Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 7:13 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh 7:13 pm, 17th July 2017

As a former chair of the all-party parliamentary group for women in Parliament, I certainly have a lot of sympathy when it comes to the WASPI women, but Government finances are difficult, as we have heard. I would certainly like us to find a way to help those most affected, and I have made those points in every single debate in which that has been possible.

We have given our constituents a chance to have a voice. One area in which we have done so is through e-petitions. I know that has happened, because I have found the voice of my constituents in my inbox, and I thank them for that. The 10 years of its operation has provided the chance for Parliament to reach into people’s homes and lives, with 10 million people signing petitions and no fewer than 20 petitions being scheduled for debate. E-petitions have engaged us in various subjects in this debating Chamber, and I have been delighted about that, particularly, thinking back to my time on the Women and Equalities Committee, those on transgender issues. This Parliament is more diverse and outward-reaching than people will ever know, but the problem with debates such as this one is that we will look more enclosed.

The Government have looked to ensure that the most talented MPs from across the House get a chance to feed into in-depth policy discussions and I congratulate all the Members who have been elected to be Select Committee Chairs. By contrast, we know that during Labour’s period in office the time for Prime Minister’s questions was reduced and there were complaints of sofa-style government. In fact, the complaint was always that the media was told first and the Chamber second; we do not see that from this Government.

I will conclude as I know we are pressed for time. Her Majesty’s Opposition have tried today to make out that there is one rule for us and another rule for everybody else. However, all of us in this Chamber are defenders of democracy, and we can see that if we use all the tools and instruments, we will have a voice for our community. So I think that Opposition Members would do well to listen to us on strengthening democracy. They should take a very serious look at taking a leaf out of our book when it comes to hearing from our constituents and reflecting what matters to them.