Friday could be fun

Mark D'Arcy
Parliamentary correspondent


We could see something of a rarity on Friday: three private members' bills clearing the Commons (one being sent off for Royal Assent and the other two to the Lords).

Friday is the last day allocated to debate private members' bills in this session of Parliament - and each of the first three bills in the batting order (there are, in fact, 64 bills down for debate, but most of them won't be reached) have some prospect of winning final approval from MPs.

Rebecca Harris's Daylight Saving Bill, which calls for an assessment of the potential benefits of putting the clocks forward by an hour, now has government support, because it's an exploratory bill, rather than a direct move to a different time zone, and gives the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the right to be consulted before any change is made.

But even so, such bills can be very vulnerable to opposition by a few determined MPs simply talking on until the House runs out of time. I gather she and her supporters are trying to muster the 100 MPs needed to force a vote if those tactics are tried - but it is always a difficult exercise to keep so many MPs in Westminster on a Friday.

But supporters of the next two bills on the batting order will be keen to see a vote taken, so that the Commons can turn to their pet causes. The second bill listed for debate is the Live Music Bill, which is due for report stage and third reading. This is a Lords Private Member's Bill being squired through the Commons by Lib Dem Don Foster. This bill aims to remove unamplified live music events held between 8am and 11pm, and amplified live music events between 8am and 11pm with audiences of no more than 200 from the requirements of the Licensing Act.

In other words, it's about stopping bureaucracy from smothering small scale live music. The government has smoothed the path of this bill and it seems to be supported on all sides - so a filibustering exercise on the Daylight Saving Bill, which has the knock-on effect of preventing this bill reaching the statute book would not be welcomed.

And the third bill is being promoted by Conservative arch-destroyer of other people's private members' bills, Chris Chope. His Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill is designed to allow rapid and effective challenge to what he sees as over-zealous health and safety rulings. This bill, too, has government support, and I suspect that it means that Mr Chope will not be attempting to talk out earlier bills - and thereby stop one of his own legislative progeny from being born.

Friday could be fun (for once).

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