Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fixing member's day

Last year Parliament had a persistent problem with Member's Day: certain MPs repeatedly delayed their bills in such a way as to prevent other bills from being balloted, while those bills were never debated (the government eating ballot days through urgency didn't help either). As a result, several times member's day simply ran out of business, with MPs debating only two bills before going home early.

(The government's coalition partners are prime culprits here, having two bills (on the foreshore and seabed and smacking) which they want to keep around as a perpetual hanging threat, but never actually debate)

So, today Parliament acted to prevent this, with Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee introducing a sessional order so that

where the member in whose name a member’s bill stands postpones the order of the day for its first reading for a second or subsequent time, on the members’ day on which the bill next becomes available for debate, it is set down for first reading after all other orders of the day for the first reading of members’ bills (Standing Order 71 to be read accordingly); that the number of orders of the day for the first readings of members’ bills that may be before the House at any one time be increased from four to six (Standing Order 272(1) and (4) to be read accordingly).
Which seems to mean that repeatedly delaying bills will mean a boost in the cap, and more bills drawn to compensate for the wasted slots. Which hopefully means we'll finally see some real member's day action soon.