Mark and Ruth look at the growing fashion for re-writing Bills mid-air as they pass through Parliament, adding on all sorts of policy bells and whistles at the last minute.
What options do MPs have to hold the newly ennobled Lord Cameron to account? And with huge ministerial churn across key departments, how will legislation and parliamentary business be affected with the Autumn Statement less than one week away and the General Election date still uncertain.
Then there's the PM's pledge to introduce 'emergency' legislation and a new treaty following the Rwanda ruling in the Supreme Court. Our podcast hosts visit crossbench Peer and barrister Lord Anderson of Ipswich to discuss what might happen next and whether the Prime Minister's pledge is the 'extraordinary step' he claims. They also discuss his new Private Members' Bill to protect standards of integrity and ethics in public service.
Finally, we hear from Conservative MP Nickie Aiken whose proposals to regulate pedicabs began with a Private Members' Bill (PMBs) and ended up in the King's Speech. What are PMBs? Why are they such an important tool for backbench MPs? And why do the procedures surrounding them fall short?
Parliament Matters is produced by the Hansard Society with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker trust which engages in philanthropy and supports work on democratic accountability.
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.
00:00:00:00 - 00:00:36:19 You are listening to Parliament Matters, a Hansard Society Production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Learn More at hansardsociety.org.uk/pm. Hello and welcome to Parliament Matters, the Podcast from the Hansard Society about the institution at the heart of our democracy, Parliament itself. I’m Ruth Fox, and I'm Mark Darcy. Every week we're going to be analyzing what's going on behind the Gothic facade of Westminster, helping you to stay on top of the key parliamentary issues of the week and what lies ahead.
00:00:36:22 - 00:00:55:13 And we'll be explaining how the system works. And hearing about the latest research and innovations in Parliament and politics, from influential thinkers and practitioners, providing new perspectives from inside and outside of Westminster. And we will be traveling back in time to some of the pivotal moments in parliamentary history, to help you understand exactly how we've arrived at where we are today.
00:00:55:16 - 00:01:24:24 Coming up, revolving doors and a spectacular retread as Rishi Sunak reshuffles his government. And might there be trouble ahead in the House of Lords as the Government tries to recover its four one day policy after the Supreme Court ruled it unlawful? And it's the lawmakers equivalent of winning one of those golden tickets from Willy Wonka, a chance to enter the private member's bill process.
00:01:24:26 - 00:01:42:27 For some, mark, it was good bye to the ministerial car and the red box, but hello to some semblance of a normal life. For others. It's goodbye to the sleep cycle for a while and hello to those bulging briefing books about their departmental responsibilities in their new departments. So what did you make of the reshuffle? I think there were an awful lot of surprises in it.
00:01:42:27 - 00:02:03:01 There was, of course, the very big surprise of David Cameron, second coming of the former prime minister reincarnated now as foreign secretary. And I can still see jaw dropping moment when he suddenly materialized in front of Downing Street, getting out of a limousine. And all the journalists were thinking, What the hell is this? So that's one of the big surprises.
00:02:03:01 - 00:02:24:22 But the sheer scale of the turnover in key jobs and the cover of the sort of flash bang wallop of David Cameron coming back is going to have, I think, quite big implications for the government and for law making for quite a while to come. I mean, talk us through the scale of it all. Well, as you say, David Cameron obviously took the headlines, but this the three of the department is where there's a new secretary state.
00:02:24:22 - 00:02:40:20 So home office, obviously a similar problem in left. And we've got a new home secretary who's he's moved across from the Foreign Office, James Cleverly, Department of Health and Social Care. We've got a new secretary of state because Steve Barclay has moved to the Department of the Environment and Trees coffee. He's out of cabinet. I think it's interesting.
00:02:40:24 - 00:03:07:23 Three big departments got 50% or more change in their ministerial team. So Treasury Department of Health and the Department of Transport, it's departments with big responsibilities and some quite big problems on their agenda. And you know, in terms of health, obviously got the winter coming. There's all sorts of issues about the productivity in the NHS, strike issues. Same in the department, transport 50% change in personnel in the whip's office.
00:03:07:25 - 00:03:27:26 She's quite poor in terms of managing the parliamentary Conservative Party at the moment. You could imagine that actually one of their key jobs is to manage and muscles the egos of those who've been thrown out of ministerial paradise. Yes, quite. And then just below 50% change the Cabinet Office, which of course is the co-ordinating department at the heart of government, and that has also now got quite a lot of churn.
00:03:27:28 - 00:03:49:29 So some big challenges ahead. And it struck me that the Treasury we're one week out from the Autumn Statement, the Treasury half its ministerial team changes. Now a lot of those big decisions, that statement will have been made and any that remain are probably going to be a matter for Jeremy Hunt and the Prime Minister, not for junior ministers, but nonetheless to have your ministerial changes on that scale.
00:03:50:02 - 00:04:25:15 Just a week out from one of the big, big financial occasions for your department in the parliamentary year is significant. And the other thing is changes in terms of who's in charge of legislation. Very striking was the appointment of Laura Trott, the first member of the 2019 intake, who's made it into the Cabinet and she's now the chief secretary to the Treasury, essentially the person who says no on behalf of the Chancellor, the person with control over the government's spending purse strings, the person who says, No, minister, you can't have this extra money for your pet scheme, the person who possibly surveys departments or balance sheets and says, there might be a bit of
00:04:25:15 - 00:04:44:02 money, grab back to the center there. So someone in an absolutely pivotal role and it's a hell of a test to come straight in in that job where you're negotiating often with much more senior and much more established ministers over the stuff of life. To them, the need to get cash to the programs that they want to implement.
00:04:44:07 - 00:05:18:07 Yeah, absolutely. And then we just had The King's Speech. We've had several days of debate in Parliament on on that legislative agenda, and we've now got a number of those bills have got new ministers, I mean, housing. Rachel McLean, the housing Minister, has been replaced. We now have the 16th Housing Minister since 2010 in the shape of Lee Rowley, who interestingly was also the 13th Housing Minister since 2010 because he briefly had the job a little while ago and that's with the Renters reform bill due in front of a committee for detailed scrutiny in the coming days.
00:05:18:10 - 00:05:37:16 Housing being one of the absolutely critical policy areas where the government desperate to build more is talking about, you know, promoting the builders and stopping the blockers. And the housing minister's job is literally to do that. And once again, it's all change. It was installing a revolving door in that particular ministerial office you mentioned. Yeah, it's not the only one.
00:05:37:16 - 00:05:57:03 I mean, the tobacco legislation in the King's Speech the Minister, he was in charge of that since Neil O'Brien, he's now out. So somebody else has got to come into that. And of course, Home Office, you know, they had the lion's share of the bills. They got four or five and give me a new one now because of the Rwanda legislation that it looks like the government is going to bring forward to deal with the Supreme Court decision this week.
00:05:57:05 - 00:06:17:27 So you've got ministers who are going to be in charge of this legislation who were not involved in the process of determining the policy details of drafting and so on, and are now going to have to pilot these bills through parliament. And there are ability to respond to MPs questions to the scrutiny that's going to be undertaken, particularly at Committee stage.
