On a point of order, Mr Speaker. We know that military intervention has started without the House being able to debate or vote on the issue. On 10 March the Leader of the House was asked during business questions by the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) whether the House could definitely have a vote before any military action was taken if a no-fly zone was to be imposed. The Leader of the House said yes, that that is now the convention and that it was the Government’s intention to
“observe that convention except when there is an emergency and such action would not be appropriate.”—[Official Report, 10 March 2011; Vol. 524, c. 1066.]
I say to you, Sir, that the vote on military action in Iraq was on 18 March 2003, and that action took place two days later. If the House could not meet to discuss this on Friday, was it not possible for us to meet on Saturday? The convention whereby the House debates military action before such action takes place has not been followed.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Having first entered the House in 1966, he will know that the arrangement of business is a matter for the Government, not the Chair. He has made an important point and it is on the record. If he catches the eye of the Chair, he will have an opportunity to develop that point among others later in the afternoon.