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Thursday, May 16, 2013

EU Referendum Bill faces many hurdles

Now the Conservatives have published their EU Referendum Bill there only remains the small question of how it could become law.

It will not be a Government Bill but will now be taken forward as a "Private Members Bill". As such its chances of survival are limited and at the mercy of Parliamentary procedure [specifically Standing Order No14 (SO 14) which allows some Parliamentary time to be allotted to the winners of a Parliamentary ballot]. Here is how it works.
First hurdle (passed) - win the ballot. The ballot has picked 20 'winners' (out of c.400 contestants) who will gain priority in getting their Bills past the formal presentation and 1st Reading and on to a 'real' 2nd Reading on an allotted Friday. Top of the list announced today is James Wharton MP who has said he will pick up the Conservatives Bill as his own.  The Bill will now be presented on the "fifth sitting Wednesday" i.e the 19th June 2013. At this point we will only formally know the name of the Bill.

Second hurdle - get a Friday sitting allotted. The presentation of the Bill is a formality. However once past it will be allotted a Friday sitting (9.30am to 2.30pm). The first date available is 5 July 2013 but they continue through to February.

Third hurdle - assemble 100 MPs to vote through a "closure motion". If the Bill is still being discussed at 2.30 on its Friday an MP must move that "the Question be now put" otherwise the Bill will be adjourned. For this to happen 100 MPs are needed - no small task normally given Friday is normally an MPs constituency day but in this case this would not be a problem as it will be a three line whip.

Fourth hurdle - win a vote on the Bill's second reading. Once the closure is secured a vote on 2nd reading will follow. This will be the crucial vote supporters of the Bill will need to win.

Fifth, sixth and seventh hurdles etc - survive the Committee and report stages and Lords. If successful in a 2nd reading vote the Bill will go into a Commons public bill committee. If it survives this it will then come back to the House of Commons for report stage (where there could be a vote), a third reading and then onto the Lords...

All quite drawn out. It is safe to assume there is little chance of the Bill becoming law but there could potentially be a vote, and that is perhaps what its proponets really wanted all along.


Rik said...

The margins there are (realistically) so small that Cameron better gives the backbench a big say in how to fill them in. Just to be practical.

From the backbench this is played beyond the moronic. This could have been an attack on Labour and LibDem however looks clearly more one on some of their own.

One more split (next to the IP thing) in the party is the worst thing that can happen.
They also have to remember that there is no short term available proper replacement for Cameron. There might be MPs who are in their camp, but these look to have about the charisma of Rompuy and attract probably as much voters. Next to the fact that voters never have liked interparty civil war like situations.
Making the guy who has to front the electioncampaign look bad doesnot help their party (and subsequently own reelectionchances) and certainly doesnot increase the chances of having a referendum (not even to mention a for them successful one).

Rollo said...

Flannel. Back bench MPs fearing for their seats at the next election. We do not seek a referendum after the chance of a tory victory in 2015; we need one before 2015.

Geoff said...

In shooting parlance this move is most adroit - it'll clearly 'flush out the covers' and reveal clearly which of the Parties DOESN'T want to give the electorate a chance to express their view - a signal to be clearly remembered at the next election.

I voted the last time round when, believing what'Grocer' Heath told me that it was just going to be an expansion of the European Free Trade Agreement, and I voted YES -the duplicitous toe rag!


Bugsy said...

Is this really about the referendum? Coulkd it simply be that the Tories are putting down a marker for the next election saying that only by voting Tory can you get a referendum, that the Lib Dems and New Labour are totally against it.

christhai said...

The dreadful mess the EU and our political parties have created is shameful.

It would appear that less than 1% of all MPs of all parties are venal and self-serving. They are patently not in the slightest bit interested in the electorate.

What silly and impotent half-people.