Labour under fire over Iraq inquiry (update)

Labour MPs came under heavy pressure in parliament on Wednesday afternoon over their about-face on calls for an inquiry into Dutch support for the invasion of Iraq.

The new government, which includes Labour (PvdA), has decided not to sanction an inquiry into the lead up to the government’s decision in 2003, arguing it would serve no useful purpose.
During Wednesday’s debate Labour MP Martijn van Dam said his party still felt the government of the day had made the wrong decision in supporting the US invasion and said there are still doubts about the legality of the war.
But Van Dam stressed that his party was bound by the coalition agreement. This means a majority of MPs are against a formal investigation.
‘The Netherlands did not support the invasion with soldiers… case closed,’ said right-wing Liberal (VVD) MP Hans van Baalen.
On Tuesday, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the upper house of parliament (senate) was free to carry out its own research into the circumstances surrounding Dutch support for the invasion.
His comments came during a debate on the government’s coalition agreement with senators. The cabinet veto on an inquiry only affects the lower house, said Balkenende.
Meanwhile, former Dutch military chief Hans Couzy has added his voice to the calls for a formal investigation. ‘I understand Balkenende does not want to lose face, but he cannot hide from the truth,’ Couzy says in magazine Vrij Nederland. Couzy was army chief between 1992 and 1996.

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