Leg Reg – Third Reading – Live Blogging May 15, 2006Posted by Julian Todd in Politics.
Today is the first day of two days of debates on the floor of the House of Commons on the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. I will be live-blogging the first day from the comfort of my own office after lunch. Please watch with me on Parliament TV from about 3:30 onwards (after Home Office questions).
We have already won unprecedented victory by the fact that this debate will last two days. Never expect acknowledgement from the government that they have been beaten over anything — it's some sort of saving-face instinct that's so deep it cannot be rooted out. But here are the facts:
One of Thatcher's innovations, the Parliamentary Guillotine Motion was passed for this Bill on 9 February 2006 which specified that, no matter what important matters were being showed up in the debates, the Standing Committee would complete its review of the Bill by 9 March, and the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Bill would be polished off on floor of the House of Commons by the end of the day on which it had started. Indeed, on the day the Standing Committee had concluded — after having changed nothing — David Heath MP said in Parliament that the Bill was so important they needed two days to consider it. The leader of the House at the time, Geoff Hoon replied that this matter had already been settled by the programme motion. However, when he came to announce the timetable two months later, we got two days. Normally I'd be able to point to a "(Programme) (No. 2)" motion in Parliament which would rescind the previous order, but I can't find it. Maybe it's just being ignored.
The timing makes quite difference. There are about 100 amendments ready to be discussed on this Bill, some of which us, the public, the ones who effectively over-ruled Parliament and got this two day debate, probably support. Then there are all the government amendments at the head of the list which take priority. In a short debate, this is all they'd get through. In a longer one, they might have time to reach New Clause NC14, which defines the meaning of "controversial" in a way that a Minister can't abuse by the usual trick of believing the unbelievable.
I hope to see some of you here. We'll drop a reminder to the email list when it starts so anyone can join in.