Syria: UK Military Action — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:42 pm on 2nd December 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Hutton of Furness Lord Hutton of Furness Labour 5:42 pm, 2nd December 2015

My Lords, I start my remarks tonight by expressing my very strong support for the Government’s policy with regard to taking military action in Syria. It is clear to all of us in this country, and increasingly clear to people around the world, that the international community needs to develop an effective response to the problems in Syria; we need a political strategy. With the Vienna process, that strategy is beginning to emerge. Members of the UN Security Council are fully engaged in that process, which is a positive sign. Many other measures need to be taken in that context; noble Lords have referred to the problems about financing and the open borders, and all those issues need to be addressed.

However, it is pretty clear now that, if we are going to defeat Daesh and bring its reign of terror to an end, we will need an effective military component as well. If there is one thing that we should all be clear about, it is that. The only question is whether what has been proposed by Her Majesty’s Government will help to bring that day closer—the end of Daesh terror. I firmly believe that it will, for a number of reasons. In the United Kingdom, with the Royal Air Force, we have important military capabilities, which we can bring to bear, that are missing at the moment. In the light of UN Security Council Resolution 2249, we should be prepared to commit that additional military resource. In fact, it is our duty to do so.

I fully accept the argument that we have heard tonight and elsewhere that airpower is not going to be enough for us to prevail in this campaign, but it can be an important part of that solution. As my noble friend

Lady Ramsay said, if anyone doubts that, they should start by consulting the Peshmerga in Iraq, who are fighting Daesh as we speak. The struggle against Daesh is just as much our fight as it is the fight of those in the front line of the resistance to this evil force in the region. In the struggle and in this fight, I do not think that we can be bystanders. That is not the country that we are.

Also—and for me this is a hugely significant event— we must respond to the French request for assistance. Thousands of British football fans singing “La Marseillaise” at Wembley a few weeks ago was a wonderful thing to see, but sadly it will not be enough to discharge our responsibilities to one of our closest and historic allies. Solidarity with France and, indeed, with other nations that face this threat will require an additional commitment from us. It is important for your Lordships’ House to understand, and I am sure from the contributions today that it does, that if we are going to prevail in the struggle, it is important that we recognise tonight that we will have to mobilise all our diplomatic, political and military resources to ensure success.

Finally, let us spare a thought for the RAF crews who will be charged, I hope, later tonight with a new and very heavy responsibility. They are the people who should be at the forefront of our thoughts this evening.