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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:41 am on 13th April 2016.

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Photo of Melanie Onn Melanie Onn Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 10:41 am, 13th April 2016

I am well aware of that. It just shows the importance of the issue to members of the public. I would urge anybody who is tuning into Parliament TV today to sign up. Maybe we will have a private Member’s Bill on private Members’ Bills at some point.

I do not want to echo comments that have already been made too much, but it is really not fair that one Member of this House can block legislation from being voted on and possibly becoming law. We never hear a defence of the filibuster rule. We hear objections to changes to the procedures and we hear Members justifying their actions by working within the rules, but very rarely do we have an outright defence of the system. That is because it is unjustifiable for one or two MPs to deny the representatives of the rest of the country a voice on important and potentially life-saving legislation.

Very often—we have heard examples of this—it is a Government Minister who does the filibustering and not some rogue Back Bencher, which often seems to be the general impression. An Education Minister blocked the Bill that would have made it compulsory for children to be taught emergency first aid at school, and the Minister for Community and Social Care talked out a Bill to allow the NHS access to low-cost medical treatments for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and Parkinson’s. The same Minister prevented a Bill from passing that would have exempted carers from paying hospital parking charges.