Armed Conflict (Parliamentary Approval)

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 15th May 2007.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Chair, Tax Law Rewrite Bills (Joint Committee) 6:08 pm, 15th May 2007

I have listened to my right hon. and learned Friend's criticism of the motion, but I am not quite sure why a terse, one-line statement, leaving Ministers free to assert whatever they want from the Dispatch Box, would make it any more legitimate. Does not his criticism make the contrary point, which is that at that stage the Government were obliged to set out as many bases for the war as they could think of? I suspect they were acting on the advice of the Whips who said that the debate must be timed for the last possible moment and that the motion should include reference to this and to that because it would maximise the vote. Is not my right hon. and learned Friend's point that a clear statement of the basis for war should be made earlier, so that it is not as subject to the vagaries of whipping, timing and pressure of imminence? Such a statement would put on the record the reasons for going to war and make it easier to hold the Government to account thereafter.