Who controls backbench time?

On the continuing theme of ownership of process, Barry Winetrobe has an interesting post on the Dale & Co blog as to who controls backbench time in the House of Commons.  The Backbench Business Committee may have selected for debate the issue of a referendum on continued membership of the EU, but the Government appears to have moved the date to meet its own convenience.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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9 Responses to Who controls backbench time?

  1. Dave H says:

    Surely the answer is for the Backbench Business Committee to schedule something else for the time slot they originally had allocated to the referendum debate. If it was moved by the government to a time outside their normal control. The government can be seen to have adopted the debate, thus freeing up the backbench time for something else.

  2. Chris K says:

    Monday or Thursday, sadly I can’t go to the ‘mass lobby’ anyway due to labs.

    Depending on how my MP votes on Monday will determine whether or not I can bring myself to vote for her again. All my early morning starts and hand injuries from stuffing leaflets through letter boxes in the run-up to the General election may have been a waste.

    I don’t think MPs realise quite how strong public opinion is on this issue. One would think with boundary changes coming up, they would be more concerned about keeping a seat than they are about getting a front bench job!

  3. ladytizzy says:

    “Regular readers of this Blog may know of my view of the insidious effect on Parliament of this Government’s e-petitions gimmick.”

    So goes the opening para by Mr Winetrobe. However, the most popular e-petition on the gvt site asks, “Britain wants referendum to leave EU” and has attracted, to date, 36,702 votes, nowhere near the 100,000 barrier. Has the site taken down another, more popular, petition?

    • ladytizzy says:

      Apologies, the third sentence should read, ” However, the most popular, relevant, e-petition…”

    • Chris K says:

      The EU referendum petition which led to the debate on Monday was paper-based. I know because 20 of my friends and family and I willingly signed it and posted it back.

      I thought for a while on the site the most popular petition was on the Hilsborough disaster? A debate on the subject has now been agreed to, which is probably why it’s been removed.

      It can’t be long before the EU gets another 100,000 ‘signatures’ and, surely, another debate. Maybe our government will have seen sense by then and actually allow a conscience vote. And maybe Labour, realising they need to win back popular support, will become eurosceptic once again.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    The (uncorrected) transcript of the BBC meeting, 18 October.
    David Nuttall: …Various organisations have organised both paper and online petitions calling for such a referendum. Between them they have collected more than 100,000 names.
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmbackben/ucbbc15658/ucbbc01.htm

    It is quite clear that MPs have been quite happy to allow the lie (that the names came from the gvt e-petition site) to continue. The gvt really needs to get better PR.

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