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Intelligence and Security Committee – Russia Report

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The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) published their long awaited Russia Report today, 21 July 2020.

The ISC is a statutory committee of Parliament that has responsibility for oversight of the UK Intelligence Community. The Committee oversees the intelligence and security activities of the UK, including the policies, expenditure, administration and operations of MI5, MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service or SIS) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

This report, on Russia, is the result of an Inquiry by the Committee, chaired by Dominic Grieve QC and prepared in October 2019.

Details of the report are available at

http://isc.independent.gov.uk/news-archive/21july2020

(enc)

Press Notice

The Government issued a response, available from

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-intelligence-and-security-committee-russia-report

or a copy here

Government Response (pdf)

The Prime Minister made the following statement:

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) has today laid before Parliament a report on Russia, examining the Russian threat to the UK and the UK’s response. I welcome the report and thank the former Committee for the work that has gone into this; this has clearly been an extensive effort spanning almost two years.

The Government is publishing its response to the ISC’s Russia Report immediately, recognising the significant public interest in the issues it raises.

Copies of the response have been laid before both Houses.

The Committee has also today laid before Parliament its Annual Report 2018-19. This report highlights the breadth of the Committee’s oversight role and I thank them for their important work.

I would like to thank the former Committee for their work in the last Parliament, and I look forward to working with the newly appointed Committee in the future.

Speaker of the House of Commons

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An election for a new Speaker of the House of Commons was held on Monday 4 November following John Bercow’s last day as Speaker on Thursday 31 October 2019.

Should candidates be asked to undergo an “impartiality” test ?

The position was contested by 7 Candidates as follows:

  • Chris Bryant
  • Harriet Harman
  • Meg Hillier
  • Sir Lindsay Hoyle
  • Dame Eleanor Laing
  • Sir Edward Leigh
  • Dame Rosie Winterton

The election started at 14:30 with statements from each candidate followed by the voting process which completed at 20:30

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Deputy Speaker, Chair of Ways and Means, and Labour MP for Chorley was elected by MPs as the next Speaker following four rounds of voting.

Vote Details
Candidate 1st Ballot 2nd Ballot 3rd Ballot 4th Ballot
Sir Lindsay Hoyle 211 244 267 325
Chris Bryant 98 120 169 213
Dame Eleanor Laing 113 122 127 -
Harriet Harman 72 59 - -
Dame Rosie Winterton 46 30 - -
Sir Edward Leigh 12 - - -
Meg Hillier 10 - - -

On being appointed as Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle said:

It is a true honour to be elected as 158th Speaker of the House of Commons.

As an impartial, fair and independent Chair, I intend to maintain public trust in this most vital of institutions.

I believe that MPs provide an essential service and I will make sure they are properly supported in this challenging role.

Equally, I will ensure that parliamentary debate is often robust but always respectful.

Of course, the honour of becoming Speaker will never surpass the honour of representing the wonderful constituency of Chorley in the County Palatine of Lancashire, and my commitment to my constituents will not change.

Early Parliamentary General Election Bill

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The Prime Minister will present a Bill to Parliament today, 29 Oct 2019, to make provision for a Parliamentary General Election to be held in December 2019.

The passage of this Bill requires a simple majority and overrides the requirements of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

The Government has confirmed that it will not bring back the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill for further debate.

MPs have 6 hours of debate allocated with the Government wanting to complete all stages of the Bill in a single day.

Labour have just announced that they will back the call for a General Election in December with Jeremy Corbyn stating

“I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table. We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to 31 January has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no deal off the table has now been met. We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.”

This means that it becomes more or less certain that an election will be held in December.

Update

The Bill as introduced:

Early Parliamentary General Election Bill 2019-20

Early General Election Bill (pdf)

Early General Election Bill Notes (pdf)

The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Tuesday 29 October 2019. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate.

MPs will next consider the Bill at Second Reading, to be followed by Committee of the Whole House and Third Reading. All to be completed in 6 hours.

(Expect the usual unrelated jibber-jabber – this is a vote on whether to hold an early General Election … so lets include as much unrelated stuff as possible to keep it going and show we are earning our salaries )

Update: 2nd Reading

The PM opened the debate on the 2nd reading of the Bill at 14:23. The debate proceeded until around 17:40 when it formally passed the 2nd Reading. The Bill now entered the next stage of its passage through Parliament, the Committee Stage, where each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill are debated.

A number of Amendments were selected from the many proposed.

Committee of the Whole House Amendments as at 29 October 2019 (pdf)

Chairman of Ways and Means’s provisional grouping and selection of Amendments

Selected amendments were

Amendment 2: This amendment would change the date of the proposed general election to Monday 9 December.

Amendment 3: This is a consequential amendment changing the title of the Bill if amendment 2 was made.

Amendment 14: This amendment has the effect of aligning the registration deadline for Scotland with the registration deadline in the rest of the United Kingdom, by removing the need for the St Andrew’s Day bank holiday in Scotland to be taken into account.

Rejected amendments varied from the attempt to allow 16-17 year olds to have a vote in the election, allow non-uk EU citizens to have a vote, a 2nd referendum etc. and can be read in the attached documents.

Further inconsequential debate continued until 20:00 when a vote on the amendments to the Bill were taken: For amendment 2, the result was 295 votes in favour with 315 votes against, so that the amendment was rejected.

Amendment 14 was accepted together with changes to Clause 1 and Clause 2 as it stands and made without a further vote.

The Committee Stage was completed and proceeded through the Report Stage and to 3rd Readin.

A further vote was taken on the 3rd Reading of the Bill which passed by 438 votes in favour with 20 votes against.

The Bill now goes to the House of Lords for approval and passes through the same process sequence in the House of Lords.

Update: House of Lords

The Bill completed all stages through the House of Lords on 30 October 2019.

Both Houses agreed on the text of the Bill which now waits for the final stage of Royal Assent This is when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law). Royal Assent is scheduled for 31 October. This is when the Queen formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament (law).

Update: 31 October 2019

The Early Parliamentary General Election Act was given Royal Assent and became Law.

There will now be a General Election, to be held on Thursday 12 December 2019.

Under provisions in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election. The date of the next general election is 12 December 2019, accordingly this Parliament will dissolve on 6 November 2019.

Following the general election on 12 December 2019, the next general election will be scheduled to take place on the first Thursday of May 2024 – 2 May 2024, Parliament will be dissolved on Tuesday 26 March 2024.

Parliament rejects call for General Election

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Today, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called for an early General Election to be held on 12 December 2019.

Because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the motion requires 2/3 of all MPs to agree in order to pass. Following debate, a vote was taken with the result 299 votes in favour and 70 votes against. Although there was a majority in favour, the numbers did not reach the majority required under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act and thus fails.

Following the vote, the PM notified Parliament of the Governments intention to present a short (one-line) Bill calling for a General Election to be held on Thursday 12 December 2019. If this Bill is passed, only requiring a majority of votes, it will circumvent the requirements of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and allow a General Election to be held.

Will there be a General Election in December 2019 ?

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MPs are due to debate and vote on a motion later today (28 October 2019), in the House of Commons, to hold an early General Election on December 12 2019. Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, an early election can only take place if it is supported by at least two thirds of MPs.

If agreed, the PM will attempt to pass the legislation for the current deal in the time before Parliament is dissolved (6 November 2019).

Labour have indicated that they will not support the motion.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats parties together have proposed their own plan to trigger an election. This, they say, could be achieved by introducing a Bill to amend the Fixed Term Parliament Act and setting a specific date of 9 December 2019 for the next General Election.

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