Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 26th September 2014.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 2:22 pm, 26th September 2014

It is my intention when the House divides this afternoon—if it does divide—to support the Government’s motion, but in doing so I am very mindful, having listened to Mr Mahmood, my hon. Friend Mr Holloway—indeed, even George Galloway, had he not treated the House as the recipient of a human foghorn—that they had some important points to make. A note of caution needs to be sounded about what we are trying to do.

The Prime Minister made a powerful case. First, he said that ISIL is a threat to this country directly. I have no doubt that he is right about that. Having spent the first six months of this year signing off consents for the prosecution of young people returning from Syria, where they had served and trained with ISIL—and, in some circumstances with clear evidence, it seemed to me, that they had participated in atrocities—I am perfectly alive to the fact that that threat is real. However, I sound this note of caution. Simply bombing ISIL—whether in Syria, or Iraq, as we are planning to do—is not going to make that threat go away. Even if we ultimately get rid of the ungoverned space, the threat will remain unless or until civil society exists within the Muslim world of a kind that provides a model of how people can co-exist peacefully. We face a challenge domestically, which we must not shirk, in persuading people that that peaceful co-existence exists here and they should not be inclined to emulate what they see in the middle east.

The second factor, and for me the most persuasive, is the genocide being perpetrated in northern Iraq and Syria. This country has a long history of international involvement, and although we may be able to make only a small contribution, I find it difficult to see how we should sit on our hands when a barbarous group of individuals perpetrates the kind of crimes we see daily on our screens. If we can make a contribution to dealing with that, the justification for military intervention is there.