Pressured MPs resist New Labour’s anti-democratic plans

The bye-bye-election has had an effect on Labour MPs it would seem…

Firstly, the planning bill:

A Labour revolt is growing over a bill to take away ministers’ and councils’ planning powers on major projects like airports and nuclear power stations.

Sixty-three of the party’s MPs have signed a Commons motion opposing plans to set up an independent commission to decide on major infrastructure.

Labour MP Clive Betts, who put forward the motion, said those involved would be “unelected” and “unaccountable”.

And from a few days ago, talk of a revolt over road tax hikes:

Backbenchers urged Chancellor Alistair Darling to re-think plans announced in the Budget for big increases in vehicle excise duty on “gas guzzling” cars.

Although vehicles bought before 2001 are exempt, MPs are concerned that the some owners who bought bigger cars in the past not realising the changes were on the way, could be faced with increases of up to £200.

More than 30 Labour backbenchers have now signed a Commons motion urging ministers to re-think the proposals before the new rates come into force.

Labour MP Ronnie Campbell, who tabled the motion, warned that the impact of the increases could be similar to scrapping the 10p tax rate, which led to Mr Darling’s £2.7 billion climbdown in an emergency “mini budget” earlier this month.

“It is unfair on people who bought their cars a few years ago not knowing that the Government were going to put this road tax on,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

“When people get their road tax letter through the door next year and find they have got an extra £200 to pay – well, I don’t have to say any more, do I? The motorist is taking the brunt again.”

Mr Campbell, who is due to meet Mr Darling when MPs return to Westminster after this week’s Whitsun break, also called on Mr Darling to drop the planned 2p increase in fuel duty due in October.

He said that with rising world oil prices pushing up prices at the pumps, another increase would be too much for many families.

Not forgetting, of course, the proposal to increase the pre-charge detention period for those suspected of terrorism-related activities, which New Labour is struggling to introduce. There being no evidence forthcoming for the need to change this aspect of the law, the New Labour clique are using a mixture of fear and phony consensus building to win over Labour rebels:

Labour rebels threatening to defeat Gordon Brown’s counter-terrorism plans were offered a new concession yesterday.
The Home Office confirmed that ministers were ready to modify their move to extend to 42 days the period that police could hold terrorism suspects without charge.

The plan will be put to a Commons vote next month, where a significant Labour revolt and the opposition of the Tories and Lib Dems make a Government defeat a real possibility.

However, following recent failures at the polls, Mr Brown’s authority has been called into question and ministers fear he may not survive a third loss.

Tony McNulty, the minister in charge of counter-terrorism, signalled that the Government could amend its Counter Terrorism Bill to buy off Labour rebels.

Ministers will not compromise on the proposed detention increase from 28 days to 42, but they are prepared to give ground on the parliamentary oversight of long detention cases.

MPs had been promised a chance to vote on such cases, but possibly after the 42 days had expired. Mr McNulty said ministers were open to the possibility of such votes being held before the 42-day limit.

“We have said since the second reading and since the committee stage that if anyone had notions to improve the model then we would certainly listen and remain in consensus mode,” he said on BBC Radio 4.

In a further concession, the Government could slash the period the extra powers would last, the BBC reported. Ministers are understood to be discussing a possible compromise to reduce it from 60 to as little as 30 days.


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