Wednesday, 8 January 2014
What EU referendum bill?
Just a few weeks ago we were told by James Wharton that his bill to guarantee a referendum on the UK's EU membership was 'making good progress'. At the time this seemed to be fair comment and, indeed, the bill has passed through the House of Commons.
Then this week we are told that it is unlikely that it will ever become law thanks to the House of Lords.
In a report on the bill, the Lords Constitution Committee said that parliamentary rules and timetables could cause the legislation to fail. If the Lords make amendments to the Bill, those changes would have to be considered again by the Commons. There is only limited Commons time available for such consideration, with the last possible day for MPs to look at the Lords’ changes falling next month.
House of Lords rules “may make it unlikely that the bill would finish the Lords in time for any amendments passed by the Lords to be considered by the Commons on Friday 28 February 2014,” the committee warned.
James Wharton commented "It is ultimately up to members of the House of Lords whether this bill will be successful. But it would be very difficult to justify if the unelected House of Lords blocked a bill that has already passed every stage in the elected House of Commons and the purpose of which is to let the people decide on our membership of the EU."
So here we go again - the will of the people being carried out by the Commons and blocked by an unelected upper house. Can it ever be right that the government of this country can be held to ransom by a load of unelected bureaucrats?
Oh! Hang on though! It already is - it's called the European Union.