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Government refuses to rule out using Parliament Act to force equal marriage past the House of Lords

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  1. I’m confused can we get married or not???

    1. Not just yet

      1. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:10pm

        Max is champing at the bit. :)

    2. No-one knows for sure. It has to pass both Houses for Parliament and then get Royal Assent before it becomes law. It’s pretty much certain to get through the House of Commons, but whether it gets through the House of Lords is another matter. Royal Assent will be a formality, irrespective of whatever the Queen’s personal opinion might be.

      If it fails to get through the Lords, the Commons can invoke the Parliament Act to allow the bill to pass even without the Lords’ consent. But that’s a slow process, and would delay equality until mid-2014 at the earliest (as there must be a year-long delay between the bill’s second and third reading). Stuart Jackson’s point that Parliament Act cannot be used because marriage equality wasn’t in the Tories’ manifesto is irrelevant as the Parliament Act doesn’t require it to be.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Dec 2012, 7:06pm

        You’re absolutely right, Rich, it doesn’t require a manifesto to invoked the Parliament Act as Maria Miller well knows. It’s a red herring to foment opposition. The Lords know it.

      2. which is where the date of 2015 comes from as a worst case scenario.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Dec 2012, 2:28pm

    Well done, Maria Miller! Stick to your guns and see it through even if it means invoking the Parliament Act.

    This is yet another reason to get rid of an unelected House altogether. It’s not even democratic. Why should a group of unelected people that includes 26 Anglican bishops get to approve legislation when they don’t even represent the people or the various faiths as well as atheism? It’s an extremely unfair system of government in my view. and should be abolished.

  3. Dept. of Corrections… :-)

    “… to force equal marriage PAST (the) House of Lords”;

    Or “to get equal marriage legislation passed, despite the House of Lords”.

    1. Thanks to PN for making a prompt correction to the headline !

  4. Govt can’t use Parliament Act as it wasn’t in manifesto.

    1. This keeps cropping up, though I have no idea why.

      As anyone who has read the Parliament Acts (yes, there’s more than one) can tell you, it doesn’t need to be in the manifesto.

      As far as I can tell, this ‘misunderstanding’ was first aired by the C4M lot. It’s bollocks.

      1. It keeps coming up because of something called the Salisbury Convention. This was a gentleman’s agreement reached in the late 1940s between the main parties. They agreed that because the Labour government of the time had won an overwhelming majority by campaigning for social reform, and could if they wished invoke the Parliament Act to force legislation through, the large Tory majority in the Lords would not oppose the second of third readings of the any bill on an issue mention in the 1945 Labour manifesto.

        It was never anything more than a convention, and it was never about the use of the Parliament Act itself: rather about Lords’ wrecking motions that might lead to its use. Even if the parties today are still bound by the Salisbury convention here, it doesn’t apply in this case.

        But many claim that the Salisbury Convention is dead. The Lib Dems have said they’re no longer bound by it, citing both low voter turn-out and the huge size of modern party manifestos compared to 1945.

    2. It doesn’t have to be in the manifesto. The manifesto is just a suggestion of what the Government intends to do. As the bill is being introduced in the Commons, the Parliament act can be used if necessary to overrule the Lords should they defeat the bill. The Tory MP who said this originally doesn’t know much about politics if he actually believes what he said. It is the Salisbury convention that references manifesto promises and the Lords.

    3. Irrespective of whether the HoL rejects or approves equality it needs to be abolished.

      It is utterly disgraceful that an unelected upper house can influence our laws.

      Sack them all

    4. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Dec 2012, 4:13pm

      Dead wrong, it can be invoked and has no bearing on a manifesto. You need a lesson in fact-based civics.

    5. Matthew:

      You wish.

    6. Craig Nelson 27 Dec 2012, 4:34pm

      The fact of being in the manifesto or not relates to the so called Salisbury convention that the HoL will not block a manifesto commitment of an elected government. This is from the days where there was a permanent in built majority of Tory aristocrats who could (and up to that point did) block core business of the Liberals and potentially the Labour party when in government.

      While the Parliament Act is still available it would be tedious if every non-Conservative legislative proposal was passed through the Parliament Act as it would slow everything down – hence the sort of “gentleman’s agreement” that manifesto commitments of an incoming government would not ordinarily be blocked. It is only a convention though, and occasionally they do block or try to block things.

  5. Good.

    In fact I hope the Lords do reject it and the Parliament Act is used to force it through.

    The House of Lords needs to be abolished and replaced with a democratic upper house.

    Separation of cult and state is also necessary.

    1. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:02pm

      Oops. He’s back to using the “cult” word again.

  6. Is a Parliament Act like an Executive Order here in the states? Can it be undone with a majority of the houses voting against it?

