Welcome to our weekly feature courtesy of Sebastian Salek, the brains behind Clear the Lobby, working to bring you all the laws MPs are voting on this week, and explained in plain English!
Before we start, I wanted to tell you about something new we’ll be trying over the next few months. It’s a subreddit where you can share your idea for a new bill, build support from other users, and get help to pass it in Parliament. With enough people taking part, we hope to build a platform that can create real, positive change. Click here to join, and we’ll start when we hit 1,000 subscribers. Any questions, just reply to this email.
Two weeks until the summer recess, and two new government bills to debate.
Very on brand for the Johnson administration, the so-called Free Speech Bill hits the Commons for the first time. It’s the latest salvo in the “war on woke”, designed to crack down on things like no-platforming at universities.
Then the Health and Care Bill winds back the Coalition-era NHS reforms, which put a big focus on competition. Integration is now the order of the day, with the health service and local authorities required to work together on delivering health and social care.
Then on Tuesday, some COVID-related admin.
First, a motion on boosting safety in care homes by requiring most people entering them to be fully vaccinated.
Then a vote on ditiching English Votes for English Laws (where English MPs have a separate vote on laws that only affect England). The idea is to avoid a situation where non-English MPs form a majority and pass a law that doesn’t impact them, but a) this has literally never happened and b) EVEL has been suspended since the start of the pandemic.
Until next week. In the meantime, feel free to tweet me, or just reply to this email.
Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill – 2nd reading
Applies to: England, Scotland (part), Wales
Places new obligations on universities and colleges to defend free speech (for the first time this includes student unions). Creates the position of Director for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom, who sits on the board of the Office for Students (England’s independent higher education regulator) and investigates breaches of these new free speech duties, with the power to issue fines.
Draft bill / Commons Library briefing
Electric Vehicle Charging Points (New Buildings) Bill
Requires electric car charging points to be included in the design of new buildings. Ten minute rule motion presented by Felicity Buchan.
Armed Forces Bill – report stage and 3rd reading
Applies to: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
Renews the Armed Forces Act 2006, which provides the legal basis for the existence of the Armed Forces, and expires at the end of this year. Makes some changes to the service justice system (the Army’s disciplinary code). Creates a new independent body to oversee complaints about the Service Police. Further incorporates the Armed Forces Covenant (an understanding that those serving will be treated fairly) into law.
Draft bill (PDF) / Commons Library briefing
Planning and Local Representation Bill
Aims to improve the process of creating development plans (documents written by local planning authorities setting out how an area should look in the future). Gives people who comment or object to them the right to take part in examination hearings (part of the independent scrutiny process). Requires public consultation on development plans. Gives local authorities the power to apply local design standards for permitted development and to refuse permitted development proposals that would be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of an individual or community. Makes planning permission for major housing schemes contingent on work starting within two years. Ten minute rule motion presented by Rachel Hopkins.
Health and Care Bill – 2nd reading
Applies to: England, Scotland (part), Wales, Northern Ireland (part)
Aims to integrate the health system (run by the NHS) and the care system (run by local authorities) by giving both bodies a duty to collaborate with each other. This replaces the 2012 reforms which put a big focus on competition and markets. Gives the health secretary more powers over the NHS, such as intervening in hospital closures and creating new trusts.
Draft bill (PDF) / Commons Library briefing
Tibet and Xinjiang (Reciprocal Access) Bill
Requires the government to report annually on access restrictions for UK nationals visiting Tibet and Xinjiang in comparison with other regions of China. Denies people involved in imposing such restrictions from entering the UK. Ten minute rule motion presented by Tim Loughton.
No votes scheduled
Check your MP’s voting record and read the day’s debates at TheyWorkForYou.
Click here to read details of the bills in last week’s newsletter.