Declaring War: Parliaments powers

#1
One-Eyed-Gordo says he's going to make Parliament responsible for declaring war - a reduction of the PM's authority.

[align=center]Question: [/align]

What difference would that have made in 2003? Would pro-war Lib-Dems and Tories have been less enthusiastic, knowing they might be held up to scrutiny?

Or would we be in the same pile of crap, but with Teflon Tone better-placed to dodge the blame?
[align=center] :? [/align]
 
#2
This is an attempt at smoke-and-mirrors obfuscation, that changes nothing in the least.

Brown may have in mind the Bank of England's "devolved" powers re interest rates; but this is in no way a parallel case.

No parliament could vote to take the country to war without the active - indeed, leading - support of the incumbent Prime Minister.

Similarly, no PM could take us to war without the majority backing (perhaps subsequent) of Parliament.

Going to war is an executive action that must be countenanced and upheld by the legislature. Nothing short of a revolution changes that.
 
#3
I would concur on two points. Firstly, the decision to deploy the Armed Forces is an executive decision within the Royal Prerogative. The second point I would agree upon is that it is very much a 'smoke and mirrors' announcement entirely consistent with .New Labour's' antecedents of deceit.

The proposal has nothing to do with Gordon Brown. It is, in fact, a Private Members Bill introduced by Michael Meacher in January of this year as the Waging War (Parliamentary Role and Responsibility) Bill which was to have have been read a second time on Friday 2 February. Since it is the Government who determine the Parliamentary timetable, it must be assumed that the Bill was torpedoed by it.

Insofar as the impression is created by the announcement that the heir apparent to the Throne of England is concerned to display his overwhelming desire to subject the executive to greater accountability to Parliament, you may make what you will of his announcement.

The Bill itself is defective insofar as it is qualified by the executive's ability to deploy in an emergency prior to ratification by Parliament. Once deployed however, the political reality of the decision would mean that the Government's decision to do so would be very unlikely to meet any serious Parliamentary opposition. No MP will risk the accusation that he is either unpatriotic, unssuportive or that he is seeking to undermine British interests or endanger British lives by seeking to impeach the executive's decision to deploy. Parliament will, in reality become simply a rubber-stamp to provide the fig-leaf of legitimacy to whatever action, legal or otherwise, in respect of any arbitrary decision taken by the executive.

Thus, the Bill, as it stands is a paradigm example of 'white ant' legislation so beloved by professional legislators in this country. The white ant devours wood from the inside-out, and any weight placed upon a table or chair so affected results in the outwardly pristine-looking object, collapsing into a cloud of dust.

Soldiers and politicians share one common factor - both deploy smoke for tactical advantage!
 
#4
The House of Lords Constitution Committee produced a very full report on the case for and against parliamentary responsibility. It is available here.

There was a debate in the Lords on 1 May 2007 in which FM Lord Bramall supported the move and MRAF Lord Craig of Radley opposed it. The Hansard report is here.
 
#5
tgarden said:
The House of Lords Constitution Committee produced a very full report on the case for and against parliamentary responsibility. It is available here.

There was a debate in the Lords on 1 May 2007 in which FM Lord Bramall supported the move and MRAF Lord Craig of Radley opposed it. The Hansard report is here.
VMT for that link.

Having read which, I remain to be persuaded that this Bill will make any real change. Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .

Plus ca change etc.
 
#6
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
 
#7
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
 
#8
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
 
#9
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.
 
#10
Nothing would ever get done when needed. It would be rule by committee, and just like the UN, the military option would never come about due to the nature of rule by committee. It might make politicians think twice if they were directly responsible for the lives of those soldiers, but then again, it would only end up with extreme caution being the watch-word, and that would destroy any kind of decisiveness left in the government.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Let's face it. It is indeed smoke and mirrors. The Cons were all for this war and continue to support it.

Labliar know that generally speaking, the Cons like a good war and will support Labliar when they find one, and every incumbent PM must have at least one otherwise the votes just dry up. Bliar was just grandstanding by having more than his fair share.

I guarantee to you that Broon (if he stays long enough, which I doubt) will be looking for a 'Legacy War' of his very own.
 
#12
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.


Eden's 1956 decision to deploy OP MUSKATEER was taken by collective Cabinet decision without prior Parliamentary approval. When Eden did subsequently, address the House, he lied to it!
 
#13
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.


