The use of Parliamentary time is incredibly valuable and costly. Even when the Government of the day is one that demonstrates values I don’t support, which is most of the time, what goes on in the Commons and Lords should be treated as a very precious commodity. That is why many of us despair at the childish boorish behaviour when Parliament is supposed to be holding the Prime Minister to account once a week at Prime Minister Questions. It is also why many of are equally incensed when MPs remain out of sight during the debates on certain Bills only to appear at the right time to vote in the way they always intended to vote. The idea that me constantly hearing Boris Johnson make jokes from inside lorries will improve my knowledge and understanding of Brexit when what I need is the opportunity to hear and participate in a debate on Europe perhaps demonstrates that I am a kinaesthetic learner and if I was an MP I would want to listen and occasionally participate in debates before deciding if a given Bill deserved my vote. I appreciate that this will not be the case for all MPs and all Bills, but the near empty chamber on so many occasions fills me with despair.
On Friday a sizeable number of SNP MPs along with various Labour MPs led by my own MP, Caroline Lucas attempted to debate a bill to reverse the privatisation of the Health Service. I confess I have not read the Bill myself, nor do I know if it was a good Bill or not. However elected democrats had found a mechanism to debate this Bill on our time in the House of Commons. It was on this occasion when the members of a very exclusive club got to their feet and used the time that you and I have paid for to speak in a way that prevented the debate o the NHS being held. So all of the costs associated with the MPs being present in Westminster on a Friday was wasted by these men who took it upon themselves to deny my MP and the representatives of many other constituencies from speaking and voting. In a way what this club do is the same as what Guy Fawkes was attempting to do, except that they do it one debate at a time and they avoid a trial. If this had been a Labour Government then perhaps the club would consist of different people using the same tactic, that of Filibuster. I have written about the issue before, but once again I believe that we need a proper debate about whether this technique should be allowed at all in Parliament and certainly if it should be used by MPs and Ministers on the Government benches. The club members include:
- Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering (who spoke yesterday and is a regular in the club)
- Philip Davies, MP for Shipley (who spoke yesterday and is a regular in the club)
- David Nuttall, MP for Bury North (who spoke yesterday and is a regular in the club)
- Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough (who spoke yesterday)
- Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire (who is a regular in the club)
- Sam Gyimah, MP for East Surrey (who spoke in November)
It is widely known that these filibusters have the Governments backing, and any destruction of democracy is happening on the tab of Cameron and Osborne as much as it is on the shoulders of these democracy vandals. One very practical way of doing something about this problem is to sign this petition asking Parliament to debate the use of filibusters. Because of the way in which the Parliamentary petition system works we have till 6th May to get 100,000 names onto the petition. I would argue that this is far more important than banning visiting Presidential candidates, but that is just my view. To date only 37,000 people have added their name to the petition, how about changing that today? I recall how much outrage Russell Brand caused when he urged young people not to vote because it would not make a difference. The members of the filibuster club are far more dangerous that Russell Brand, because they prevent other people from voting on issues that matter to them. Lets break up the filibuster club once and for all!