Ilford Recorder Column 1 August 2013
The House of Commons is now in recess until September but most MPs will take only a brief holiday. My constituency and Commons offices will continue to help constituents and deal with the hundreds of emails and many calls we receive every day. 24 hour news, mobile phones, twitter and the Internet mean that today it is almost impossible to get away from the pressures and demands of constituents, journalists and events. The Executive branch of Government and officials like the recess because they are able to avoid proper scrutiny of their actions and often try to slip out controversial announcements beneath the radar. Lack of clarity about the policy and intentions of our government over Syria and suspicion that it intended to act without Parliamentary approval led to a debate and vote being called by the Backbench Business Committee.
I am deeply distressed by the appalling crimes and brutality occurring in Syria. So far in two years over one hundred thousand have died and millions have been driven from their homes many to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.
I pointed out that I am, by instinct and nature, a humanitarian interventionist. I support the responsibility to protect civilians against brutal and repressive regimes and I believe that there are sometimes circumstances where it is right to take action without a United Nations Security Council resolution, but I am not persuaded about suggestions that we provide sophisticated weaponry to opposition groups in Syria. I supported the motion not simply to assert parliamentary sovereignty but because there would be wider implications of such a decision by the Government or if arms are given to neighbouring states and then passed on.