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That this House expresses concern that the Government may be considering diluting laws relating to the arrest of alleged war criminals and torturers entering or residing in the UK; notes that no good reason has been given to alter the status quo and that the current system wherein a judge makes a decision whether to grant an arrest warrant has worked satisfactorily to date; further notes that such arrest warrants have been issued very infrequently and that this would indicate that the granting of them is taken very seriously indeed by the judiciary which is a safeguard against frivolous applications; calls upon the Government to uphold the UK's duty and right to arrest and prosecute alleged war crimes suspects if they arrive on or reside in its territory and to fund the police and immigration authorities adequately to enable such arrests to be made so that this country cannot be regarded as a safe haven for such persons.

Jeremy Corbyn, 07 February 2006.

The Government is considering legal changes to bar individual victims of war crimes from obtaining warrants for the arrest of suspects.

ACTION: PLEASE LOBBY YOUR MP TO SUPPORT EDM NUMBER 1577: sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn MP. You can check the up to date list of who has signed EDM 1577 at:

Geneva Convention

Under Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, the UK has a duty to "search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered to be committed…grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts".

That duty of universal jurisdiction was enacted in domestic legislation by the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 (GCA).

Under s25(2) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, notwithstanding the need for the consent of the Attorney General to initiate a prosecution under the GCA, a Magistrate may issue an arrest warrant if he considers that:

1. There are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence under the act has been committed by the named suspect

2. There is evidence which could be received by a court in the United Kingdom which (if uncontradicted) could establish the elements of the offence alleged

3. He has jurisdiction to issue the warrant


On Tuesday, 31 January 2006, the 27 Labour MPs who backed the Lords against the Government in the first vote were:

Joe Benton Bootle
Dr Roger Berry Kingswood
Ronnie Campbell Blyth Valley
Colin Challen Morley & Rothwell
Frank Cook Stockton North
Jeremy Corbyn Islington North
Gwyneth Dunwoody Crewe & Nantwich
Bill Etherington Sunderland North
Frank Field Birkenhead
Mark Fisher Stoke-on-Trent Central
Paul Flynn Newport West
Hywel Francis Aberavon
Dr Ian Gibson Norwich North
John Grogan Selby
Kate Hoey Vauxhall
Kelvin Hopkins Luton North
Peter Kilfoyle Liverpool Walton
John McDonnell Hayes & Harlington
Andrew Mackinlay Thurrock
Robert Marshall-Andrews Medway
Alan Meale Mansfield
Gordon Prentice Pendle
Geraldine Smith Morecambe & Lunesdale
David Taylor Leicestershire North West
Rudi Vis Finchley & Golders Green
Robert Wareing Liverpool West Derby
Tony Wright Cannock Chase

Is your MP not on the above list? You can see how all MPs voted by going to:
Remember even the most "loyal" pro-war Labour MPs are responsive to local campaigns especially ones that are supported by local Party members.



Please write, phone, fax or email any / all of the Labour MPs listed below.

Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington), John Austin (Erith & Thamesmead), Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield), Michael Clapham (Barnsley West & Penistone), Katy Clark (North Ayrshire & Arran), Harry Cohen (Leyton & Wanstead), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne Central), Ann Cryer (Keighley), Frank Dobson (Holborn & St Pancras), Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe & Nantwich), Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central), Paul Flynn (Newport West), Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow), Ian Gibson (Norwich North), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath), John Timothy Grogan (Selby), David Hamilton (Midlothian), Doug Henderson (Newcastle-upon-Tyne North), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Glenda Jackson (Hampstead & Highgate), Sian C. James (Swansea East), Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak), Sadiq Khan (Tooting), Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton), Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith), Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central), Andrew Love (Edmonton), Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway), Christine McCafferty (Calder Valley), John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Michael Meacher (Oldham West & Royton), Julie Morgan (Cardiff North), George Mudie (Leeds East), Chris Mullin (Sunderland South), Gordon Prentice (Pendle), Nick Raynsford (Greenwich & Woolwich), Linda Riordan (Halifax), Clare Short (Birmingham Ladywood), Alan Simpson (Nottingham South), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Peter Soulsby (Leicester South), David Taylor (North West Leicestershire), Emily Thornberry (Islington South & Finsbury), Jon Trickett (Hemsworth), Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby), David Winnick (Walsall North), Mike Wood (Batley & Spen).


If you do not know how to contact your MP:
Go to
Alternatively, you can phone your MP on 020 7219 3000


Andrew Fisher, Streatham CLP, reports on Clare Short's attempt to curtail the Prime Minister's powers to make war.

