Last week’s House of Commons debate on the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, held on the penultimate day of the summer session, had a definite end-of-term feel – and not just because of the acres of empty green benches on show.
Labour attacked the ‘Sarah’ bill as the most embarrassing in the short history of the Ministry of Justice – against stiff competition, some might suggest – but chose not to vote against it. It took a Conservative, former solicitor-general Sir Edward Garnier, to put an elegant boot in.
Accusing shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan of making ‘a rather snide and unnecessarily cheap speech’, he went on, ‘it pains me to say that I largely agree with its thrust’.
Sadly, justice secretary Chris Grayling did not hear most of the debate as he nipped off early after introducing the bill. No doubt the affairs of state were pressing.
Obiter was most tickled by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who seemed to be on a one-man mission to rebuff suggestions that the health and safety culture has hobbled the white rose county. ‘I have never heard, as a member of parliament, of anyone being frightened to wade in and save someone or help someone if it is needed in Yorkshire.’
The situation in Lancashire, it seems, remains unclear.