Yesterday was another day for backbench business in the Commons. This has been Mr Cameron’s best reform so far, enabling Parliament to be more relevant, and to have more impact upon the agenda and debates of the nation.
The Committee decided to allow two issues to be aired. The first was a motion to require Ministers to make all their important announcements to the Commons first. If a Minister breaks the convention and leaks important information prior to the Statement, then the House wished the matter to be dealt with either by the Speaker or by the Standards and Privileges Committee. Parliament voted this motino down by 228 votes to 119.
In recent years governments have got lax about telling the Commons first. They often prefer to tell a friendly journalist or create a story on a week-end show. This matters. Parliament is the correct forum, so the matter can be properly exposed to comment and criticism by Opposition and government backbenches alike. If Parliament is to stay relevant most of the time it needs to hear the news first, to disseminate the main announcements about government policy and actions.
The second motion was to call upon the government to reform our extradition arrangements. Many of us think the European Arrest Warrant is too intrusive in its impact on UK justice. We are not against extradition, but would like to see the UK retain more control over the process. Similarly, many of us thought the last government’s deal with the US was lop sided, giving too much to the US. Other countries have different arrangements which we think are preferable.
This motion passed without opposition. This means the government has accepted it. Let us hope they now carry out the will of the House. The UK needs a better deal on extradition. Too much power has been given away by past Parliaments. It is good to see this one trying to reclaim some. I am grateful to Dominic Raab for bringing forward his motion, which I did co-sign.