Private Member's Bills (PMBs) are perhaps one of the most democratic procedures in the UK Parliament, as they allow a small number of individual MPs each session to draft legislation and to have time to debate it. However, whereas Government legislation is enacted on a simple majority, PMBs must pass with a majority and at least 100 MPs voting in favour. They are often arenas for the best debate and are in sharp contrast to the pantomime of Prime Minister's Questions.
In introducing the Bill on 21st October, Clare Short said: "the Bill is very straightforward in conception. It lays down that Parliament's approval must be sought before the deployment of British forces in military action. It requires that when the Prime Minister proposes military action, he must lay before both House of Parliament a report setting out the reasons for the proposed action, the legal authority for it… and… any detail that he thinks appropriate on its geographical extent, expected duration and which elements of the armed forces are to be deployed."
The Armed Forces (Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill would have swept away the medieval royal prerogative that allows Prime Ministers the right to declare war. As Clare pointed out, "when in opposition Labour promised to ensure that 'all actions of Government are subject to political and parliamentary control, including those actions now governed by the arbitrary use of the royal prerogative'."
The Bill also gave MPs the opportunity to highlight how its requirements would have changed the nature of the vote before the Iraq war. As Gordon Prentice said, "if parliamentary approval had been necessary, members of the Cabinet would have got involved, rather than acting as a kind of stage army - wheeled into No.10, given a few PowerPoint presentations and being told by the Prime Minister, no doubt, 'If you knew what I know; if you could see what comes across my desk'. All that kind of stuff."
The argument was overwhelmingly won by proponents of the Bill, with Neil Gerrard sarcastically ridiculing some of the inane opposition: "I certainly do not buy arguments that say that that would take away elements of surprise. I am sure that Saddam Hussein was really surprised when military action started."
Ultimately though only 91 MPs supported Short's Bill, with 12 voting against, so the 79 majority was irrelevant as there were nine MPs too few voting in favour. If your MP was not one of those in the list below, you should ask why.
The 12 voting against, alongside Geoff "Buff" Hoon who led the Government opposition, were a litany of Blairite nonentities from Tom Levitt to Siobhan McDonagh, and only one official Tory. Paul Flynn lampooned them as "the same people, with the same briefing from the Whips Office." Of the 91 MPs in support, 48 were Labour MPs, of whom nine were former ministers and the same number of Campaign Group MPs. Encouragingly four newly elected MPs supported the Bill, including Sadiq Khan - who made the helpful point that "the USA passed the war powers resolution in 1973… it states that if approval is not obtained within 60 days, the President must withdraw US forces within a further 30 days."

Labour MPs voting in favour of
The Armed Forces (Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill

John Austin, Roger Berry, Nick Brown, Richard Burden, Stephen Byers, Martin Caton, Colin Challen, Katy Clark, Michael Connarty, Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Cousins, Ian Davidson, Frank Dobson, David Drew, Clive Efford, Paul Flynn, Neil Gerrard, Nia Griffith, John Grogan, Dai Havard, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Brian Iddon, Glenda Jackson, Lynne Jones, Sadiq Khan, Mark Lazarowicz, David Lepper, Tony Lloyd, Andy Love, Bob Marshall-Andrews, Chris McCafferty, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, George Mudie, Albert Owen, Gordon Prentice, Ken Purchase, Joan Ruddock, Clare Short, Dennis Skinner, Andrew Smith, Peter Soulsby, Gavin Strang, Graham Stringer, Jon Trickett, Des Turner, Rudi Vis.

(This article originally appeared in LLB, November 2005)

It was disappointing that Clare Short's Private Members Bill failed to gain a 100 votes in favour especially as 221 MPs have signed EDM 85 - including 113 Labour MPs!

Did your MP sign EDM but failed to vote for Clare's PMB? Ask them why!

EDM 85
Gerrard, Neil
That this House believes that the decision to deploy British armed forces in conflict is of the most serious nature possible; notes that this is a decision to be taken by Ministers via the Royal Prerogative and that Parliament has no right to decide on the matter or even to be consulted; further notes that the Public Administration Select Committee has recommended in its report of 4th March 2004 that this situation should be ended and that Parliament should have the right to decide this matter in advance, or in cases of emergency retrospectively; further notes that in the last session of Parliament over 200 honourable Members supported this view; and therefore calls on the Government to introduce legislation to this effect.

221 signatures by: 02.11.2005 Did your MP sign up to this important EDM? You can find out by going to:

Role of honour: Labour's ID Card Rebels

If you have a moment please contact any of the Labour MPs listed below and thank them for voting against the ID Card Bill.

Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Katy Clark (Ayrshire North and Arran)
Frank Cook (Stockton North)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)
Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central)
Paul Flynn (Newport West)
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North)
Glenda Jackson (Hampstead & Highgate)
Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak)
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway)
Linda Riordan (Halifax)
Clare Short (Birmingham Ladywood)
Alan Simpson (Nottingham South)
John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)
Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby)
David Winnick (Walsall North)
Mike Wood (Batley and Spen)

EDM 182




Jones, Lynne

10 signatures

Cohen, Harry

Corbyn, Jeremy

Holmes, Paul

Hopkins, Kelvin

Jackson, Glenda

Llwyd, Elfyn

Taylor, David

Wareing, Robert N

Williams, Hywel


That this House notes the accusations, in the Observer on 15th May, by Dr. Rod Barton, an Australian intelligence officer, formerly a member of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group (ISG), that Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Director-General John Scarlett, whilst still chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, tried to influence the content of the independent verification research evaluation of Iraq's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction programme by e-mailing the head of the ISG in March 2004 proposing the insertion into the report of nine 'nuggets' of WMD-related information based on British intelligence information rather than information or discoveries originating from the ISG's investigations; believes such a report can only carry credibility if it retains its independence, and thus any such attempted 'sexing-up' of the report would be damaging to the entire Iraq inspection process; and calls upon the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to make a public statement on any involvement by John Scarlett in the drafting of the ISG report.


EDM 134




Cohen, Harry

9 signatures

Cable, Vincent

Clapham, Michael

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cryer, Ann

Hancock, Mike

Hopkins, Kelvin

Russell, Bob

Wareing, Robert N


That this House is appalled at the appointment of Ahmed Chalabi as a deputy prime minister and oil minister in Iraq; notes his multi-million pound criminal record in Jordan and his role in spreading falsehoods including untruths about weapons of mass destruction, which led to the war and deaths of very many Iraqi citizens; further notes that he intends to use his ministerial position to privatise Iraq's oil, thereby robbing the Iraqi people of yet more of their oil resources; further notes that he acts as a block to former Ba'athists returning to help administer Iraq and continues to press for the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, thereby continuing to fuel the insurgency violence; and believes that the lives of British troops should not be put at risk for the promotion of such policies and such a person.

Alan Simpson MP, Chair of Labour Against the War, has written to the Prime Minister enclosing a copy of his letter to Kofi Annan, we reprint that correspondence below and urge all sponsors and affiliates of Labour Against the War to get their local MP to endorse it.

21st July 2004

Dear Prime Minister,

Legality of the War on Iraq

As Members of the British Parliament, we have sent the attached letter to Kofi Annan, calling for an advisory opinion on the legality of the Iraq War.

On December 8th 2003 the UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on the legality of the security wall being built by the Israeli government in Occupied Palestinian Territory, “considering the rules and principles of international law, including the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.” We are seeking your support for a similar approach to the legality of the war on Iraq.

Your own government has expressed its own concerns about this war, the damage it has inflicted on civil society in Iraq and the wider implications, in international law, that follow from the declaration of pre-emptive wars.

In asking you to support this request for an advisory opinion on the legality of the war, we know this raises as many important questions about the future as about the past. We need to know if pre-emptive wars are consistent with the rules and principles of international law. We need to know if the war on Iraq complied with these rules and principles.

I hope that your own government will support such clarification by the International Court of Justice.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson MP

Other Prime Ministers being approached: France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Egypt, Spain, Denmark, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Chile.

Kofi Annan                                                                                           Alan Simpson MP
Secretary-General of the United Nations                                                   House of Commons
United Nations Headquarters                                                                   London
United Nations Plaza                                                                             SW1A 0AA
New York                                                                                           United Kingdom

20th July 2004

Dear Kofi Annan,

Legality of the War on Iraq

As members of the British parliament we are writing to ask you to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether the war on Iraq was legal.

Although the British parliament has held two inquiries into the war, neither was allowed to address its legality within the terms of the Charter of the United Nations.

It is clear that, in Britain and the United States, war was justified on the basis of Intelligence reports of current and serious threats from weapons of mass destruction, purportedly held by Iraq, all of which turned out to be without foundation.

In addition, the war was declared pre-emptively by a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ rather than by the UN Security Council following the conclusion of its weapons inspections. The International Court of Justice needs to be asked whether war could legitimately be declared by any of the parties under resolution 1441 (or its preceding resolutions) without a further explicit resolution from the Security Council.

We look to the Court for an advisory opinion on this war, not only to address the casualties and damage done to the people and country of Iraq, but also to offer clear guidelines for the future about the legality of pre-emptive wars.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson MP