Armed Conflict (Parliamentary Approval)

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 15th May 2007.

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Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind Conservative, Kensington and Chelsea 5:31 pm, 15th May 2007

My right hon. and learned Friend is correct in saying that other countries have found it possible to adopt a statutory approach, but may I suggest that that may not be a proper comparison? The United Kingdom is one of the very few countries that use their armed forces for a wide range of activities and operations in many parts of the world, including not just conflict but peace enforcement and peacekeeping. What would concern me enormously about a statutory approach is that the problem would be dealt with in a very rigid way that could seriously impede the ability of our armed forces to perform properly the task they had been given. As we have all agreed, circumstances will constantly change, and if it were necessary to refer constantly to some Act of Parliament rather than using the greater flexibility allowed by a convention, we might do a great disservice that we certainly do not intend.