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Kate's blog: A frustrating lack of legislation in the new parliament as this government is in more disarray than ever


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Less than a month into the new parliament and the government is in more disarray than ever. It has so little new legislation to propose that debates that would normally take place among small committees of MPs are being held for all of us in the full chamber. Without a majority unless the DUP care to turn up, the government is having to abandon large swathes of the Conservative manifesto. Meanwhile ministers are forced to back down on a whole host of their plans whenever they look like losing a vote on them.  

So, last week the government was forced into abandoning charges for Northern Ireland women who have to come to England for abortions, when so many Tory backbenchers refused to back their ministers. This week, my colleague Diana Johnson forced a major climbdown, when ministers finally gave way on calls for a public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal.

This matter goes back many decades, when the NHS bought blood cheaply from abroad. Some of it had been supplied by drug addicts, or those with diseases, and as a result, infections were passed on to British patients receiving blood transfusions. Many became ill; some died. Yet until now, they and their families have been denied justice. It's good news that there will finally be a proper inquiry into what happened and who is responsible.

But these wins apart, the lack of business is frustrating for Labour MPs - we are keen to be up and at the government. So I was glad to participate in a debate on fire safety, calling for much more clarity and vigour in the aftermath of terrible fire in Grenfell Tower (you can read it here). But overall, there has been so little legislation, and so few proper debates, that this week Labour demanded, and secured, time for a debate about.....the lack of debates. It sounds a bit 'through the looking glass', but look out for that debate happening on Monday.

And in another example of how parliament works (or doesn't), along came the government's Repeal Bill, which is a bill to incorporate all EU law onto our statute book ahead of Brexit. We won't be debating that before the summer break, but when the bill was introduced on Thursday, we had to explain to new MPs that the clerk's announcement that the next debate on the bill would take place 'tomorrow' actually meant that it would happen in September.

Tomorrow isn't tomorrow in parliament, but rather sometime in the future. It can take a while to get your head round how the place goes about its business.

Things are much more straightforward back in Manchester, where I've been involved in some very moving activities. I attended the annual commemoration ceremony for mesothelioma victims, and joined campaigners in calling for funding for research into this terrible cancer. It was a pleasure to lecture at St Michael's Flixton as part of Flixton Folk Festival. The subject was 'Hope, not Hate', and it couldn't have been more timely, as this week we remember the Srebrenica genocide. I was also glad to attend a remembrance service for Srebrenica victims in Manchester cathedral.

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It was also a pleasure to attend Trafford Music Service's summer concert, and to listen to some very talented young performers. And I thoroughly enjoyed my 'digital surgery' with Lostock College, a Q&A organised by the Politics Project, which we held on skype for students to question me about political issues. We had more debate in that hour online than I saw in the whole week in parliament. 

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