Web links: Chapter 08
The appearance of governmental dominance
The Cabinet Office Guide to Legislation provides a government perspective on the passage of legislation and helps put many of these issues into context. It explains the role played by bill teams, who support both bills and the relevant ministers who are involved in their passage through parliament. It also states clearly the need for amendments to legislation to be discussed further within departments and government more broadly (the PBL committee), rather than being agreed by ministers in isolation.
The Immigration Bill and the Dubs Amendment (2015-16)
Parliament’s website holds copies of the Immigration Bill and all relevant documents including the text of the bill, committee amendments and debates on the bill in the Commons and Lords. The Minutes of Proceedings during the Lords Report Stage on 10 March 2016, 15 March 2016 and 21 March 2016 are an easy way to examine the formal divisions on amendments to the bill. The minutes on 21st March 2016 show the House of Lords supporting Labour Peer Lord Dubs’ amendment 116A to insert a new clause regarding unaccompanied refugee children into the bill (the House voted 306 – 204 votes in favour of the new clause). You can watch his speech on the amendment here.
Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill
This is a good example of a successful amendment to a bill against the wishes of the government. On 12th December 2017 MPs voted in favour of Conservative MP Dominic Grieve’s amendment 7 (309 votes to 305) during the committee stage of the bill, taken on the floor of the Commons chamber in a Committee of the Whole House. The amendment required the final Brexit deal with the EU to be approved by a statute passed by Parliament. Despite a series of last minute concessions, eleven Conservative MPs voted against the government. Read the debate on the amendment, listen to Dominic Grieve’s speech and watch the announcement of the result in the Commons chamber. Read a detailed account of the evening’s events in by the BBC.