Last Updated: 24 January 2011
Created: 24 January 2011
One of my favourite TV programmes is Dragons’ Den, and this week I got a small taste of just how daunting that process can be.
I have been working with Labour MP Stella Creasy in a cross-party attempt to cap the huge interest rates charged by payday, doorstep and hire purchase lenders. As I have seen through my own casework, local residents are targeted by unscrupulous lenders who are legally allowed to charge whatever they want for credit, trapping people into an increasing cycle of expensive debt.
The issue has been raised in Parliament many times. However, despite securing considerable cross-party support and positive responses from Government Ministers, we have no tangible actions in place. Therefore Stella and I applied to the Backbench Business Committee to secure time in the main Chamber to press our measures to be put into law.
The Backbench Business Committee is responsible for scheduling debates on 35 days during the current session. The committee members are experienced senior MPs and failure to present a constructive case is dissected in true Dragons’ Den style, as they seek to maximise the use of the Chamber’s valuable time.
Stella and I were competing against five other bids, including the proposal by David Davis MP and Jack Straw MP on the issue of ‘votes for prisoners’, which understandably had secured a huge amount of national media interest.
To secure the debate we needed to satisfy various criteria:
- Topicality – with the Consumer Credit Regulation Bill coming forward on Feb 4th, we are seeking to have a debate prior to the details being confirmed.
- Breadth of interest – we had secured the support of over 40 cross-party MPs, many of whom came along to cheer us on.
- Relevance to the main chamber - as we had already utilised the other Parliamentary channels, the Chamber would be the culmination of the efforts.
Despite obvious nerves, following our presentation we were the only bid not to be asked any questions. Following an anxious wait, success! We were allocated the first available slot, which we expect to be February 3rd.
The key reason was that the committee was impressed with the levels of cross-party support, and the efforts we had already taken to raise this issue through other Parliamentary channels.
In my short time as an MP, whether it is solving complex and sensitive casework, or working with politicians across political divides, it is amazing what can be achieved if you get round a table with a mug of tea! Too often politicians are tempted into focusing on political bashing, but ultimately we will all be judged by results and that is best achieved as a team effort.