CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS DEBATE – 29 August 2013

Dr Julian Lewis: Although the Joint Intelligence Committee says it is baffled about the motivation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons, it says it has

“a limited but growing body of intelligence which supports the judgment that the regime was responsible”.

I appreciate that the Prime Minister cannot share such intelligence with the House as a whole, but members of the all-party Intelligence and Security Committee have top-secret clearance to look at precisely this sort of material. As some of its members support and others oppose military intervention, would he be willing for them to see that material?

The Prime Minister: I am happy to consider that request, because the ISC plays a very important role, but I do not want to raise, as perhaps happened in the Iraq debate, the status of individual or groups of pieces of intelligence into some sort of quasi-religious cult. That would not be appropriate. I have told the House that there is an enormous amount of open-source reporting, including videos that we can all see. Furthermore, we know that the regime has an enormous arsenal, that it has used it before and that it was attacking that area. Then, of course, there is the fact that the opposition does not have those weapons or delivery systems and that the attack took place in an area that it was holding. So, yes, intelligence is part of this picture, but let us not pretend that there is one smoking piece of intelligence that can solve the whole problem. This is a judgment issue; hon. Members will have to make a judgment.

[For Julian's speech in this debate click here.]