IT is testament to the persistence of Halifax MP Holly Lynch, and her supporters, that the House of Commons is, potentially, days away from approving landmark laws that would result in more draconian punishments for those abuse and assault members of the emergency services.
All law-abiding people will support this – the esteem in which they hold 999 responders was self-evident when some of the first firefighters to respond to the Grenfell Tower tragedy were cheered by so many as they completed the London Marathon.
Yet, perversely, this is the moment of greatest risk for the proposals now being taken forward by Chris Bryant after Ms Lynch’s original ‘Protect the Protectors’ Private Members Bill was curtailed by last June’s snap election. Parliamentary’s archaic rules mean it can take just one MP with a grievance to scupper legislation by filibustering – speaking ad nauseam to deny a vote on the issue in question.
This explains the sensitive negotiations taking place this week by the Bill’s sponsors, the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office – any last-minute glitches mean there will be little likelihood of the measures becoming law in the near future. This is unacceptable. If first-responders are to get the safeguards they deserve, there should be an unanimous vote in favour of this law change – and no watering down of the spirit of the measures championed by Ms Lynch who is a much respected policeman’s daughter. And, if any MP does choose to defy common sense, and stop the passage of this law by their actions, they should expect the full opprobrium of their constituents – and this newspaper.