The international community should not “stand idly” by, said Rugby MP Mark Pawsey as he responded to British, US and French air strikes on Syria.
Mr Pawsey issued a statement backing the April 14 strikes – which the Prime Minister authorised as a response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma.
Rugby Labour’s parliamentary candidate, Dr Debbie Bannigan,said those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be held to account - but argued the decision to launch strikes on Syria should have been put to Parliament.
Mr Pawsey’s statement reads: “Like many local residents, I woke up on Saturday morning to the news that UK forces had, in a joint operation with our allies France and the United States, launched a series of precision strikes to degrade and deter the Syrian Government’s ability to use chemical weapons against innocent civilians.
“The Prime Minister addressed Parliament at the first opportunity on Monday, taking questions from 140 backbenchers and receiving considerable support from Labour members, although conspicuously not from the Leader of the Opposition.
The government's justification for the strikes
“There have been in addition two debates on the actions taken by the Government and the wider, deeply concerning, situation in Syria. The Government has provided a clear account, based on the hard work of British intelligence officials and our international allies, as to why the only explanation for the atrocity that occurred in Douma on Saturday 7th April was that it was undertaken by the Syrian Government.
“As the Prime Minister made clear to Members of Parliament, the Assad regime has on numerous occasions since 2013 used chemical weapons, most often chlorine gas, against innocent men, women and children.
Diplomacy has failed
“Extensive diplomatic attempts, including oversight by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to commit Syria to dismantling its chemical weapon programme have manifestly failed and been further stymied by Russia at the UN.
“The international community cannot, and should not, simply stand idly by and allow the prohibition on these terrible weapons to be so flagrantly breached.
Strikes were in the national interest
“This action was therefore absolutely in our national interest. I am encouraged by the support shown by the international community for the military strike conducted by the US, UK and France, including from Prime Minster Trudeau of Canada, President Erdogan of Turkey and Chancellor Merkel of Germany.
“I know that many people in Rugby were concerned that Parliament was not consulted ahead of the decision to use military force.
“However, it is rightly the prerogative of the Government to make decisions of this nature and then to be held to account by Parliament at the first opportunity – which the Prime Minister has done this week.”
Rugby Labour: PM should have consulted Parliament
Dr Bannigan said those responsible for the attack must be held to account, but expressed concern of the PM’s decision not to consult Parliament before authorising the strikes on Syria.
Dr Bannigan said: “The use of chemical weapons is a war crime which has been utterly condemned by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. The evidence of the deaths and suffering inflicted by the attack in Douma, including on young children, is horrific and those responsible must be held to account.
“Mark Pawsey is correct to acknowledge that the people of Rugby were concerned that Parliament was not consulted ahead of the Prime Minister’s decision to use military force. In the most serious matters of peace and security, the Prime Minister of Britain should be accountable to Parliament, not to the whims of any other governments.
“Failure to enable an open and transparent debate ahead of taking action can only reduce public confidence in the government.
“In 2011, the Coalition Government suggested a convention that the House of Commons should have a chance to debate before troops were committed to military operations, however Theresa May ordered air strikes on Syria without observing this convention.
“As Jeremy Corbyn pointed out, and the people that I’ve been talking with around Rugby this week have agreed, Parliament should have a say in this. The Prime Minister should have recalled Parliament last week.
“Although the specific details of military action can’t always be made public, on this occasion that test failed. The intention for military action was in the public domain. The British public quite rightly expect the evidence on which such action is taken to be tested through Parliamentary debate.
Labour's call for a War Powers Act
“Labour has called for a ‘War Powers Act’ for the UK, which would enshrine in law that the Government must seek Parliamentary approval before committing to planned military action.
“Labour’s proposal will codify this into law, so governments do get held to account.”