If you are concerned by the proposals set out in the Budget requiring parents of children age 3 to look for work as a condition of receiving benefit from 2017 – including lone parents, parents of children with disabilities, and parents in low-income households on Tax Credits/Universal Credit where one parent is already in full time employment – then you can ask your MP to raise your concerns at the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on Tuesday July 21st.
(I blogged yesterday about when these measures are going to be introduced.)
July 21st is the last day before Parliament closes for business during the Summer. (Parliament opens again for 10 days in September but then is closed for Party conferences until October 12th.)
Second Reading is where MPs get the chance to make their points about the proposed measures. They won’t get another chance – unless they are on the Bill Committee – until Report stage They certainly won’t get another chance till after the annual Party conferences.
There is a very slight chance that the timing will change, so you need to keep an eye on the parliamentary calendar for forthcoming business
Immediately after the Second Reading there will usually be a Programme Motion which sets out the timetable for the passage of the Bill through Parliament. It won’t necessarily say when each stage will start but it will say how much parliamentary time is going to be allowed for the Bill Committee to go through the Bill line by line and also how much time will be allowed for debate at Report.
You can write and ask your MP to attend the debate on July 21st and make your points. You can say that you will be watching the debate on television and/or that you will read Hansard the following day. It would be ideal if you could also get to talk to your MP’s constituency caseworker.
I have set out MPs by local authority area here http://edyourself.org/articles/MPsLAs.php including a note on where the MP changed at the last election and who the previous MP was.
You can find out more about the constituency contact details here http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ (Just put your postcode in the search box)
If you have never contacted your MP before, this is what you do:
- Look at this site for information on writing to MPs https://www.writetothem.com/ (put your postcode in the search box)
- Keep your email direct and personal
- Keep your email short
- Focus on a few key issues
- Include a few key facts and signpost to where your MP can find more information (but bear in mind that MPs might not have time to open attachments or scroll through lengthy pdfs so you need to make the points yourself and not just say ‘this explains it much better than I can…’)
- Maintain contact with your MP
NB the proposed measures are tied in to the new provision for 30 hours free childcare for 3-4 year olds which I will be blogging about shortly.
The Bill Committee
After the Second Reading debate, the Bill passes to Committee stage and amendments are proposed and discussed before the revised Bill is brought back to the House of Commons. We may well not find out which MPs are on the Bill Committee until October unless there is a very quick announcement in Parliament reopens briefly (ie when ‘the House returns’) in September. Be ready to pounce with helpful briefings if your MP is on the Bill Committee!
The Bill Committee needs to get the clear message from the Second Reading debate exactly WHY specific measures in the Bill are very controversial. The Bill Committee will go through the Bill line by line and this is when amendments are put forward. The Government doesn’t ever have to agree to opposition amendments but the Bill Committee debates will reveal where the fault lines are in the proposed legislation and the Government may end up putting forward its own amendments, either in the Commons or when the Bill gets to the Lords.