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Iraq war opponents try 1923 ploy to start UK withdrawal.



Byline: By Tomos Livingstone Western Mail

History could repeat itself this week as nationalists use a decades-old parliamentary convention in a bid to force the Government into giving a timetable for pulling out of Iraq.

Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru
Noun

the Welsh nationalist party [Welsh]
 and the Scottish Nationalist Party Nationalist Party
 or Kuomintang or Guomindang

Political party that governed all or part of mainland China from 1928 to 1949 and subsequently ruled Taiwan.
 are hoping to table an amendment to tomorrow's Queen's Speech calling for Ministers to put forward a 'progressive reduction' of Britain's presence in Iraq and for the plan to be debated by MPs.

Lightning could strike twice, as back in 1923 a similar ploy was used by the Liberal Party to force a vote on Britain's presence in Mesopotamia - now Iraq.

Then, as now, success depended on the Speaker's willingness to allow the amendment to be debated. Some Labour and Tory MPs, including former Chancellor Ken Clarke, have backed the idea, boosting its chances of being accepted.

Pressure is growing on Downing Street after sweeping gains for the Democrats in the United States mid-term elections. Senior Democrats want a phased withdrawal from Iraq, and Prime Minister Tony Blair is to speak to the Iraq Study Group The Iraq Study group (ISG), also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission,[1] was a ten-person bipartisan panel appointed on March 15, 2006, by the United States Congress, that was charged with assessing the situation in Iraq and the US-led Iraq War and making , an inquiry led by former Secretary of State James Baker.

That has angered Plaid and the SNP SNP Scottish National Party

Noun 1. SNP - (genetics) genetic variation in a DNA sequence that occurs when a single nucleotide in a genome is altered; SNPs are usually considered to be point mutations that have been evolutionarily
, whose own bid to force a UK inquiry failed narrowly in parliament two weeks ago. Ministers argued an inquiry would damage troop morale.

The Plaid/SNP idea is being supported by former Tory chancellor Mr Clarke, Clare Short, who last month left the Labour Party and Labour leadership contender John McDonnell.

Plaid MP Adam Price said the call in the amendment was a moderate one.

He said, 'It's an amazing situation where the Prime Minister is ready to go to the Guildhall to make a speech on foreign policy and to give evidence to the Baker commission in the United States.

'The only place he is not ready to explain his strategy is in the House of Commons House of Commons: see Parliament. , and that is completely unacceptable.'

Mr Price added, 'What we want to do in the next few days is ensure that there is enough support across the House, and we already have the support of a number of MPs.'

The Commons vote two weeks ago, when Plaid came within 25 votes of forcing an inquiry into the Iraq war, was the culmination of a long-running campaign by Mr Price which began with calls for Mr Blair to be impeached.

Mr Blair last night used his Guildhall speech - an annual event - to call for Iran and Syria to be engaged in efforts to secure peace in Iraq and the Middle East.

Mr Price said this apparent policy shift should also be the subject of a Commons debate.

In the past, Iran has been blamed for being behind attacks on coalition troops.

The waterway where four British personnel were killed on Sunday forms the boundary between Iraq and Iran and is heavily patrolled by British forces.

The names of the four dead are to be released today.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said any talks with Iran should take into account the country's human rights record.

Mr Bryant has written to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana urging them to press Tehran to commute death sentences for 10 Ahwazi Arab men from the south-west of the country.

Amnesty International Amnesty International (AI,) human-rights organization founded in 1961 by Englishman Peter Benenson; it campaigns internationally against the detention of prisoners of conscience, for the fair trial of political prisoners, to abolish the death penalty and torture of  and Human Rights Watch say they did not have a fair trial, that their lawyers were not allowed to see them before their trial and that they were tortured into making false confessions.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 14, 2006
Words:577
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