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21 October 2005

Barrett demands Parliament not Prime Minister given final say over war

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today argued that parliament, not the prime minister should be given the last word over any decision to go to war.

Speaking during a landmark debate in the House of Commons, Mr Barrett made an impassioned speech in support of the Armed Forces (Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill tabled by Claire Short. Unfortunately the 91 MPs supporting the Bill fell just short of the 100 required for it to pass to the next stage of the parliamentary process.

Had the Bill been successful, parliamentary approval would have been required before any government could commit troops to war. This would bring Britain into line with other democracies such as the US, removing the ‘royal prerogative’ which allows the decision to be taken by the prime minister.

Speaking following the debate, John Barrett said:

“The decision to go to war is the most important decision any country can take. It is crucial that this decision is taken openly on the floor of the House of Commons rather than behind closed doors in darkened rooms by the prime minister and his advisors.

“After the Iraq war we owe it to our armed forces and the reputation of our country to make sure that the we put in place arrangements to ensure any decision to go to war is carefully considered and does not depend on ‘dodgy dossiers’ or the personalities of prime ministers.

“Opinion polls show overwhelming support from the public for this Bill. Over the past few months I have been running a poll on my website on this issue. Over 90% of those who voted believed that parliament, not the prime minister should have the final say over whether our country should go to war. I wholeheartedly agree with them.

 

Notes

Opinion Polls: According to Charter 88, 83% of people in a recent State of the Nation poll (the independent survey carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust since 1991) and 93% of people in a recent ITV poll supported the aims of the Bill. A poll conducted on John Barrett’s own website showed 91% support for the Bill:
http://www.johnbarrettmp.com/cgi-bin/vote.pl?name=iraq&action=view

John Barrett was speaking during a debate on the Second Reading of the Armed Forces (Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill in parliament this afternoon

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.