More than six hours of parliamentary time was taken up in the House of Commons yesterday in questions to the Prime Minister on the weekend’s joint US/ UK and French air raid on Syrian chemical weapons facilities and an emergency debate on its aftermath.
The MP for Cardiff South and Penarth Stephen Doughty appeared once again to diverge from the policy of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and gave his tacit support to the Prime Minister’s decision to participate in the weekend air strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facility.
However in asking a question to the Prime Minister, Doughty decided to use an occasion – when war and peace were uppermost in the minds of MPs – to launch unprecedented attack on the Conservative-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council.
In putting his question to the PM, Doughty said “One of the last discussions I had with our murdered former colleague Jo Cox was on the need to protect civilians in Syria. We cannot fire and forget, but neither can we simply debate and talk and forget. What is the Prime Minister’s comprehensive political, diplomatic and humanitarian strategy—not just one-off military actions—to protect civilians in Syria? Does she agree that councils around the country, including Vale of Glamorgan Council in my constituency, need to do much more to support the resettlement of Syrian refugees under the resettlement programme, which they are currently not doing?”
The Prime Minister replied: ” Certainly. There are two areas in which we will undertake this diplomatic and political process. The first is in relation to the use of chemical weapons, following up within a number of international forums on the military action that has taken place. As I said, there have already been comments coming out of the European Foreign Affairs Council and the Gulf Co-operation Council, and we will be discussing with a number of leaders around the world how we can re-establish the international norm prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. That is one strand of activity we will undertake.”
“The other strand is the full support we will continue to give to the United Nations process in trying to find a solution to what is happening in Syria. We support the work that Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy, is doing in that area. We hope that the Geneva process can be reignited and that we see the parties coming together around the table to find a genuine solution; that means not just all the parties in Syria but actually the backers of the parties in Syria being willing to do that.”
Mrs May answered in all 140 questions from MPs about Syria but didn’t get around the addressing Doughty’s somewhat tenuous allegation about the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
However in a three-hour debate on Syria which followed the session, Doughty – yet again – alleged the Vale of Glamorgan Council was not doing enough for Syrian refugees. He said “I have mentioned the situation of councils and what they can do. I am disappointed that the efforts being made by Croeso Penarth in my constituency to house Syrian refugees are being frustrated by the local council. I am disappointed to see the very strict rules on family reunion being interpreted in the way they are”.