'Undemocratic' not to have Commons vote before arming rebel fighters in Syria, warns Speaker John Bercow
Tuesday 18 June 2013
It would be undemocratic and inappropriate not to have a Commons vote before the Government decided to arm rebel fighters in Syria, Speaker John Bercow said today.
Mr Bercow said any vote should be on a substantive motion, which in theory would bind the Government to the decision taken by MPs.
His comments came after Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs they would be able to vote on the "issue" but did not say whether it would be on a substantive motion, which Labour MPs had demanded.
Following Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons, Labour former cabinet minister Peter Hain (Neath) raised a point of order to ask whether there was a way MPs could force a vote on a substantive motion before Parliament broke for the summer recess.
Mr Bercow said Labour could table an Opposition Day motion or an individual MP could force a debate and vote through the Backbench Business Committee.
He said: "I must say that I have the sense that the Government is hinting that it wouldn't dream of executing a... decision of the kind that is being considered without first seeking a debate in the House and a vote on a substantive motion.
"That would obviously be the democratic course. I think it is the democratic course on a substantive motion that the Government has in mind.
"I am not sure that there was any other idea ever in their minds but I feel sure that if it was in their minds it was speedily expunged from them as undemocratic and indeed inappropriate."
As Mr Bercow spoke, the Foreign Secretary was seen to be nodding, indicating that he agreed with the comments.
Mr Bercow said Mr Hague's apparent agreement could be seen as an "explicit commitment" that the Government would hold a vote on a substantive motion after Tory MP Julian Lewis (New Forest East) raised a further point of order.
Mr Lewis said: "Is there any way in the rules of order that I can place on the record that the Foreign Secretary was nodding vigorously during your remarks?"
Mr Bercow replied: "You have done that. You and others will take that as an explicit commitment by the Foreign Secretary that there will be no implementation of such a decision without the prior consent, in the form of a vote on a substantive motion, in this House of Commons.
"I think we are now clear. Happiness is universal in the chamber."
Earlier, Labour MP Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) had asked Mr Hague to clarify whether there would be a substantive vote.
The Foreign Secretary said there would be a vote on the issue but did not say whether it would be on a substantive motion.
Raising another point of order, Ms Stuart said that, when the Foreign Secretary sat down after the question, he was "audibly heard by (Labour MPs) to say 'Yes"' - that there would be such a vote.
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Scottish independence: Scots of Corby take matters into their own hands in mock referendum - and deliver overwhelming verdict
Protesters fight to save Arturo, the polar bear sweltering in baking hot zoo
Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Supermoon 2014 in pictures: Moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...