Private Members’ Bills: “present procedures are misleading to the general public”

Oh how times have changed. Half a century ago, legislative change initiated by Private Members’ Bills had a profound impact across British society, such as, for example: the Abortion Act 1967, the Sexual Offences Act 1967, the Adoption Act 1964 and the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965. Today paints a very different picture.

In mid-June 2016 the Government issued a lukewarm response to the House of Commons Procedure Committee’s report on problems with the present procedures for Private Members’ Bills. Committee Chair, Charles Walker MP, described the Government response as deeply disappointing, adding that “It utterly fails to engage with the main message of the Procedure Committee’s report on Private Members’ Bills: namely that present procedures are misleading to the general public and are too easily gamed to prevent genuine legislative proposals from proceeding.”

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Private Members’ Bills: “almost – not entirely – pointless”

Isabel Hardman, Assistant Editor of The Spectator, described Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) in these terms when giving evidence earlier in the month to the Commons Procedure Committee’s enquiry into the how PMBs are managed in Parliament. The Committee chair seemed broadly to agree with her assessment, noting that “the system is so corrupt now and such a sham that it is a sort of cruel fiction perpetrated on our constituents.” He was, however, at pains to emphasise that the Committee believes that there is room for reform of the present process. Continue reading

Compensating for fatal accidents and for indirect mental illness

If you needed a reminder of the controversy associated with different levels of fatal accident damages across the constituent jurisdictions of the UK, The Times’ daily legal bulletin The Brief today includes a comment piece by APIL President Jonathan Wheeler entitled “MPs must increase bereavement damages”. His article also address perceived deficiencies in how English law controls liability for secondary psychiatric harm.

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