John Penrose MP

There are all sorts of ways that potential new laws can come a cropper as they wind their way through Parliament's maze

There are all sorts of ways that potential new laws can come a cropper as they wind their way through Parliament's maze. They can be voted out, of course. Some get neutered by well-chosen amendments. Others get overturned by backbench rebellions. Most private members' bills wither and die simply because there isn't enough time to debate them properly.There are so many different ways to kill a bill, no-one thought we needed any more. But now the House of Lords has invented a new one. Two weeks ago I wrote how the Commons had approved a private member's bill to stop MPs' salaries and expenses being published for the voters to see. It was a nasty, grubby little law that made MPs seem furtive and dishonest. But now the House of Lords, stuffed full of hereditary peers, Bishops and Tony's cronies, has come riding to the rescue. Once a bill has been passed by the Commons, it needs a Lord to push it through the Upper House. It only needs one, and any old Lord will do. But for this bill, none of them would. Not a single Peer, out of over 700, would touch it.That's amazing. The Lords are often criticised for being out of touch, unelected and unaccountable to anyone. But this time they've understood the mood of the country perfectly and the bill is dead. Hooray.It's pretty embarrassing for the bill's authors too. It's like your boss at work asking for volunteers and no-one stepping forward. Or someone telling a bad joke at a party. The silence stretches longer and longer. People cringe, and look at their toes. Finally, thankfully, someone changes the subject and everyone is relieved to move on. With any luck, that's what will happen to this bill too.


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