Eden's 1956 decision to deploy OP MUSKATEER was taken by collective Cabinet decision without prior Parliamentary approval. When Eden did subsequently, address the House, he lied to it!
Many decisions to deploy for war are taken in Cabinet/by the govt., and ratified subsequently by Parliament.

And I did suggest "since Suez" as meaning "subsequent to Suez".
 
#14
Biped said:
Let's face it. It is indeed smoke and mirrors. The Cons were all for this war and continue to support it.

Labliar know that generally speaking, the Cons like a good war and will support Labliar when they find one, and every incumbent PM must have at least one otherwise the votes just dry up. Bliar was just grandstanding by having more than his fair share.

I guarantee to you that Broon (if he stays long enough, which I doubt) will be looking for a 'Legacy War' of his very own.


I would not disagree with that at all!

A recent debate in the Lords recorded in Hansard puts the combined financial cost of of both TELIC and HERRICK as One Hundred Million Pounds a month! A staggeringly enormous sum of taxpayers money. Little wonder therefore that the Treasury is engaged in ever new and imaginative ways of generating compensating income streams through indirect taxation!
 
#15
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.


Eden's 1956 decision to deploy OP MUSKATEER was taken by collective Cabinet decision without prior Parliamentary approval. When Eden did subsequently, address the House, he lied to it!
Many decisions to deploy for war are taken in Cabinet/by the govt., and ratified subsequently by Parliament.

And I did suggest "since Suez" as meaning "subsequent to Suez".

Your contention was:

Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations
I have demonstrated, as indeed have the Parliamentary Committee, that the deployment of troops to war requires no such thing and you have been unable to either support your contention with authority nor controvert mine. If it were otherwise, there would be no requirement for an individual member of Parliament who, with the support of his back-bench colleagues would feel it necessary to introduce a Bill before Parliament in the first place!
 
#16
Will the 'Growler', the psycholgically flawed one, allow legal advice given on any proposed war to be heard and read by the Great Unwashed ?

On a tangent, I hope the collection of cronies and former flat-mates occupying high legal positions in the government will be seeking employment elsewhere in the very near future.
 
#17
Iolis said:
Biped said:
Let's face it. It is indeed smoke and mirrors. The Cons were all for this war and continue to support it.

Labliar know that generally speaking, the Cons like a good war and will support Labliar when they find one, and every incumbent PM must have at least one otherwise the votes just dry up. Bliar was just grandstanding by having more than his fair share.

I guarantee to you that Broon (if he stays long enough, which I doubt) will be looking for a 'Legacy War' of his very own.


I would not disagree with that at all!

A recent debate in the Lords recorded in Hansard puts the combined financial cost of of both TELIC and HERRICK as One Hundred Million Pounds a month! A staggeringly enormous sum of taxpayers money. Little wonder therefore that the Treasury is engaged in ever new and imaginative ways of generating compensating income streams through indirect taxation!
Isn't that the same cost as the Olymipics from now til 2012?
 
#18
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.


Eden's 1956 decision to deploy OP MUSKATEER was taken by collective Cabinet decision without prior Parliamentary approval. When Eden did subsequently, address the House, he lied to it!
Many decisions to deploy for war are taken in Cabinet/by the govt., and ratified subsequently by Parliament.

And I did suggest "since Suez" as meaning "subsequent to Suez".

Your contention was:

Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations
I have demonstrated, as indeed have the Parliamentary Committee, that the deployment of troops to war requires no such thing and you have been unable to either support your contention with authority nor controvert mine. If it were otherwise, there would be no requirement for an individual member of Parliament who, with the support of his back-bench colleagues would feel it necessary to introduce a Bill before Parliament in the first place!
Not so.

See my first posting on this, to the effect that it requires the joint - but not necessarily simultaneous - consent of the government of the day (the Executive) and the Legislature. In practice, war will be declared by the incumbent PM, with subsequent ratification by Parliament.

Failing which it becomes a matter for the Judiciary - the High Court of Parliament.

This Bill purports to give some kind of spurious primacy to the Commons, which is mere smoke-and-mirrors, and, if enacted, will actually change nothing constitutionally.
 
#19
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
caubeen said:
Iolis said:
Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations . . . .
You are presumambly able to support this contention with some tangible authority?
With the authority of history and precedent.

When - in recent times - has the UK gone to war without those two consents?
To which particular period of history and to which particular precedent do you refer?
Any and all you like, since - say - the Suez Crisis.


Eden's 1956 decision to deploy OP MUSKATEER was taken by collective Cabinet decision without prior Parliamentary approval. When Eden did subsequently, address the House, he lied to it!
Many decisions to deploy for war are taken in Cabinet/by the govt., and ratified subsequently by Parliament.

