Theresa May is using an obscure loophole to steal from the poor to give to the rich

Theresa May green
Support us and go ad-free

Over the past week, Theresa May’s government has implemented two pieces of legislation. One aims to save the government £3.7bn by taking money from the most vulnerable. And the other promises to give one of the richest families in the UK an extra £360m.

But there is one thing both have in common. Both decisions make a mockery of democracy. They were implemented via ‘statutory instruments’ – an obscure loophole that allows the government to enact unpopular decisions without proper scrutiny.

Statutory instruments

As previously reported in The Canary, statutory instruments are a convenient way of bypassing parliament:

Statutory instruments allow ministers to fast-track changes to existing laws without the need for new acts of parliament. Introduced in the 1940s to free up parliamentary time, they were traditionally used for fairly limited purposes – like elaborating on complex technical details. But they’re extremely convenient for ministers: they (normally) can’t be amended, many of them are not scrutinised by parliament at all – and if they are, they can normally only be debated for a maximum of 90 minutes.

It is also very rare for a statutory instrument to be annulled. The House of Commons last overturned one in 1979. And the House of Lords last got rid of one in 2000. In order for MPs to challenge a statutory instrument, they have to issue an Early Day Motion (EDM) within 40 days. But:

The Government will typically find time to debate an EDM praying against an SI [statutory instrument] that has been signed by Shadow Ministers, but is not obliged to.

Personal Independence Payments

As previously reported at The Canary, the government announced emergency legislation to deny 160,000 people access to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Two tribunal judgements found that the current criteria for claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) were insufficient. But the government doesn’t want to pay the extra cost. And so, in an attempt to save £3.7bn, it introduced a statutory instrument to overrule the tribunal decision.

But the government is facing challenges in both houses with a combination of cross-party support and backbench rebellion. And if the government is defeated on a statutory instrument in the Commons, it will be a massive blow to the government. Especially since it hasn’t happened for nearly 40 years.

The royal family

But while the government was busy screwing over the most vulnerable, it took a small committee of MPs just 13 minutes to award the royal family an extra £360m. This effectively doubles their income.

A special committee was established just to raise the “Sovereign Grant”, funded through public money, from 15% to 25%. The committee argued that the extra money is needed to pay for refurbishments to Buckingham Palace.

But the SNP objected. MP Tommy Shepherd stated:

We cannot support this decision and this statutory instrument being passed in this way… It would be similar to saying the works that needed to be conduced at the Palace of Westminster should be funded by doubling the salary of MPs and asking them to make a contribution.

These objections will allow a vote on the matter. But that vote will take place without any debate or scrutiny.

A mockery of democracy

The way the government has used statutory instruments makes a mockery of democracy. Instead of using them as originally intended, it is using them for unpopular decisions. And using them to take money from the most vulnerable while at the same time giving money to one of the richest families is an utter disgrace.

Get Involved!

– Support Disabled People Against the Cuts

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed