Why it’s worth getting your MP to sign the new migrants’ rights Early Day Motion

EDMs are a peculiar mechanism, something I would guess 90% of the nation hasn't heard of whilst many more are unclear about the role they play in the House of Commons’ legislative apparatus. So why should you get your MP to sign the new migrants’ rights Early Day Motion?
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Technically Early Day Motions(EDM) are motions which are submitted by MPs to be debated in the House of Commons although in practice they are rarely debated. For campaigners they can still be a useful tool as they enable MPs to raise awareness of, or publicly lend support to, a topic. Often the issues raised in EDMs are relevant to the wider legislative programme or the national media agenda, but they can also arise when charities and other organisations ask an MP to table an EDM on an area likely to generate wider parliamentary support.

There are a few things which affect the way that EDMs run in parliament. Government ministers and their Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) never (or very rarely) sign EDMs and neither do shadow ministers. This is because EDMs often refer to government policy or a particular legislative programme the government is committed to follow. So whether an EDM is supportive or opposes a particular government position, a minister may find him or herself hostage to fortune if they put their name to it.

Those who are free from the constraints of government or shadow government office (that is the majority of all MPs in the House of Commons) can lend their support to the EDM and campaign in the Commons to get their colleagues to sign up. Peers in the House of Lords cannot sign EDMs. Some MPs have a policy of not signing EDMs, while others are much happier to lend their signature to them.

The ultimate goal of the EDM is that if enough MPs (usually around 200) sign the EDM then a debate can be triggered in the House of Commons and usually the weight of the support from the MPs who signed the EDM can force a different direction in government policy. Although this rarely happens, EDMs can still be a way of building support in parliament on campaign topics.

The Migrants’ Rights Network helped to launch and gain support for EDM 731entitled International Migrants Day, which was tabled last week by Virendra Sharma MP, a Labour MP for Ealing Southall, and has already received cross-party support. It is timely, encouraging MPs to mark International Migrants’ Day and send a positive message about migration in the UK. EDM 731 has a basic rationale to it. It doesn’t seek a change in government policy but to simply recognise the contribution of migrants to the UK, safeguarding vulnerable migrants from abuse, and recognise UN’s International Migrant Day on 18th December. It’s not a polarising motion nor does it require a parliamentary debate. So presumably every MP in the Commons should sign it, including ministers.

We would encourage you to take 5 minutes to write to your MP asking them to sign EDM 731, by clicking here. You can research your MP by finding them on the parliament websiteand checking what their roles and responsibilities are. If they happen to be a minister or very senior within their party then you can ask if they support the content within the EDM in principle and seek clarification if they evade the answer. If your MP is neither and still refuses to sign it, then why not ask why they have refused it.

You could write something as simple as the text I’ve outlined below.

Dear [MP],

Sign EDM 731 marking International Migrants Day 18 December

I know that you are very supportive of migrant and refugee issues in [your borough]. I hope you will consider signing this EDM to mark International Migrants Day this December - and adding your name to those MPs willing to stand up in support of the contribution that migrants make in our area. 

Yours sincerely,

If you get a response from your MP, please do share it with us by emailing [email protected] or by posting in the comments section below.

More widely, by taking part in this EDM campaign, you will be supporting the wider MRN campaign to mark International Migrants Day in the UK. If you are in London, do sign up for our launch event of ‘Our Day’. It’s onWednesday 5th December 2012 at the St Ethelburga’s Centre in Central London. 

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Thank you so much for this I never heard of EDM mechanism before. I thought it has to be issued by the related authorities rather than a person from the MP position. But this is a important aspect. I am not sure it is still applicable in the 2014-2015 calendar year!
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