Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL | Business of the House | Commons debates

I, too, remember the speech made by Robin Cook in 2003. I remember it with great admiration and perhaps a little emotion, not least, of course, because he resigned from the Government as a result of his views and joined the rest of us who voted against them in the Lobby that evening.

This is not, however, 2003. It is an entirely different set of circumstances, an important feature of which is the fact that we would be responding to a request made by the lawful Government of Syria. [Hon. Members: “Iraq.”] I meant Iraq; I have Syria on the brain and will come back to it in a moment. The very existence of the Government of Iraq and, indeed, the country for which they are responsible is undoubtedly at stake. In my view, there is a legal basis—it has been referred to by many of those who have already spoken—for what we are being asked to endorse today.

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Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL | Business of the House | Commons debates

That, I hope, is the product of the alliance that the United States, through President Obama and the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, have been putting together. An illustration of that commitment is the fact that five countries in the region have joined in to support the air strikes carried out so far,

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Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL | Business of the House | Commons debates

No, I am afraid that I must move on.

The circumstances faced by Iraq are such that its very survival is at stake. It is important that we exercise a degree of responsibility in the matter. Although it is not the sole cause of the current circumstances in Iraq, there is no doubt that the military action in which we joined with the United States against Saddam Hussein has been a major contributor to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Let me deal with the question of Syria. I am content that were there to be a motion to the effect that we should take similar action in Syria, there exists a proper and sound legal basis for such action. Indeed, the very factors that justify intervention in Iraq would be of equal weight in relation to Syria. Those are, to put it briefly, the barbarism that is being displayed, and the fact that regional stability is being heavily undermined. Let us remind ourselves that such undermining of stability has an impact on countries such as Jordan, a close ally that would be a necessary component were there ever to be a global settlement for peace in the middle east.

We must also recognise that the Arab countries that have joined in have exercised a degree of responsibility in doing so. In many cases, they are taking on elements in their own countries that are opposed. How would any other country, faced with that decision, feel in the event that the motion that we are debating were not passed? It has been suggested that we need a United Nations resolution before we can embark on any action of the kind that is proposed, or indeed on similar action in relation to Syria. We must accept the reality that the prospect of a United Nations Security Council resolution is totally remote. Indeed, even to put such a resolution on the table would be a wholly pointless exercise because of the attitude that would undoubtedly be taken by Russia and possibly also by China.

The language that has been used so far has been about destruction, but I am not sure that it is possible to destroy an ideology. I am not sure that it is possible to destroy a cult of the kind that now exercises such malign influence. One thing that we most certainly can do is to adopt a policy of containment and deterrence. To do that, we have to degrade its military capability and create circumstances in which any return to barbarism will be met by swift and effective action. I think we would do best to agree that we are not likely to embark on a successful process of destruction, but that we can have an effective doctrine of deterrence and containment.

There is no parallel between today’s debate and the debate on Iraq in 2003, but there is a parallel with Kosovo. When Kosovo was an issue, with considerations similar to those that we are discussing—not least ethnic cleansing—the international community was able to deal with the situation without a resolution. A lot has been said about the long term, but we do not have that luxury.

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Sir Menzies Campbell : Federalism Is Within Touching Distance

North East Fife Sir Menzies Campbell MP has written in an article for the Scotsman that “The choice is clear. People can either vote to leave the UK, with all the risks and uncertainties that independence offers. Or they can vote for a stronger and safer Scottish Parliament within the UK.”

You can read more here:

Scotsman Article By Sir Menzies Campbell MP

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Backbench Business – Select Committee on Governance of the House | Bills Presented | Commons debates

I have not engaged myself in the organisation of the House as much as many of those who have already spoken. As I look around the Chamber, I am slightly surprised to see that I am the only Member representing a Scottish constituency who is present.There is a serious point to that, because if a decision is taken on 18 September that Scotland should seek independence—

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