Government will not listen

Alan Campbell MP
Alan Campbell MP

When I was out and about in the constituency and met St Thomas More students in North Shields last week, one young man said he was pleased that parliament had voted to revoke the increase in tuition fees made earlier this year.

Indeed, parliament had voted unanimously to do that, just as we had voted earlier to lift the National Health Service pay cap.

Both of these motions were put forward in opposition debates.

However, the government later announced that it would ignore the results of these votes, and that’s not all – it will also ignore any other future votes like this.

That was Wednesday.

The day before that, the government pushed through changes, with DUP backing, which gives it a majority on parliamentary committees, even though it had lost its majority in parliament at the general election.

And then the day before that, as I had warned in my previous column, the government also decided that any powers returning from the EU would transfer to government ministers – so called ‘Henry VIII powers’ – rather than to the UK parliament.

Government ministers I spoke to shrugged off this power grab, saying it was necessary.

But necessary for who?

I pointed out the dangers of going down this route.

History tells us that governments that take powers to themselves don’t readily hand them back.

I don’t agree with those who see parliament as an old boys’ club. Parliament should be at the heart of our democracy.

But when my constituents ask me to vote on an opposition or backbench motion, they should be aware that the government appears determined not to listen.