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Platform: MPs Warn Government on Iraq Oil Meddling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 6, 2007
9:09 AM

CONTACT: Platform 
Greg Muttitt, Co-Director PLATFORM and expert on Iraqi oil policy 07970 589 611
Katy Clark MP for Ayrshire North and Arran 020 7219 4113 or 01505 684 127

 
MPs Warn Government on Iraq Oil Meddling
 
LONDON - September 6 - Over 100 MPs have called on the British government to come clean over its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's controversial new Oil Law. The call for disclosure comes as Iraqi MPs return from their summer recess to debate the law this week.

The Law would transfer control over most of Iraq's oil from the public sector, where it has been since the 1970s, to multinational companies such as BP and Shell, under long-term contracts.

In an Early Day Motion tabled by Katy Clark MP [1], the cross-party group of 118 MPs insisted 'that decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference'.

They expressed 'concern that the British Government, in its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's new oil laws, has sought the views of international oil companies regarding the possible types of contracts that the Iraqi government should offer', and called on the Government to disclose to the House all representations it has made in relation to the oil law.

Earlier parliamentary questions had forced Ministers to admit the government had been working on Iraq’s oil law, including consultations with the oil majors, although they denied any wrongdoing. [2]

Katy Clark, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said:

"118 MPs have signed Early Day Motion 1180 calling for the UK Government to disclose the representations made in relation to the Iraqi Oil Law. This represents a significant breadth of opinion right across the House of Commons. There is widespread opposition to this proposed law from within Iraq itself from Iraqi MPs, trade unions and the general public. I hope that the Government will take stock and look at the concerns being raised."

Greg Muttitt, Co-Director of PLATFORM [3], added:

"Tony Blair's government used its military occupation of Iraq to promote the interests of BP and Shell, whilst violating the wishes of the Iraqi people. Now 118 MPs are sending a clear message to Gordon Brown that his new foreign policy must not do the same".

Public opinion inside Iraq is opposed to the Oil Law and the signing of long-term contracts, which the British government has pushed. A recent poll found that two thirds of Iraqis believe oil production should remain in the public sector, rather than being carried out by foreign companies; and three quarters felt kept in the dark about the Oil Law. [4]

For more information

Greg Muttitt, Co-Director PLATFORM and expert on Iraqi oil policy 07970 589 611

Katy Clark MP for Ayrshire North and Arran 020 7219 4113 or 01505 684 127

Notes for Editors

[1] EDM 1180 Iraqi Oil: Tabled by Katy Clark MP on March 20th 2007 http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=32937&SESSION=885

[2] Kim Howells (Foreign Office Minister of State), in response to parliamentary question (PQ) by Alan Simpson MP, 19 February 2007:

“Exchanges have included discussion of Iraq’s evolving hydrocarbons legislation where British international oil companies' have valuable perspectives to offer based on their experience in other countries. Discussions with international oil companies on hydrocarbons legislation have included the range of contract types which Iraq is considering. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070219/text/702 19w0024.htm

Lord Triesman (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office), in response to PQ by Lord Beaumont, 25 June 2007:

“The current draft law is a result of negotiations between representatives of all Iraq's main political parties. The UK has during those negotiations encouraged balanced, technically unambiguous legislation, acceptable to Iraq's main political parties, which will provide a legal framework to facilitate much-needed investment in Iraq's oil industry, domestic and international. Were commercial opportunities to become available after the passage of the hydrocarbons legislation, we would be keen to promote UK companies and their expertise in the oil and gas sector”. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70625w0006.h tm#07062539000535

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by PLATFORM also reveal that British diplomats in Baghdad and civil servants in Whitehall have worked with oil company lobbyists, helping them obtain direct contact with Iraqi decision-makers.

See PLATFORM's submission to the Iraq Commission http://www.carbonweb.org/documents/Iraq_commission.pdf

[3] PLATFORM is a member of a coalition calling for 'Hands off Iraqi Oil' along with War on Want, Jubilee Iraq, Iraq Occupation Focus, Naftana, CorporateWatch, and Voices UK http://www.handsoffiraqioil.org/

[4] http://www.carbonweb.org/showitem.asp?article=294&parent=39

 

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