The final word: Sofa government still too easy

by Chris Ames

The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published its report Lessons still to be learned from the Chilcot Inquiry, which concludes pretty much what it says on the tin:

there remains an absence of safeguards in place to prevent a Prime Minister from disregarding Cabinet procedures in the conduct of foreign and military policy. This was evident in the lead up to a possible military action in Iraq, and was exposed by the Chilcot inquiry.

The committee also notes that:

For many, the Chilcot Inquiry fails to provide closure on the Iraq issue

However, it also says:

The question of whether Parliament was misled is constantly raised. We do not pass over this matter at all lightly, but after taking advice, we do not feel that Chilcot or any other inquiries provide a sufficient basis for PACAC to conduct such an inquiry. However, we think Parliament should be prepared to establish such an inquiry into the matter if any new and relevant material or facts emerge.

This was of course something that a Commons motion in November unsuccessfully sought to persuade the committee to do after the revelation, via Digest contributor Chris Lamb’s freedom of information triumph, that Chilcot was set up with an intention to avoid blame.

A good few years ago, I attended a seminar of the predecessor committee, looking at a possible inquiry into Iraq. That inquiry eventually concluded last year and the committee has now had its say on the outcome, albeit that there remain loose ends.

The process has come full circle and the Digest has done its work. It will close shortly.

Thanks to all those who contributed to the debate, not least my good friend the late Dr Brian Jones, who was in at the start and is due the last mention on the Digest, even if, sadly, he can’t have the last word.