Thursday, 12 March 2015

They were only playing ping-pong


There is a song in “Oh, what a lovely war!” (the popular musical satire on the First World War) entitled ‘They were only playing leapfrog’. It occurred to me that a modern equivalent would be ‘They were only playing ping-pong’ (as one Lord’s amendment after another amendment was scrapped by the Commons and sent right back). Well, it doesn’t quite scan, but you get the general drift.

After the Commons discussed the Lords’ amendments to the Deregulation Bill on 10 March, the Bill has gone back to the House of Lords, and the rejected amendments are due to be re-considered by them next week, on Monday (16th March). If the Lords follow their usual practice, the ‘offending’ amendments will then be withdrawn and the Bill will finally be passed by the House of Lords, and will then go for Royal Assent.

So the Bill could finally become the Deregulation Act 2015 next week. This leaves precious little time to lay the relevant statutory instrument to amend the Greater London (General Powers) Act 1973, but other statutory instruments are continuing to come forward, so perhaps my supposition that a certain amount of time would have to be allowed before the dissolution of parliament was incorrect. But can the government go on laying this subordinate legislation before parliament right up to the last minute?

Dissolution is due on 30th March, but there is a rumour that Tory MPs have been told to empty their desks and their lockers in time for prorogation on or about the 25th. By my calculation, this will leave barely a week in which to lay the requisite statutory instrument, if that is indeed procedurally possible. Will they make it in time? This is getting to be like one of those old films, with a final car chase (accompanied by loud and urgent music and much squealing of tyres) leading to the denouement right at the very end.

I am glad that I am not a property owner in Greater London, wanting to make my property available for short-term lets. They must be biting their nails by now.

© MARTIN H GOODALL

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