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Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed conflict

Should the Prime Minister be allowed to wage war without Parliamentary approval

  • No he shouldn't - No way

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No specific feelings on this subject

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Lantern Swinger
This bill currently wending its way through parliament seeks to ensure that the current power of the Prime Minister to wage war without PArliaments approval be abolished.

Historically, As we all know, the United Kingdom has no written constitution. The powers of Parliament were built up over a long period of history through Parliament using its power to raise taxes to insist that the monarch was made accountable to Parliament in the exercise of his and, occasionally, her powers.

However, Parliament did not manage to make the monarch accountable over the right to make war. In the Act of Settlement of 1700, however, which laid down who was to succeed to the Crown after the death of Mary, wife of William of Orange, Parliament did say:

"If the Crown and imperial dignity of this realm shall hereafter come to any person not being a native of the Kingdom of England, this nation be not obliged to engage in any war for the defence of any dominions or territories which do not belong to the Crown of England without the consent of Parliament."

It would seem that that section is still in effect today. So Parliament has in the past restricted the royal prerogative to make war, but as there is little prospect currently of the Crown passing to a person who is not a native of this country, perhaps it is time for Parliament to update its control over the power to go to war.

I have been shocked to discover, through reading the Library's briefing on the Bill, that the current powers of Parliament are even less than most of us had thought

I just wondered what RR members thoughts are on this subject.
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

Parliament, meaning the elected MPs, and not a party elected leader, are the ones to be fighting this proposed Act - but will they is the moot question. Perhaps the public should be lobbying their MP to put this right.

This lot currently in power seem to be there by how well they support their leader and not for what experience they can bring to government.

As for the powers of Parliament (or lack of) - which party is it that has bypassed the democratic system?

Orwell was about twenty years out I think.....

Nuff said..
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

I agree in principal that acts of war should have the consent of the people, but the problem comes, in a legal and practical sense, from defining what war is.

We haven't officially been at war for a long time, having been on various 'interventions' and 'conflicts', but not actually at war.

This in itself is an obstacle.

Also, at what level of commitment do you deign to require parliamentary approval?

Would an action such as the intervention in Sierra Leone require the approval of Parliament? That involved a significant amount of men and equipment being dropped off in a friendly nation to deter and combat a rebellion, but had this been debated publically it could have very rapidly changed the situation on the ground and possibly to the detriment of the forces we sent in.

This proposed legislation obviously stems from the conflict in Iraq, which is an exception rather than a regular occurence and also a conflict which was approved of, if not necessarily consented to (in a true sense), by a parliamentary vote.

To my knowledge, although correct me if I'm wrong, there hasn't been a conflict we've involved in that has not eventually had the consent of Parliament. There may have been a few sticky issues, but do they require legislating absolutely against and if you do that, how do you make it workable?
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

Hi Chalky,

I get your drift, but I think you put your finger on it with "eventually had the consent...."

You also mention the current conflict in Iraq.
I was in KSA in 1991 during Desert Storm, and which I believe everyone, well almost everyone, was in favour of, but which was brought to an end prematurely - not only my views, but those of the Mid East people that I knew, and worked with there.

To me, this bill seems to be meant for justification for any future PM to wage a war when he/she likes without a valid and proper discussion.

Didn't one of our greatest leaders say 'Jaw Jaw not War War' or suchlike ?

This current conflict would probably not now be happening but for the fact that two people wanted to be seen to be 'leaders' and didn't even stop to consider the consequences !
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

Fully agree with Chalky. This is an attempt by the militant lawyers to gain control of executive powers. Whether you agree with Iraq or not is not the issue. Whether you agree (or not) with any putative military action against Iran is also irrelevant. Left to these types, the Red Army would ahve had to be rude to customs at Dover (twice) before any sort of physical intervention (iaw H&SE legislation of course) could have been justified.

