A disturbing lack of involvement from the Prime Minister


One of the elements that most constructive MPs are actively involved with is the Early Day Motions. The EDMs are a way for MPs that are not part of the Government to raise their concerns and to call for the Government to act suitably on the subjects. As these visual elements show, the EDMs are also a way for non political people to call for their MPs and indeed other MPs to raise the themes for the Government to respond on the theme. The EDMs were set out by the Government when Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister and the first of the Early Day Motions were formed back in November 1989, six months before she resigned. Since that time there have been a total of 54,217 EDMs and they have been involved by all of the UK Prime Ministers since Margaret Thatcher, prior to Liz Truss. As it happens there are MPs who have been signing EDMs yesterday and even on Saturday when MPs were in Parliament on the day to focus on the Queen and King. This was despite the fact that the Government has prevented people from signing the e-petitions which are external ways of people to respond to the Government.

Of course MPs cannot sign EDMs or indeed write them once they have become a Minister or a Prime Ministers. Sadly it is not possible to get the full list of data from people who are no longer in the Parliament but we can see that all of the people who became Prime Ministers had signed some EDMs. It is also possible to see that Boris Johnson has written 5 Early Day Motions and has signed 187 of them. Theresa May has written 36 and she has signed 653. There are other people who are much more involved than these two people. Peter Bottomley who is the Father of the House has so far written 590 EDMs and he has signed a total of 15,785 since 1990. There may well be others at a similar level. Liz Truss became an MP in the 2010 National General Election and she was not a Minister until September 2012 which was the point at which she was unable to sign or write EDMs. However in the initial period there were a total of 3,579 EDMs formed when she was simply an MP and these included the following

Community Public Houses – sourced back in June 2010 by a Liberal Democrat but endorsed by many Conservative MPs. A total of 278 MPs signed that document

Fish Fight Campaign – sourced in December 2010 and written by Zac Goldsmith who was a Conservative MP. A total of 250 MPs signed it which included a number of Conservative MPs.

Another one was written by a Conservative from David Amess under the headline of Humanitarian Situation in Camp Ashraf and there were a total of 208 signatures which included many Conservative MPs.

Indeed there were many more Conservative EDMs and indeed many Conservative signers of other EDMs during that two year period and indeed today.

Sadly along with Liz Truss, there have been a number of other Conservative MPs and some Labour MPs that have not participated in this approach. Here in Sussex we have several MPs that have chosen not to get involved. They are Andrew Griffith, Caroline Ansell, Huw Merriman, Jeremy Quin, Nusrat Ghani and Sally-Ann Hart. Even more disturbing is the fact that along with Liz Truss, that two of the other people who sought to become our Prime Minister were also not involved in EDMs. They were Rishi Sunak and Kemi Badenoch. Some of the others were very modest in their involvement and signed only one or two EDMs but several others were reasonably involved. They included Jeremy Hunt (wrote 14 and signed 221), Penny Mordaunt (wrote 10 and signed 192) and Grant Shapps (wrote 9 and signed 206). It is clearly very disturbing that our first Prime Minister who has not endorsed EDMs is Liz Truss and it raises a number of questions about her understanding about the way that MPs are involved in challenging the Government and indeed how local people would wish to involve their MPs.

The images above include the item

Accommodation for children in care over the age of 15

EDM (Early Day Motion)1006: tabled on 24 February 2022

That this House notes with grave concern the introduction of secondary legislation by the Department for Education which guarantees care and regulated accommodation to vulnerable looked-after children only to the age of 15; and is further concerned by the disproportionate impact this policy has on boys and children from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities; further adds that between 2018 and 2020, 22 children in care aged 16 and 17 died while living in this type of unregulated setting which is devoid of care and consistent adult supervision; further champions the charity Article 39 and the delegation of care experienced people who handed over a 10,700 signature-strong #KeepCaringTo18 petition to Downing Street on this issue; and urgently calls on the Government to change this legislation to ensure all looked after children, no matter what their age, live in accommodation that has carers and provides care.

This was set out by the Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck and sadly only 31 signatures were achieved, but it was encouraging that here in Sussex that along with Peter Bottomley, that Caroline Lucas also signed the document. Also there was one other Conservative and a number of Labour MPs and DUPs and Liberal Democrats.

Sadly along with the others mentioned, one other Conservative MP appears to be campaigning to close down the EDMs that Margaret Thatcher set out and which all of the PMs have endorsed prior to Liz Truss. He is also campaigning against people such as the Father of the House. He is John Howell who is the MP for Henley and he began to campaign about it on his website on 12th March 2020. His comment is below which comes from his website. As it happens he is equally promoting the e-Petitions which is a positive aspect even though is rejection of EDMs is very disappointing.

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are motions that formally call for debate in the House of Commons on a day which has not been fixed. This means that few, if any, are debated.  Along with many colleagues on both sides of the House I do not sign EDMs. I realise that some people are disappointed when they learn that I will not sign an EDM and so I explain here why I will not do so. They are hugely expensive to administer, described as  “highly narcissistic” and they are often not written by the MPs who table them.  They serve no useful purpose.  

Instead there are many other more effective ways for an MP to raise an issue or lobby government. These include writing to Ministers, meeting with Ministers, asking Parliamentary Questions (which can be written for oral) and holding Westminster Hall debates. Over the years I have frequently raised numerous concerns in these alternative ways. Whilst EDMs can only be signed by MPs we now have e-petitions which can be signed by anyone. These have much more success in raising awareness of different issues and are debated.

The reality is that many of the EDMs signers continue to do so since John Howell’s campaign and indeed in his time as an MP he did on one occasion sign an EDM which was from Sir Mike Penning and it was a call for Cystic Fibrosis Trust Campaign and it took place in 2018. Along with Mike Penning and John Howell, another 80 MPs signed it.

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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1 Response to A disturbing lack of involvement from the Prime Minister

  1. Pingback: A vital women’s national football team campaign | ianchisnall

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