Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill
The Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill was a private member's bill introduced into the United Kingdom House of Commons by Tam Dalyell MP under the Ten Minute Rule. It received its formal first reading on 26 January 1999. The bill sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to Parliament. The long title of the bill was a Bill to require the prior approval, by a simple majority of the House of Commons, of military action by United Kingdom forces against Iraq. It was presented by Tam Dalyell and supported by Tony Benn, Harry Cohen, Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway, Neil Gerrard, Dr Ian Gibson, John McAllion, Alice Mahon, Robert Marshall-Andrews, Dennis Skinner and Audrey Wise.
The bill became Bill 35 in the 1998/1999 Parliamentary session, and was initially scheduled for second reading on 16 April 1999. As a bill modifying the monarch's prerogative powers, the Queen's consent was required before it could be debated in Parliament. This is perhaps the only remaining situation in which the Sovereign is directly and substantively involved in the process of a Bill becoming an Act of Parliament, in contrast to the ceremonial act of granting Royal Assent to a Bill.
The Queen, acting upon the advice of her government, refused to grant her consent for the Bill to be debated. The second reading was initially postponed from 16 April until 23 July 1999. Due to the Crown's continuing refusal to signify its consent to the Bill being debated, it could not receive its second reading on 23 July 1999. In the absence of a request for a further postponement, the Bill was automatically dropped before it obtained its second reading.
When military action against Iraq was eventually organised in 2003, the government sought Parliamentary approval on 18 March 2003, one day before the invasion began, although no powers under the royal prerogative were thereby transferred to Parliament.
- First reading (Hansard, 26 January 1999, Col.145)
- Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill (full text from The Stationery Office)
- First reading (Hansard, 26 January 1999, Col.147)
- Extract (Hansard, 16 April 1999, Col.521) ("Queen's consent has not been signified. Second Reading what day? ... Friday 23 July.")
- Weekly Information Bulletin (17 July 1999, giving second reading date)
- Order of Business (23 July 1999) ("Queen's Consent to be signified")
- Extract (Hansard, 23 July 1999, Col.1545) ("As the Queen's consent has not been obtained, this cannot be dealt with. Second Reading what day? No day named.")
- Weekly Information Bulletin (29 July 1999)("Commons: (35) 1R: 26.1.99 (Dropped)")