Friday, 18 May 2018

Government maintains its iron control over MPs

Once again, the plight of the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Afzal Khan MP, which cannot be enacted because the government will not move the necessary money resolution, was highlighted at business questions. The shadow leader of the House made the point that Bills much lower down the pecking order had received their money resolutions while the Afzal Bill, only the ninth to be brought forward, was still stalled. The leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, insisted that the government looked at Bills on a case-by-case basis. They want to stall it until the final Boundary Commission report is published. However, the Boundary Commission had been instructed to work on the basis of a reduced House of 600 MPs, while the Afzal Bill would fix the number at 650.

The point was made in a debate on the matter last week, and reinforced by two Conservative MPs,  including the normally ultra Christopher Chope, that if the government did not like the Bill, it should have turned out to oppose it in democratic debate rather than resort to this underhand use of an arcane parliamentary mechanism.

This sort of thing is not raised on the doorsteps, but it points to the perpetual drive by government to take power to itself and therefore the need for parliament - even in the unlikely form of the House of Lords on occasions - to insist on its democratic rights.

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