«BRIEFING PAPER 7166, 12 May 2015 Parliamentary approval By Claire Mills for military action Inside: 1. Introduction 2. Attempts at reform 3. Emerging ...»
But now British forces join this US-led coalition more than a month after the operation began, behind France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar and with a caveat that limits their operations to the periphery of the campaign. The Americans well understand the vicissitudes of democracy and are not making too much of this, but it comes as an unwelcome novelty for British military chiefs. 178
This is examined in greater detail in Library briefing SN04854, The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, February 2009 Parliament had rejected a Government motion on the use of force in Syria only a
5. Conclusion Defining parliamentary approval for military action, in either a resolution or legislation, in a way that provides Parliament with a meaningful role, yet safeguards the Government and military’s capacity to act, is paramount. Yet it is fraught with difficulties and potentially raises more questions than it resolves.
As outlined above, all of the issues involved in drafting legislation have no definitive answers. Government Ministers, MPs, commentators and constitutional experts alike all have different expectations and different opinions on what a resolution or legislation should achieve. This dilemma also lies at the heart of the current convention and arguably is one of the reasons advocates are pushing for a more formalised solution.
There are no right or wrong answers and possibly this circle will never be squared. Achieving a solution acceptable to all will require immense political will and as such, makes the continuation and strengthening of the current convention a much more likely prospect for the foreseeable future.
57 Parliamentary approval for military action Appendix One - Political and
Constitutional Reform Committee:
Draft Resolution on Parliament’s Role in Conflict Decisions (HC 892, March 2014) That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that decisions of Her Majesty’s Government relating to the use of force by Her forces outside the United Kingdom be made subject to the following provisions.
1. Approval required (1) The approval of this House should be obtained for a conflict decision made after [insert appropriate date].
(2) A conflict decision is a decision of Her Majesty’s Government to authorise the use of force outside the United Kingdom by UK forces.
(3) Approval for a conflict decision has been given if the decision is covered by an approval given in the way set out in paragraph 2 below.
(4) In these provisions “UK forces” means forces from the regular forces or the reserve forces as defined in section 374 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.
2. Process for approvals (1) The Prime Minister seeks approval for a conflict decision by laying before this House a report setting out:a) the terms of the decision to be approved;
(b) the circumstances necessitating the use of force by UK forces;
and (c) the information about objectives, locations and legal matters that are necessary for Parliament to consider the terms to be approved.
(2) Approval should be sought by the Prime Minister as soon as practicable after the government has formulated a policy involving the use of force outside the United Kingdom by UK forces.
(3) This House gives the approval by resolving to approve the terms set out in the Prime Minister’s report.
(4) This House may send a message to the Lords asking for its opinion on the terms on which approval has been sought.
3. Exceptions to requirement for approval: urgency
(2) If the condition in sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph is met, then the Prime Minister should:a) set out in a Report to the House the reasons that Her Majesty’s Government was of the opinion that the conflict decision was necessary as a matter of urgency, and it was therefore not possible to seek the House’s approval in advance; and (b) seek retrospective approval from the House no later than 20 days after a conflict decision has been made.
4. Exceptions to requirement for approval: security
(1) Prior approval is not required for a conflict decision if the public disclosure of information about the conflict decision would prejudice:a) the effectiveness of any action to be taken; or (b) the safety of the UK forces, members of other forces assisting UK forces, or other persons assisting those forces.
(2) If the condition in sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph is met, then the Prime Minister should:a) set out in a Report to the House the reasons that Her Majesty’s Government was of the opinion that the public disclosure of information about the conflict decision could prejudice one of the conditions set out in sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph; and (b) seek retrospective approval from the House no later than 20 days after a conflict decision has been made.
(3) But, in a case involving the condition set out in sub-paragraph (1), retrospective approval does not have to be sought so long as the circumstances set out continue to exist or the laying of the report could prejudice national security or the UK’s international relations.
5. Exceptions to requirement for approval: special forces (1) Approval is not required for a conflict decision if the decision covers one or both of the following only:a) members of the United Kingdom Special Forces; or (b) other members of UK forces for the purpose only of their assisting (directly or indirectly) activities of the United Kingdom Special Forces.
(2) “United Kingdom Special Forces” means any forces that are part of the Ministry of Defence Directorate for which the Director Special Forces has responsibility.
6. Exceptions to requirement for approval: Parliament dissolved (1) Prior approval is not required for a conflict decision if the decision is made at a time when Parliament is dissolved.
59 Parliamentary approval for military action
Appendix Two – International Comparisons Making comparisons with other countries is complicated by the fact that each has its own unique political history and level of military sophistication. The following tables therefore represent various attempts to summarise, in a simple way, the role of other Parliament’s when approving military action.
In October 2006 the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF) conducted an exercise which charted the status of a select number of Parliaments in relation to their role in the deployment of the Armed Forces. The outcome of that survey, Sending Troops Abroad, is set down as follows: 179 Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Sending Troops Abroad, October 2006 61 Parliamentary approval for military action In 2010 DCAF published a further study entitled Parliamentary War Powers: A Survey of 25 European Parliaments. The following table is
derived from that study: