The Housing Bill: A Very Dark Hour For Democracy
All we’re waiting for now is royal assent and this legislation is the new law of the land, to be implemented by central and local government, and enforceable by the cops and the courts. So much for parliamentary democracy.
Hmm, what happened?
If the two Houses had not reached consensus over the final text of the Bill before the state opening of Parliament on May 18, the government could have invoked the Parliament Act and forced the Bill through in its original form, without any of the Lords amendments.
The Minister had hinted at this threat with his repeated reminders to the Lords that the Bill was part of the government’s election manifesto and therefore has a democratic mandate.
So now, after six months of debate — first through its two readings in the House of Commons, then a month in the Public Bill Committee, then again in the report to and final reading in the Commons, then for two readings in the House of Lords, a further month in Committee, another report to and final reading in the Lords, back again to the Commons, and then back and forth between Lords and Commons — the Housing and Planning Bill has not changed in any significant way since it was first read in the House of Commons on October 13 2015.
The complaint is that none of the Lords amendments made it into the final bill. Well, OK, maybe that’s a good idea and maybe that’s a bad idea but we do indeed have the Parliament Act, the Lords may not interfere with finance bills and election manifesto promises are generally thought to be not subject to Lords amendments.
But that the unelected Lords did not get its way and the elected Commons did is hardly an argument that this is against democracy, is it?
The truly mindboggling thing about this argument is that it is being made in the Morning Star……