It is always interesting to discover actions that MPs could work on together in the House of Commons to raise high profile themes. A few weeks ago, Caroline Lucas of Brighton Pavilion promoted the 90th Anniversary of Right to Roam for the end of April. She raised the subject through the Early Day Motion (EDM) which is a way for many other MPs to endorse on it and if sufficient people take part, it is possible for a debate to emerge in Parliament. Along with Caroline Lucas there were four Labour MPs and one Plaid Cymru MP that initially endorsed the proposal. Once six MPs have approved it, it becomes formal and there were another 36 MPs that signed it after its completion. The first additional local MP was Lloyd Russell-Moyle of Brighton Kemptown and then towards the end of the anniversary period, Peter Bottomley of West Worthing also endorsed it. His involvement was very important even though it came after supporters from Labour, Plaid Cymru, SNP, Liberal Democrat and the Democratic Unionist Party. Sadly, Peter was the only Conservative MP who signed the document which was very disappointing. I did call for more signatures and Peter Kyle, the Hove MP responded that he could not sign it because he is a Shadow Secretary and apparently only backbench MPs can sign EDM’s although Keir Starmer has written several EDM’s since he became the leader of the Labour Party.
Sadly, there are currently six Sussex MPs that have never signed or sourced an EDM. These six people include one current Government Minister and so Jeremy Quin who is the Horsham MP will not be able to change his position for as long as he is a government minister. However, the other five MPs could adopt EDMs now, even if they are not persuaded to agree with the Right to Roam theme. They are Caroline Ansell, the MP for Eastbourne, Nusrat Ghani, the MP for Wealden, Andrew Griffith, the MP for Arundel and South Downs, Sally-Ann Hart, the MP for Hastings and Rye and Huw Merriman, the MP for Bexhill and Battle. It is not clear why these six MPs have never endorsed the EDM system as there are clearly many Conservative MPs that regularly use the system for their campaign themes. There are currently four Sussex Conservative MPs that are Ministers so that means that they along with Peter Kyle cannot currently sign an EDM. Apart from Jeremy Quin the other three Ministers have all previously endorsed the EDM system. Maria Caulfield, the Lewes MP signed 38 EDMs since she arrived in Parliament in 2015 and indeed, she wrote two of them herself. One was themed of the Royal College of Nursing and the other one related to Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland. Both of these were endorsed by other people from a range of political groups and equally she endorsed other EDMs from people in a range of political groups. Gillian Keegan who is the Chichester MP since 2017 has signed two EDMs, both of which were set out by Labour MPs and Mim Davies of Mid Sussex signed two EDMs, one from a Labour MP and one from an SNP MP since she became an MP in 2015.
There are other Sussex MPs that have adopted the EDM system in the past but have reduced it more recently. Henry Smith from Crawley has used it four times since he became an MP and he has only adopted one non-Conservative EDM but he has not responded at all since the last General Election. Nick Gibb from Bognor Regis and Littlehampton has not used the EDM since 2010 but he was a Minister for most of that period. However, he has not been a Minister since last September so he could certainly now adopt an EDM that he agrees with. Tim Loughton from East Worthing and Shoreham signed nearly 3,000 EDM cases prior to 2010 when his Party took over the Government but since then he has only used it once when he shared an EDM that was sourced by a Labour MP and the theme was Independent Advocates for trafficked children. There are two Sussex MPs that use the EDMs most significantly, Caroline Lucas and Peter Bottomley. Peter has signed nearly 16,000 EDMs and indeed he has sourced nearly 600 of them. Caroline has signed nearly 3,000 EDMs and she has sourced nearly 270 of them. It would be fantastic if some of our other local MPs would endorse the campaigns that these two people have adopted. As it happened last Tuesday the Liberal Democrat party set out a EDM calling for No Confidence in the Prime Minister following some of his actions during COVID. Perhaps along with Caroline Lucas some of our local MPs could also sign this!