Last Thursday there was a curious announcement in the Chamber of the House of Commons. At the session to announce future business, Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley said this:
“Monday 14th July — consideration of a Bill, followed by a motion to approve the first report from the Committee on Standards on the respect policy”
If you look on Parliament’s web site tonight, you will not see the name, nor the text of the Bill to be considered.
None of your elected backbench MPs have been told what Bill is to be debated on Monday. It’s Wednesday evening. Tomorrow, MPs are on a ‘one line whip’ ie they can return to their constituencies this evening.
Imagine how outrageous it would be, if tomorrow, the government were to announce emergency legislation to an empty chamber. Imagine if that emergency legislation was to be introduced on Monday or Tuesday, with the intention of it slipping through the Commons and the Lords in a single day. Imagine if that Bill was the deeply controversial Data Retention Bill.
It’s a Bill that will override the views of judges who have seen how the mass collection of your data breaches the human rights of you and your family.
Regardless of where you stand on the decision of the European Court of Justice, can you honestly say that you want a key decision about how your personal data is stored to be made by a stitch up behind closed doors and clouded in secrecy?
None of your MPs have even read this legislation, let alone been able to scrutinise it.
The very fact that the Government is even considering this form of action, strongly suggests that they have an expectation that the few people on the Liberal Democrat and Labour front benchers who have seen this legislation, are willing to be complicit.
No matter what you think about this issue, if you care about democracy, make sure your MP does not walk through the chamber and vote for legislation nobody has had the chance to debate and question.