United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 21st March 2011.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:32 pm, 21st March 2011

The point about the legal advice, which refers back to the UN Security Council resolution, is that it makes provision to put in place an arms embargo and to inspect ships going to Libya. A number of countries have volunteered their forces specifically for that purpose, which we should welcome.

That brings me to my next point. Some accept that Britain should play a part but worry that we might shoulder an unfair burden. I want to assure the House that that is not the case. Let me explain how the coalition will work. It is operating under US command, with the intention that that will transfer to NATO, which will mean that all the NATO allies—I read out a list earlier of who wants to contribute—will be able to contribute. Clearly, the mission would benefit from that and from using NATO’s tried and tested command and control machinery.

With the fourth largest defence budget in the world, Britain clearly has the means to play its part, but given that British troops are engaged in Afghanistan, that part must be in line with our resources, and so it will be. No resources have been diverted from the Afghanistan campaign to carry out the enforcement of resolution 1973, and I have the assurance of the Chief of the Defence Staff that both operations can take place concurrently. Crucially, the impact of what we are doing in Libya will not affect our mission in Afghanistan.