The legislation threatened by prorogation
Government shutdown could halt 17 bills currently before Parliament
Boris Johnson has scored two legal victories as he pushes on with plans to suspend Parliament - a move that will kill off any bills that are still passing through.
The closure is due to begin today following the failure of separate court challenges that aimed to block prorogation on the grounds that it was “an unlawful abuse of power”, says the BBC.
Businesswoman and activist Gina Miller said she was “very disappointed” after losing her High Court case last week against the suspension, adding that she believed it was “absolutely vital that Parliament should be sitting”.
A similar legal challenge was rejected at Edinburgh’s Court of Session two days earlier.
The prime minister announced in late August that he wanted to shut down Parliament for five weeks ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October, just over a fortnight before the Brexit deadline.
The House of Commons speaker John Bercow has called the decision a “constitutional outrage”.
Most opponents of prorogation say that despite Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the Government is suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit and reduce scrutiny of its plans.
Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King’s College London, told Channel 4’s FactCheck blog that while prorogation is a standard practice in the parliamentary calendar, the length of time proposed this time round is “abnormal”.
And it isn’t just Brexit-related issues that will be affected - all parliamentary business will be brought to a halt.
What does prorogation means for bills passing through?
Prorogation marks the end of the current parliamentary session, and most bills still making their way through Parliament end up being binned.
Is there a way to save these bills?
It is possible for some outstanding bills to be carried over into the next parliamentary session.
Only government bills that started in the House of Commons can be carried over, and MPs must vote to do so with a simple majority. Bills can be carried over only once.
A government minister must bring forward a carry-over motion for every bill that they wish to continue in Parliament’s next session.
“Carry-over bills” resume their place at the same parliamentary stage they were at when Parliament was suspended.
What happens to binned bills?
If a bill can’t be carried over, it can be introduced from scratch in the next parliamentary session.
However, restarting the introduction of a bill means wasting Parliament’s time scrutinising legislation that has already been seen. It also reduces the time that Parliament has to look at other bills.
Some bills that can’t be carried over are simply dropped for good.
What does the upcoming prorogation mean for current bills?
The prorogation announced by Johnson will begin on 9 September and last until 14 October.
Any bill to stop a no-deal Brexit would be cancelled, and would have to be introduced again if it were still being debated when Parliament was suspended.
But the Government says time will be allowed for Parliament to have a final say on that bill before the shutdown starts.
A total of 17 government bills are currently before Parliament - ten in the Commons and seven in the Lords, according to the Institute for Government.
Some of these are Brexit related, but others are unrelated, dealing with legislation on topics including domestic violence.
Which bills are at risk?
The Financial Services Bill and the Trade Bill - both needed in the event of no-deal Brexit - can’t be carried over because neither are currently being considered in the House in which they were introduced.
Others including the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Immigration Bill could be carried over, but it is unclear whether the Government will have the time or support to put forward a carry-over motion before Parliament is prorogued.
The 17 government bills currently in Parliament are:
- The Agriculture Bill
- Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill
- Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill
- Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalities) Bill
- Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill
- Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill
- Domestic Abuse Bill
- Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill
- Fisheries Bill
- Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
- Kew Gardens (Leases) Bill
- Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) Bill
- Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill
- Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill
- Sentencing (Pre-consolidation Amendments) Bill
- Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill
- Trade Bill