The government has failed to give us the promised referendum on the EU Treaty.
Now it is failing to give us the promised full Parliamentary scrutiny.
Yesterday we had a bad tempered debate on how much time would be made available to go through all the powers transferred and the complexities of the EU proposals.
The 20 days floated in the newspapers has come down to 14 days including 2nd Reading and the debate on the timetable. The ability to probe and examine amendments on every part of the Treaty and Bill, has transposed into just one and half hours tacked on to the end of themed debates to consider amendments. Today that is just one and half hours for any amendment covering cross-border crime, justice, policing, human trafficking and asylum and migration policy.
This is not Parliamentary scrutiny, this is a government riding roughshod over Parliamentary accountability. Normally MPs can table and debate a wide range of amendments on each Bill, with time in committee to consider each amendment and each clause on a line by line basis. That will be quite impossible on this most complex of documents, with so little time for proper committee discussion.
Why canâ€™t the government cancel one of the weeks of holiday pencilled into the Parliamentary diary? Why canâ€™t it remove some of the Topical debates on Thursdays, which are always on subjects the government wishes to highlight, and give the time to this issue? Why do we have to pack up at 7pm on a Wednesday, when we go on to 10 pm as on Mondays and Tuesdays?
The truth is there are plenty of ways of finding the time, if they wanted to. There are plenty of us wishing to debate a wide range of amendments and new clauses.
Yesterday the government showed they do not want Parliament to do a proper job on this Bill, any more than they want the people to have a vote on it. Clearly the government is worried about this Treaty, and knows it is unpopular. That may be why Mr Brown did not wish to be in family photo at the signing ceremony, why he did not have the 2 nd Reading on a day he could be represent and voting, and why now his business managers are artificially restricting the time for amendments.
In one sense the government is right. Because Parliament is debating it after the government has signed it, it is take it or leave it. The Opposition has voted against the whole thing, but lost thanks to the support of both Lib Dem and Labour MPs. The battle now over the substance of the Bill is to expose just how much power the government is giving away, in the knowledge that from here the Lib Dems are going to support the government when it matters, making the government casual about needing to explain itself to Parliament and people.
I do hope all those who voted UKIP in the General Election, helping federalist candidates to become MPs, now wish they had not. We need votes now in the House of Commons. Splitting the anti Constitution vote in 2005 has damaged our cause.
PS: Today. Tuesday the government made a small concession – we now have two and half hours for an amendment and three and a half hours for the general motion each day.