUSINESS QUESTION – RUSSIA & ASSASSINS – 8 May 2003

Dr Julian Lewis: Almost a month has elapsed since the publication of the discovery in Baghdad of a document dated 27 November 2000, in which an Iraqi intelligence agent reported that the Russian intelligence service had provided him with the names of assassins for apparent possible use against the West. May we have a ministerial statement – perhaps a written ministerial statement – from a Foreign Office Minister about representations to President Putin on that serious matter?

[Dr John Reid: I have to confess to the hon. Gentleman that I am not aware of the measure of veracity and substance of these reports. I am also somewhat constrained by the self-discipline under which we normally operate on such matters of intelligence. I am sure, however, that the Secretary of State will have heard the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised. On all matters relating to Iraq, we have tried, within the confines of time, to be as accessible and open with the House as we possibly can, up to and including the unprecedented debates that we have had on the war itself. There is no retention of information or curtailment of debate for the sake of it, so far as the Government are concerned.]