Iraq Inquiry report not expected to be published before summer, says minister
The Iraq Inquiry report is still not expected to be published before summer, even though national security vetting will be completed by next month, a Cabinet Office minister has said.
John Penrose said the Chilcot report into the Iraq War should be handed to the Government for security checks next week and, as promised by David Cameron, vetting will take two weeks or less.
But inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot will still need to prepare the "very large" report for publication, and will announce a firmer publication date once vetting is complete, but as it stands, June or July remains the expectation.
Mr Penrose stressed that there is nothing in the "purdah" rules for the EU referendum to stop it being published before the June 23 poll.
Senior Conservative MP David Davis said publication in June or July would be unacceptable, and called for it to be released once vetting is complete.
But responding to a backbench debate opened by Mr Davis, Mr Penrose told the Commons: "We are expecting the inquiry report to be ready for national security checking in the week beginning April 18.
"Once Sir John indicates that that is the case, the work will begin, and as the Prime Minister promised, it will take no longer than two weeks.
"And once it is done, the inquiry will prepare the report for printing and publication.
"I should make clear that at that stage, even when the national security checking process is complete, the report will still be in Sir John Chilcot's hands and will not be released to the Government until everything is ready.
"The inquiry has said that it will complete the remaining work as swiftly as possible, and as Sir John Chilcot indicated in his letter to the Prime Minister last October, that he expects publication in June or July this year."
He added: "I understand that the inquiry team expects to announce a firmer publication date soon after the national security checking process is complete, which will perhaps answer some of the other concerns which those members on all sides of the House have raised.
"We will publish the report as soon as it is delivered to us in its final form by the inquiry team, whenever that may be.
"I'm sure (Sir John) will have listened to the tone and tenor of the debate here, and he will understand the thirst to see the results of his work, the frustration that it's taken so long, but we are in his hands."