Labour accuse Government of ‘rigging’ Parliament over Budget bill

Posted On: 
28th November 2017

Labour has accused the Government of ‘unprecedented rigging’ in its bid to stop a major Commons revolt against the Finance Bill.

The Tories are said to be fearing a rebellion against measures in its forthcoming finance bill
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Ministers have been accused of using an obscure parliamentary procedure prevent backbench and opposition dissent over issues such as the zero rating of domestic fuel – which Labour believe the DUP would vote down.

Labour say that by failing to table an “amendment to the law resolution” as part of the Budget resolutions, ministers can prevent amendments to the finance bill which are not rates specifically changed by Philip Hammond last week.

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The move could stop amendments over VAT on sanitary products, which both Labour MPs and Tory Brexiteers are keen to abolish, pointing out that it only exists because of EU rules.

Labour say the device has only be used four times in the past on finance bills - in 1929, 1974, 1997 and 2010.

The latest controversy comes months after the Tories were accused of a “power grab” on major committees, despite losing their majority at the general election.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd, said: “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.”

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “It is not new and has been done a few times before. It is easier to match the amendments to things in the bill.

“The finance bill is quite tightly defined so there is no point in asking for powers we do not need.”

She added: “We don’t expect this to have a practical impact.”