00:06:18:05 - 00:06:44:08 They're going to have to get on top of those briefs incredibly quickly. It's parliamentary scrutiny, Jim, but not as we know it. And under the good governance, think tanks banging on about this endlessly that constantly changing the ministers in charge of things just means that nothing gets done. Not only do ministers have to kind of read their way into what are often very intricate policy briefs, sometimes if you're a minister and you feel you haven't got long to make your mark, the way you do it is by overthrowing the policy of the previous minister.
00:06:44:10 - 00:07:00:28 So it can mean sort of stop go policy making as well. Not exactly what you want. You'd think for a government that's desperately trying to pull things together and make sure it has something to show for its efforts for the voters when in elections a year or so down the road at the most. Yeah, one of the appointments.
00:07:00:28 - 00:07:21:05 So that took my eye and it kind of relates to, you know, a counterpoint to a lot of the arguments that this reshuffle is caused by, you know, the sort of political maneuverings for leadership positions, not perhaps in this parliament, but in the next one was the appointment of Andrea Leadsom in the Department of Health and Social Care, because she's a former cabinet minister.
00:07:21:07 - 00:07:42:04 She is somebody, of course, who ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Theresa may, and she's taken a junior role, the most junior role in the Department of Health and Social Care now, because it's the policy area that she cares passionately about and she's been working on like a government czar on early years, education and support.
00:07:42:07 - 00:08:04:17 She's taken this role in government, so has an opportunity to take that agenda forward. But I thought was just interesting that, you know, somebody is prepared to take a more junior position in order to take forward any issues that they have worked on for years. That was a very interesting moment there because Andrea Leadsom, I can remember going to sort of launches a policy document she was doing as a backbencher in the early Cameron years.
00:08:04:17 - 00:08:21:25 So this is something she's quite genuinely been campaigning on for a very, very long time. And you would imagine someone of her experience going into a position like that may have just wanted some assurances that her agenda was going to get taken seriously, even if she was trying to push it through from, as you say, really quite junior level.
00:08:21:25 - 00:08:40:09 Yeah. And I suppose she's also a good sort of, you know, solid pair of experienced hands for the Department for Health and Social Care, which she's now under new leadership with a cabinet minister who's not all that much experience. So she has no experience of Secretary of state level. You do wonder what the dynamics are going to be like there a ministerial meetings, but we shall wait and see.
00:08:40:15 - 00:09:05:24 Another feature of the reshuffle is the departure of some quite surprising middle ranking ministers. People you might, as I mentioned, and indeed they might have imagined. We're on a sort of smooth upward course to Cabinet office. Jeremy Quin, who is in the Cabinet Office at quite a senior level in charge of civil service reform. Neil O'Brien We've already mentioned up and coming Health Minister from a think tank, very highly regarded by lots of people.
00:09:05:27 - 00:09:25:16 They kind of announced that they're going voluntarily because they want to get back into constituency business. Jessye Norman, Another veteran minister, is another example of that. George Freeman who's a science minister who actually David Cameron once gave a sort of bespoke job on Minister for Life Sciences to, to try and create a whole new area of government policy.
00:09:25:22 - 00:09:46:20 And I'm not quite sure what's going on here. I can't genuinely believe that they all wanted to go back to their constituencies and do casework. Well, perhaps not. I mean, some of them just, I think some just tired and exhausted, frankly, particularly somebody who's been in office for quite a number of years. There's some suggestions that, you know, they're looking at the polls and they're thinking ahead and, you know, not sure when the general election is going to be.
00:09:46:20 - 00:10:10:01 There's some suggestions that they might want to get out sooner rather than later so that they avoid some of the conflict of interest issues around the the requirements that will be imposed on them. As a as a former minister, if they lose their seats in terms of taking new jobs. So the sort of the Advisory Council on business interests for government ministers has a period when they've got to avoid sort of engaging with government or lobbying or anything of that sort.
00:10:10:01 - 00:10:27:14 And obviously the longer they're out of office, so the earlier they go before the election, the easier it will be to get past the other side of the election. If they do lose their seats, sometimes we'll have to wait for the memoirs to find out exactly what was behind some of these, because they have these rather opaque exchange of letters with the prime minister where everything's jolly wonderful.
00:10:27:17 - 00:10:50:26 Yes. I mean, I may be being a little bit cynical, but we will see. But of course, the big one, the flash and bang in ways that really caught people's imagination was the sudden appearance of David Cameron back in the government as foreign secretary. And this sent everyone scurrying for their sort of boy's book of political precedence to see if there were any other examples of a former prime minister coming back into government this way.
00:10:50:26 - 00:11:10:18 And of course, there are you have to get back to Carrington in the Thatcher government, 1979, to find a foreign secretary who's in the House of Lords. Of course, it's the first former prime minister to go to the Lords since Margaret Thatcher. And I think one of the criticisms of recent Prime Ministers is that they've not stuck around Parliament to lend their experience to the institution.
00:11:10:20 - 00:11:29:26 Theresa may being the honorable exception, is the honorable exception I suppose to Liz Truss is still there, but we will see how long and he's coming back now in the Lords. He's actually, I think, the fifth former Prime Minister to return to Cabinet having ceased to be Prime Minister and the last one being Alex Douglas, is that was quite an interesting one.
00:11:29:26 - 00:11:46:26 So I think that was he who'd been around in politics for an awful long time. By the time he became Prime Minister, I think he was once Neville Chamberlain as parliamentary private secretary. So that's how far he went back. He actually had to renounce his peerage and contest a seat in the Commons in a by election so that he could then become prime minister.
00:11:47:02 - 00:12:08:10 Confusingly, he'd been foreign secretary, but from the House of Lords in the early sixties under Harold Macmillan. Then he came back and was Prime Minister for a while, remained an MP and then in his second term as a Foreign secretary under Edward Heath, he was doing it as an MP, so it all got slightly confusing. And Ted Heath have been effectively his deputy as Foreign Secretary when he was in the Lords in the Macmillan Government.
00:12:08:11 - 00:12:31:12 Ted Heath had been his deputy in the Commons. So there was this sort of symmetry individual in those Star Wars risks. Now you've taught me well, Obi-Wan, Now I am the master. Yes, quite so. Yes, it took it took everybody by surprise. But I mean, I don't know. I don't quite know what to make of it. I think the idea that this is going to change somehow the political fortunes of the Conservative Party seems to me a bit unlikely.
00:12:31:15 - 00:13:01:21 He has a lot of baggage. Yeah, well, indeed. And I also think that people in Parliament incredibly overestimate the impact that ministerial appointments and small changes in the pecking order have on the outside world. I'm not sure that many votes, if any at all, will be particularly changed either way by the arrival or departure of David Cameron. So I'm a bit cynical about it, but from a parliamentary point of view, it's not as if the foreign affairs is a quiet area at the moment.
