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PARLIAMENTARY REPORT


Members, chosen at random, in choosing the dates on which their Bills will receive a second reading debate.


A high-placing in the ballot (one of the top seven) normally guarantees the Member a debate on their Bill and the opportunity – should they be able to get enough support – to move a closure in order to guarantee a decision on it. It also means that their Bill will be first into Committee – giving it priority at later stages. Lower placing Bills, and Members who have been unsuccessful in the Ballot, are more vulnerable to running out of parliamentary time or being “talked out” by the Bill’s opponents. Mr Wharton had been placed first in the Ballot – giving his Bill a significant advantage when navigating the Commons and meaning that his was the first Private Member’s Bill to reach the Lords in that session. This time around, assuming that certain conditions were met, a substantially identical Bill could benefit from the Parliament Act – allowing it to become law even if it


UNITED KINGDOM


Rt Hon. Michael Moore, MP


Parliament – measures making up what, in their eyes, amounted to an alternative to the Coalition’s proposals. There were also a number of attempts to introduce into law the government’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on overseas aid. The Ballot was held on 12


Mr Andrew George, MP


were blocked or ran out of time in the House of Lords. The EU Referendum Bill was not the only reason that there was considerable interest in the Ballot. Labour front-benchers and Conservative backbenchers both used Private Member’s Bills to put forward “alternative Queen’s Speeches” in the previous


June. The “winner” of the ballot was Mr Andrew George, MP, (Lib Dem), who announced that he would brining forward a Bill to create exemptions to the so-called “bedroom tax” or “under-occupancy penalty”. The penalty has been one of the most debated measures introduced by the government. It reduces housing benefit for those who have unused bedrooms in their housing – ending what the government calls a “spare room subsidy”.


Second place in the ballot 218 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


also went to a Liberal Democrat Member, the former Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon. Michael Moore, MP. Mr Moore took up the issue of overseas aid and introduced a Bill to give the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid statutory force. Similar Bills were introduced


to a lack of time. This is the first occasion that the issue has been introduced by a Member who finished in the top seven places in the Ballot. The highest-placed


Mr Bob Neill, MP


by Labour MPs in the last two sessions, but both failed due


Conservative in the ballot was Mr Bob Neill, MP, who as expected, re-introduced the EU Referendum Bill in much the same form as it left the Commons in the previous session. For the Parliament Act to apply to the Bill, it will have to complete all its Commons stages before the end of the Parliament. Whether the relative disadvantage of being third – rather than first – in the ballot significantly hinders that progress remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, it looks likely that Private Members’ Bills will be another source of controversy and excitement as the Parliament draws to its conclusion.


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