Glenda Jackson: View from the House
Variety is spice of an MP’s life: If variety is the spice of life, the past few weeks in Parliament have been as flavourful as the nation's favourite dish, curry. From debates on whether there should be exemptions for working dogs from the ban on tail-docking (the house decided there sho
If variety is the spice of life, the past few weeks in Parliament have been as flavourful as the nation's favourite dish, curry.
From debates on whether there should be exemptions for working dogs from the ban on tail-docking (the house decided there should, to the chagrin of those of us who thought there shouldn't) to the ping-pong battle between the Lords and Commons over two highly contentious Bills, ID Cards
and Terrorism, which at the time of writing are on-going, and culminating in the hugely divisive Education Bill, there has not been a dull moment. Oh, and of course, the Budget, self-titled "A Strong and Strengthening Economy" which is meant to bring about a fairer society.
Despite 52 Labour MPs, myself included, voting against the Education Bill and 27 of my colleagues abstaining, the bill is now in committee.
It will be interesting to see how many, if any, concessions will be made by the Government during this process. That there is still deep seated opposition to the bill and genuine concern that it's proposals, far from improving education for all our children, will create a two, even three tier system, was made abundantly clear during the second reading.
The Government's inability to convince it's own back-benchers on the bill's supposed merits, and therefore its dependency on the official opposition, had been heralded by the Press as, yet again, make or break time for the Prime Minister. But that dependency became over shadowed by the so-called 'secret loans' scandal.
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Cash for peerages continues to swirl around all the political parties, raising the issue, in some quarters, of state funding.
I think it somewhat unlikely that the nation will be enthused by the idea of their taxes funding parties, even though we all know democracy costs, but I'm pretty sure a directly elected Second Chamber would enthuse the electorate. It certainly enthuses me. As did the Budget, the 10th I have heard delivered by Gordon Brown. Yet again the commitment to investing in the nation's people came through loud and clear, together with an additional £582 million by 2007 to increase direct payments to schools in England.
Climate change, an issue which I know many of my constituents are concerned about, was also tackled in the budget. Gordon Brown has announced an increase in line with inflation of the climate change levy, together with a new zero rate of vehicle excise duty for the small number of cars with the very lowest carbon emissions and a new top band for the most polluting new cars.
Many constituents have contacted me directly, raising their concerns over "gas guzzling cars" and what action the Government can take to encourage drivers to use cars which are less damaging to the environment, and I am pleased that Gordon Brown has responded with changes to bring this about.
People are our nation's greatest national resource, and this latest Brown Budget puts not only money, but faith and trust, in our ability to succeed - with a little help from our friends.
q Glenda Jackson is
the Labour MP for
Hampstead & Highgate