EDMWatch #2: Beer, moths, space and human rights

We take  a regular look at the Early Day Motions tabled by MPs. These are basically House of Commons petitions and are used to raise awareness of an issue. One of the biggest elements of an MP’s postbag or inbox is a pile of requests from supporters of a particular organisation or charity to sign a particular EDM. As a rule, ministers don’t sign EDMs. A look at EDMs can be a useful insight into what’s on MPs’ minds.

The second week of the parliamentary session saw a flurry of motions, going up from 71 to 155.

Most popular

The most popular this week is EDM 68 opposing legal aid changes, primarily from Labour, but with 3 Liberal Democrats, Andrew George, Adrian Sanders and John Leech supporting. Particularly intriguing is Bob Russell’s amendment, which changes the first sentence from “This House deplores the Government’s intention” to “This House urges the Government to reconsider…”

In second place comes EDM 57, proposed by our Greg Mulholland, supporting the Fair Deal for your local campaign. It’s attracted 58 signatures and says:

That this House welcomes the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign supported by the Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Business, the Campaign for Real Ale, Guild of Master Victuallers, Fair Pint, Licensees Supporting Licensees, Pubs Advisory Service, Justice for Licensees and Licensees Unite calling for a fair deal for licensees tied to large pub companies; further welcomes the Government’s commitment to introduce a statutory code of practice to enshrine principles of fair dealing and that tied licensees should not be worse off than free of tie licensees; notes that large companies take more than is fair or sustainable from pub profits in both inflated product prices and excessive rents, causing failure of pub businesses nationwide; believes that to deliver the Government’s commitment the code must include an option for tied landlords of large companies to pay an independently assessed market rent only to their pub owning company and that this should be offered alongside tied agreements; further notes that this solution was put forward by the former Business and Enterprise Committee, and now by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, with unanimous cross-party support of Committee members; further believes that this would deliver a fair and positive business relationship between large pub companies and their licensees, resulting in a thriving pub sector which would boost the economy; supports the commitment to exclude family brewers by applying the code to companies that own more than 500 pubs; and urges the Government to implement this to secure a sustainable future for Britain’s pubs.

Also in the top five are one on childcare ratios, Adult Learners’ Week and the East Coast mainline.

Liberal Democrat highlights

Sarah Teather’s EDM 133 has upsetting and graphic description of force feeding at Guantanamo Bay as it notes its concern about that and calls on the Government to work with US Government to get British citizen Shakar Aamer home.

John Hemming’s EDM 139 calls on the Government to reinstate the choice of criminal Legal Aid lawyer.

Andrew George has two on the protection of sea birds, the second of which, EDM 152 is far more robust and calls for prohibiiton of dumping of polyisobutylene at sea.

Bob Russell’s EDM 130 calls on the Government to reverse the decline in the moth population.

Paul Burstow has two, EDM 114 and 115 relating to Sudden Death in Epilepsy

Tim Farron’s EDM 112 on Women in Afghanistan is a good but all to rare example of senior men speaking out on women’s issues:

That this House notes with concern that despite steady improvement in the rights of Afghan women since the severe repression of the 1990s, women in Afghanistan are once again in danger; raises concerns about information indicating that women are being marginalised in the peace process, ignored in the security transition and that they continue to be subject to violence in the home and attacks against the defenders of women’s rights; commends the efforts by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development to ensure the Afghan government upholds its commitments on women’s rights, including through implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women law, which is a central commitment under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework; praises the campaign being led by Amnesty International UK to highlight the plight of women in Afghanistan; and calls on the Government to keep the pressure on the Afghan administration to put women first.

John Leech’s EDM 77 calls on the Government to apologise for its predecessors’ wrongdoing on forced adoptions

Greg Mulholland wants us all to walk more – he has two EDMs, 86 and 87 on the subject.

Silly motion of the week

EDM 95 from Labour MP Roger Godsiff whinges about the clousre of a Commons bar to turn into a nursery, which is currently making a loss. I wonder how much public money, over the years, was spent on stocking the bar with very cheap alcohol.

And finally…

David Morris MP uses EDM 91 to highlight the work of a local vicar, known as the Bishop of the Moon and call on the Government to teach kids more about space.

I know you don’t really need more reason to procrastinate on the internet, but you can see the whole list here. What are your favourites?


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliament.

One Comment

  • While EDMs all-too often turn out to be little more than token gestures, it is good to see that several MPs are fighting the Legal Aid corner.

    I am also impressed with Sarah’s EMD on Guantanamo Bay; I know this is an issue she has been fighting for some time, so it is good to see she is still trying everything she can to keep an issue, that many a lesser MP would shy from , on the table.

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