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Write to your Lord to Save Parliament October 31, 2006

Posted by James in Politics.
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Remember the Abolition of Parliament Bill? The one back in the spring, which could have been used to end democracy as we know it?

It is still at large, and making its way through Parliament. Thanks to you, it is much less dangerous than it was. But it is still quite dangerous.

Yesterday the House of Lords voted to make the Bill safer. And lost. By just 13 votes. At first we growled and shouted in frustration! But then we realised that there’s another chance. There’ll be a final vote this Thursday.

And you can help.

We’d like you to write to a Member of the House of Lords. Here’s how to do it. It’ll only take you a moment, and this time we know it really can make a difference.

1. Go to http://www.writetothem.com/lords

2. Click “Random Lord” near the bottom of the page.

3. If you get a Labour peer, then click the back button and press “Random Lord” again. No point writing to Government peers on this one. Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Crossbench, Bishops etc. are all fine.

4. Write a letter making the following points in your own words:

* The Third Reading (that’s the last one in the House of Lords) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is this coming Thursday, 2nd November.

* Explain to the Lord how important Parliament is to hold the Government’s power in balance, and how you would not like to see this Bill passed in a form which would weaken Parliament.

* In the first clause of the Bill, there is a section which says that the purpose of the Bill is to “reduce burdens”. Unfortunately, all it says that the *Minister* must consider whether the change in law he wants to make reduces burdens. This is better than the original Bill at the start of the year, but it is still not good enough.

* Say that you would like the phrase “he considers” to be removed from the Bill, so that any law changed under it must be considered burden reducing by any reasonable person. Rather than by a possibly unreasonable Minister.

(you can skip the last two points if it seems too complicated to explain; the next one is the key one)

* Ask the Lord to attend Parliament on Thursday, and vote for any opposition amendments which remove the phrase “he considers”, or otherwise make the Bill safer.

* Ask your Lord to vote *against* passing the Third Reading of the Bill if the phrase “he considers” is not removed.

* And thank them!

5. Send the letter. You’re done.

More detailed background information about what is going on:
Here is the part of the Bill with the “he considers” section in it:

There were just 13 votes in it yesterday. We really can win this one. Thanks to your help!

Please write to your Lord now.

Francis Irving
Campaigns Director
Save Parliament

House of Lords Report Stage Debate October 27, 2006

Posted by James in Politics.
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Yesterday, the House of Lords debated the Report Stage of the LRRB, the second to last debate on the Bill in that House. The full debate is available online at TheyWorkForYou.

An amendment was proposed by the Liberal Democrat Lord Goodhart to remove the wording “he considers” from the “power to remove or reduce burdens” section of the Bill. This amendment would mean that it is no longer enough for a Minister to “consider” that the order would remove a burden, it must actually be the case. This turns it from a subjective test into an objective test, which could be tested by a court of law. This amendment would make the whole Bill much safer and prevent abuse by “well-meaning” Ministers.

Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by 116 votes to 103. The voting was entirely along party lines, with almost the entire House except for Labour Lords voting for the amendment.

Even more unfortunately, the turnout for the vote was lower than we might have hoped. This is especially true of the Conservative Lords, of whom only 24% turned up to vote. Who knows, with a few more in the House, this Bill might have been made safe. After all, only 14 votes were needed to pass the amendment!

With this in mind, we are hoping that the amendment will be tabled for the Third Reading, which is the last debate in the Lords on the Bill, and which takes place next Thursday. We’re hoping to get more Lords out to vote for it, so if you feel like writing to a Lord and asking them to support such an amendment, and indeed just to turn up, please do so at WriteToThem.

There was also some good news from the debate. An amendment was passed that required the Minister to be satisfied that the order is not of “constitutional significance” before making it. Obviously this is weakened by the “he considers” working discussed above, but is still a welcome addition.

You can see the full text of the Bill as amended in Report online here.

Lords Report Stage October 25, 2006

Posted by James in Politics.
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On Thursday 25th October, the House of Lords will hear the report of Lord Bassam of Brighton on the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. This should include all the details of the amendments that have been made in the committee stage, which make the Bill much safer than it was when it arrived in the Lords. When the report is complete, we’ll have a report for you, so check back later!

Scottish Parliament to Consider Abolition of Parliament Bill October 4, 2006

Posted by Phil in Politics.
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The Scottish Parliament will, on Thursday 5th October, consider a legislative consent motion (also known as a sewell motion) on the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (LRRB).

The Sewell motion has to be passed to allow legislation to pass at Westminster where the legislation affects the Scottish executive.

As a campaign, Save Parliament are opposed to part 1 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill because of the powers it gives UK ministers. The Sewel motion relates mainly to part 3, which we aren’t campaigning about. However, we would still like MSPs to speak and vote against the Sewel motion, to indicate their disapproval of the bill as a whole. Part 1 very much affects Scotland, even though it doesn’t directly affect powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage Scottish supporters of the campaign to write to their MSPs regarding this important issue and urge them to vote against passing the consent motion on the grounds that the bill would give too much power to MPs in Westminster.

You can write to your MSP using WriteToThem.com.

For more information please see the following sources: