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News | Published September 12 2019

Prorogation: which bills have been lost?

When parliament is prorogued, as Boris Johnson did on September 9, all existing bills are dropped unless the government expressly chooses to carry them forward to the next session of parliament.

With parliament currently prorogued, and the government only choosing to carry over three pieces of legislation, 13 high profile pieces of legislation have now been dropped. 

The three bills carried over related to: preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth games, preparing for the next stage of HS2 between the West Midlands and Crewe and  consolidating the law around sentencing.

While these bills can be re-introduced when parliament returns, the legislative process must start again from the very beginning. 

Listed below are all the bills that did not complete the legislative process before the prorogation of parliament and which now must be re-introduced if they are to become law. 

Brexit

Of the thirteen bills that have not been carried over, five are related to Brexit. Of these dropped bills, two are seen as the most important. The first of these was the Trade Bill. This would have given the UK powers to implement new trade deals alongside establishing a Trades Remedies Authority.

The second was the Fisheries Bill. Described as a “day one necessity” in the event of no-deal by shadow fisheries minister Luke Pollard, this bill was designed to smooth the UK’s transition from being part of the EU Common Fisheries Policy to being an “independent coastal state.”

Divorce

Prior to the shutting down of parliament, a planned reform to divorce law had been making its way through the Houses of Parliament. This bill would have allowed couples in England and Wales the right to start immediate divorce proceedings after separation. Currently, couples must wait between two to five years if there are no allegations of fault.

Domestic abuse

This bill, which had garnered cross-party support, planned to introduce a definition of domestic abuse to help both victims and the wider public to understand what constitutes domestic abuse. With this greater understanding, it was hoped that more people would come forward. 

The dropping of this bill has received the most controversy, with many charity heads writing to the prime minister to urge him to bring back this legislation after parliament reconvenes.

Animal cruelty

Under this proposed bill, the maximum penalty for animal cruelty would have increased from six months to five years. Similar laws are already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Census

Under this piece of legislation, and ahead of the upcoming census in 2021, two more questions would have been added to the national survey. These questions would have focused on sexuality and gender identity.

Public toilets

The Non-Domestic Rating Public Lavatories bill sought to remove business rates for premises that hosted public toilets. Its aim was to make these facilities more cost-effective and increase the total number of public toilets. With prorogation, this bill has now been scrapped. 

UPDATE: As of September 13, the government has announced they will be reintroducing the domestic abuse bill following the the end of prorogation. 

UPDATE #2: As of September 24, the Supreme Court's decision that prorogation was unlawful has meant that all laws lost will now be recovered.


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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
@theparlreview
September 12 2019

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