John McDonnell MP has put two amendments to Clause 8 of the new Armed Forces Bill. Campaigners are seeking other MPs' support for his amendments before the Bill comes to the Commons on Monday 22 May.
Clause 8 of the Bill would introduce a new and tougher definition of desertion: soldiers who go absent without leave (AWOL) and intend to refuse to take part in a 'military occupation of a foreign country or territory' (8 (3) (c)) may be imprisoned 'for life' (8 (4)(a)).
John McDonnell's amendments are:
- To delete 8 (3) (c)
- To replace 'for life' with 'must not exceed two years'.
So far there has been a great silence from MPs, mainly due to lack of any information about this Bill. Now is our chance to provoke real opposition to it in the Commons. And if a number of MPs add their names to John McDonnell's amendments and are present on Monday ready to speak against the Bill, then we stand a good chance first that the government will have to allow the Bill has to be discussed in the Commons, and that it will be opposed in the Lords.