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Define the minimum number of MPs that must be present to pass an Act of Parliament

Comment 2nd July 2010

The expenses scandal earlier this year highlighted just how little time the MPs whose wages and costs we pay actually spend on the benches. While the rest of us have set working hours and duties our MPs often fail to turn up at Westminster when vital laws are passed.

As a result badly written laws, such as the Digital Economy Act  (which criminalises innocent people for a hacker misusing their network and gives a minister powers to single-handedly make laws) have been allowed to pass with few MPs present and virtually no meaningful debate.

There must be a rule that a very high minimum of MPs from all parties must be present in Parliament to pass an Act – and to be as close to full house as possible for any act that creates a new criminal offence.

Why does this matter?

It is shocking that laws that criminalise large parts of this country's population or take away lawmaking from the Parliament and deliver it into the hands of single secretaries of state are forced upon us without sensible consultation by a half-emply parliament.

This simply is not democracy and not a way a competent government behaves.

We elect MPs to represent us – if they cannot be bothered to attend Parliament when laws as significant and far reaching as these are passed, then they should not stand for election. They should not receive public money for the work they fail to even turn up to do.

If not enought MPs turn up to support an Act, then it should be shelved.


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