And I did suggest "since Suez" as meaning "subsequent to Suez".

Your contention was:

Taking the UK to war will still require the active consent of both the government of the day and its PM, and the majority of the legislature.

Which has been the case for many generations
I have demonstrated, as indeed have the Parliamentary Committee, that the deployment of troops to war requires no such thing and you have been unable to either support your contention with authority nor controvert mine. If it were otherwise, there would be no requirement for an individual member of Parliament who, with the support of his back-bench colleagues would feel it necessary to introduce a Bill before Parliament in the first place!
Not so.

See my first posting on this, to the effect that it requires the joint - but not necessarily simultaneous - consent of the government of the day (the Executive) and the Legislature. In practice, war will be declared by the incumbent PM, with subsequent ratification by Parliament.

Failing which it becomes a matter for the Judiciary - the High Court of Parliament.

This Bill purports to give some kind of spurious primacy to the Commons, which is mere smoke-and-mirrors, and, if enacted, will actually change nothing constitutionally.
Again, you have manifestly failed to make out your case.

As a matter of constitutional law there exist no legal constraints upon the executive to deploy UK Forces to war by use of the prerogative and without the approval of Parliament. Moreover, that prerogative is not justiciable by the English Courts. Read again paragraph 15 and the accompanying case law and the summary at paragraph 16 of the Committee Report.

I draw your attention once again to the Bill before Parliament which expressly recognises the constitutional position and seeks to address it.
 
#20
Didn't really want to wade into this heated debate, but a lot of the arguments seem to be based on a simple misreading of the UK constitutional arrangement. Here begins the lecture!! Use of force since WWII.

I apologise if some of this seems patronising by stating the obvious but it's only because I have to run through it in sequence in my own mind to be sure what I'm writing is correct.

The HM the Queen is head of state, C in C. (She is the UK)
The Cabinet / Executive are her delegated representives. (Ministers of the Crown)
Parliament is the Legislature - responsible for passing laws.
Judiciary - Interpret and enforce the law.

The 'separation of powers' doctrine prevents each of these three (Cabinet and Queen are regarded as one and the same) from interfering with each others remit.

The executive can exercise the Royal prerogative to send our troops anywhere they want, whenever they want providing to do so would be justifiable under International Law, unless like the Americans you don't much care about international law! This is the modern day evolution of the absolute power of the Monarch. It is only constitutional convention (like a gentleman's agreement, but not binding) that prevents them from doing so without the support of Parliament and in the abscence of legal advice from the Attorney General that the use of force would meet the requirements of international law (hence the pressure placed on Goldsmith to change his advice in 2003). As someone (I think Caubeen) stated this convention has only once been ignored - Suez

There are now only two legal justifications for the use of force in international law.


1. Self Defence -

Self defence can take many forms, including pre-emptive self defence from imminent attack. Logically it would not be practical to be allowed to act only with the approval of the legislature. Not a great plan for opsec either if we were considering a pre-emptive strike. Plus we could all be dead by the time they had come to an agreement.


2. Enforcement actions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter -

When the Security Council has authorised the use of force it is legal in international law, simple as. Again, it is only constitutional convention that leads to debate in Parliament as to whether or not our forces are involved. It does not require legal advice or the passing of any domestic legislation. If the cabinet so wishes they could, acting with the delegated authority of HM commit our troops without reference to any other institution (i.e. Parliament or the Judiciary) and they are free to ignore the opinion of the legislature just as they are free to ignore the findings of a Judicial review. They are in effect, The Queen, who if she so wished could refuse to give the Royal Assent to an Act of Parliament meaning it would not become law. It is political, not legal constraints that stop them from doing so...they all want to be re-elected!

This is admittedly a very simplistic representation, but if I had made it any longer no one would have read it. I have just read the Private members Bill myself and you can tell simply by the wording of it what the present situation is. Namely that Parliamentary approval does not need to be sought prior to any deployment. That is exactly what the Bill seeks to change. A cogent and laudable democratic argument in principle, but in my humble opinion simply not practicle. The legal arguments to go to war in Iraq were tenuous to say the least. I have studied them in quite some detail (I'll post them if anyone is really interested!!). That notwithstanding, I personally believe that operational effectiveness could be seriously weakened by such a Bill becoming law, particularly when a rapid deployment was key to success......all of course IMHO and there can be few people in this country who despise Bliar and his government more than me...
 

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