00:13:01:23 - 00:13:21:02 So I think special arrangements may be needed there. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that David Cameron had very quickly picked up the phone to Alicia. Cairns is the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the Commons and offered to do a monthly turn in front of her committee just to make sure that MPs were getting a chance to question him directly.
00:13:21:04 - 00:13:40:26 Yeah, well, the Speaker's already indicated in a statement to the House earlier in the week that he wants both the government and his officials to go away and consider the ways in which the Foreign Secretary can be held to account by MPs, because obviously being in the Lords, he can't speak in the Commons and in the Commons chamber, He can't participate in debates, he can't respond to questions, can't make ministerial statements.
00:13:40:26 - 00:14:00:08 After you know, major international gatherings or when crises happen. He can appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, as you say. But there's also the possibility that was floated when Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis were running government departments. That may be some way could be found where Nmps could directly have a question time with them, maybe in Westminster Hall or something.
00:14:00:12 - 00:14:26:10 Yeah, I mean, I wrote an op ed for the House magazine, sort of Parliament's in-house magazine this week. We'll put it in the show notes, revisiting that issue. So back in 2009, the Speaker then John Bercow, had raised the same issues about the appointment of Mandelson and under doNis and how they were going to be held accountable because this is a whole debate about whether it matters for Sir David Cameron, because it's a great office of State as opposed to their positions, which were not.
00:14:26:10 - 00:14:57:06 But I mean, Peter Mandelson was effectively the de facto deputy prime minister at the time and they huge spending departments. So there were concerns then back in 2009 about what could be done. And the Procedure Committee looked at this in the House of Commons and came up with a proposal that was essentially twice in a session. The Secretary of State from the Lords should come to the Commons and should take questions to 45 minute sessions in Westminster Hall, which is sort of the second chamber, if you like.
00:14:57:06 - 00:15:20:19 It's sort of off off to the side of the main chamber just in Westminster Hall itself doesn't have division lobby, so it only has debates, doesn't have any, you know, notable business. Now I think frankly, for the Foreign Secretary at a time when it's, you know, we're living through a turbulent time, I don't think it's really going to work for him to be available twice a session.
00:15:20:21 - 00:15:48:21 We live in an age of the urgent question in terms of topicality in the Commons chamber matters. And as Lord Carrington found, when unfortunately the Falklands War crisis broke out, it was a real disadvantage to him to being in the Lords and not in the Commons. At the end of the day, if a crisis happens who do not want to speak to, they will have an established deputy in Andrea mitchell, the former international Development Secretary, close ally of David Cameron.
00:15:48:21 - 00:16:18:26 He's going to represent the government in foreign affairs in the Commons. But if there's a crisis, do they want the monarchy or the organ grinder? I think that what they want is definitely to hear from the Foreign Secretary. And I think that what they're very, very keen to do is find a mechanism that allows the Foreign secretary to be brought before them in whatever way and something like the proposal you've just outlined may well be something that they simply can't avoid having, especially when you've got so many live international crises at the moment and who knows how many more might suddenly appear.
00:16:18:28 - 00:16:53:22 But I think one option is they say actually Westminster Hall is just not good enough and it's certainly not twice a session. Perhaps he should come into the chamber for certain pieces of business not to be there on a permanent basis, but for specific items of business. However, lots of them back in 2009 of mind today, lots of people really unhappy about that, felt the only MP should be in the chamber answering questions and they were worried that if they allowed that, it would encourage the Government to think that it was okay to create Secretaries of State in the House of Lords because the problem of accountability would go away if they didn't want to
00:16:53:22 - 00:17:22:03 legitimize this idea of creating lords, Ministers, Secretaries, and they've got to decide which of those two factors worries the most lack of accountability or yeah, bringing the horror of bringing nonmembers into the Commons chamber one way or another. Some kind of decision is going to have to be made pretty rapidly, I would have thought. Yeah, and I mean, the thing about David Cameron has been talked a lot about is is the package he has, as you know, somebody in terms of his foreign affairs record is important to remember.
00:17:22:03 - 00:17:48:08 I think. Yes, he's he's known obviously about the Brexit referendum. There's the whole debate about whether the intervention in Libya in 2011 was successful, was a good idea, was a good judgment call. But for me, the one that stands out is the 2013. So it's a 10th anniversary since the vote on whether or not to engage with allies in the bombing of Assad's forces in Syria after they had dropped chemical weapons.
00:17:48:08 - 00:18:08:01 And Cameron took that vote to the House of Commons, he put his judgment to the House and said, I think this is so important that we should risk blood and treasure putting our armed forces in harm's way. And the House of Commons rejected his judgment. It was also the extraordinary moment. One of the things about it is that everyone sort of brushed it off.
00:18:08:01 - 00:18:38:01 It was like a sort of dinner party. So, Paul, this was a prime minister who said we're going to war here, and the House of Commons said no. And then he sort of picked himself up, dusted himself down, and it was as if nothing had happened, really. And you would have thought it was a resignation issue? Well, I assumed that that night that it would be because I just couldn't contemplate the idea that a prime minister, having put his judgment on the line and having it so significantly rejected by the House of Commons would just carry on as if it was any other old policy, completely normal.
00:18:38:03 - 00:18:58:13 I mean, he was the first Prime Minister since Lord North in 1782 to lose a vote on military action. Wow. You know, it really is quite it's just it was it was a significant, significant setback, if you remember. Of course, you know, it had, I think, a knock on effect in terms of our international reputation as a reliable ally.
00:18:58:15 - 00:19:24:23 There are some who think that it dealt a significant blow, if not a death blow to that to the whole principle of in foreign affairs, of the responsibility to protect. Many people think subsequently that what happened in Syria, the terrible things that have gone on there since happened in part as a result of that decision, because a red line had been drawn by the Obama administration, he then felt that he couldn't put the issue to Congress because parliament had rejected it.
00:19:24:25 - 00:19:56:15 So I remember the headlines. The British aren't coming. Yes. And then there was the sort of perception that Assad could get away with it and pressed on. And of course, there is plenty of other Cameron baggage as well. But the golden era of Britain's relationship with China that he and George Osborne proclaimed for a while. And I do think that there is a kind of generic problem with bringing back an established senior statesman who's written their memoirs, because every time David Cameron says or does anything, we've got several hundred thousand words what he thinks about every subject under the sun that could be consulted.
00:19:56:15 - 00:20:33:29 Has he changed his mind? Does he really believe that it's all there in black and white? And I should imagine that the Cameron memoirs have suddenly come off the remainder shelves and become a vital tool for all opposition researchers. Yeah. And the other issue, of course, we were talking earlier in an earlier episode about standards, parliamentary standards, the propriety issues around some of the things that he's been doing engaged in since he became prime minister, the whole Greensill scandal and of course has been questions about what he's been doing in terms of lobbying foreign governments and lobbying for foreign interest, particularly his close relationship with some of the Chinese ministers and business people and what
00:20:33:29 - 00:21:08:28 the implications of that are. So this is something that the opposition and the media are going to have a magnifying glass on. And of course, just as Rishi Sunak was getting a few fragments of semi favorable publicity and at least a bit of a wow factor out of the David Cameron appointment, along comes the detonation of solar. Brafman that morning hit Sanctum as Home Secretary David Cameron then appearance and everyone was talking about David Cameron the next day Suella Brown-Forman's resignation letter emerges and blimey, I think it was worse than Jeffrey Harris resignation statement, wasn't it?
