Rwanda Bill becomes law: but what was really going on behind the scenes in Parliament? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 31

26 Apr 2024

The Rwanda Bill has made it over the parliamentary finishing line but not without some last-minute drama. We talk to the SNP’s Alison Thewliss MP about what went on in a small room, behind the Speaker’s Chair, away from the cameras!

And what on earth is going on in the minds of MPs, after another in a succession of sleaze scandals hits Westminster. This time it’s Mark Menzies MP who has resigned from the Conservative Party and won’t stand again at the general election. He’s facing accusations of fraud and misconduct after telephoning an elderly constituency member claiming he’d been locked up by “bad people” who were demanding money. Are MPs – or specifically male MPs – simply big risk-takers or is there something else at work?

Meanwhile, the exodus from Westminster continues to grow: the number of MPs standing down at the next election has now passed the 100-mark. The data reveals some interesting developments that will affect the parties and select committees in the next Parliament.

And farewell to Frank Field – the backbenchers’ backbencher - and one of the most extraordinary parliamentarians of the last 40 years. We reflect on his lifetime in politics, particularly his outstanding work as a select committee chair, and Mark remembers a tricky visit to Field’s Birkenhead constituency while reporting for the BBC.

  • The Rwanda Bill: what happened in the final round of parliamentary ping-pong?

  • What is the Reasons Committee?

  • Are MPs excessive risk-takers?

  • How many MPs thus far have confirmed they are standing down at the general election?

  • Was Frank Field the most influential chair of a select committee in the last four decades?

Parliament Matters is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Parliament Matters is supported by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker trust which engages in philanthropy and supports work on democratic accountability.

©UK Parliament

Alison Thewliss MP is the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central. Elected to Parliament in 2015, she is now the Scottish National Party's spokesperson for home affairs, leading its response to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill in the House of Commons. She is also a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee. She was previously the SNP's Treasury spokesperson between 2017 and 2022 and has served on both the Treasury Select Committee and the Procedure Committee. She stood against Stephen Flynn MP in the SNP's Westminster leadership election in 2022. She serves as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Immigration Detention and on Infant Feeding and Inequalities, and as co-Chair of the APPGs on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax and on Fair Business Banking.

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Please note, this transcript is automatically generated. There are consequently minor errors and the text is not formatted according to our style guide. If you wish to reference or cite the transcript copy below, please first check against the audio version above. Timestamps are provided above each paragraph.

00:00:15:24 - 00:00:59:20 Welcome to Parliament Matters, the podcast about the institution at the heart of our democracy, Parliament itself. I'm Ruth Fox and I'm Mark D’Arcy.

Coming up, finally, at last, the deed is done. The Rwanda bill scrapes over the parliamentary finishing line, but not without some last minute drama. We talk to the MP behind the surprise procedural ambush.

And what on earth is going on in the minds of MPs after another in a succession of sleaze scandals hits the fan.

And farewell to Frank, the backbenchers’ backbencher Frank Field, one of the most extraordinary parliamentarians of the last 40 years.

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