The government has been accused of running parliament like a cross between House of Cards and Game of Thrones after Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, said ministers will formally respond within 12 weeks to defeats on motions raised by Labour.
Theresa May has been criticised by MPs, including on her own side, for whipping her own backbenchers not to vote on opposition day motions, such as last week’s on universal credit.
Veteran Tory MP Edward Leigh had even accused the government of paving the way for tyranny by ignoring defeats on such motions.
Leadsom’s announcement on Thursday was criticised by the shadow leader of the Commons, Valerie Vaz, who claimed parliament was being run like a cross between House of Cards and Game of Thrones.
In a written statement issued to parliament, Leadsom said, “I am today updating the house on the government’s approach to opposition day debates. Where a motion tabled by an opposition party has been approved by the house, the relevant minister will respond to the resolution of the house by making a statement no more than 12 weeks after the debate.
“This is to allow thoughtful consideration of the points that have been raised, facilitate collective discussion across government, especially on cross-cutting issues, and to outline any actions that have been taken.”
Labour has been exploiting May’s fragile majority to raise pressing social issues such as the rollout of the controversial universal credit welfare system.
A motion tabled by the party calling for its rollout to be paused was passed unanimously last week, as most Tory MPs abstained – some of them reluctantly.
The government has made a series of concessions in recent weeks as May adjusts to governing without a stable majority. David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, announced last week that charges would be abolished for the universal credit helpline, an issue raised by Labour.
And on Wednesday, as Labour prepared to debate the impact of changes to housing benefit on supported housing, May announced a climbdown at prime minister’s questions.
Leadsom said she was responding to concerns raised on both sides of the Commons. Vaz dismissed Leadsom’s concession and complained about the government’s failure to consult with Labour about the tabling of legislation.
A Labour source said: “Theresa May has decided to bypass parliament, ignore the result of the general election and the wishes of the people.
“Theresa May does not have a majority in parliament so has decided just to ignore it. The prime minister is in office but not in power.”
This article was written by Heather Stewart Political editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th October 2017 13.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010