James Forsyth

Too many of today’s MPs would have been on the wrong side at Marston-Moor

Too many of today's MPs would have been on the wrong side at Marston-Moor
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We are about to find out how many coalition MPs are lobby fodder. In half-an-hour or so, the House of Commons is going to vote on whether any reduction in the number of MPs should be matched by an equivalent reduction in the number of ministers. If this measure is defeated, the power of the executive will be increased, the payroll vote will be a larger proportion of the House than it is today.

Sadly, it looks as if the executive will defeat Charles Walker’s amendment. Tory MPs admit that there is absolutely no intellectual defence for the government’s view that the number of MPs can be reduced by 10 percent but the number of ministers must stay the same, but they are still going to vote against the amendment out of a mixture of loyalty and self-interest. They have no desire to reduce their chances of becoming a minister at some point.

For those of us who think that most politicians are motivated by noble motives this is a depressing evening. Too many MPs will show themselves prepared to expand the power of the executive at the expense of the legislature.