Private Members’ Bills — [Valerie Vaz in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:23 am on 13th April 2016.

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Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland Office) 10:23 am, 13th April 2016

I take the hon. Lady’s important point, and I am sure the Minister will respond to it.

As a sponsor of the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill, I was eager to hear it debated and scrutinised, and for the House to be given the opportunity to vote on it. The measures in the Bill had widespread public support, and for it to be talked out was an affront to democracy. Similar legislation has been passed in other European countries, such as France and Italy, and the Bill warranted fuller discussion by the House. So too did the NHS reinstatement Bill. No time limits were imposed on speakers during the debate, and one speaker alone was able to orate for more than one hour and 20 minutes.

The system is clearly in need of reform, and I propose that time limits should become a regular part of the discussion of private Member’s Bills. There also needs to be proper timetabling to ensure a more equitable method of dealing with Second Reading debates. There must also be the presumption of a Division on Second Reading. It is incredibly frustrating to take time away from my constituency on a Friday for an important debate, only to be denied a vote. That may not be a problem for some Members with constituencies in closer proximity to Westminster, but the logistics mean that Members based in Scotland must sacrifice an entire day in their constituency.

I hope that careful consideration will be given to the points I have raised. Reform of the current system will not only lead to a fairer process but create one that is much more accessible to the electorate.