Backbench Business Committee 10Dec2013


  1. I apologise, but whilst we (I) was answering a comment posted to this blogpost by Neil Ferguson it was accidentally deleted. Oops.

    However, I have recreated it below (thanks to the magic of e-mail) and my answer follows the 2nd set of *******.


    Neil Ferguson has left a new comment on your post "Backbench Business Committee 10Dec2013":

    I've just read the draft motion for debate, and I'm worried that although the WOW petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment *and* a committee-based inquiry, the draft motion seems to roll these together into a cumulative impact assessment only.

    In addition, the wording seems to leave an opening for the Government to interpret the resulting impact assessment to only cover the list of issues after the first semicolon. That list does not mention things like DLA / PIP and IB / ESA cuts, council tax benefit cuts or the bedroom tax, all which also cumulatively affect disabled people.

    I am worried that the Government would use that opening to omit those cuts from the impact assessment, which would then no longer be cumulative. As a signatory to the WOW petition, I would be greatly reassured if this potential hole in the motion was conclusively closed.

    Can we ask for the wording of the motion to be revised before it comes to debate, please?



    WOWpetition shared Neil's concerns relating to the content of the WOWpetition being "sanitised" prior to it being debated. With this in mind, before the Back Bench Business Committee (BBBC) meeting on Tuesday we spoke with John McDonnell MP and can state that we believe he is totally committed to ensuring the motion put to the House fully and completely reflects the substance of the WOWpetition.

    However, it also needs to be recognised that the wording of the WOWpetition had to be revised so that it actually meant something legally that could be delivered, which the original wording in its entirety did not.

    The "Text of substantive motion" requests that an independent CIA is commissioned before the first ";" and after the first ";" asks for it to consider other issues to reinforce their inclusion. Therefore, a cumulative impact assessment of the changes to the welfare system would consider all the things Neil notes here:

    "That list does not mention things like DLA / PIP and IB / ESA cuts, council tax benefit cuts or the bedroom tax, all which also cumulatively affect disabled people. "

    We can confirm that we will be feeding into the process on an ongoing basis to ensure no such "opening" is left. It should also be noted that the draft "Text of the Substantive Motion" was produced by a clerk to the BBBC, who drew on his experience and expertise in framing motions from an outline, which in this case was the wording of the WOWpetition.
    It was explained briefly on Tuesday that the call for an Independent Committee based inquiry is best dealt with as part of the Cumulative Impact Assessment. This is the right mechanism for calling for one, as you need to have identified something wrong before you can have an inquiry into it.
    It is believed that the "Text of the Substantive Motion" may possibly evolve between now and the Parliamentary Debate for various reasons. However, WOWpetition and all involved will be working to ensure that the wording of the motion properly reflects the "spirit" of the WOWpetiton, which so many of you signed.

    Finally, please be aware that the WOWpetition was a very complicated e-petition addressing a significantly large number of policy areas and a multiple number of Governmental departments. It is not easy to translate that into a substantive motion so the word Draft is important!!

  2. Well, I've just learned a lot more about how these things are done! Thank you for your detailed explanation and for the inside information from behind the scenes.

    As you and Mr McDonnell clearly understand, any reasonable reader would take the list after the first semicolon as a reinforcing list, not a restricting one. My fear was simply that the Government would choose to be an "unreasonable reader" in order to meet the letter of the motion whilst ignoring the spirit.

    It's good to see that you're keeping such a close watch on the process of transforming the WOW petition into a Parliamentary debate. I am reassured, and I shall now leave these issues in your capable hands.

    1. Thank you for your comment but please keep commenting and posting. Speaking for myself only (!!) I am a rank amateur when it comes to this and you may point out something we've/ I've missed!!

  3. Wow getting Blunkett to sign it is impressive - he was the Work and Pensions Secretary who Blair appointed to invent ESA back in 2005.