00:21:08:29 - 00:21:32:02 I mean, it was nuclear grade basically saying, first of all, that Rishi Sunak had made a series of policy promises to her in order to secure her support. When he finally replaced Liz Truss in that uncontested as it turned out, leadership race, which is interesting enough and everybody wants to see the letter that he's apparently signed, perhaps in blood to Suella Braverman.
00:21:32:04 - 00:22:12:06 So that doesn't exist, does it? Does it exist? What exactly does it say? Secondly, she's saying that he's a weak leader. She's saying that his style of government was so bad that he can't seem to take vital decisions. And so she was seriously stirring the pot. And I'm told that quite a lot of Conservative MPs on the right of the party are now basically waiting to see what the government is going to do about it's ruined her policy, this whole policy of moving migrants to Rwanda, which was ruled as unlawful by the Supreme Court, and if they are not satisfied with the government's response to that Supreme Court ruling and any new legislation that might
00:22:12:06 - 00:22:33:09 come out of it, then kapow, they are going to do something. I don't know what they're going to do something. So we're already hearing that, you know, the the famous letters in to the 1922 committee to express concern about the prime minister. And as we were discussing with Philip Norton just the other week, as we were. Yes. So let's just let us into the green.
00:22:33:09 - 00:22:49:27 Brady. It's only half a dozen, though, at the moment. It is it is not hardly going to stop the prime Minister in his tracks down. There's probably half a dozen at any one time, I suspect, in the Conservative Party, such as the volatility. But we talked then about it being a plotters charter. You know, they can do this in secret.
00:22:49:29 - 00:23:07:29 You know, Andre Jenkins, one of the MP for one of the seats, she's been open about her position, but there'll be others who haven't. So we'll have to see. It seems to inconceivable to me that that could go anywhere and that they'd mount a serious challenge. But some pretty daft things have happened that we didn't expect over recent years.
00:23:08:00 - 00:23:38:07 Well, absolutely. The rule books have been rewritten several times on that, but the one factor that may be scaring Conservative MP is a couple of recent opinion polls which have showed their party below 20% Labor lead approaching or at 30%, which is close to electoral annihilation territory. Now they're only opinion polls, but whatever the situation there are a few more of those may absolutely scare the living daylights out of Conservative MPs who might decide, Well, it may look ridiculous, but it might just save a few of our skins.
00:23:38:09 - 00:23:53:18 You know, he's looking ahead to the next few weeks. I mean, he's got a difficult few weeks ahead with with things like the COVID inquiry. He's got to appear before the COVID inquiry. You've got Boris Johnson to appear before the COVID inquiry. Matt Hancock I mean, you know, who knows what's going to come out from all of that?
00:23:53:18 - 00:24:18:08 So it's all it's all potentially destabilizing. And right at the fulcrum of this is what are they going to do in response to that Rupinder judgment? And there is talk now that the government is going to try and bring in emergency legislation. It wasn't announced. The Commons business questions this week, so it may not appear for a little while yet, but frankly, if the Home Office is any good, they would have been working something up on this.
00:24:18:08 - 00:24:38:03 There would be at least a prepared draft that ministers could take a look at and launch into the Commons fairly rapidly, zap it through the Commons in a day or maybe two days, and then send it over to the House of Lords. But as we've been hearing, there might be trouble ahead if it does go to the House of Lords and peers don't like what's in it.
00:24:38:06 - 00:25:11:04 Well, we've left our studio and popped over to the law offices near the Temple of Lord Anderson of Ipswich. David Anderson, one of the crossbench lawyers in the House of Lords. We were going to start by asking him about his new bill to beef up the system for propriety and ethics in public life and public appointments. But before we get to that, David, I wanted to ask you first of all about the possibility of a bill from the government and emergency legislation in effect, to remedy their defeat in the Supreme Court over the Rwanda scheme for moving migrants to Rwanda.
00:25:11:06 - 00:25:27:17 Do you think their Lordships are going to accept that with open arms? If it's a bill that says that Rwanda's a safe place or if it seeks to take the UK out of the European Convention of Human Rights and various other international agreements in some way, the government has two ways of fixing this problem. It seems to want to do both.
00:25:27:20 - 00:25:55:23 The first is by negotiating a treaty with Rwanda which remedies the defects the Supreme Court has identified. Didn't suggest that would be a simple business at all, but there's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't do it. In fact, they did the same thing with the Abu Qatada case. If you remember that ten or 12 years ago. What the other proposal seems to be about is a bill before Parliament that would ask us to declare that Rwanda is and presumably will in all circumstances remain a safe country.
00:25:55:26 - 00:26:19:09 Or perhaps it will say that if the secular state decides it to be safe, then that assessment shall not be questioned in any legal proceedings, what we call as the clause. Now, there have been master clauses in the past that always problematic from the point of view of the rule of law, because their purpose is to insulate or immunize the executor from review of the lawfulness of their actions by the courts.
00:26:19:12 - 00:26:40:17 This one, I think, will be particularly serious because of the stakes involved. I mean, you're looking at the safety of individuals who are liable to be persecuted, ill treated, tortured, maybe even killed if they're refused from Rwanda to another dangerous country. And it doesn't seem to me that that is a tool, an appropriate subject for Parliament to opine on.
00:26:40:18 - 00:27:02:25 That is something for central states originally to decide. Subject to review by the courts, who can look painstakingly, as the Supreme Court did at the evidence on the ground. And I don't think you could legislate to pretend that something is one thing when in fact it is another. And I very much hope that if that is what the bill says, then we won't agree to be complicit in it.
00:27:03:01 - 00:27:21:11 So, David, one question is whether the House of Lords will try and delay or indeed rejects the bill, that they will not agree, for example, to give it a third reading. So the Government's indicated it wants to pass its emergency legislation fast track it, which suggests it would go through the House of Commons quite quickly, potentially all stages in a day, then go to the House of Lords.
00:27:21:13 - 00:27:43:07 Do you think that, you know, the House of Lords would be of a mind to essentially reject it? Well, the Nationals, of course, doesn't have one mind, nor in my experience is it always particularly organized, even in the face of these very significant bills. Of course, normally we would wait until report stage before we actually voted down a bill or a part of a bill.
00:27:43:09 - 00:28:04:26 But this isn't a bill that was in the manifesto. So the convention doesn't apply whereby we give it a second reading. And if it really is a short and simple bill on a point of principle, then depending as I say, on what it actually says, I wouldn't at all rule out the possibility of quite an early vote. I mean, you're saying here that you could throw this thing out at the first possible chance at second reading?
