Early Day Motions

Since I was elected in October 2016 I have, like a growing number of MPs on a cross-party basis, taken the principled decision not to sign Early Day Motions, and I will briefly explain why.

A lot of EDMs are raised on behalf of lobbyists or groups keen to show themselves as doing something, yet without putting the actual work in to achieve a result. Many are also flippant or items that could have been better covered in a tweet, rather than a motion costing taxpayers about £360 to administer - each time.

A few good examples make the point well, please click on them to read the detail:

1)  One MP wants to congratulate their local football team on a win;

2)  Another wished good luck to the Home Nations in the Roller Derby Men's World Cup;

3) Or perhaps, this one:

EDM 1255 Pigeon Bombs

That this House is appalled, but barely surprised, at the revelations in M15 files regarding the bizarre and inhumane proposals to use pigeons as flying bombs; recognises the important and live-saving role of carrier pigeons in two world wars and wonders at the lack of gratitude towards these gentle creatures; and believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.

4) "This House commends the black pudding makers of Stornoway for their distinctive and high quality product."

5) Or perhaps this one, on the definition of a pint of beer;

You may feel that this is just harmless fun, or an informal way to raise a minor issue. However, sadly, the tax payer picks up a substantial bill each month for the cost of processing the hundreds of EDMs submitted, which have justifiably been described as being little more than "parliamentary graffiti".

For all these reasons no Government spends Civil Service time acknowledging EDMs, let alone responding to them. They do not result in debates in Parliament or changes to decisions. They are, for all intents and purposes, politically impotent.

Unfortunately, signing an EDM is actually viewed as a lazy way to be seen to do something by many MPs.

So, my position is this. If you want me to raise an issue, I will. But I will do the work, by corresponding with you, speaking in a debate, asking a question, writing to a Minister, or speaking to a Minister.

If I want to put across an issue on behalf of a constituent, something I am always happy to consider, I will write a letter, request a meeting or debate, submit a parliamentary question or speak to Ministerial colleagues in the voting lobby of the House of Commons. These are far more effective and direct ways of getting things done.

I would encourage any MP who is promoting an EDM instead to work on submitting a request for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee.

This could actually result in a public debate on the issue in Parliament, with a Minister required to respond to it. As a former member of that Committee, I can assure everyone that a well-supported request would be likely to receive a favourable hearing, although it would require slightly more effort for those involved than asking colleagues to sign an EDM for the reasons outlined above.

I hope I have made my position clear and that you will understand my decision. Please do not let this stop you from contacting me about your concerns, whatever they may be. I will always be willing to listen and do all I can to help.