When I met St Thomas More students last week one young man said he was pleased that Parliament had voted to revoke the increase in tuition fees made earlier this year. Indeed, Parliament voted unanimously to do that, as we’d voted earlier to lift the NHS pay cap. Both motions were put forward in Opposition debates – which the Government then announced it would ignore and will also ignore any other future votes.
That was Wednesday. The day before that, the Government pushed through changes, with DUP backing, which gives them a majority on parliamentary committees even though they lost their majority in Parliament at the General Election. The day before that, as I had warned in my previous column, the Government also decided that any powers returning from the EU would transfer to Government Ministers – so called Henry V111 powers – rather than to Parliament.
Government Ministers I spoke to shrugged off this power grab saying it was necessary – but necessary for who? I pointed out the dangers of going down this route. History tells us that Governments that take powers to themselves don’t readily hand them back. I don’t agree with those who see Parliament as an Old Boys Club. Parliament should be at the heart of our democracy. But when my constituents ask me to vote on an Opposition or backbench motion, they should be aware that the Government appears determined not to listen.