Greens to campaign to give Parliament control of war declarations

26 February 2011

Following a conference vote today, the Green Party will campaign to transfer the power to declare war from the Prime Minister to MPs, opening responsibility for military decisions up to the democratic process.

Dr Joseph Healy, Green Party representative on the national steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition, proposed the motion calling for any future military action to be fully and openly costed and approved by Parliament in advance and throughout the conflict.

Dr Healy, who also sits on the Green Party’s International Committee, said:

“Every other EU country already has this power. The Bundestag has an annual vote on Germany’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan, and the funding given. Even during the Napoleonic wars Parliament was voting on these issues, so the situation we’re in today speaks of a real centralisation of powers.”

Gordon Brown proposed a change to the legislature in his first prime ministerial statement 2007, but failed to deliver. The first parliamentary debate and vote on troop involvement in Afghanistan came only in September 2010, when Green leader Caroline Lucas was one of only 14 MPs who voted against continued involvement.

The unanimous vote means that Green Party activists will work with others who share this desire as part of a wider effort to effect constitutional reform. Joseph said:

“Just over a week ago, five soldiers killed within a week of each other were repatriated – this is an issue that may no longer be in the limelight but is still very important. There is a real impact on human lives and resources, yet the legislature barely registers it. It is a constitutional change that is long overdue.”

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