Norfolk MP James Wild talks House of Commons and Lords late night parliamentary ping-pong
This week the House of Commons and the House of Lords were engaged in late night ping-pong.
Rather than a game of table tennis, this is traditional exchange of amendments to finalise new laws as the current session comes to an end before the next legislative programme is set out in the Queen’s Speech.
On the agenda was the Health and Social Care Bill, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Building Safety Bill, the Elections Bill and the Judicial Review Bill.
These are important pieces of legislation which will better integrate our health and care system, provide new powers to strike the right balance between protests and the right of people to get on with their lives, to tackle illegal immigration, and to ensure developers pay to remediate dangerous cladding on buildings.
This was a battle of wills. Ultimately, it is the elected House of Commons that prevails over the House of Lords which does a good job in scrutinising and revising legislation but should not block measures which repeatedly command a majority on the green benches.
The bills that became law this week are just some of the 30 pieces of legislation passed in this session. Others include measures to put in place long term funding for social care, longer sentences for the most serious and violent offenders, a lifetime skills guarantee, a new approach to finance nuclear power stations, as well as increasing the National Insurance threshold to benefit 30 million people. New measures in the Environment Act will help protect and enhance our natural environment, air quality and rivers.
On May 10, the Queen’s Speech will outline the government’s priorities for new legislation. While the contents will not be revealed until the day, I expect measures will include schools reform following the proposals announced last month, a levelling up bill, liberalising procurement rules, and further measures on economic crime and national security.
While it is important to legislate to deliver manifesto commitments, we also need to refocus on deregulation and removing unnecessary rules. These add costs to businesses and hinder growth and innovation and one of the Brexit opportunities is to reframe our regulatory approach. Aligned to that, is the need for greater accountability and transparency from the 300 quangos which employ 300,000 people and account for £220 billion of public spending.
As we voted on the bills, I took the opportunity to lobby ministers once again on the QEH campaign for a new hospital. I was able to share the very welcome news that QEH has now formally come out of special measures thanks to the commitment of all the staff to better patient care. But I underlined the compelling case for a new hospital as part of delivering further improvements.
There are now 56 acrow props and 1,528 steel and timber supports within the ceiling. The increase in props is to make sure the hospital is safe. But we need a long term solution – a new hospital.