Inside Politics

Tory MP Stephen Woodworth launches bid to recognize dignity of 'every human being'

In what is almost certainly an attempt to reignite the firestorm of debate sparked by his now defunct motion to rewrite the legal definition of 'human being,' Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth will hold a press conference this week to outline his "next steps" on the issue. 

According to the advisory, those steps will include bringing forward another motion -- this time, one that will "focus on legal recognition of the equal worth and dignity of every human being."

What the notice doesn't mention, however, is that he won't get to put his next proposal before the House for months -- and, very possibly, not before the next election, since he's already had his moment in the House of Commons spotlight, and he isn't scheduled for an encore anytime soon.

Under the Standing Orders, the order for consideration of private members' business is determined by lottery at the start of a new session.

At the moment, there are still 60 MPs waiting to be promoted to the priority list, which is refreshed -- or, as the standing orders put it, 'replenished' -- whenever the number of items drops below 15, with new names being added according to their position on the main waiting list.

If the number of names on the main list falls below 15, a second lottery could be held, although even then, there's no guarantee that Woodworth would land a spot high enough on the new list to get another crack at putting a motion before the current Parliament.

In theory, of course, a like-minded MP who hasn't yet gotten his turn in the private members' rotation could ask Woodworth to withdraw his motion, and reintroduce it under their own name. Perhaps that's what Woodworth is really hoping that the "next step" will be.

Otherwise, his latest gambit seems destined to languish on the Order Paper forever.  

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