In Brief

Philip Hammond ‘rigging Parliament’ by blocking budget amendments

Power grab just the latest attempt by Government to avoid proper parliamentary scrutiny

The Government has been accused of “rigging Parliament” after taking the unprecedented step of blocking any amendments to the budget.

 The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has come under pressure after confirming his intention to use a highly obscure parliamentary device to strike out most attempts to change the Finance Bill currently being debated in the Commons.

HuffPost says 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.

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell called the tactic “almost unprecedented” and a brazen attempt to “avoid debate on some of the key issues facing our communities” that will “restrict the ability of honourable members on all sides of the House to be able to move amendments”.

In recent years, “MPs have seized on the Finance Bill as a mechanism to force the Government to change course on tax measures – including over the so-called tampon tax and over solar panels”, reports The Independent.

In March last year, then chancellor George Osborne was forced to announce the abolition of the 5% VAT charged on women’s sanitary products, after a cross-party revolt.

There have been reports the Democratic Unionist Party, whose support is crucial to the Government to get votes through parliament, is prepared to back an opposition amendment to scrap VAT on domestic fuel, leaving Theresa May facing a potentially embarrassing defeat.

Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief treasury secretary, called the move to block amendments evidence of “the Government’s unprecedented rigging of parliament because they cannot rely on their backbenchers or the DUP”.

The latest move by the Prime Minister 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”, says Business Insider UK.

Accusations that the Government is trying to circumvent proper parliamentary procedure have also led Brexit Secretary David Davis to be accused of being in contempt of parliament after refusing to abide by a binding vote to fully release 58 Brexit impact studies on the British economy.

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