PARLIAMENT has been referred to as the “cockpit of democracy”.
I think that’s an appropriate description.
No system is absolutely perfect, but ours has served us well over centuries.
That is, until now.
Since the decision was taken to counter the pandemic by locking the country down, parliament’s role has been curtailed.
It’s an awesome precedent and a frightening one.
As MPs, we are meant to be representatives of the people who elected us, but we’ve never been so powerless.
The former Supreme Court Justice, Lord Sumption, agrees.
He accuses the Government of shutting down most of society with minimal parliamentary oversight.
Three laws have been used to infringe our personal liberties, while evading scrutiny.
Personal risk was replaced by “coercion”, Lord Sumption adds, dissent stifled.
As a serving MP, I can bear witness to that.
A now fragmented parliament sees frustrated MPs attempting to contribute in the Chamber, which is restricted to 50.
The other 600 glean what they can on the parliamentary TV channel or join virtually if they make the list.
And that’s a hit and miss affair.
What we lack most is the atmosphere of a full Chamber.
There’s nothing a minister is more aware of than what’s being said and thought behind them.
And there’s no doubt, in my mind, that were parliament working properly, this second lockdown, certainly, would not have happened.
Also lost are the valuable opportunities to corner senior ministers in the Division Lobby on behalf of our constituents as we now march straight through in line.
Unintended consequences nearly always follow an over-reaction, and these draconian regulations must be rolled back.
Democracy in this country has never, ever been so hobbled, not even in wartime.
As Lord Sumption says: “This is how freedom dies”.