- The government has employed a niche measure to avoid amendments to the Budget.
- Theresa May accused of “rigging Parliament” by Labour.
- Opposition MPs will not be able to amend the Finance Bill after the government used a tactic to fast-track the Budget into law.
LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of a fresh power grab after the government moved to block MPs from adding amendments to the Budget.
Labour said the prime minister was “rigging Parliament” by attempting to avoid the Finance Bill being changed and amended by MPs by using a niche parliamentary device.
The shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Peter Dowd said the government was “hiding from scrutiny,” by employing the measure.
The government’s actions will almost completely prevent opposition MPs from defeating them over new clauses, and will restrict MPs’ ability to add alternative tax measures to the Budget bill, HuffPost reported.
The latest move by May to restrict the power of opposition parties in Parliament comes after the government has decided to ignore Opposition Day motions and forced through majorities on parliamentary bill committees.
Budgets are followed by ministers bringing forward resolutions to the House of Commons, which are then voted on by MPs. These make a Finance Bill.
Normally, there is a general amendment to the law which can then be amended by opposition MPs, but this has been dropped by the government in order to fast-track the bill into law and to also avoid extra scrutiny.
Dowd told HuffPost: “Once again we have further evidence of the Government’s unprecedented rigging of Parliament because they cannot rely on their backbenchers or the DUP.
“This comes in the wake of the Tories stitch up of standing committees and its undemocratic and arrogant decision to ignore opposition motions.”
“This is a Government desperately clinging to power and hiding from scrutiny.”
The measure has been sparingly used by governments over the past 90 years, usually just before or after an election in order to quickly change government finance policy.
Winston Churchill used it before the general election in 1929, and Denis Healey, Gordon Brown and George Osborne all used it in emergency budgets following election victories.
Plans by opposition parties to attempt to add amendments that would aim to end “period poverty” and agreeing to place free sanitary products in schools will now not happen due to the blocking of amendments.
The Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom will be questioned by MPs at Business Questions on Thursday over the use of the tactic.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “This is a practical modernisation of the resolutions.”
“It will make no difference to what we expect will be a broad and wide-ranging debate on the Budget and state of the economy over the next few days.”