On Friday in Parliament the second reading of a small piece of legislation was ‘talked out’ by two MPs who appear to believe that there is no need to protect tenants from so called ‘revenge evictions’. The Bill had been introduced by backbencher Sarah Teather with all party support. According to Stephen Williams, Minister for Communities, the Government is “backing Sarah Teather’s bill to outlaw revenge evictions once and for all — ensuring tenants do not face the prospect of losing their home simply because they’ve asked for essential repairs to be made”. I know from meetings I have attended in Brighton & Hove where such evictions take place far too often, that a huge amount of work had gone into the bill by the sort of people who our Politicians tell us, they want to better engage with. However despite the justice issues inherent in the Bill, and the support from all 3 Political Parties, and engagement by people who are frequently disenfranchised, these two men spoke for around 2.5 hours and extinguished the Bill due to the lack of time available to process it. One of the ways in which Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch could have been silenced was through a so called closure motion. Unfortunately only 60 MPs were in attendance entitled to vote (all of whom did vote) but it takes 100 MPs for such a vote to be effective. Never mind that all present were telling Chope to stop, he took advantage of rules that allow such low tactics to be used. His co-belligerent in this shameless action was Philip Davies, MP for Shipley who spoke for an hour before the speaker told him to shut up because he was making no sense.
At the next election both men, sitting as they do in safe constituencies are unlikely to lose their seats, largely because the political party which they are members of, is more concerned to win, than to have decent minded MPs. It should not be assumed that Davies and Chope were acting on a whim, they attended the Commons on a day that many MPs usually spend in their constituencies. The fact that only 60 MPs were in the chamber out of a potential number of 650 shows that most of their colleagues were elsewhere. Surely it is time for this whole institution to be reformed, beginning perhaps with some local reforms in Shipley and Christchurch.