Which laws were passed in the last days of Parliament?

Home Politics Which laws were passed in the last days of Parliament?
Which laws were passed in the last days of Parliament?

Rishi Sunak has announced an election will take place on 4 July, which means Parliament has shut up shop.

It also means the government had just two day to decide whether to try and rush through their remaining bills or simply abandon them.

This period is known as “the wash-up”.

Tobacco and Vapes Bill

This would have implemented one of the prime minister’s flagship policies.

At his party’s conference in September, Mr Sunak announced that he wanted to create a smoke-free generation.

This bill would have banned anyone born after 2009 from buying cigarettes.

However, the bill had not even completed its passage through the House of Commons, let alone the House of Lords. It had also alarmed some Conservatives who felt it was an attack on personal choice.

Both these factors made it a difficult bill to whizz through Parliament.

Labour – who backed the proposals – could reintroduce the bill, if it wins the election.

Renters (Reform) Bill

In their 2019 election manifesto, the Conservatives promised to ban no-fault evictions.

However, passing a bill to implement that pledge has proved tricky – with several of the government’s own backbenchers wanting greater protections for landlords.

Despite hoping for changes, Labour sources have indicated the party would have let the bill go through.

But a government source suggested amendments from crossbench, or independent, peers in the House of Lords meant there was not enough time to pass the legislation.

Following the collapse of Bury Football Club and a doomed bid to set up a European Super League, the government a set up a review of the governance of the game.

One of the key recommendations was to establish an independent regulator who would have the power to sanction clubs who break financial rules.

This bill would have set up the new regulator, but has now been dropped.

Criminal Justice Bill

This was a wide-ranging piece of legislation covering everything from giving police powers to move rough sleepers, creating an offence of causing death by dangerous cycling and banning sex offenders from changing their names.

However, it had not even completed its passage through the Commons and with 130 pages of amendments left to debate, it would have been tricky to get the bill passed in the limited time available.

Other bills that fell include:

  • Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill to ensure licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea would be awarded annually
  • Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which would have replaced the EU data protection regime inherited after Brexit
  • Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill that sought to ban public bodies from boycotting Israel
  • Arbitration Bill, which would have provided new rules for individuals and businesses to resolve disputes without going to court
  • Sentencing Bill, which would have required whole-life sentences for the worst murders

Leasehold and Freehold Bill

This new law aims to make it cheaper and easier for more people to extend their lease, buy their freehold and take over management of their building.

However plans to remove ground rent – a charge leaseholders pay on top of their mortgage – or cap it at £250 have been dropped.

The bill was one of the last to get through, passing at 18:30 BST on Friday evening.

Several Conservative peers expressed their concern that a “complex and difficult” piece of law was being rushed through.

Another peer who backed it said the bill was “suboptimal” and “not the revolution” hoped for but added: “It’s the only game in town.”

Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill

This quashes the convictions of sub-postmasters convicted in the Horizon scandal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Those who have been convicted will be eligible for compensation.

It was introduced after the ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, triggered wide-spread public anger over the treatment of wrongfully-convicted sub-postmasters.

Some in the legal profession expressed concern about Parliament interfering in the judicial process.

However, the government argued the scale and circumstances of the cases were exceptional and the bill would not set a precedent.

Victims and Prisoners Bill

This legislation establishes a compensation body for victims of the infected blood scandal, which saw 30,000 people infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

The total cost of compensation could be in the region of £10bn.

In his report into the scandal, Sir Brian Langstaff said the NHS and successive governments had “repeatedly” failed the victims.

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill

The bill, announced in the King’s Speech, aims to strengthen consumer rights online and tackle fake reviews.

It bans the practice of “drip pricing” in online shopping where additional fees are only added to an item once a customer has reached the checkout process.

The new law also introduces a ban on foreign governments owning UK newspapers – a rule added after concerns the Daily Telegraph could be purchased by a UAE-backed investment firm.

Other bills that passed include:

  • Finance Bill, which implements the measures announced in the spring Budget
  • Media Bill, which scraps a never-enacted rule forcing media companies to pay the legal bills of people who sue them, even if they win
  • Pet Abduction Bill, which introduces higher jail sentences for people stealing cats and dogs
  • Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill, which closes a loophole to ensure working fathers who lose their partner in childbirth will be given the right to “day one” paternity leave
  • British Nationality (Irish Citizens) Bill, which makes it easier for Irish nationals to register for British citizenship

A controversial bill to build a Holocaust memorial and learning centre in Westminster will be ‘carried over’ to the next Parliament.

This option is only possible because it is a hybrid bill and therefore governed by different rules.

And finally, the government made a tweak to an existing law making it easier for pubs to stay open later if England or Scotland reach the semi-finals or finals of the Euros.

Making the change, Conservative minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom, told the Lords: “So much of the business at the Home Offices is difficult, so it gives me particular pleasure that my last outing basically enables people to get properly on the lash.”

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