Conservative MPs have blocked a bill to bring first aid training to schools by talking non-stop until time to discuss and vote on it ran out.
The Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education (State-Funded Secondary Schools) Bill would have required schools to teach first aid training to children as part of the national curriculum.
The group of MPs used up the bill’s time by talking for hours, with one speech by an education minister described by the deputy speaker as like reading a “telephone book” out loud.
Because the proposed law is not supported by the Government it only has a limited amount of time to be debated in Parliament, or has to be shelved.
It is backed by St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, and the British Heart Foundation .
Tory MP Philip Davies, who is famous for “talking out” bills during Friday sessions of parliament, gave the longest speech of all, lasting around 50 minutes.
“The title gives away the principle of this bill: compulsory emergency first aid education in state-funded secondary schools. The point I am trying to make is that I do not agree with the principle of compulsory first aid education in schools. Why on earth would I allow a bill that principle of which I don’t like a second reading?” he said.
Mr Davies ultimately gave way before the end of the debate, with other MPs continuing to talk at length until time ran out.
The debate ended without a vote while Conservative education minister Sam Gyimah continued to read a long list of subjects despite interventions by the deputy speaker asking him to stop.
The Bill was proposed by Labour MP Teresa Pearce but had cross party support, including from some Conservatives. During Mr Davies’ marathon speech fellow Tory MP Roger Gale urged him not to block the law.
“I’d like to think that given that this is a matter of life and death my honourable friend might just allow this to have a second reading and then allow it to be dissected in a committee stage,” Mr Gale said.
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
Mr Davies responded that Mr Gale’s argument was “ludicrous”.
Among reasons he listed for blocking the bill was that he himself had been taught first aid in school but had forgotten what he was taught.
He also said the Government should not expect teachers to assume a “pseudo-parent role”, and that he did not want “the Government to be sticking their nose in at every turn trying to lecture [teachers] every five minutes that they should be doing this, that, and the other”.
The MP added that there were other, voluntary organisations that could provide first aid training, such as the Scouts and Guides. The Government minister Mr Gyimah who rejected the law says he feared the National Curriculum becoming overloaded.
St John Ambulance said: “We’re frustrated at today’s result as we believe that the opportunity to learn first aid shouldn’t be left up to chance.” The British Red Cross said the outcome was “disappointing”.
The incident follows outrage over Mr Davies filibustering a bill to scrap hospital car parking charges for carers, and an incident where Government health ministers deliberately blocked a bill to promote cheaper off-patent drugs in the NHS.
Mr Davies has also blocked a law that would have required landlords to make sure their homes were fit for human habitation.
Over 9,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to reform the filibuster process after the series of high-profile vetos and increased media coverage on the issue.