Today, the Tenancies (Reform) Bill failed to progress because Philip Davies and Christopher Chope chose to filibuster it. Every other MP that spoke in the debate wholeheartedly supported the bill – including the government minister. Yet these MPs forced the bill to run out of time.
Private members bills can only be debated on certain days, at certain times. Each year a select number of Fridays are dedicated to private members bills. Backbench MPs can debate their bills from 9.30am till 2.30pm. If the debate has not finished by 2.30pm then the bill falls.
This happened to the Tenancies (Reform) Bill. A bill that would have improved life for 9 million renters and 1.3 million renting families no longer exists.
It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.
However, this is far from over. Over 17,000 people have signed a petition. Tens of thousands of people have contacted their MP. And the government have listened.
Not only that, policy has been drafted. Really good policy.
Less than six months from a general election, all the major parties have recognised how important the renter vote has become. We now have consensus that legislative action is needed – and we will secure this change.
Without the ‘9 million renters’ campaign and without the Tenancies (Reform) Bill we would not be in this position. In May 2015 there will be no excuse for not placing an end to revenge eviction at the heart of the next government’s promise to renters.
‘Parliament at its best’
At the start of the day, Stephen Gilbert MP remarked that this debate showed ‘Parliament at its best’. And indeed it did. Sixty MPs from all the main parties turned up, put aside their partisan interests and supported a bill that would have made an enormous difference to renters in their constituencies.
Unfortunately, the debate ended with Parliament at its most disappointing. A procedural quirk allowed this bill to be defeated. But we won’t be defeated again. From our wonderful supporters to our impassioned legislators – we will make this happen.