Friday, 21 October 2005

Clare Short's war Bill

Former Cabinet Secretary Clare Short has introduced a Private Member's Bill, designed to limit a British Prime Minister's ability to declare war.

The Bill, if passed, would enable Parliament to vote for military action. Presently, the ability to declare war is one of the "Royal Prerogatives", which are powers theoretically possessed by the Sovereign. The Prime Minister can use these powers whenever he wishes, but must seek the permission of the Sovereign when doing so.

This Bill evidently is in response to the 2003 Iraq war, to which I personally was opposed. I've never been a fan of these "Royal Prerogatives". They are a holdover from when the Sovereign was the de facto source of executive power in the United Kingdom. When (for example) Henry VIII was King, he could declare war, appoint ministers and appoint diplomats at will. The British constitution has evolved over time, so these powers gradually became the preserve of the Prime Minister and not the Sovereign. IMO, the Royal Prerogatives are archaic and should be abolished.

Such powers cannot be consistent with a libertarian government. Libertarians believe that government is force. Hence the powers of government must be clearly defined and limited so force is minimised. In principle, I support Ms. Short's Bill, since the PM shouldn't possess a unilateral ability to declare war.

If you've read my libertarian constitution on the links section (to the right), you'd see that I've granted Parliament the ability to declare war. I've done this so the powers of individual politicians are limited, so force against the citizen is minimised.