So, this wretched legislation that will send us further down the slippery slope to you-know-what is slithering its way along to inevitable (?) Assent.
But if you’re anything like me, the finer points of Parliamentary Procedure are hazy (no matter how much I like Chris Mullin’s diaries, or rewatch The New Statesman).
A very knowledgeable-about-these-things (and many other things!) friend demurred, and so I ended up writing to the House of Commons Enquiry team. And, in keeping with their aspiration, they got back to me the same working day.
I asked the following (my questions in bold, answers in plain text)
I am interested in the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Specifically, I want to know the following:
The Bill has had its second reading. Can the government change it before it goes to committee (e.g. take out some of the more controversial bits) or are they forced to present it as it was when it got waved through on that second reading?
Once a bill has received its second reading, it will not be possible to be amended the legislation until the next stage which as you have mentioned below is the committee stage.
Which committee will the Bill be going to? How is the membership of that committee decided?
The details of all of the committee members who will be considering the bill have not been confirmed as yet. The Committee of Selection meets every Wednesday to nominate the members of general committees. The members of any public bill committees which have been formed will be published the following day in the Votes and Proceedings which can be accessed on the business papers page.
On Wednesday, 17 March the Committee of Selection confirmed that Steve McCabe MP and Sir Charles Walker MP will be chairing the committee (see item 11 in the Votes and Proceedings for that day here).
You can follow the progress of the bill on the parliament website via this page and once the committee meetings have begun, the members of the public bill committee will also be published here along with the transcripts of each sitting.
You may also be interested in consulting the programme motion for the bill which can be accessed towards the end of this page which states:
(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 24 June 2021.
Finally, you may also find it useful to have a look at the MPs’ Guide to Procedure which contains a section on public bill committees as well as the House of Commons Library background paper on public bills.
I hope that this information is helpful.
So, this is in keeping with my experience of Manchester City Council. If you ask specific clear questions about procedure, there ARE still civil servants who are able and willing to give clear, concise, comprehensive answers. Obviously, the raging cynics among us (looks in mirror, adjusts tie) will say that the best cons are the ones that don’t look like cons at all, and that the apparatus of “representation”/Roberts’ Rules of Order etc etc are the most sophisticated ways to occlude power. That can all be true, alongside an appreciation of the professionalism of the humans answering the questions you pose, I guess. If you believe politics is a parlour game, rather than “whose ox gets gored?”
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates, remorselessly.
Or rather, Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates remorselessly because
a) a relatively small number of rich people have been trashing the planet,
b) have been told repeatedly that they are trashing the planet, burning up the future, treating the atmosphere like a sewer and
c) have been actively resisting doing anything that might inconvenience themselves, meaning that
d) as a by-product of other rapacity and epic inter and intra-species violence within and across generations… the carbon dioxide accumulates.
The first version is catchier, but, you know, occlusion…