I regularly receive requests from constituents to sign Early Day Motions (EDMs) and I realise that they are often disappointed when they find out I will not do so. My reasons for this are rarely that I do not agree with them, or that I do not care about the issue being brought to my attention, but that I think there are better ways to raise these concerns. EDMs cost a significant amount of money to administer every year and I do not think they achieve anything.
An EDM has no chance of changing the law and will not raise your concerns at a Ministerial level. I would much rather write directly to a Minister, or raise a matter in Parliament, to ensure your views are represented in the most appropriate way. I feel that EDMs have also been superseded by e-petitions, which can be signed by everyone, and have much more success in raising awareness of different issues.
It would of course take very little effort for me to sign an EDM but I think this gives a false impression that action is being taken. To put the cost issue into perspective, the House of Commons library has said it costs an average of £271 to publish each motion - this means that roughly £271 was spent on EDMs such as EDM 1184 which congratulates the Invergordon Academy for receiving a £600 grant.
Some EDMs are humorous. For example, you have the following EDM from 2004:
EDM 1255 Pigeon Bombs
That this House is appalled, but barely surprised, at the revelations in M15 files regarding the bizarre and inhumane proposals to use pigeons as flying bombs; recognises the important and live-saving role of carrier pigeons in two world wars and wonders at the lack of gratitude towards these gentle creatures; and believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.
Amusing yes, a good use of taxpayers' money, no.
A more serious concern with regard to EDMs is that many include very specific and technical wording inferring specialist knowledge that has clearly not been written by the MP supporting it. In some of these cases I think it is clear that the text has been prepared by lobbyists. In the spirit of transparency where EDMs are written by lobbyists, that should be clearly stated but it is not.
I am aware that parliamentary committees are considering how the system can be reformed to make EDMs a more useful democratic tool, but in the meantime I hope you will understand why I choose not to sign them.