Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 16 May 2018.

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Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Labour, Enfield, Southgate 9:30, 16 May 2018

As one of the new intake of MPs in 2017, I am still getting to grips with how decisions are made and how futile the attempts of Back Benchers to get things done can be. I was told that Back Benchers could get something to become law by promoting a private Member’s Bill. Getting a First Reading is hard enough, but it is not insurmountable. Getting a Second Reading is nigh on impossible, because unless one is lucky enough to get into the top 20 in the private Member’s Bill draw, one is unlikely to get sufficient time to debate the issue. Even if sufficient time is granted, at least 100 MPs have to be present on one of the 13 allotted Fridays and then a majority of those voting have to vote for the Bill. To get to a Second Reading is a tall order.

At present there are 58 private Members’ Bills scheduled for the next sitting Friday on 15 June; 25 for Friday 6 July; 23 for Friday 26 October; and 18 for Friday 23 November. That is a total of 103 private Member’s Bills, the vast majority of which will never get a Second Reading, due to the lack of parliamentary time. When a private Member’s Bill does get through its Second Reading with a majority in the House on a Friday, surely the Government should respect the will of Parliament and grant a money resolution to allow the Bill to progress.

Earlier this morning, I looked up “money resolutions” on the Parliament website, which defines it as follows:

“A Money resolution must be agreed to by the House of Commons if a new Bill proposes spending public money on something that hasn’t previously been authorised by an Act of Parliament.

Money resolutions, like Ways and Means resolutions, are normally put to the House for agreement immediately after the Bill has passed its Second reading in the Commons.”

I ask hon. Members to note the word “immediately”.

The Bill passed its Second Reading on 1 December 2017. Five and a half months have passed and the Government are undemocratically disrespecting the will of Parliament, trying to smother this Bill by not granting a money resolution. This is a flagrant abuse of the customs and practices of this Parliament, as the hon. Member for Glasgow East has said. It is an attack on the processes of parliamentary democracy and on the few chances that Back Benchers have to influence and make changes. Parliament is not just the Government. The Government need to think very carefully about their disrespect for parliamentary democracy. Back Benchers need to be heard and respected.