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Government rejects crackdown on MPs who block laws by giving huge speeches – Mirror.co.uk

The government has quietly blocked a crackdown on MPs who block laws by giving huge speeches in Parliament.

It comes after public fury at alleged ‘filibustering’ against laws for women’s rights, carers’ hospital parking and blanket gay pardons.

Parliament’s Procedure Committee wanted a compromise after its first reforms were blocked under David Cameron .

But today, even its edited plans have been almost completely rejected by Theresa May’s government.

Tory MP Charles Walker, who drew up the reforms, warned the decision left the system open to being “manipulated”.

He told the Mirror: “The government’s given us nothing, nothing of substance, and that’s disappointing.”

His committee wanted to reform Private Members’ Bills (PMBs), laws by 20 backbench MPs who are picked each year in a lottery.

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Laws that’ve been blocked after huge Tory speeches

Each one gets up to five hours in the House of Commons – yet there’s no time limit on speeches against them.

That means if PMBs are still being discussed at 2.30pm on a Friday, MPs do not get to vote on them – unless 100 band together to close a debate.

The government rejected plans to cut the number of PMBs each year from 20 to 14 and prioritise four, allowing them to be taken more seriously.

It also rejected pleas to enforce time limits on speeches, saying the Speaker can already impose them so MPs did not have to “explicitly approve” them.

The government did accept one major proposal – renaming PMBs to “backbench bills” so the public understand them better.

The decisions were revealed today in a response slipped onto Parliament’s website.

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Charles Walker, gave an impassioned speech backing and praising John Bercow during a debate in parliament about changes to the way the Speaker is elected

Tory MP Charles Walker told the Mirror: “The government’s given us nothing” (Photo: BBC)

Asked why he thought the government had blocked his pleas, Mr Walker said: “They don’t want to lose control.

“We were very narrow in our final recommendations, we just wanted to try something to improve the current situation, but even that was rejected.”

Mr Walker believes “the entire Private Member’s Bills process is geared towards failure” because it doesn’t encourage well-thought-through laws.

He complained the random ballot means MPs won’t spend 18 months drawing up detailed laws.

Instead they cave to campaigners who present “motherhood and apple pie Bills” that are light on detail, he said.

Video thumbnail, MPs furious at Tory minister who spoke until law to pardon 50 000 gay men ran out of time

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Mr Walker added: “I think it’s perfectly legitimate for the government to block legislation it doesn’t like but most people accept that should be done through a vote as opposed to parliamentary games.”

He highlighted cases where ministers claim to back a bill while whips secretly plot how to block it.

“I just think it’s a dishonest way of doing politics,” he added.

He warned backbench laws had become a “plaything of the executive” that “totally manipulated” them.

And he said he would now back calls to move debates on them to Tuesday or Wednesday, when most MPs are in Parliament and not their constituencies.

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