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Friday, 20 January 2012

Daylight Saving Bill and parliamentary frustrations

Processes in Parliament can be frustrating. Seldom has it been as frustrating, and , many would say, mis-used as in the debate on Rebecca Harris MP's Daylight Saving Bill.

The Bill, which called for a proper review of the pros and cons of keeping British summertime all year round, to settle once and for all the debate that returns year after year to parliament, but has historically always been stumped down because of internal process, had got further through parliament than ever before.

There was an overwhelming parliamentary concencus for the Bill, and well over 120 MPs had sacrificed time in their constituencies that Friday in order to vote for it. But the Bill was stopped. Why? Not by strength of argument, or through debate, or through numbers of opposition - but because a small group of MPs chose to 'talk it out'. That is, put down huge numbers of amendements, to which they could speak, to literally 'talk it out of time'.

Here's a clip of me being very politely frustrated that people were prepared to do this.

It was a very sad day for parliament. It was a day when the manipulation of internal process by the few, got in the way of getting something done for the many.

I personally am for daylight saving. The evidence is that it will save lives, energy and increase uptake in sport, amongst other things. But we need a proper independent analysis. A tiny number of MPs deprived the nation of that.

I'm working with other MPs to ensure that the Bill is brought back. But it was a good example of Process vs. The People. And it is one of the reasons why Parliament is often held in such low regard. Many would say it is not only the clocks that have to change...

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