Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 9 May 2018.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration) 9:30, 9 May 2018

I beg to move,

That, if proceedings on the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill are not completed at this day’s sitting, the Committee shall meet on Monday 14 May at 4.00 pm and on Wednesday 16 May at 9.30 am.

I am glad that the Committee is finally meeting this morning, but I am very disappointed to have wasted hon. Members’ time, as we cannot discuss a single issue of substance without a money resolution. It has already been five months since the Bill passed Second Reading, with 229 votes to 44. The House sent a strong message that it wants the Bill to be considered in Committee. The Government are defying the will of the House by refusing to bring a money resolution forward, which they have had ample time to do. This is an abuse of just the Executive power that the Bill is trying to keep in check.

At business questions on Thursday, Members from all three major parties raised the money resolution with the Leader of the House. As the hon. Member for Wellingborough said:

“Money resolutions should follow Second Readings as night follows day.”—[Official Report, 3 May 2018; Vol. 640, c. 467.]

The Leader of the House said she would bring forward a money resolution in due course, but who knows what that means in practice?

The Speaker weighed in clearly on the topic, saying that unease on the issue of a money resolution

“should have been heard, and must be heard, on the Treasury Bench.”

He also said that

“it would be appreciated if colleagues felt confident that there was a logic and reasonableness to the decision-making process.”—[Official Report, 3 May 2018; Vol. 640, c. 477.]

The Speaker was referring to the extraordinary fact that the Government brought a money resolution for the Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill on 1 May but did not bring one for this Bill. The prisons Bill came 13th in the private Member’s Bill ballot, as opposed to mine, which came third. The prisons Bill had its Second Reading on the same day as my Bill, and I believe its Committee is meeting down the corridor right now. It would have been entirely possible for both money resolutions to be introduced on the same day, in good time for us to consider my Bill fully today.

Finally, I stress that my Bill is time sensitive. The boundary commissions are due to submit their final recommendations in September 2018. A previous private Member’s Bill along the same lines was introduced in the last Parliament, but it ran out of time after the Government failed to bring forward a money resolution before the snap general election last year. If the Government continue to delay my Bill, there is a danger that the House will not have a chance to debate or pass it before the new boundary proposals are before the House.

I do not deny that my Bill is controversial, but it is also reasonable, and such an important constitutional question—how many Members of Parliament should represent the people of this country—should be fully considered by the House, not blocked by the Government using parliamentary procedure. I will press the Government to bring forward a money resolution ahead of our next meeting, and I hope other hon. Members here will join me.