Wednesday, 14 September 2011

ACT NOW response to events in the House of Lords today.

After a very lengthy and vocal debate during the 2nd Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill yesterday in the House of Lords, the Coalition Government have today proved that they are far more concerned about the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill and its journey through the House of Lords than campaigners had first thought. Many of the members who took part in yesterdays debate raised significant concerns and questions about the Welfare Reform Bill, including those who in principle support the bill.

The size and importance of a Bill usually dictates its passage through the House of Lords. As the Welfare Reform Bill heralds many major changes to the lives of millions of people this Bill should have had its spot reserved in the main chamber of the House Lords for committee stage. It is essential that any Bill which is attracting as much attention as the Welfare Reform Bill is heard in the main chamber to ensure that as many members as possible can have the opportunity to speak up, ask questions and air any concerns that they might have.

At 3.30pm today the Coalition Government tabled a motion to move the grand committee stage of the Welfare Reform Bill from the main chamber in the House of Lords into one of the smaller committee rooms.

The vote went in favour of the Bill being debating at committee stage in one of the smaller rooms, which are NOT accessible to people in wheelchairs. 

ACT NOW wonders how it is even possible for the Government to be able to make such a move? They must surely be breaking the Equalities Act (2010) by failing to make reasonable adjustments for members of the House of Lords who themselves have disabilities?

Presumably the government is hoping that by moving the Welfare Reform Bill into the committee rooms it will be harder to scrutinise and for people to continue to raise concerns. There simply won't be enough space in any of the committee rooms to allow for all the Lords to participate. It also rules out interested members of the public and media being able to attend in person.

In the run up to last year’s election David Cameron made a big deal out of the importance of talking to, including the views of and listening to his voters. On this subject Mr Cameron is on record as saying "Yes this is ambitious. Yes it is optimistic. But in the end all the Acts of Parliament, all the new measures, all the new policy initiatives, are just politicians’ words without you and your involvement."

It would appear that David Cameron is no longer interested in allowing even politicians to express an opinion nor listen to them.

ACT NOW is both dismayed and disgusted by the actions of the Coalition Government and we are left in little doubt that we do not have a government of the people, by the people or for the people.
ACT NOW Core Group
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.

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