This has been a jaw dropping week of audacity by the Government. First with the Henry VIII powers under the EU withdrawal Bill to amend secondary legislation, fixing the composition on select committees against all the rules and conventions and not voting on a motion because the Government would lose.
The EU Bill passed its second reading. HM Opposition Labour Party’s position that we are leaving is settled, the way we leave is not. We opposed the Bill because it is fatally flawed. It puts huge and unaccountable power into the hands of Government Ministers, side-lines Parliament on key decisions and puts crucial rights and protections at risk.
And the following day, the Government carried out yet another power grab. The Leader of the House put forward a motion on the nomination of Members to Committees to allow the new Selection Committee to give the Government a majority on any Public Bill Committees.
These are the committees that will scrutinise the Bills and secondary legislation. As Shadow leader I led the opposition debate against these proposals. These Committees are where the British people expect us to reflect the views of our constituents, business, science and to protect our fundamental rights.
But the Government is grabbing from Parliament powers to which they are not entitled.
This is a minority Government. They did not get a mandate. The British people gave us their verdict. The Rules of the House make it clear that Committee membership should reflect the “composition of the House” and not the Government giving itself a majority.
The motion was based on neither precedent and Standing Orders, nor on the constitution or democracy. It is not necessary and there was no explanation for it. This is a Government by convention, not majority.
This is not about the smooth running of business or allowing proper scrutiny. Nor is it about wanting to abide by the democratic result of the election. It is a blatant power grab to stifle debate.
Then Labour’s Opposition Day motions to lift the pay cap for NHS workers and stop a £250 rise in University tuition fees were passed in the House of Commons without a vote. The Government cynically did not vote because they knew they would lose, as the DUP’s support was in favour of Labour’s motion.
The Government has made it clear this week that it is not the party of democracy, the NHS or our students.