Friday, 25 April 2008

Tories talk out Bill

Went back into Chamber for the Minister's wind-up speech on Nigel Griffiths' "junk food advertising to children" Bill. I can't pretend to understand the bizarre rules which govern Private Members' Bills Fridays - does anyone? It seems that it is entirely permissible for another backbencher to speak after the Minister, provided we haven't run out of time. So as soon as Margaret Hodge sat down, Philip Davies, the self-styled defender of British values against the scourge of political correctness and nanny stateism, got to his feet. He'd clearly been allocated the task by the Tory whips of talking the Bill out - if he can keep going till 2.30pm there won't be a vote on it, and the Bill won't be able to proceed to Committee stage. The only way of circumventing that would be for Nigel Griffiths to move a closure motion, but I think he needs 100 MPs for that, and, with local elections pending, there aren't that many people around today.

Not only does this mean that Nigel's Bill will fall, it also means that we won't get a chance to discuss the Private Members' Bill second on the list: Anne Snelgrove's Public Sector Buildings (Energy Performance) Bill. This is about promoting energy efficiency by requiring government to procure low carbon buildings, which is already a Government commitment, but not legally binding. I signed Colin Challen's EDM on this during the last Parliament, and was keen to speak in favour. But now we won't get a chance to debate it at all.

Very frustrating as I chose to spend today in Westminster rather than travelling to Bristol as usual, so that I could - as requested by a number of constituents - support these two Bills. Now I won't get to vote on either of them.

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