Yesterday I tweeted that I was heading back for the last week of term in the corridors of impotence. Little did I know when I said that how clear a demonstration we would have of that impotence last night.
So I spent my time on the train preparing to speak in a debate on the abuse MPs and candidates received, particularly online, during the General Election campaign. Yet I arrive in London to hear we might not get to the debate.
Indeed, it was pushed out by a debate on Private Members Bills. Now, to be fair, I think this debate was probably more timely and relevant to our constituents and I’m sure that the debate on abuse will be rearranged. It’s the way this Tory Government is using the antiquated procedures of the House of Commons to stop any actual business taking place that is driving me up the wall.
Private Members Bills are a good thing. They are the only way backbenchers have any chance to get something on the statute books – especially those in opposition. Last year Eilidh Whiteford made history by being the first SNP MP to achieve successful legislation in Westminster with her PMB on ratifying the Istanbul Convention.
There are numerous flaws with the system – only a handful of MPs get drawn out the hat to put one forward, they’re held on Fridays meaning lots of folk have constituency commitments, only the top 5 have any realistic chance of becoming law and they can be talked out as Tory Philip Davies has demonstrated time and time again. But at least it’s a chance.
So, in their wisdom, they have set up a 2 year parliamentary term. There’ll be no Queen’s Speech in 2018 and that means no Private Members Bill ballot and no additional days for PMBs to be debated. In two years there will be 13 days for these Bills. And it’s hardly as if the one Queen’s Speech we’ve had was bursting with legislation.
It seems the idea of progressive, opposition legislation getting through really is terrifying the Tories.