Parliament should not just 'rubber stamp' wars, critics say

By staff writers
March 22, 2011

The engagement of UK forces in Libya without prior agreement from MPs has again raised the question of the need for parliamentary approval of military action.

At present, parliamentary consent for war is a political issue rather than a legal one. But a growing number of MPs believe this should change - rather than democratic representatives being asked to rubber stamp military action after it has already taken place, as has happened once more in the case of Libya.

This is a matter of proper accountability and restraint, critics say. Successive British Prime Ministers have now embarked on contentious armed interventions without Parliament having any determining say.

"As French, American and British military forces took action over the weekend, MPs watched on television along with everyone else," wrote Ned Simons on e-politix.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader in England and Wales, and MP for Brighton Pavilion, tabled an Early Day Motion in parliament on 9 March 2011, calling on the coalition government to "introduce legislation to make it mandatory that any decision to commit our troops to war should be approved by Parliament."

The motion came in the wake of Green Party members voting unanimously at their spring conference to support the transfer of declaration of war powers to MPs.

Labour MPs David Winnick and John McDonnell have also raised the issue, as has Conservative MP Peter Bone.

On the subject of the No-fly Zone in Libya, a Green Party spokesperson said: "Past no-fly zones have not always achieved the desired outcome and have not always protected the civilian population.

"Most importantly, the UN Security Council must refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court. Colonel al-Gaddafi must understand that all those responsible for carrying out attacks on civilians will be held to account."

The Early Day Motion reads as follows:

EDM 1560



Lucas, Caroline

That this House calls on the Government to introduce legislation to make it mandatory that any decision to commit our troops to war should be approved by Parliament


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.