Parliament recalled over air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq

Parliament is to be recalled on Friday to discuss the UK’s possible involvement in air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

Prime Minister David Cameron said MPs should respond to the Iraqi government’s request for help.

He added that the UK “should not turn away from what needs to be done”.

The Liberal Democrats are backing air strikes in Iraq and Labour leader Ed Miliband has confirmed his support, saying the UK cannot “opt out”.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has said it is “aware” of reports that a British national has died in Syria, but it has “no further information at this moment”.

IS – also known as Isil – has taken control of large areas of Iraq and Syria in recent months and seized several Western hostages.

It has threatened to kill British aid worker Alan Henning, having released footage of the killing of another British man, David Haines, earlier this month.

Mr Cameron, who is in the US, tweeted: “I have requested that Parliament be recalled to debate the UK response to the Iraqi Govt’s request for support against Isil. The Speaker has accepted my request to recall Parliament on Friday.”

He later said: “What we are doing is legal and it is right. It does not involve British combat troops on the ground.”

He added that “when we are threatened in this way, we should not turn away from what needs to be done”.

“I’m confident we will get this through on an all-party basis,” Mr Cameron said.

“If there was a question of taking action against Isil in Syria, it would be a separate parliamentary debate. I want to be very clear about that.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told the BBC his party would support air strikes in Iraq.

He said they were “legal” and the UK would be “part of a much bigger coalition, a whole array of countries, crucially including a number of Arab countries which deprives Isil of the ability to somehow portray it as a west verses the rest crusade”.

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Ed Balls sets out priorities for ‘first Labour Budget’ – UK

Ed Balls has said he will increase the minimum wage and the top rate of income tax and extend child benefit curbs in his first Budget if Labour wins power.

The shadow chancellor told Labour’s conference the party had “more work to do” to persuade people it can deliver the change he said people wanted.

He said he would act swiftly after the election to reverse housing benefit cuts and boost jobs for young people.

And he hinted that Labour would be prepared to accept Heathrow expansion.

In his last conference address before next year’s election, Mr Balls said Labour had learnt from its “past mistakes” and will not “flinch” from tough decisions if it regains power.

Anticipating his first Budget, which he would be expected to deliver in the summer of 2015 if Labour is elected, Mr Balls said his priorities would be:

  • Rise in minimum wage
  • Cut in business rates
  • Mansion tax on properties worth over £2m
  • 20-month freeze in energy bills
  • Jobs guarantee for young people
  • 50p top rate of income tax
  • Scrapping the “bedroom tax”
  • Extending the 1% cap on child benefit rises to 2017

Mr Balls said Labour was serious about “balancing the books” in the next Parliament and would not “make any promises it cannot keep or afford”.

“The country is crying out for change,” he said. “But we have more work to do to show Labour can deliver the change that people want to see.

“To show that we have learned from our time in government, that we will make the tough decisions we need to get the deficit down and that we can change our economy and make it work for working people.”

As part of what he said was a “fully costed” programme, he announced that the value of child benefits would continue to fall in real terms for the first two years of a Labour government.

Under his plans, child benefit payments would not rise in line with inflation but by a fixed rate of 1% per year until 2017. The policy is already in place until 2016, having been announced by the coalition, but Labour’s move would see it continue for another year.

Millions of households which receive the benefit would be affected by the move.

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