00:28:04:29 - 00:28:23:13 Well, it's it's possible. I mean, there is no convention preventing us from doing it. But a lot would depend on the nature of the bill. Certainly, if there is something there that really needs to be discussed and if there are two respectable views, then I'm quite sure we wouldn't do that. You know, we would want the government to have a chance to put its case as well as it could.
00:28:23:15 - 00:28:45:07 A lot, of course, will also depend on the view taken by the opposition parties because crossbenchers who live across they may be can't do anything in reality without the help of both the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats. It's only in that way that you can get the majority. You need to reject a government proposal. If that happens, then we're in a full on piers versus the people moment, aren't we?
00:28:45:07 - 00:29:07:00 I mean, this could almost be a trigger for a general election. Well, that might be one of the factors that that causes people to be cautious. But I'm afraid you're you're talking to a crossbench. I don't look at these things very politically. I'm not adept in the in the ways of politics. I think the reason people like me are there is to try and identify when something just won't do and then to say said and to my mind it really isn't much more complicated than that.
00:29:07:03 - 00:29:28:12 Okay, well, let's turn to your private member's bill in the House of Lords, the Public Service, Integrity and Ethics Bill. And as I understand it, the aim of this is essentially to beef up the various systems that deal with things like ministerial conflicts of interest, investigating them, overseeing what ministers, special advisers, senior civil servants are allowed to do after they leave office.
00:29:28:15 - 00:29:51:28 You've got an independent adviser on ministers interests, the so-called ethics adviser. You've got a public appointments commissioner, and you've got an advisory committee on business appointments. And the point of the bill is to put all three of those very necessary posts into statute. And what's the problem that that solves? Well, at the moment they are creatures of the executive and their job is to oversee the executive.
00:29:51:28 - 00:30:11:17 Say, for example, the prime Minister's ethics adviser is only allowed to start an investigation if the Prime Minister agrees that that's a good idea, if that investigation is, for example, into the prime Minister or touches on somebody very close to the Prime Minister, it seems, I think to a lot of us that it would be sensible to give that adviser some independent power.
00:30:11:19 - 00:30:38:13 But by putting it in statute and by putting the codes that they administer into statute, you make it more difficult for the executive to meddle with them, something one would hope they would never want to do. But I think experience over the last couple of years suggests that you can't rule that out. And I think it's right since the executive is at the end of the day accountable to Parliament, that Parliament should have a proper say on what these rules are and how they should be enforced.
00:30:38:15 - 00:31:11:14 What the bill is doing is giving effect to recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which were made back in 2021. The government's response to that report has been frankly pretty underwhelming. The committee took the view that the degree of independence in the regulation of the ministerial code, public appointments, business appointments and indeed appointments to the House of Lords, though that's outside the scope of my bill, falls below what is necessary to ensure effective regulation and maintain public credibility as a peer.
00:31:11:14 - 00:31:30:03 David, You get a chance once a session to apply for a private member's bill. There's lots of issues you could have picked up. Why this one in particular for you? Well, there's a sort of fiction that we all pick these issues, draft the bills ourselves. And of course, the reality is that very often were helped by other people.
00:31:30:03 - 00:31:50:09 And it may even be that other people have worked up a proposal. This, if I may say so, it was a Rolls Royce proposal. And I can say that because I had nothing to do with it. In its origins. It was drafted by Daniel Greenberg, experienced former parliamentary counsel. It has the backing of not only a spotlight on corruption, but it's had help from the Constitution units and people from institute for Government and so on.
00:31:50:11 - 00:32:21:15 So it's a very considered attempt to remedy a real problem, to be absolutely frank about how it came my way. It was originally earmarked for Lord Judge. The former convener of the crossbench, very, very sadly died recently and he was kind enough to ask me to take it on because he didn't have the bandwidth to do it. So this is a House of Lords Private Member's bill, House of Lords, Private members bills are often quite extensively debated, knocked into shape in the House of Lords, but they almost never actually proceed into law of themselves.
00:32:21:15 - 00:32:50:09 The ideas might be picked up and put into something else, but of themselves they don't go anywhere. So what are you hoping to accomplish by getting this onto the floor of the House of Lords? If you manage that with possibly an election looming, we'll have a first reading on the 7th of December. That's a formal stage, but it will at least mean the bill is before the House and I finished sufficiently high up the ballot that there is at least a decent chance that we will have a second reading debate which will focus, I think, attention and focus arguments at a very important time because the parties are, I assume, drafting manifestos ready for the
00:32:50:09 - 00:33:06:25 next election. They're going to have to work out what they do about this stuff. And some parties have expressed interest in going further along these lines. So whether or not they pick up a specific bill in a sense is not the point, at least at least for me. The point is whether they pick up the ideas and whether they run with them.
00:33:06:28 - 00:33:34:08 At the moment, we have an ethics adviser to the prime minister who is not free to initiate investigations of his own free will. He needs the consent of the Prime Minister to do it seems to me, I think to a lot of people that that really isn't acceptable anymore. And it's the sort of aspect that will be tightened up by a bill that gives him statutory force, gives his code statutory force, and therefore protects it better against the vagaries of political leaders and the political process.
00:33:34:14 - 00:33:55:20 So the complaint here really is that the existing systems are too much of a creature of the government, too much under their control. The government writes the rules, doesn't have to amend them in the light of day, appoints the people who oversee those rules and indeed can switch them on or off at the wall, as it were. The existing system regulates the executive and is entirely controlled by the executive, and that might not matter.
00:33:55:22 - 00:34:23:16 When we were all good chaps in the people houses. Famous phrase is sadly, it matters now. And I think we've seen over the last couple of years why that matters and by giving it statutory force, you know, we're not legalizing it, bringing in the courts, making it into a different sort of system with a strengthening the system, shortening up the powers and making sure that the codes are codes that can be debated in Parliament and not just by the executive.
00:34:23:18 - 00:34:50:07 David Anderson, Lord Anderson of Ipswich. And talking of private members bills, the Commons launched its private members process this week. There's a kind of ballot. It's more like a raffle, really. A balance. Yes, a vote. But it's it's MEP's put their name you can go. Absolutely. It's a bingo calling act in which the senior deputy speaker, Dame Edna Lang, pulls numbered bingo balls out of a jar and announces the numbers.
00:34:50:07 - 00:35:10:25 And then a name is announced. The person there wins. Not the law of their choice. Exactly, but a bit of debating time potentially for the law of their choice. The higher you are up, the less the more chance you get. If you're a top, you get the opening slot on the first Friday allocated for private members bills to bring in the bill of your choice.
00:35:10:25 - 00:35:33:22 The first seven on the list all get an opening spot on a day allocated to private members bills. Those further down the list kind of fill in behind and is one of the weird times factor comes in in all this because if you or the second bill on the first private member's bill day you may not be reached because if it's a debate on that bill is so controversial that goes on all day.
00:35:33:22 - 00:35:52:21 Well, tough luck. You've lost your chance. It's a very, very weird system and very, very hard to understand, especially for sort of Westminster outsiders. You've never quite seen anything like it. So riddle wrapped in a mystery, shrouded in an enigma or whatever, There's there's a kind of element of sort of Harry Potter ism, Hogwarts mystery about it all.
