Yesterday the government presented a Business motion to the House which allowed just one hour to “complete” consideration of the Digital Economy Bill, and a mere 3 hours to consider and pass an entirely new 71 Clause Finance Bill. It summed up all that has been wrong for the last five years. It was the final denouement of a government which hates, sidelines, marginalises and trivialises Parliament. This government has undermined Parliament by its actions and its inactions.
I and a few others opposed the government’s Motion. The government moved to close down debate on the shortage of time for debate. We forced a division and voted against, but there were too few of us. We then called another division to try to stop the steamroller on the Finance and Digital Bills, but again we lost by a wide margin. We also wished to salvage the motion to ensure backbench involvement in future timetables for House business, but that was brushed aside by an arrogant government machine. Then we were in to the shortened debates.
I decided to use my share of the little time available to speak against the Finance Bill. It is normal for there to be a short Finance Bill to allow revenue to becollected prior to a May election. It is not normal for there to be a blockbuster 166 page Bill with just three hours for Second Reading,. Committee and Third Reading. In the time available we just managed a short 2nd Reading and the beginnings of a commitee session. I had spoken against the Digital Bill the day before. I will post the Finance speech as usual. The main burden of my comments was to highlight the lack of any enterprise strategy, the failure to reduce tax and bureaucracy on those who work hard and create jobs, at a time when we need hard work and new jobs to fuel the recovery.
So what should we call this miserable Parliament as it limps to a sorry conclusion today? Should it be known as the Bad Parliament, for all the damage it has done to itself and the UK economy? Or as the Bankrupt Parliament, for the huge sums it has spent on banks, the public sector and itself, forcing the country into huge debt? Or the Crashed Parliament, to remidn us of the massive Boom and Bust it helped fuel? Or as the Failed Parliament, for its inability to hold a bad government to account owing to the refusal of Labour MPs to vote for proper Parliamentary scrutiny of most things, and its refusal to see the damage the failure of Parliament was doing to itself and to the country? Or should it just be known as the Hopeless Parliament, the Parliament that gave away yet more powers to the EU, to quangos and anyone in sight, and couldn’t even work out its own expenses? I am opting for Hopeless as the best description, but you may wish to make other suggestions. Please remember to frame them for a family audience!