The glass sewer is broken

margotThe idea of a male dominated world having some of its more powerful or influential roles opened up to women is often referred to as a break or crack in the glass ceiling. Yesterday in Parliament which is very male dominated, Margot James who is one of the Junior Ministers in this current Government proved that the direction of travel is not always positive by breaking into the sewers of Westminster. Not literally the sewers, but into the metaphorical sewers where tawdry practices are carried out by a small group of people, almost exclusively men up until yesterday. As I have written previously the use of filibuster is a legitimate if extremely tawdry tactic to prevent my MP and other MPs from voting on matters that may be of interest to me as a constituent. The filibuster is used in a debate where there is a defined time within which to debate a bill, and is the practice of one or two (three yesterday) MPs dominating the debate, speaking for as long as necessary to avoid the Bill being put to a vote. Yesterdays filibuster involved three people of whom Margot was one, and between them they talked out a bill that would mean that in the future interns would need to be paid at the minimum wage. This was a private members bill sponsored by Alec Shelbrooke who believes as I do that recruiting people to work for an organisation, but not being willing to pay them at least the National Minimum Wage is a form of exploitation under most circumstances. There are of course exceptions such as in settings where the work being carried out is by other volunteers, but the failure of MPs to pay University graduates for a year or more of their work in central London is deeply concerning. In effect it ensures that only graduates with other financial backers can participate in this work.  The three MPs who talked out Alec’s bill were David Nuttall and Philip Davies, both of whom I have written about previously in the context of filibusters. However on this occasion they were joined by Margot, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility. I am part of a small business and we recognise that if we have a job that needs doing, we need to pay for the task to be completed as challenging as that can be on occasions. Asking people to do so on a voluntary basis is an abuse of power and not something we could contemplate. I am disappointed that Ms James who I have had a high regard for in the past has let herself down on this occasion. Let us hope she will not be a regular Filibuster Rat.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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