FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SYRIA DEBATE – 11 July 2013

Mr David Winnick: I congratulate the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) on initiating this debate. I am opposed to arms being sent to the rebels in Syria, but let me make this absolutely clear: if I had a different viewpoint, I would still be of the opinion that it is Parliament that should decide whether or not such a decision should be taken. A great deal is said about reforms and changes for Parliament, but one of the most important aspects of the House of Commons is that major decisions such as whether arms should be sent in such circumstances should not be taken without the express and direct consent of the House of Commons.

Dr Julian Lewis: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman but, in furtherance of his argument, would he also accept that even if it were not generally the case that Parliament should have its say before such a step is taken, when it is widely known that there is very substantial opposition to what is proposed, and that it is very likely that there would be a heavy majority of opposition in Parliament, it would be particularly unwise for the Government to go ahead without letting Parliament have its say and have a vote first?

Mr Winnick: I could not have put that better myself. It is very rare for the hon. Gentleman and I to agree. I hope that does not mean that we are in the wrong on this issue. My concern is that we are going into two long recesses and the Government could make a decision arguing that, given all the circumstances, it was necessary to arm the rebels in Syria, and although the House would almost certainly be recalled, the decision would have already been taken. [...]

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Dr Julian Lewis: Does the hon. Gentleman [Paul Flynn] agree that even those people who believe that we should arm the rebels ought to vote aye for this motion, given what the Foreign Secretary and others have said from the Government Front Bench?

[For Julian's speech in this debate click here]