00:35:52:24 - 00:36:15:20 Basically, it's legislative time for backbenchers who want to take up a policy issue of their choice. It can't be a big spending issue because they can't have, you know, massive government expenditure attached to it. So it tends to be a niche social policy, perhaps a technical change to the law that make a real difference and something that's of interest and concern to their constituents.
00:36:15:23 - 00:36:40:12 The top 20 who emerged from the ballots, Dame Eleanor, is drawn. They will be inundated with phone calls from campaign groups and lobbyists urging them to take up their proposal for a change in the law. It's the legislative equivalent of winning Willy Wonka's golden ticket for legislators. It's, you know, your chance to get your legislative proposal debated. But the important thing is whether it is dedicated time on Fridays.
00:36:40:13 - 00:37:04:12 The procedures are not the same as they are for government bills. And this is where it gets complicated because employees can talk them out. One MP alone, if they object, can talk out a bill. The time factor is the really weird bit of this process. Essentially, MP can speak as long as they want in these debates. In the rest of the time in the Commons they probably got two or 3 minutes for a backbench MP to make a speech in an ordinary debate.
00:37:04:14 - 00:37:22:29 Here you can go on pretty much forever. And this is the secret weapon for those MPs who regard most private members bills as sort of flabby, vexatious nonsense that should be polluting the statute book. And there are a large number of particularly Conservative backbenchers who take this view that you should just stop in cross deleting this legislation onto the statute book.
00:37:23:00 - 00:37:40:07 And what they do is they just talk as long as they go on without. It's a bit like just a minute, without hesitation, deviation, repetition. The chair can't stop them. They can just go on pretty much forever. And as long as their voice holds out, as long as they can remain standing, the chair has no option but to let them continue.
00:37:40:07 - 00:37:56:22 And they've been examples of MPs who waited till the Deputy Speaker in the chair changes over and then just pulled out the bottom part of their speech They've already uttered and read it again and no one's any the wiser because they're all so stupefied with boredom that it's very hard to notice. That's the key way of stopping these bills.
00:37:56:22 - 00:38:14:03 Just keep talking to the available debating time runs out and better be you've stopped a bill you don't like. Yeah. The other thing is not just speech limits, but it's also the fact that programing doesn't apply to the bills. So unlike government bills where you have a set amount of time that's that's been agreed by the House about how much time should be spent on it.
00:38:14:06 - 00:38:33:29 That's not the case with private member's bill. So only the first bill on the order paper on a Friday is actually guaranteed to be debated. And then what happens to the others depends on the orchestration of procedures. And this is where the fact it's held on Fridays comes into play, because obviously Fridays is a constituency day for most MPs.
00:38:34:02 - 00:39:03:03 But actually on private member's bill Fridays and procedures around how many MPs are needed in the House for motion. So if there are less than 40 MPs in the House early on and an MP doesn't like a bill, they can try and move a motion that the House do set in private for which they need 40. If that were to go through, then they stop that private member's bill being debated and move on to the next one on the order paper or, you know, the closure motion towards the end.
00:39:03:06 - 00:39:24:03 The one way a private member's bill which has a bit of support, can actually bust through a filibuster tactic where people just keep on talking. You have to get one MPs to vote in support of a motion. The question now be put. Obviously you've also got to win the votes of 200 MP voted against. It wouldn't happen, but you've got to get at least 100 employees voting for that to happen.
00:39:24:05 - 00:39:43:23 And then if the if that vote is one, then you take the substantive vote right then and there. The difficulty with that is that the chair won't entertain such a motion until debate has been running for quite a while. You're starting at 930 on a Friday. They probably aren't going to be prepared to take that motion till 1230 or so, say, and at that point you can bust the filibuster.
00:39:43:23 - 00:40:04:19 But it's quite hard work to do it. Yeah and 100 MPC needed. So you have had to have campaigned and planned and managed your numbers to make sure you've got enough of your colleagues who are willing to support you in the House that day on a Friday. And that's the difficulty because a lot of them are not there on Fridays and they have to, you know, give up constituency commitments, especially as a general election approaches.
00:40:04:19 - 00:40:29:29 It's going to get harder and harder to do that. I have seen private members bills defeated because they've only managed to get, you know, 87 MPs voting for closure motion. And once that's happened, the filibusters just get up and resume their speeches as if nothing had happened, but possibly with a slight smirk playing on their lips. Yeah. And the other thing you can see is if you watch in the chamber what's going on, you know, you can see the whips moving and sort of, you know, sitting down with particular groups.
00:40:29:29 - 00:40:53:19 And there's clearly an orchestration of this behind the scenes actually, the point about the role of the whips, particularly the government whips, is they're becoming increasingly important in this process. In the last round of private members bills, 16 were passed, but almost all of those 16 were measures that the government wanted and that kind of passed on to individual MPs, not necessarily just conservatives.
00:40:53:19 - 00:41:22:28 By the way. Liberal Democrats, SNP MP, Labor MPs picked up little bits of government legislation that they felt they could support in order that they've got a bit of law with their fingerprints on it. So there was a kind of self-assembly employment bill that was passed as bits of of private members bills on measures like carers leave and protection from sexual harassment, a whole load of issues that the Government had planned to deal with in its employment bill, which never appeared.
00:41:23:02 - 00:41:42:25 Instead, they was kind of reborn, those little micro bills that were given to individual backbenchers. And that's why they call them handout bills, because, you know, government ministers will hand out drafts to people who do well. MP To do well in the ballot in the hope that they'll take those through. The Government has doesn't have to include those and manage them as well as it saw the big bills.
00:41:42:27 - 00:42:04:11 I think it might get a bit uncomfortable if this becomes a kind of overspill for the Government's own program of legislation. I mean, if you think back to the kind of heroic era of private members bills in the 1960s, when private members bills legalized abortion, decriminalized homosexuality, those were issues that the government of the day didn't really want to touch with a bargepole.
00:42:04:14 - 00:42:30:22 Yeah. And devoutly hope not to have to take a position on. Although actually, in the end, both of those measures got a bit of overt support from the then Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins. But it was something that was left to individual MPs to take an initiative on. And if the Government's just going to sort of gobble up private member's bill time with its own measures and possibly with the implicit threat, that if you want to do something else, we might not be sympathetic, you might find ways to block you.
00:42:30:24 - 00:42:50:03 Then the whole process just becomes a bit of a sort of adjunct. Yeah. So I mean, the last session, as you say, there was 16, there were 16 ballot bills. So there's three different types of private members bills. We're talking about ballot bills on a private member's bill Friday. There's also we call ten minute rule bills and presentation bills are different rules apply.
00:42:50:05 - 00:43:15:05 But that in total, 24 private members bills went through in the last session, which is the largest number since the 1960s. I think it's phenomenal. Absolutely. And sometimes you get barely a handful of bills and some of them are on quite anodyne technical matters that basically get through because no one's that interested in opposing them. But there are also, as I say, a group of Conservative MPs out there who sometimes take a pretty dim view of private members bills.
