Harriet Harman declared that the Equality Bill would be exemplar. Part of its examplarness (if that’s a word) would be that the Government would consult the opposition benches over how to handle the debate when it came to the floor of the House for Report Stage and Third Reading – which it does next Wednesday.
However, there had been no discussions, consultations or anything – just an announcement that the Bill would be on the floor of the House on 2 December – a derisory one day only. This means that the dozens of amendments and New Clauses that are down for debate won’t even get discussed. For only one day – and almost certainly a statement after Wednesday’s PMQs on Afghanistan – will mean that we will be lucky to get a few hours.
Report Stage is not just about the Government getting its amendments and New Clauses down and through -but it is the only chance back-benchers get to put down their amendments and debate the issues.
So in Business Questions today, I along with many other MPs asked Harriet to extend the time to allow proper scrutiny. Harriet was disingenuous about the ‘discussions’ and led the House to believe that they had taken place when they had not. Moreover, in her view there was plenty of time and it appeared as if she thought we were all making a terrible fuss over nothing.
Exemplar – I don’t think so.