We are really pleased that Ann Clwyd’s Early Day Motion on Bradley Manning has now been signed by 36 other Members of Parliament, including all of Plaid Cymru’s MPs and representatives from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is pretty decent progress for an EDM that was tabled just over a couple of weeks ago and we expect to receive further signatures in the coming days.
Individuals writing to their MPs to request that they sign the EDM has been, and continues to be, extremely important. At present, this is by far the best means for those in the UK who are concerned about what is happening to Bradley to register that concern in an effective way. Bradley Manning is a UK citizen and the Government in this country therefore has a special responsibility towards him. At the very least, the UK should be offering Bradley its consular assistance – it is both surprising and alarming that it has not done so to date.
If you haven’t yet written to your MP, we encourage you to do so. This website makes it an easy process. Be assured that any letter you do write really does make an impact: your message will be read, its contents will be noted and any MP who deserves to continue in that post will do you the courtesy of responding. A message sent across the Atlantic will not receive the same consideration.
It is worth noting that the content of EDM 1624 is in no way controversial. Indeed, we would venture that, should your MP feel unable as a point of principle to put their name to the following, then you should carefully consider whether they really deserve to be your MP at all:
That this House expresses great concern at the treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning, currently detained at the US Quantico Marine Base; notes the increasing level of interest and concern in the case in the UK and in particular in Wales; appeals to the US administration to ensure that his detention conditions are humane; and calls on the UK Government to raise the case with the US administration.
We have recently become aware that some MPs have claimed they cannot sign EDM 1624 due to the posts they occupy as either Parliamentary Public Secretaries (a junior Government position) or as members of the Opposition holding a Shadow portfolio. Some background on this issue is provided in this factsheet issued by the House of Commons Information Office. Here’s the relevant extract:
Ministers and whips do not normally sign EDMs. Under the Ministerial Code, Parliamentary Private Secretaries “must not associate themselves with particular groups advocating special policies”, and they do not normally sign EDMs. Neither the Speaker nor Deputy Speakers will sign EDMs. Internal party rules may also affect who can sign early day motions.
What constitutes a “special policy” in this instance is not entirely clear and we will seek to clarify this as soon as possible. What is clear is that there is no Parliamentary rule that prevents Shadow Ministers from signing EDMs; whether there are internal Labour Party rules that may impact on the situation is something our supporters are investigating. Again, we will provide an update here once the situation is clarified.
Thanks to @Gavin_PPUK for the Parliamentary info.