Lobby fodder

On Tuesday afternoon, Parliament debated a ‘programme’ motion on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.

Programme motions are about the time allocated for debate and are normally fairly routine matters. This was a bit different. The Minister introducing the motion said that if he was in opposition, he would not support it. MPs of all parties spoke against the motion, including normally loyal backbenchers.

Why was the motion so controversial? It proposed limiting debate on the bill to half a day, even though the bill had over 400 new clauses added at the committee stage, and over 200 tabled for the first time on Tuesday. So effectively whole swathes of new law – such as proposals to repeal the law on blasphemy – were going to go through on the nod. This was the third reading, so the last chance for Commons debate.

Crime and anti-social behaviour are among Islington residents’ top concerns. As an inner city area, our community faces problems like prostitution and drug dealing. Unusually, Islington has two prisons and is home to many prison officers. The hundreds of new proposals included changes to the law on prostitution, and on prison officers’ right to strike. So you would expect our MP to take an interest. However there is no record of Emily Thornberry taking part in the debate at all.

But she did turn up to vote through the motion, limiting Commons debate on these issues and railroading through new laws without scrutiny. Not a good day’s work.


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