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Wednesday 16th January 2013 | 08:54
The second RAF C-17 plane left Paris last night for Mali.
But there is a big question mark over whether the UK should extend its involvement to include not just logistical and transport help but also training of local forces.
EU foreign ministers want states to offer training and yesterday’s National Security Council, chaired by the PM, decided to ‘consider’ this request.
But, rather intriguingly, No.10 stressed that the PM’s firm view was that nothing could be decided on this without Parliamentary scrutiny by the Commons European Scrutiny Committees.
Well, a glance at the Order Paper reveals that there are several items on just this. The obscure European Committee B will meet at 2.30pm to ‘consider’ a draft EU memo that extends current Somalia training to Mali too. It is formally known as a “Council Decision on a European Union military mission to contribute to the training of the Malian Armed Forces (EUTM Mali)”. Will a few MPs dig in and refuse to give their approval?
It looks like the Government is assuming MPs will nod this through. I see that at 7pm David Lidington has a motion – "without debate" – on agreeing the EU plan. The motion states that the House “supports the Government’s intention to agree these draft decisions”. Here's the full wording:
"EU TRAINING OF SOMALI SECURITY FORCES AND MALIAN ARMED FORCES [No debate]
Mr David Lidington
That this House takes note of Unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum dated 13 December 2012, submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, relating to a draft Council Decision amending and extending Council Decision 2010/96/CFSP on a European Union military mission to contribute to the training of Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia) and Unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum dated 18 December 2012, submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, relating to a draft Council Decision on a European Union military mission to contribute to the training of the Malian Armed Forces; and supports the Government’s intention to agree these draft decisions."
Many MPs may support the training role (and time is of the essence in any military operation), but shouldn’t the House have a greater chance to decide?
Didn't the Tories and Lib Dems in Opposition want more of a Parliamentary say over military action?
Given the big issues on the future of the EU and Brussels powers this week, will Eurosceps flex their muscles on a point of principle?
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