John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Thursday, August 29, 2013
  Syria - so far
It is, of course, an unusual situation to have both the opposition amendment fall and the government motion fall. I was concerned about the issue as to whether UK bases would be used by anyone attacking Syria without a motion in parliament. I, therefore, obtained an assurance from the government before voting for the motion.

I voted for the motion on the following grounds:
a) We were assured that there would be no UK involvement in any military activity in Syria without a further vote. I had this clarified to include UK bases not being used by other countries without parliament's consent.
b) I do think we need a humanitarian response. We should not exclude any military action if this is required by the International Criminal Court or the Security Council. However, we should use the international bodies.
c) In the absence of a motion there is nothing to bind the government. Happily David Cameron is not Tony Blair and he will not be using the Royal Prerogative without a motion from parliament.

In the end, however, we don't at the moment have a motion agreed on Syria. I will be continuting to argue for working with the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

The motion which was not agreeing an attack in principle (or anything else) was as follows:
That this House:
Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians;

Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical 5 weapons under international law; Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;

Notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action in response to the Syrian crisis;

Notes that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime under customary law and a crime against humanity, and that the principle of humanitarian intervention provides a sound legal basis for taking action;

Notes the wide international support for such a response, including the statement from the Arab League Calling for the United Nations Security Council, to “overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible”;

Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;

Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus, and, whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;

Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken, and notes that before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place; and Notes that this Resolution relates solely to efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering by deterring use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any action in Syria with wider objectives.

 
Comments:
You are of course mainly correct but the point of this motion was to provide a fig leaf of international support (a precursor to another 'coalition of the willing') to prospective unilateral action by the US. This has failed spectacularly and let's hope Obama now rethinks the planned strike.
Hence, I was surprised to see you're name among the ayes but even more shocked to see my own MP (John Spellar) hadn't even bothered to turn up for the division. Hope he damn well has a good excuse.
Anyway no harm done and fingers crossed that the much suffering Syrian people don't have to contend with cruise missiles raining down on them in the next few days.
 
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