The results of the Private Members’ Bill ballot for the current session of parliament were announced on 17th May.
The 20th name out of the (figurative) hat was that of Douglas Carswell, erstwhile tory rebel and libertarian. Rather than immediately introducing a bill about a pet hobby horse or, worse, allowing himself to be used as a tame pet by the whips and/or a lobbying organisation, Carswell has taken the novel approach of drawing up a shortlist and letting the public choose.
The options are:
- Bloggers Freedom Bill: the law on copyright and libel developed in an age when very few people ever published anything. Today, millions of people blog and tweet. The law needs to reflect this. While other people’s intellectual property needs to be safeguarded, and people need protection from libel, this law would provide bloggers and tweeters with some protection against being sued, with a 48 hour period of grace before legal action could be taken.
- Defence Procurement Bill: too much of the defence budget is spent in the interests of big defence contractors, and not in the interests of our armed forces. This Bill would make it a legal requirement to put most defence contracts out to public tender, and prevent those who have worked for the Ministry of Defence from working for defence contractors without clear safeguards.
- Great Repeal Bill: there are too many rules and regulations. The government’s Freedom Bill, which promised to do something about it, has turned out to be pretty useless. Instead, the Great Repeal Bill – the world’s first Wiki-Bill – would repeal a vast swathe of unnecessary red tape. The details of the Bill are here.
- Repeal of the European Communities Bill: Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973. It has turned out to be an economic and political disaster. This Bill will get us out.
- Competing Currencies Bill: having struggled to save the Pound, this Bill will save the value of the Pound. It will prevent ministers debauching our currency to help pay their debts. While the idea of competing currencies is not new, the internet – which allows different currencies to be used seamlessly – is, making it practically possible. Translations of the Bill will be available in Greek, Spanish and perhaps even French.
The poll is taking place over at Guido’s so take another look at the list, pick your favourite and vote (if you so want).
For myself I like the sound of all of them but my priorities would lie towards numbers 3 and 4 – and of those two #4 seems, to me anyway, to be of greater importance.
I also note with interest that John Hemming was the 6th MP out. Given his dislike of super-injunctions and the secrecy of the Family Courts and the Court of Protection his bill could be one to watch.
Disclaimer: The rules of the game are such that the earlier a name was drawn the better the chance that his or her bill will at least get a cursory listen – and only then if the whips on either side of the house don’t sabotage it. The odds therefore are that whatever bill Douglas does present to the house will get shot down in flames or be deliberately talked out.