MPs condemn government for refusing Iraq war debate

Published on Friday, 15 March 2013 16:58
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Caroline Lucas, Charles Kennedy and Paul Flynn among those in cross-party bid for debate; say public has a right to hear from Parliament on the controversial decision to take the UK into Iraq

A cross party group of MPs has written a strongly worded letter to the Parliamentary authorities today to condemn the Government's decision to block a bid for a debate on the Iraq War.

Next week (18 March) marks the 10th anniversary of the 2003 vote by MPs to give the green light for UK involvement in the conflict – one of the most controversial decisions made by Parliament in recent history, but one which some MPs feel has not faced proper scrutiny.

Caroline Lucas (Green), Charles Kennedy (Liberal Democrat), Rory Stewart (Conservative), Paul Flynn (Labour), John McDonnell (Labour) and several other MPs had pitched for a Parliamentary debate via the Backbench Business Committee, but while the Committee has agreed in principle, the Government is refusing to make the necessary time available.

The dispute comes just two weeks after the leaking of a confidential letter sent by William Hague to members of the Cabinet urging them not to speak publicly about the Iraq War in the run-up to the high profile 10th anniversary.

In a letter to the Leader of the House Andrew Lansley today, signed by Caroline Lucas, Charles Kennedy and Paul Flynn, MPs said the public had a right to know more about the process that led us to war.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

"Ten years on from the vote that took us to war in Iraq, the British people have a right to hear what Parliament has to say about the legal and Parliamentary mechanisms that led to the decision, what occurred during the war, and the legacy of the conflict for the people of Iraq today.

"Whatever position this Government takes on Iraq and the Chilcot Inquiry, to be published later this year, it is critical that the public does not see Parliament just sitting back and ignoring this 10-year anniversary milestone.

"We owe it to the servicemen and women and all those who lost their lives to this devastating conflict to carefully examine what happened 10 years ago, in order to prevent the same terrible mistakes being made in future.

"In light of the leaked letter sent by the Foreign Secretary to Cabinet colleagues, the decision not to give time for an Iraq debate looks dangerously like Government is doing its best to shut down Parliamentary scrutiny of arguably the most damaging foreign policy decision in recent times."

Source: Green Party

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