The executive branch of government must have the ability to order military operations (from PSO up to all-out war) without waiting for endless justification to be compiled and presented before Parliament (and voted on!). Left to the bunch in westminster, we'd never have undertaken Corporate, Jacanda, Granby, and all the various ops in the Balkans (never mind Telic) without weeks of debate, haggling over RoE and all sorts.

This is simply an attempt by the "radical" legal profession to insert themselves ever more deeply in "government" rather than applying the law (which is their remit). Do bear in mind that left to most of the human rights / radical law lobby, HM (not HMG) forces would be illegal as they might have the ability to fight someone - which obviously contravenes "International Law". Note that "International Law" is something these people make up on the hoof and interpret to their own ends.

Don't get me wrong - I think Bliar and his bunch of incompetents are the most dangerous thing to happen to this country in many years. However, this is due to their inability to get a grip on facts and argue a coherent case for a course of action, when use of the media (spin) will get them what they want. What they have achieved by this modus operandi is to destroy all trust in HMG as an institution, which results in a situation where the general public regards anything disseminated by HMG as dubious from the off.

Remember this - no-one thought Saddam was not making WMD prior to Telic, the main issue was whetehr the UN inspection regime should be given more time to work. It's not that Bliar lied in this case, it's just that to justify their spin, they ended up over-egging the case to a degree where the entire war had to be justified on whether SH had WMD or not, whereas the UN resolutions were based on whether Iraq was cooperating with the inspection regime (which at the time they conspicuously weren't!).
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

I can not understand why 66% of the votes want a committee of Pollies to send us to war. If you do not like what a PM does just vote him out.

Going on this Act I very much doubt if we would have entered WW11 on 3rd Sept 1939 as Poland was not realy at the fore front of most MP's considerations.

Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

A more prudent use of parliamentary time, I think, would be in stopping potential conflicts rather than starting them. Not stopping them in the finite sense, but providing appriopriate oversight and questioning with appropriate powers to mandate the executive so set a withdrawl timetable from an area, or at least present to the House an exit strategy to be scrutinised and approved of.

We may decry the lack of sense of some government ministers, but given thast the house is primarily made up of backbenchers, many of whom do have more than 25 watts between their ears, I think we can trust parliament enough to force the government's hand in some areas.
The criteria layed out for withdrawl need not be specific, but would provide a yardstick, a democratically determined level of accomplishment, that conflicts could be measured against.

Further to this, parliament needs to be able to exercise better powers of scrutiny and, if appropriate, censure or praise, against an executive that sends our armed forces into conflict anywhere in the world.

If parliament had this power then I think much more careful consideration would occur at the top before committing our assets to a conflict of a somewhat questionable nature.
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

I think that there's a lot of hidden agenda's to the bill you are discussing
its basically a bill that lets the PM and his cabinet vote in as law items that they deem as necessary without the aid of a Parliamentary 'vote'

The big problem is once the law is accepted as a statute then the parliamentary process becomes obsolete !!!

Another danger being the ruling party at the time could once in power re write the present voting every five years to confirm the government is doing a good job -------------its a presidential charter

I suggest everyone gets an invite to their local MP surgery to voice their opinions.
Re: Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed confli

A lot of the above discussion misses a fundamental of our political system, namely that a government only stands as long as it can command a majority in the commons supporting it's action. TB got away with GW2 because not enough MPs were prepared to vote against him, and as long as a PM has that majority he can do much as he pleases.

GWB on the other hand effectively has those powers for his full elected term, irrespective of the opinion of congress et all.

There is no need for a 'war powers act' or anything like that, if the commons does not support him he will be packing his bags very quickly. If you read up on Chuchill for example on of the things that both drove him to succeed and restrained him as well was the knowledge that tomorrow the commons could sack him, so he had better make sure that today he did the "right" thing as it would be seen in the commons.

At the end of the day any democracy has to trust that it's polititians will not vote to remove choice from the electorate at appropriate intervals


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