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Government Must Consult Parliament Before Going To War, Say Political And Constitutional Reform Committee

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MPs have called on the Government to "honour" promises to consult parliament before going to war.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee called once more for the Government to keep the promise made by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to "enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action," claiming the Government's most recent response "does not satisfy the Committee’s concerns."

The committee has written eight reports over the last two years on the importance of changing the current law, forcing government to consult Parliament on military decisions.

However, the Government insisted it will, for the time being, retain the current system, where Parliament is afforded the time to debate matters before troops are committed, while also stating that it would be inappropriate for Parliament to be involved on urgent and emergency situations. "Rather than being driven by an artificial deadline," the Government concluded, it will not commit to a timetable for reforming the current convention as it does not believe the discussion to be urgent.

The committee, however, believe that "it does not follow that there should no timetable for making progress of any kind. This is an issue to which considerable thought has been given for a number of years now. Progress is overdue." It specified that they aim to have the law amended in time for the end of the current Parliament –should the Government suggest no alternative timetable.

Despite being critical of the Government's non-committal to a timetable for reform, the report released by the committee did welcome the Government's want to continue working towards a restructuring of the convention, as well as the addition of a reference to the Parliament's current role in the recently published Cabinet Manual.