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Military Action Overseas: Parliamentary Approval

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:56 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 12:56 pm, 17th April 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered Parliament’s rights in relation to the approval of military action by British Forces overseas.

It is great to see you in the Chair, Mr Speaker. All I have to say is that the nation stands in admiration of your constitution and as you were in the Chair yesterday from bell to bell for eight and a half hours we are all now in admiration of your personal constitution as well. I also thank you for granting this debate.

My hon. Friend Alison McGovern was right in yesterday’s debate when she said, in quoting Mr Mitchell, that this is a hung Parliament and therefore political power must pass from the Cabinet to the Floor of the House. But I do not totally agree with that analysis; the lack of a majority makes it more urgent, but the principle of accountability to Parliament when it comes to war making was established in 2003, when the Labour party had a large majority, and that principle must now be enshrined in law. Indeed, the tombstone of the former Foreign Secretary, our friend the late Robin Cook, who warned so eloquently in this House against the decision to invade Iraq, records his words:

“I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war.”

I am sorry to say that the Government are now attempting to overturn that democratic advance.