Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Email. info@brugesgroup.com
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Email. info@brugesgroup.com
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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The 'Withdrawal' Agreement is a Zombie Bill

Can the same Bill be re-introduced having once before been rejected by the Commons? 

This question has profound implications for the future of our exit from the European Union. In normal times, when democracy appeared to be respected, if a Bill has been rejected it could not be reintroduced in the same parliamentary year. The overwhelming rejection of the 'Withdrawal' Agreement in the vote of 15th January 2019 should have killed it off, it should be finished. Yet, like the undead it staggers on moaning, not quite dead but certainly not living.

According to the House of Commons Enquiry Service a Bill can only come back '...after a passage of time has elapsed. An identical Bill may be re-introduced in a subsequent parliamentary year but not within the same one. A parliamentary year (known as a session) generally lasts for 12 months and runs from spring to spring. [NB the current session is an exception as it will have lasted for almost two years when it comes to an end at some point this year.]

'This is because of the longstanding convention that once the House has already decided a question it should not be asked to look at it again for some time.

'When attempts have been made to evade this rule by slightly re-wording a motion, it is for the Speaker to decide whether or not the proposition (and its context) is substantially the same as the original and to enforce the rule if necessary. Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice observes that this rule has applied to Bills since 1994 [24th Edition, p397].'
Only backbench (Private Members') Bills can be reintroduced in quick succession.

Quite clearly, Theresa May's 'Withdrawal' Agreement, presuming it is actually hers, should be no more. Its reintroduction is not only a political act of self-flagellation by the Prime Minister inviting upon her another humiliation and more pain, but in normal times it would be considered a breach of Parliamentary procedures. What is more, giving Parliament the opportunity to reject it for a second time is a major distraction and waste of time, the government should be working towards taking advantage of the opportunities that Brexit will bring.

 Enquiry to the House of Commons made courtesy of Bruges Group activist Terri Jackson

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