Not unless in our name


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

If British troops are to be sent to war, says Neil Gerrard MP, parliament must have a say

Friday October 21, 2005
Going to war is one of the most important decisions this country can take, leading to situations where young Britons will kill or be killed in our name, and it has far-reaching implications for the country's future in the international community. Given this, it is stunning that the democratically elected members of our parliament do not have any formal right to debate or vote on this issue, and that the prime minister should wield the royal prerogative to make this decision alone.
Clare Short's private members' bill, the armed forces (parliamentary approval for participation in armed conflict) bill, facing its second reading today, would change all this by requiring the prime minister of the day to put this important question to a vote in the House of Commons.
Opponents to the bill say that it would endanger Britain's security and ability to respond quickly to a threat; that legal briefings and intelligence on Iraq must be kept secret; and that it is better to rely on parliamentary precedent. The bill's proponents seek to give a voice to MPs whose democratic mandate has come directly from their constituency electorates, a small dent in the presidential style of politics now seen in this country.
This bill would not endanger Britain's security. President George Bush must ask Congress before being able to deploy US troops abroad, or obtain approval after the fact in the case of emergency action. The bill includes clauses specifically to enable similar action to be taken in the case of an emergency threatening British security. At present there is no requirement for the British parliament to even debate the issue.
This bill does mean the advice on the legality of a war would have to be put to parliament, while in the case of Iraq it does not appear even to have been fully circulated to the cabinet. In the USA, and indeed most other modern democracies, briefings have to be made available, but no harm has come to these countries as a result.
The servicemen and women from my constituency want to know they have the support of their country when they put their lives at risk, and that they are not breaking international law. These concerns can only be addressed by allowing our democratically elected representatives their say, and by making legal information available to them.
While parliament was given a vote in the run-up to the Iraq war, this may not be the case in the future. Tony Blair has said he will stand down as prime minister before the next general election, but we do not even know who the leaders of the Labour and Conservative parties will be by then, let alone their opinions on commitments made by previous prime ministers.
In the 20th century only the conflict in Korea was put to a debate before troops were engaged in fighting. At the outset of the conflicts in the Falklands, Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and both world wars, parliament was informed of the fact of the matter only after the start of fighting.
Clare's bill has the wide-ranging support of many MPs, from Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and Scottish and Welsh nationalists, including support from people who supported the decision to invade Iraq. While it may make Britain less likely to be engaged in military adventures in the future it would not stop Britain from defending itself.
This is not a campaign just for those people who opposed the war in Iraq, it is a campaign for anyone who believes in parliamentary democracy in this country.

• Neil Gerrard is Labour MP for Walthamstow

address- zwracać się, kierować; przemawiać
advice- rada, porada
approval- aprobata, zgoda, zatwierdzenie
armed conflict- konflikt zbrojny
bill- ustawa
briefing- instruktaż; informacje
clause- paragraf, punkt, klauzula
commitment- zobowiązanie
community- społecczność; wspólnota
concern- zagadnienie, problem, troska
Conservative Party- Partia Konserwatywna
constituency- okręg wyborczy
debate- debatować, dyskutować
dent- wyłom, szczerba
deploy- rozmieszczać, umieszczać (siły zbrojne)
electorate- elektorat
face- mieć do czynienia; przeciwstawiać się
far-reaching- daleko idący, dalekosiężny, szeroki
given this- biorąc to pod uwagę
House of Commons- Izba Gmin
implication- implikacja, skutek, następstwo
include- zawierać
intelligence- wywiad
invade- najechać, zaatakować, dokonać inwazji
issue- problem, sprawa
Labour Party- Partia Pracy, Laburzyści
let alone- zostawiać w spokoju, pomijać
make available- udostępniać
MP- Member of Parliament; członek parlamentu
obtain- otrzymywać
opponent- oponent, przeciwnik
outset- początek
precedent- precedens
prerogative- prerogatywa, przywilej
proponent- wnioskodawca, obrońca
require- wymagać, żądać, potrzebować
requirement- wymaganie, żądanie
respond- odpowiadać (na), reagować
run-up- wstęp
second reading- drugie czytanie
stand down- rezygnować
stunning- zadziwiający
troop- oddział wojska, wojsko
wide-ranging- o szerokim zakresie, o szerokim zasięgu
wield- sprawować, dzierżyć, mieć i używać


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