Frank Field MP has been complaining that MPs are left with little to do, as the Government has no legislative programme of any note. He may possibly change his mind when the juggernauts of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill – which had its eleventh, and final, day in committee in the Lords yesterday – and the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill reach the Commons, but even if one takes his statement as to the legislative programme as correct, is there really a problem?
We have discussed before that there is too much legislation. The emphasis tends to be on quantity rather than quality, producing bills almost for the sake of it and in response to the feeling that ‘something must be done’. If there is little legislation, then this is surely a golden opportunity to use the time to discuss matters of concern to MPs and their constituents and to ensure that the Government is scrutinised effectively.
The lack of a full legislative programme should also create opportunities for Members to demand adequate time to discuss the Bills they will be receiving in due course from the Lords. The Marine and Coastal Access Bill is a massive measure and effectively two Bills in one. The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill is basically three Bills in one. The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill is an important measure. Even with the extenstive scrutiny undertaken by the Lords, it is important that MPs have the opportunity to examine them thoroughly.