00:43:15:08 - 00:43:34:24 The lead figure these days is Sir Christopher Chote is seen as the person you have to go and see if you've got a private member's bill, see if you can say what concessions would you like? Sir Christopher And he, I think he rather enjoys his moment in the sun, takes a fairly dim view of people complaining about the process.
00:43:34:27 - 00:43:57:02 If he feels they don't understand properly what they should have done before, which is basically consult him. And the problem with it is it gets a bit embarrassing, particularly for the government and the Conservative Party. He's a Conservative MP because sometimes, you know, there are bills that attract a lot of support that people feel very strongly about. There was cross-party support for them.
00:43:57:07 - 00:44:21:23 It was the fairer House bill too to ban upskirting taking photographs of women skirts, which Sir Christopher got up and objected to because there's another little facet of this process, which is sometimes so you can actually get a bill passed with a formal second reading. There's a moment at 230 where the titles of all the bills that haven't been debated that day, but were on the agenda all read out.
00:44:21:23 - 00:44:44:02 And if no one shouts object, they're then deemed to have been read a second time. That is, they got past that first debate without anyone actually having to debate them at all. Hardly a word said, and they can go off to committee for detail scrutiny. And so Christopher got up and shouted Object when Vera Hobhouse is upskirting. Bill came up at that point and he got a lot of opprobrium for it really was quite a backlash.
00:44:44:03 - 00:45:04:20 Also the genital mutilation bill which similarly he I think it was he objected to it. You end up in this situation with that those that it's so embarrassing that the government actually picks them up as government bills and takes them through under its own auspices. So you get this sort of reverse. You know, we've been talking about government handing out bills to backbenchers to do.
00:45:04:23 - 00:45:28:01 Sometimes it happens in the reverse way because of the objections of individual MPs, the, you know, reputationally damaging to the House of Commons because it's popular business. Lots of campaign groups, lots of campaign organizations get behind these bills. Lots of people are watching what happens on a Friday debate to see what's going to happen to the bill that they're interested in, and then they look at what's happening with the proceedings.
00:45:28:01 - 00:45:51:27 It's difficult to understand perspective. You can't see you watching it on telly. You can't see all the things that are going on in the chamber and see the orchestration of of of the events and the procedures. And it just it's just confusing. And sometimes also it's done in quite a jocular way, which I think puts the back off of people who were just quite support whatever measure it is that's in front of the house at the time, and they're quite offended by that behavior.
00:45:52:03 - 00:46:17:00 I think that's one of the changes over the last 20 years or so, is that many more people now watch parliamentary proceedings and they don't like what they see. But the other point there that you made is that the government can sometimes pick up bills that have been proposed as private members, bills that perhaps haven't quite made it through the process, even without sort of malign interference by opponents and decide that there's a good idea that that they want to put into law.
00:46:17:00 - 00:46:46:22 And we've been talking to one MP who had exactly that happened to her as well, to get an idea of the kind of things that happen when private members bills are proposed. We've come to the office of Nikki Atkin, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster in one Parliament Street, one of Parliament's office buildings. Nikki, you have pursued a bill to try and sort out and license and regulate rickshaw girls being an MP in this particular area, and I imagine that's quite a big issue.
00:46:46:22 - 00:47:05:14 So first of all, tell us what's the issue that you're trying to deal with? Well, rickshaws or pedicabs are prolific in the West End, around Oxford Street, and so have a mile about in places like that. And they're not regulated, which means we don't know how safe the drivers are, how safe the vehicles are. They don't have to be checks.
00:47:05:16 - 00:47:38:22 There's no insurance. And also there's no fare regulation. So we've heard many, many stories of tourists in particular being ripped off £400 to do a mile journey that the only form of public transport not regulated. We've got black cabs, we've got Uber, we've got private hire. There's a loophole that I wanted to fix and talk us through the kind of case history of this, because this is a bill that's had several different iterations and you had to go last year in the last round of private members bills to try and get something.
00:47:38:22 - 00:48:00:10 And now it's a government bill to tell us the story. Well, it's a labor of love, Mark. It was first brought to Parliament by my predecessor, Mark Field. It fell. Then Paul Scully, the MP for Sutton, took it on. I fell. Then I came to Parliament in 2019 and the first thing I did was I was I tabled this bill because I know it's such a major issue for my constituents.
00:48:00:10 - 00:48:25:16 The noise and the antisocial behavior, etc.. So I did my first member's bill. Obviously, you know, the system is one person can object and it falls and it has got cross-party support and I got support from the London mayor. TFL will do the administration. There's nothing but one person just object. And he did. He will remain nameless. I met the curse of Choke.
00:48:25:18 - 00:48:45:25 Well, you might say that, Mark. I couldn't possibly comment and then I did it again because it's so important to do. And again it fell. Boris Johnson was very very supportive of it. Having been mayor of London, he knew the problems. He then decided to put it in a chance. But they also lifted my bail and put it in the transport belt and the last Queen's speech that fell when he fell.
00:48:45:28 - 00:49:11:03 And then I started again trying to persuade Rishi Sunak's administration to take on. And finally, in The King's Speech, much to my shock but delight, the King said there was going to be a bill to deal with the scourge of pedicabs in London, so it's been long in gestation. Other previous MP had also taken it up and tried to sort of run with the issue.
00:49:11:06 - 00:49:38:18 You've now made progress. The ballot has been held for the private member's bill for this session. What would you say in terms of advice to members who've come on in the ballot about how they need to think about the bill and what sort of strategies they need to pursue to influence the process, Make sure it's read the day that Chris which I was not in Parliament, perhaps that these are areas that the higher you are up on the ballot, the more chance you've got because of the way it works at the time.
00:49:38:20 - 00:49:55:12 It's about time. Got to get it debated on the floor of the House of Commons. That's what I learned. And quite often it was a nail biting Friday afternoon and the clock will be going and business stops dead up to 30. Not be that 2:10 and I still haven't been called, but that's what I would say to people.
00:49:55:12 - 00:50:19:28 I say get a subject that is going to not just make a really good law, but also promote an issue that you think really needs promoting or needs to be highlighted. Because again, that's what I think is one of the strengths of the private member's bill, is that it can be used to really bring an issue that's not always discussed on the floor of the House to public attention and maybe get things done another way.
00:50:20:00 - 00:50:41:24 And you're a classic example of this, I suppose having had several goes through the private member's bill route. The government's now picked up your proposal, tried to pick it up a couple of times, in fact, and then dropped it again in various ways. Is there any kind of secret or alchemy behind that? Did you pull strings in Downing Street to the manipulate the SpAd system or something to get this going?
00:50:41:29 - 00:51:07:13 Look, what I've learned as a first term MP, and I've learned that being a backbench MP you can really can influence. But it's about talking to the right people at the right time with the right argument, not just going bang, bang bush. You've got to go out there and you've got to make your arguments. And it was obvious why we needed the party caps bill to be passed because passengers aren't safe.
