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WEEKEND WEB: So much more than the pantomime of PM’s questions

MP John Hayes has opened the debate in the House of Commons on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.
MP John Hayes has opened the debate in the House of Commons on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

Hayes in the House by MP John Hayes

Parliament’s primary purpose is to make new laws and repeal or amend old ones.

In which vein, last Monday, I opened the debate in the House of Commons on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill on behalf of the Government.

Announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, the Bill seeks to foster the conditions necessary for the next generation of automated technology to flourish in Britain, so ensuring that the UK retains its global leadership in the market for electric vehicles.

The Bill passed the “Second Reading” without a vote, illustrating that the House agrees with the Bill’s principle.

However, the legislative work is far from over; the Bill will now proceed to its “Committee Stage”, during which I and a group of MPs from various parties will consider its provisions in detail – line by line – with a view to refinement and improvement, ensuring what results delivers its intended consequences.

Thereafter, the Bill – with any changes that the committee makes – will return to the House of Commons for further discussion, before the House of Lords considers it in the same way, with any amendments made there coming back to the Commons. Only after all of this will the Queen give Royal Assent for the Bill to become law as an Act.

Much of this detailed work takes place away from the media glare (though it is all, of course, on public record) yet it represents Parliament at its best.

To many casual observers, the House of Commons is merely a stage for the theatrical – sometimes pantomimic – weekly performances at Prime Minister’s Questions, but it pays to remember the essence of why Parliament matters. Our laws are made for the people by those they choose to speak for them.

Crucially, implicitly, this process is beyond tribal loyalty. It is an endeavour which reaches across party lines in tacit acknowledgement of our shared sense of purpose.

The maturity of our democratic institutions means that our procedures are conducted very often through co-operation and mutual trust.

No single political party will ever have a monopoly of wisdom, which is why the preparedness to work together is a mainstay of our system, marking out the special character of British political culture. It is something of which we can feel proud.


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