Bill Passing Bonanza Before Dissolution of Parliament
The final session of one of the most scandalised parliaments in history ended with the passing of bills designed to protect third world countries from unscrupulous debt collection practices, prevent under-18s using sunbeds, and improve personal care at home.
About 20 bills were passed in a marathon 48-hour wash-up session ahead of the election. Labour claimed victories in the crackdown on “vulture funds” in the developing world, the outlawing of the previously legal high mephedrone, and sunbeds for under-18s.
But they were forced to make dramatic concessions to get other bills through. The constitutional reform and governance bill was radically trimmed, losing key reforms Labour has been promising since 1997, and the education bill lost reforms to the schools system.
Other bills fell foul of the wash-up, with a public outcry over the version of the digital economy bill which finally received royal assent that allows internet service providers to cut access to illegal file sharers. One operator tonight said it would not comply with the measures.
Unusually high numbers of MPs were in the Commons to witness the final prorogation of parliament – the formal ceremony concluding each session. Parliament will be officially dissolved on Monday.
The Liberal Democrats criticised the drastic slimming down of the constitutional reform and government bill to get it through parliament. It was stripped of plans for a referendum on a more proportional electoral system using an alternative vote system. A proposal to phase out the last hereditary peers was also postponed in order for the bill to receive royal assent in time.
The Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth rounded on ministers and their Tory shadows accusing them of “collusion” in the “wash-up” period and producing a “disaster” of a reform bill.