00:51:07:13 - 00:51:25:28 Women aren't safe to use these rickshaws at the moment. So I just found the flight advisors in number ten sat down with them. They really understood it, spoke to the transport Minister and the Secretary state. They were supportive, obviously. I guess it's by stealth. You just don't give up. And people who know me in politics know I never give up.
00:51:25:28 - 00:51:57:23 If I really care about something I don't give up. And obviously it's now works well. Those are the dos and don'ts. Again, it's about not trying to be too aggressive. It's about making the argument and ensuring that you do it in the right way. You can obviously use media coverage and I've had a lot of media coverage over the years about this issue, but the media coverage not criticizing or having a go at the government, being a critical friend, but being constructive, I think that's the way you get it.
00:51:57:23 - 00:52:16:24 And I think one of my former Westminster councilors, Christopher Fly, always said to me, sugar goes a lot further than vinegar. And I've really learned that it's an issue. You've got to really be positive and constructive. You've talked about how difficult it was in terms of the procedures on a Friday. You know, the bill was going to get talked about.
00:52:17:01 - 00:52:47:02 One MP can object to it and that that can stymie its progress. Given your experience and obviously as a backbencher, that opportunity to take up an issue for constituents is a great sort of legislative opportunity and a rare one. Do you think the procedures should be changed to give the bills a sort of a fairer wind? Well, I find it really difficult that one MP out of 650 can stop a private member's bill, particularly if it's got support, whether it's got ministerial support or cross-party support.
00:52:47:04 - 00:53:13:14 I think that is a rather strange way to work and it's very frustrating. You know, I don't know how that would work, how you could change that, but I think there has to be some sort of vote. If one person doesn't want it to happen, they can't talk it out. The problem is that people talk it out, so they're still talking it to 30, the guillotine goes, and your bill is then just basically thrown onto the fire or to the next time you can get it tabled.
00:53:13:21 - 00:53:34:09 And it's kind of like it's like a rollercoaster. It never stops. So I think that's the one thing is other members shouldn't be able to talk about a private member's bill, but if they don't like it, they should they should call a vote engage. Thanks very much for joining us on the podcast. Pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
00:53:34:11 - 00:54:00:04 So, Mark, I think we just got time to cover the fact that in the last 24 hours, 56 Labor MPs rebelled against Keir Starmer's line on The King's Speech votes and the question of whether or not to support a motion for a ceasefire in Gaza is a big rebellion. Possibly his biggest yet eight frontbench resignations. As a result, two parliamentary private secretaries to back careers have also gone Big name.
00:54:00:04 - 00:54:39:29 Among them, Jess Phillips has left the frontbench. What do you make of this? It's pretty painful stuff. The parallel that immediately occurs to me is what happened during the big vote on the Iraq war in the Blair era 20 odd years ago now. But it was a moment where later on those who had rebelled against the government felt they could sort of sleep soundly in their beds and those MPs would kind of, against their better judgment, had gone along with the party leadership in many cases felt very, very uncomfortable in a bad taste in their mouth and were actually then more trouble to their party leadership as a result of having been sort of frog
00:54:39:29 - 00:55:08:01 marched through the lobbies in a particular way. The kind of emotional fallout on that comes back on them. This was a motion on The King's Speech, on the domestic legislative agenda. And actually then, you know, all the discussion around the vote was about the ceasefire in Gaza and the foreign policy issue was basically tacked on around which, you know, how much influence does the UK government really have, particularly one that's not evident that either side in that conflict want a ceasefire certainly at the moment still less.
00:55:08:01 - 00:55:29:29 How much influence is the UK Opposition have indeed on on the other side of it then there's sort of well there's also a debate here about Keir Starmer's leadership and obviously given Labor's problems in relation to antisemitism in recent years, it's a sensitive issue. So this sort of arguments about is this what they should be focusing on in terms of these votes on The King's Speech, Should they have been focused more on the domestic legislative agenda?
00:55:29:29 - 00:56:03:22 But as you say, you know, they have to think about their constituencies as well. And for these MPs, quite a lot of them have got significant Muslim constituents who are inundating them with concerns about what's happening in the Middle East. And for some of them, you know, it just is a matter of conscience. But what I found odd about this in a way, was that it almost became less about what position the UK should take about events in Gaza and almost more, it seems, to transmogrified into an issue about Keir Starmer's party management and is he a strong leader who can make his troops vote the way he wants to?
00:56:03:22 - 00:56:32:28 And is he? Should he be taking a different position? And I just wonder with kind of almost overlooking the substance of the issue to get into the parliamentary game playing around it, I think that's that's almost inevitable given where we are, unfortunately, because of the way the media play this. And I think it's not unrelated to the proximity of the election and the fact that, you know, is Keir Starmer going to be the next prime minister and not to continue this line, but one of the questions I think is what is he now going to do?
00:56:33:01 - 00:56:53:07 You know, he's lost these people from his frontbench. Are they going to be permanently exiled until the election or do they get back in fairly short order? If not, he's going to need a fairly substantial reshuffle himself. Now, what approach is he going to take to party discipline? Is he going to be looking ahead to the to the general election, looking ahead to the prospect of a Labor government?
00:56:53:12 - 00:57:12:08 They're going to have enormous number of challenges. They'll need unity and discipline. Is he going to basically say now, look, there is a price to pay if you do want to, to rebel against the whip, you are going to pay a price potentially. There are hundreds of would be Labor MPs out there, candidates in winnable seats looking at this.
00:57:12:08 - 00:57:32:07 And I imagine it would inform their behavior if they were to get elected, if they felt the government was just going to sort of wave indulgently. So the Labor led government was going to wave indulgently at them and say, well, right, you know, you have your moment. You don't want a permanently soured faction or at least more of one than you already have out there who regard you as the enemy.
00:57:32:09 - 00:57:53:10 And at the same time, as you say, you've got to have a bit of party discipline to hold together through what are certainly going to be very difficult times if there is a Labor government the other side of the next election. Yeah, okay. Well, I think we'll leave it there and we'll wait to see what Keir Starmer does in the coming days and weeks.
00:57:53:12 - 00:58:13:11 Well, that's all from us for this week's episode of Parliament Matters. Please hit the follow or subscribe button on your podcast app to get the next episode as soon as it lands and us to make the podcast better by leaving a rating or review on Apple or Spotify and sharing your feedback on Producer tells us it's important for the algorithm to give the show a boost and tell us more about the algorithm.
00:58:13:13 - 00:58:36:24 How do I know about algorithms? You know, I write my scripts with a quill pen on vellum and then send it in by carrier pigeon. Well, before we a quick reminder also that you can send us your questions on all things Parliament by visiting Hansard Society dot org dot UK slash PM. Thank you. We'll be discussing them in future episodes, including our special Urgent Questions editions dedicated to what you want to know about Parliament.
00:58:37:00 - 00:59:07:20 And you can find us across social media at Hansard Society to get more content related to the show and the wider work of the Hansard Society. Parliament Matters is produced by the Hansard Society and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. For more information, visit hansardsociety.org.uk/pm, or find us on social media @HansardSociety.
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