The Public Bill Committee is not likely to consider the transfer of British Waterways to charity status until after 10th October when it will examine Schedule 5 of the Public Bodies Bill and BW’s amendment (99A) to the Bill. This means there is another opportunity to lobby the Committee etc. Here are four things you can do.
1. Write to your MP.
2. Write to the 19 MPs on the Public Bill Committee – members have already considered letters they have had on other issues.
3. Submit written evidence to the Committee – members of the public can do this, and some of us have done so already.
4. See your MP at one of their surgeries.
An example letter, contact details for the Committee members, guidance on submitting evidence and how to find MPs surgeries are below.
1. Example letter to your MP and the MPs on the Committee; it’s best to put it in your own words if possible though.
Subject heading, especially if emailing: PUBLIC BODIES BILL: AMENDMENT 99A
I am writing to you to express my concern about the Public Bodies Bill.
Please ensure that the British Waterways amendment (99A) is withdrawn from the Public Bodies Bill. I am concerned that the transfer of British Waterways to charity status will result in boat dwellers like me and my family being made homeless by the New Waterways Charity. No such transfer should be made until the introduction of specific statutory protection for boat dwellers from harassment and unlawful eviction, applicable to those both with and without permanent moorings, equal to that enjoyed by the tenants of houses.
The transfer of British Waterways to charity status will remove the minimal protection we have for our homes that derives from British Waterways status as a public body, namely the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act and the Freedom of Information Act. This must not be allowed to happen.
I look forward to your reply.
2. Names and contact details for the MPs on the Public Bill Committee.
All MPs can be contacted by post at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Here are email/ web contact details for the MPs on the Committee.
David Amess (Chair of the Public Bill Committee)
Susan Elan Jones
You will need to enter a postcode. You don’t have to be registered to vote to contact an MP. If you have a postal address, contact the MP for that postcode area. Otherwise just contact the MP for the place you are currently moored, using the address and postcode of a nearby Post Office or pub, and say you live on a boat with no fixed address.
3. Submitting written evidence to the Public Bill Committee.
The House of Commons has given certain Public Bill Committees the power to receive written submissions (known as memoranda) from outside organisations and individuals. Your submission should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org making it clear which Bill it relates to. Or you can post it to: Senior Committee Assistant, Scrutiny Unit, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
Your submission should be factual rather than purely opinion. It should address matters contained within the Bill that the Committee is examining and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware. This could include any harassment or unlawful enforcement from BW that you or others have experienced. Your submission should generally include only material specifically prepared for the Committee, although, of course, it is perfectly acceptable to quote from other sources for critical or illustrative purposes. It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. It should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere. If you have any queries about the extent to which submissions will be protected by Parliamentary privilege, contact the Scrutiny Unit (details above and below).
Ideally, submissions should be in electronic form: Word, WordPerfect or rich text. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering. Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures unless absolutely essential. As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.
For data protection purposes, you should also include a separate covering letter or email containing the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.
You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The Scrutiny Unit can help with any queries about submitting evidence to a public bill committee and about the evidence-taking stages of Public Bill Committees. Contact details are above plus Tel 020 7219 8387 and Fax 020 7219 8381.
4. Going to see your MP in person
All MPs hold drop-in surgeries for constituents. You don’t have to be registered to vote. You can find out when the surgeries take place by contacting the MP or their constituency office by phone, email or post. The local library should also have this information. If you don’t have an address, just go to see the MP for the area you are moored at present.