Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)
I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the expectation that the Government table a money resolution to a private Member’s Bill that has received a Second Reading. Private Members’ Bills represent one of the few legislative powers that are open to Back Benchers, but the Government are making a mockery of the private Member’s Bill process. Refusing to bring forward a money resolution for my Bill amounts to an abuse of Parliament, and Members should urgently have the chance to debate it.
My private Member’s Bill passed its Second Reading unanimously. Through points of order, business questions and an urgent question last week, Members have made it clear that they wish the Bill to be debated and scrutinised in Committee. The Government’s actions are profoundly undemocratic. This is a minority Government who nevertheless seem willing to defy the will of the House.
The Government are running roughshod over parliamentary procedure. Money resolutions have historically been formalities, introduced as a matter of course after Second Reading. Indeed, in multiple representations to the Procedure Committee, the Government committed to this approach. Five months on from the Second Reading of my Bill, no resolution is in sight, however. Statements from Ministers suggest that one may never materialise. The Government have leapfrogged two Bills that were behind mine over it, and those have now been given money resolutions. The only logic here is that this is about what is in the Government’s interests.
My Bill on constituency boundaries gets to the heart of the balance between Back Benchers and the Executive. Cutting the number of MPs without reducing the number of Ministers will increase the proportion of MPs on the payroll, making it more difficult for Back Benchers to challenge the Government.
I believe that the original decision to reduce the number of MPs was politically motivated. The Conservative party stands to win a greater proportion of the seats in a smaller Parliament. By refusing to allow my private Member’s Bill to progress, the Government are abusing their executive power for their own party’s electoral gain. Ministers all but confessed to this when they said they would wait until the Boundary Commission had reported before making a decision about my Bill.
The Government are defying the will of the House and overstretching their executive power in the service of their party’s electoral interests. Members deserve a chance to debate this issue and restore some integrity to the private Member’s Bill process.
I have listened carefully to the hon. Member’s application, and I am satisfied that the matter raised is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Has the hon. Member the leave of the House?
Application agreed to.
The hon. Member has obtained the leave of the House. [Interruption.] Members are most welcome to resume their seats if they so wish. [Interruption.] Order. Members attending to our proceedings will want to know what follows. I can advise the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan) and the House that the debate will be held on Monday as the first item of public business. The debate will last for up to three hours and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the hon. Gentleman’s application.