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

The important thing is that we should at least have the opportunity to vote on these things, which we do not have at the moment. If we are going to run a Parliament and say to people, “We’re here to influence change. We can properly represent you,” and then be denied that, it is the time for change.

As long as the Government are able to veto private Members’ Bills before they are voted on, the only Bills that will be allowed to pass are the ones that the Government are in favour of, but if the Government are in favour of them, they could just as easily introduce the legislation themselves. Why do they not just do away with the nonsense—that is how it is viewed at the moment—of private Members’ Bills?

Other speakers have said that it would not be right to allow the small number of Members who turn up on a Friday to decide the laws of the country, but I think that the current system for private Members’ Bills actively discourages Members from being here on a Friday because, as there are no time limits on debates, it is impossible to know which legislation will be reached and debated, let alone what will be voted on. Most MPs, including me, would rather spend an extra day in our constituencies than stay in Westminster on the off-chance that their Bill will reach a meaningful discussion or even a vote.