Are Early Day Motions a waste of money & time or a vital facility?


Back at the end of last year I wrote a piece about a couple of EDM’s that had been submitted into the Parliamentary arrangements within a few minutes of the New Government being set up. However there must be a real question regarding their value even though some are more questionable than others. This is because the Leader of the House of Commons clearly does not have much confidence in them. His statement was made on 28th October 2019. The second EDM that was started on the 19th December has now been signed by 55 MPs to call for Big Ben to be struck when we leave the EU. Of these signatories 50 are Conservatives and the other 5 are DUPs so it is not a very broad group of representatives. The first one which was launched by Caroline Lucas and has been signed by 29 MPs who include 13 Labour MPs, 6 SNPs, 3 Liberal Democrats and 3 Plaid Cymru MPs plus one ex SNP MP. It is not yet declared who the other two signatories are. This seems like a very credible EDM which is entitled Climate Parliament and contains the following explanation:

That this House notes this Government could be responsible for five of the remaining 11 years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned are left to halve global emissions and limit warming to 1.5C; further notes that the Committee on Climate Change report in July 2019 revealed the Government had delivered just one of 25 critical policies needed to get on track to meet previous, less stringent, emissions targets than net zero by 2050, and that the UK’s climate credibility rested on decisive Government action over thesubsequent 18 months; considers therefore that this Parliament will be regarded as the Climate Parliament and must seize this opportunity to ensure adequate action is taken to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown; welcomes the fact that the UK will host the UN climate summit COP26 in December 2020; considers success at this summit means recognising the moral imperative of doing everything possible to keep temperature rise to 1.5C, and the vast human cost to people around the world, including the UK, from extreme weather, food insecurity, sea level rise, and other events exacerbated by the climate crisis; urges the Government therefore to make addressing the climate emergency the central priority for domestic policy-making across all departments and on the global stage; and calls on the Government to enact a comprehensive Green New Deal, including the release of necessary funding to allow local authorities to lead, to rapidly decarbonise the entire UK economy while creating a fair and just society.

The EDM which William Wragg referred to was entitled “Timetable for the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill” and it was submitted by Frank Field while he was still an MP. The question of course is what is the value of the EDMs and if the Government like Rees-Mogg do not see their point, then should MPs even bother to sign them? My own view is that the one written by Caroline Lucas is very important, but it does need a lot more signatures! According to a piece of research a few years ago during 2012-13 there were 1,139 early day motions and it cost approximately £374,500 to print them, £3,500 in IT support costs and £33,500 in staff costs. The government said the cost “has fallen considerably” after they reduced the amount of printing. This suggests that the cost of the process is close to half a million pounds now and if they are worth nothing to Jacob Rees-Mogg then what is the point of including them in our democracy?

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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