Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil this week demanded that the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry be published on May 2nd as promised by the UK Government.
The long-awaited report into the Iraq War has been delayed on multiple occasions since the inquiry began six years ago but is expected to be published next month.
A backbench debate took place in the House of Commons on Thursday led by Conservative MP David Davis and was co-sponsored by Angus MacNeil, the SNP’s Deputy Foreign Affairs spokesperson and Labour MP Paul Flynn.
In his speech to Parliament, Mr MacNeil said: “People have waited far too long for this report, and further delays are only adding to the pain of the families who are looking for closure. Delays also add to the ever-increasing time during which we have failed to learn the lessons of Iraq.”
He pointed out that there had been many debates on this matter over the last ten years and yet no progress had been made towards publication. The delays have been widely criticised by the families of those killed in the conflict.
He said: “Ultimately, the Iraq war cost 179 UK lives. That does not take into account those who were wounded in body or mind, or the knock-on effects on families, loved ones, and those dealing with people wounded in body or mind. The war has taken quite a toll on people in the UK, and it has cost the lives of 4,800 allied soldiers.
“Sadly, those figures, terrible as they are, are dwarfed by civilian casualties in Iraq. The lowest estimate is 134,000, but the number is possibly four times higher than that.
“The war also created 3.5 million refugees.
“For goodness’ sake, there are lessons that we must learn about what we got ourselves involved in, and what we might do again if we do not have the courage to face up to what was done.”
He added that the UK was at risk of becoming ‘an international laughing stock because of this infinite, eternal delay’ of the report and stressed that the EU referendum was not a reason to delay its publication again or have it released in the final days of the campaign to reduce focus on its findings.
He concluded: “We are looking for the Government to keep their promise and for John Chilcot to keep his. The families certainly deserve that.”