Labour furious at May’s attempt to rewrite Commons rules
LABOUR accused the Tories of “an unprecedented attempt to rig parliament” yesterday as Theresa May attempts to give herself an unjustified majority on legislative committees.
The Tories will try to force through a rule change next Tuesday giving them a majority on public Bill committees, ad-hoc groups of MPs that scrutinise all legislation line by line.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the move “an unprecedented attempt to rig Parliament and grab power by a Conservative government with no majority and no mandate.”
“The Conservatives didn’t win the election,” he said.
“We’re a Parliament, a hung Parliament, and the committees should reflect that and there should be no overall government majority on the committees.
“They should get what’s due to them, which would be the largest number of places, but not a majority.”
At present, different parties are represented on public Bill committees in proportion to the number of MPs they have.
However the government’s proposals will effectively rig control of the committees in its favour after the June general election left the Conservatives without a majority in the Commons.
The motion changing the rules to ensure Conservatives have a majority on all the committees will be tabled by Commons leader Andrea Leadsom.
Labour’s shadow leader of the House Valerie Vaz said: “On Monday the government are seeking the power to change the law by ministerial edict and on Tuesday they will try to sideline opposition in Parliament by rigging the committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority they didn’t secure at the ballot box.
“The British people will not understand how, having voted to deny the Conservatives a majority, the Tories can alter the rules of Parliament to ensure they have one.”
Downing Street insisted the government wanted a balanced situation in Parliament.
The row comes as the government faces a fierce battle to get its approach to Brexit through Parliament.
Opposition parties, and some Tory MPs, have expressed concern about the sweeping nature of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which they say gives too much power to ministers.