The welfare reform bill is back in the House of Commons after 14:30 today as part of “ping-pong” between the Commons and the Lords, but you wouldn’t know it if you relied on the usual methods of finding out.
The last event for this bill was debate in the House of Lords on the 14th and I have been checking the Parliament website and waiting for an email to inform me of the next event for the bill, to no avail. Until this morning the order of business for the House of Commons simply said “Consideration of Lords amendments if necessary” and until a few minutes ago the official Welfare Reform Bill web page still said that the next event was “To be announced”.
The order of business for today and the official website have finally been updated with very short notice for the debate. This matters because MPs don’t always attend debates – they have many other things to do in their offices and their constituencies or elsewhere.
The agenda for today now includes:
Welfare Reform Bill – Consideration of Lords amendments”
And the website for the bill now says:
- Ping Pong | 21.02.2012
An email has finally arrived in my inbox to inform me of this update. It carries a timestamp of 7:56 but it only turned up in the last half hour.
We have to ask why the announcement of this has been delayed until the day itself. Is this normal behaviour for Parliament? Or perhaps this is an effort to bury the bill in an effort to prevent MPs who plan to rebel from turning up?
With the government also having taken measures to limit the debate today to one single hour in total and with Lord Freud having previously re-amended the Lord’s amendments late at night after peers had gone home, my money is on the latter.
Here are the proposed amendments for today: Consideration of Lords Message – Welfare Reform Bill
Update: I received an email at 11:56 which carries another development. In addition to limiting the debate to a maximum of one hour the government have now grouped together all of the amendments and objections today into one vote. [PDF]
21 FEBRUARY 2012
WELFARE REFORM BILL
Consideration of Lords Message
GROUPING PROPOSED BY THE MEMBER IN CHARGE OF THE BILL
Government motion to disagree with Lords Amendments 3B and 26B + Government motion not to insist on Amendment 19A and to agree with Lords Amendments 17B to 17D and 19B + Government motion to agree with Lords Amendment 73BA
[1 hour after commencement.
21 February 2012
By Order of the Speaker