Steve Secures Debate(September 13, 2011)
Liverpool Walton MP, Steve Rotheram made an emotional appeal to the Backbench Business Committee as he presented an application for a parliamentary debate on the release of the Hillsborough files.
Steve, who was at Hillsborough himself began by explaining that, “It is true to say that as a Liverpudlian, a Liverpool fan, and as someone who was at Hillsborough on that fateful day, I feel an enormous responsibility to ensure that I put the best case forward on behalf of the families’ and for all those who mourn the lost.”
Steve was joined by Conservative MP Dr. Therese Coffey and Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh. In an unusual twist of fate, Steve received a message from Dennis Skinner MP from his hospital bed an hour before the committee meeting. Mr Skinner asked for his name to be added to the petition which incredibly took the total number of MPs supporting the application to 96.
Throughout the hearing, Steve was firm with committee members as he made clear that “this debate must take place on the floor of the Commons, so that, if necessary we can vote on a motion calling for the uncensored and unredacted release of government documents. It would send an unequivocal message to those who signed the petition that Parliament is listening to their concerns.”
The committee had also received written letters from six MPs urging them to support the application for a debate. Such support led Steve to tell the committee, “This is an issue that will not go away until there is Justice for the 96. Within two weeks the e-petition had acquired well over the 100,000 signatures required. The campaign spread far and wide. People from all over this country and people of all different football and political persuasions, came together and said, finally, after 22 years, enough is enough.”
Steve continued, “I may have only been an MP for sixteen months but let me tell you; I believe Parliament is at its best when it acts in the best interest of its people. That’s why I am thrilled to have the support of 9 parliamentary parties and 95 fellow MP’s.”
The former Lord Mayor of Liverpool concluded his remarks to the committee by saying, “The Hillsborough disaster was one of the darkest days in sporting history. It is an issue that unites a City: it is an issue that resonates right across the country; and today it is an issue that will demonstrate the true worth of this Parliament. That is why I hope that the committee will look favourably upon our application for a debate in the House of Commons.”
Shortly after the hearing, it was announced that the application had been successful and that for the first time since 1998, the topic of Hillsborough would be debated on the floor of the House of Commons on October 17th 2011.