By Matthew Barrett
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Parliament is properly back, and Conservative MPs can now get used to Andrew Lansley, the new Leader of the House of Commons, and Sir George Young, the new Chief Whip. Sir George was a fine Leader of the House, and managed to fit plenty of opposition and backbench debates into the parliamentary calender, as well as dealing with this Government's legislation. One hopes Mr Lansley continues in the same vein. The Government Bills currently in front of the Commons are:
- European Union (Croation Accession and Irish Protocol) Bill 2012-13
- Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill 2012-13
- Growth and Infrastructure Bill 2012-13
- Local Government Finance Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
- Public Service Pensions Bill 2012-13
- Small Charitable Donations Bill 2012-13
The Local Government Finance Bill has nearly finished its parliamentary passage, which leaves Mr Lansley, and Sir George, with five Bills before them at present. However, the Lords has a little more Government business to consider:
- Civil Aviation Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
- Crime and Courts Bill 2012-13
- Defamation Bill 2012-13
- Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012-13
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13
- Financial Services Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
- Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill 2012-13
- Justice and Security Bill 2012-13
- Statute Law (Repeals) Bill 2012-13
- Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill 2010-12 to 2012-13
A number of these Bills are rather important: the Crime and Courts Bill, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, and Financial Services Bill, for example.
As I wrote at the beginning of this year, the lack of legislation means the gap in the Commons' time is filled with Opposition Day debates (mostly tabled by Labour), and Conservative MPs have to endure hours of nonsensical Labour talking points. As I also said in January, the (relatively) few Bills listed above is all evidence of the Government's desire not to pass many new laws in the second half of this Parliament.
Congratulations to the Labour Member of Parliament for Dunfermline and West Fife, Thomas Docherty, who must be his party's most active Parliamentarian. He has presented ten Private Members' Bills to the House, a hefty chunk of the total number of PMBs. The Bills touch on topics as wide-ranging as "Wild Animals in Circuses", "Armed Forces (Prevention of Discrimination)", "Commercial Lobbyists (Registration and Code Of Conduct)" and "Homeowners’ Mortgage Interest Rates".