Armed Conflict (Parliamentary Approval)

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:34 pm on 15th May 2007.

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Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 8:34 pm, 15th May 2007

I accept the hon. Gentleman's interpretation. However, that is not the universal view of those who have spoken in the debate. This is an aspect of the proposals that will need to be cleared up before an honest doubter can take a firm decision on them.

It is clear that this exercise will go ahead. There is not a great deal of difference between the Opposition motion and the Government amendment, although perhaps the amendment spells out more clearly and fully the meaning of the phrase at the end of the motion that

"calls on the Government to bring forward proposals to give effect to this principle, including mechanisms to ensure that the capability to react rapidly in emergencies is maintained."

While the exercise will be approved, I hope that whatever is decided will come before the House for approval because those of us who have doubts will need to see the exact shape of the proposals that will eventually be adopted. If we are to have only a cynical exercise to get round the unpopularity of the decision on our military involvement in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, I suppose that it will be buried. However, there probably is a desire in the House to drive this forward.

I will judge the proposals, first, on whether they will affect this country's ability to defend itself; secondly, on whether they will impede the security of forces in the field and be detrimental to them; thirdly, on whether they will curtail the ability of commanders in the field to exercise their operational discretion; and, fourthly, on whether they will have an effect on the morale of our soldiers whom we send out to difficult theatres of war. I will make my judgment, but I remain a doubter. If we are going to have such proposals, all the points that have been made today must be fully investigated and addressed so that we do not finish up with a situation in which simply exercising parliamentary freedom affects the people whom we send out to do our fighting overseas.