Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Kerry and the Bill-killers

Kerry McCarthy MP is rightly aggrieved. Arcane parliamentary procedures allowed neighbouring MP Jacob Rees-Mogg to recite poetry as part of a government strategy to 'talk out' the second reading of the Sustainable Livestock Bill yesterday.

Yet again, a Friday afternoon "Private Members Bill" that made a great deal of sense and had very strong support, was lost not though argument, not through a vote, but through the abuse of Parliamentary procedure. And it's become a habit. No wonder Kerry tweets that
"We've got to sort out these Friday procedures".

Pity she wasn't so keen when her party was in power, and, as a junior whip, she was only too ready to use those same procedures to block Bills that, for its own reasons, the government didn't want discussed.

Bills like Lord Morris's Haemophiliacs Bill, to compensate victims of "the worst medical treatment disaster in the history of the NHS" the contamination of haemophiliacs with HIV/HCV through plasma imported from US prisons. That one was killed stone dead by Kerry's call of 'Object!' one Friday back in February.

There have been innumerable popular Bills killed off the same way. I know, I've often been part of the lobbying to persuade MPs to try to get them taken up in the first place.

Caroline Lucas MP was, like Kerry, appalled at the way yesterday's Bill was stopped. Unlike Kerry, Caroline hasn't got a history of killing Bills herself, or of using arcane procedures to avoid debate - the legislative equivalent of using legal loopholes to avoid paying tax. As she told this autumn's Green Party conference:

" I remain conscious of how strange, even alien, Parliament is.

It isn't just the odd language, the arcane procedures and strange costumes.

It's an institution designed for, and run by, an elite, who simply don't want to let the people have a real say in decisions. "

Kerry and the rest really need to get their act together if they really mean to challenge this shameful side of 'the mother of parliaments'.

But will it happen?


Stockwood Pete said...

Re the 'talk-out' of the Sustainable Livestock Bill, it's against an alarming background of similar coalition moves toward the industrialisation of animal-keeping. Always the commercial prioriies first, externalising the costs to the environment or to the animals themselves. This piece in yesterday's Independent catalogues what they're up to.

between-the-lines said...

And this piece shows the worldwide ramifications of our current globalised food system.

We're right to be concerned about the loss of green space in our own back yard in the West Country, but the agribusiness we get our food from here is destroying the environment and the livelihoods of millions of people in other countries.

All the more reason for all of us to get growing as much of our own food as we can, locally and with as few external inputs as possible.