Harriet Harman defends government’s legislative programme

June 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

by Peter Taberner

Leader of the House  said that the government is still on track over ID cards, the postal services bill and the child poverty bill.

Harriet Harman was speaking during business questions yesterday.

Ms Harman was reacting to jibes from shadow house leader Alan Duncan that debates on four statutory instruments on ID cards were shelved last week, as a report in the Sunday Times had highlighted.

With 16 sitting days remaining before the recess Mr Duncan asked about the ‘mysterious whereabouts’ of the postal services bill remarking that the Business Secretary and the Prime Minister has staked their reputations on it.

“On ID cards, there is no change in Government policy. The hon. Gentleman knows that the Home Secretary keeps the matter under review at all times,” Ms Harman replied.

“If there is any change in policy, the House will be kept updated.

“The hon. Gentleman will know that we have introduced biometric ID cards for foreign nationals, and I hope he supports that, as it is not only important for security, but speeds up the sorting out of identity questions so that access to visas, for example, is made easier for people who are genuinely who they say they are.

“He also knows that we are introducing this approach for air-side in airports, and that there will be no compulsory ID cards for everybody else without a vote in this House.

“The hon. Gentleman asked about the Postal Services Bill. It is not announced for next week’s business or that of the week after.

“He will see that we had to make a space for three days for the Parliamentary Standards Bill.

“I think it is important, with a crisis of public confidence in the House, to bring forward this measure and address it quickly.

“At the same time, to ensure proper scrutiny of the measure while bringing it in expeditiously, we need to give adequate time for it to be debated on the Floor of the House.

“That is why debate of the Parliamentary Standards Bill will be across three days.

“The Child Poverty Bill is not in the business that I have announced, but I hope that it will be brought in before the summer recess”

Ms Harman also remarked that the recession is the government’s number one priority and that they will intervene where necessary and asked for prior notice for any serious business bills that effect people’s lives, like the postal bill.

Her remarks moved the veteran Labour MP for Bolsover Dennis Skinner to speak up in typical style.

“May we assume that the listening and consultation applies to Labour Members as well as to the Opposition?” he asked.

“Does it explain the absence of the Postal Services Bill, which has not arrived in the House?

“Is that because Ministers have found the strength, having listened to scores, indeed hundreds, of Labour MPs, to ensure that the part-privatisation of Royal Mail does not go ahead?

“If that is the order of the day, well done!”


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