8 September 2017 — The Canary
A group of Conservative MPs is using the opening of parliament to try and push through a law to make everyone pay for NHS treatment. The proposed bill, which is already at its second stage in the House of Commons, is part of a handful of draft regulations that right-wing backbenchers would like to see as law.
Inside the mind of a Tory MP
The National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill has been tabled by Tory MP for Christchurch Christopher Chope. And his bill would see NHS services chargeable, in the same way most of the public have to pay for dental treatment.
But the public don’t need to panic just yet, as Chope’s proposals fall under ‘presentation bill’ regulations. Every year, these give backbench MPs the opportunity to table whatever laws they like in the Commons without a debate first. And while most never make it into law, what they offer is a peek into the minds of some of the people who govern the country.
The majority of the bills below have either been proposed by Chope, Wellingborough MP Peter Bone, or the now-infamous MP for Tatton Esther McVey. And as The Canary previously reported, the MPs went to great lengths to get their bills before parliament.
From the ridiculous…
This year, some of the proposed laws include:
- Benefits and Public Services (Restriction) Bill, to stop foreign nationals claiming benefits and also using services like the NHS.
- Border Control Bill, to make rules around immigration even tougher.
- Employment Opportunities Bill; tabled before by Chope, it aims to reduce the national ‘living’ wage and remove the entitlement to it from certain jobs.
- Government Departments (Abolition) Bill, to scrap the Department for International Development (and the foreign aid budget). It would also abolish the offices of the Ministers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, replacing them with one “Nations” department.
- Human Rights and Responsibilities Bill, to restrict claims under the Human Rights Act 1998.
- Public Service Broadcasters (Privatisation) Bill, to privatise the BBC and Channel 4.
- Schools Bill, to increase the number of grammar and pupil-selection based schools.
- Working Time (Regulations) Bill, to abolish swathes of employment law.
To the sublime…
But there are some proposals which could be more popular with the public. These include:
- BBC Licence Fee (Civil Penalty) Bill, to decriminalise not paying the licence fee.
- Domestic Energy (Value Added Tax) Bill, to reduce or scrap VAT on gas and electricity bills.
- Healthcare (Local Accountability) Bill, to allow local, public referendums on implementing controversial NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP).
- Hospital (Parking Charges and Business Rates) Bill, to scrap NHS car parking charges.
- June Bank Holiday (Creation) Bill, to celebrate the anniversary of the EU referendum.
- Pensions (Review of Women’s Arrangements) Bill, to review the situation with so-called ‘WASPI‘ women.
- Prime Minister (Temporary Replacement) Bill, to allow the PM to be removed from office “if incapacitated”.
- Student Loans (Debt Discharge) and Student Loans (Debt Interest) Bills, to reform the student loan system.
Contempt for the public
The raft of proposed laws is a now-yearly event, and Bone and Chope are usually at the heart of it. In 2013, for example, Bone tabled a bill to bring back the death penalty, along with many of the bills he and Chope have tabled this year. And needless to say, it never saw the light of day. But what these presentation bills show is just how right-wing the views of some MPs can be.
Ultimately, though, the MPs responsible for these nonsensical bills know they will never be passed and so show their contempt for parliamentary procedure and for the public. Because while the House of Commons wastes time on some of these preposterous bills, MPs could be debating other more important laws.