Monday, 13 December 2010

Localism Bill First Reading

After all the huffing and puffing of the last few weeks (and no-one can huff and puff like the Secretary of State), the “Decentralisation and Localism Bill” finally got its formal First Reading in the House of Commons at 6.00 p.m. today (Monday 13 December).

When asked by the Deputy Speaker what date is fixed for the Second Reading debate, I thought I heard the Secretary of State say “Tomorrow”, which considerably surprised me, particularly since the order of business for tomorrow (Tuesday 14 December) makes no mention of the Bill, and the House seems to have a full programme for the day already.

The opposition have asked, understandably, that all stages of what is undoubtedly an extremely important Bill should be taken on the floor of the House, but (again if I understood correctly what the Secretary of State said earlier in the afternoon) the government intends to send the Bill ‘upstairs’ i.e. to a Standing Committee, when it reaches the Committee Stage.

At the time of writing I have still not managed to clap eyes on the text of the Bill, but I am still hunting for it on various websites. It must be out there somewhere!

[14 Dec: I must be getting rusty on my parliamentary procedure. I did not mis-hear what Uncle Eric said. Hansard records: "Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 126) with explanatory notes (Bill 126-EN)", yet there is no mention in today's Commons Order Paper (14 Dec) of a second reading debate on this Bill. So is there some sort of fast-track procedure which dispenses with a Second Reading debate? When it comes to the point, I would not expect a second reading debate to be particularly enlightening - it just gives the politicians on both sides of the House the opportunity to exchange jibes about the need for the Bill, the purpose which it is intended to serve (more waffle from Uncle Eric) and so on. I propose to concentrate on the contents of the Bill when I have a chance to examine them in detail.]

[15 Dec: Notwithstanding Tuesday's announcement that the Second Reading of the Bill would be "tomorrow" (i.e. 14 December), the timetable for the Bill on the House of Commons website makes it clear that no date has yet been fixed for the Second Reading debate. As I previously expected, this means that in practice it is unlikely to be until some time after the Christmas/New Year recess.]

[17 Dec: The Leader of the House announced in Business Questions yesterday that the Second Reading debate on the Localism Bill will be held on Monday 17th January.]


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