    1. Hi RJP

      Not quite – The Commons being elected is senior to the Lords. If the Lords vote against legislation the Commons can send it back, effectively all they can do is delay it – the idea is that the Lords give the Commons and the people the opportunity to reflect of proposed legislation.

      There is a significant move to change the House of Lords to an elected revising chamber, but there is no agreement on quite how it should be changed.

    2. No, nothing like.

      An Act is a Bill that has already passed through parliament and received Royal Assent. It’s already law.

    3. The Parliament Act cannot be used unless a piece of proposed legislation has majority support in the HoC. If the Parliament Act is used there is nothing the Lords can do to prevent it becoming law. It will receive Royal Assent.

    4. Craig Nelson 27 Dec 2012, 4:42pm

      Basically the Parliament Act allows the House of Commons to act unicamerally (i.e. as though we only had one chamber) if the unelected House of Lords is refusing to play footsie. The supporters of the unelected Lords always regale us with how it is a scrutinising and revising chamber who doesn’t challenge the Commons so we’ll see.

      If they refuse to pass the legislation it means they are trying to block it wholesale and effectivey give up their right to try to amend the Bill as the Parliament Act would allow the Commons to act alone.

      Using the Parliament Act (using the nuclear option as the Telegraph so dramatically puts it – though I don’t think anyone usually dies when this happens) is simply a matter of the government representing an identical Bill in the next session and if the HoL again refuses to engage the Parliament Act comes into effect uness the government acquires stage fright and withdraws its Bill.

  7. This article provides no quote from Miller, and a quote from her department which is contrary to the headline?! Bit shoddy, Pinknews seems to be getting itself in knots about this legislation, lots of news stories recently that have declared something is true because its opposite is untrue. Anyone that follows this issue knows that filling in the blanks is a useless pursuit and guesswork.

    1. Craig Nelson 27 Dec 2012, 4:46pm

      Yeah, I think the Telegraph are hyping it up again. Still govt would be foolish to rule out the Parliament Act. They may need it if only as a bargaining chip at some point.

  8. Robert (Kettering) 27 Dec 2012, 4:02pm

    I strongly object to a bunch of UNELECTED Peers and Bishops having the ability to destroy legislation approved by the ELECTED Commons.

    The HoL should be totally elected false stop. Even the Iranian Parliament (both houses) is elected and thus in a way has more credibility than our system.

    1. Plus we have an unelected head of state; an official state religion and an unproportional voting system for the lower house.

      Britain is only a quasi-democracy.

      1. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:09pm

        Well fck off and live in Iran then.

  9. unelected, don’t the bishops have more pressing issues to address like staving children and the homeless among many other needy causes.

    I rent a hall from a church and I have never come across such uncaring , rude people -you want to see the amount of wine bottles waiting to be collected each week.

    They way the admin officer talks to delivery drivers – I wish one would tell her where to go

    1. Sister Mary Clarence 28 Dec 2012, 3:07am

      Welcome to religion.

  10. Personally I would like to see a fully elected second chamber. And a law to stop religions interfering in politics. NO religious leaders should be in the house of lords.

    We should have a separation of church and state, as they are ‘supposed’ to have in the US. These religious non entity’s have no place in the House of Lords. With such a small number of people attending these houses of ill repute. It is long past time for the state to kick them into the long grass.

  11. Spanner1960 27 Dec 2012, 5:55pm

    I have to say, this really pisses me off.

    Whether you support fox-hunting or not, what Blair did to ram the law home was totally WRONG, and I think this is the situation is the same.

    We live in a democracy, and like it or not we have to live by the will of the majority. To force something through based on one’s personal opinion, however honourable, is simply unacceptable.

    We have to remember the age of consent bill took years, and was dropped to 18, and later 16. It was not done in a single leap. This fight may well continue on, but it has to be won fairly and squarely with the agreement of the majority of the UK electorate, and not just shoehorned in, otherwise we will forever have to suffer the equanimity of being told that fact, and that we shouldn’t really be doing this.

    We have to do this through the proper channels, and beat those fckers into submission using the proper means, not by engaging some “cheat” mode.

    1. Bobbleobble 27 Dec 2012, 7:34pm

      Blair also had to use the Parliament Act to get the equalisation of the age of consent through the House of Lords in 2000. Both that and the fox hunting vote passed the Commons with large majorities and it was the unelected, undemocratic Lords that were seeking to overrule the will of the majority, not Blair’s government which is why the Parliament Act became necessary in both instances.

      The Parliament Act is part of the proper channels in this country and has been since 1911 as amended in 1949. It is necessary to ensure the primacy of the Commons. And using it is fair and square.

      I’m not sure what you mean by forcing it through based on personal opinion. Surely you mean the opinion of the majority of our elected representatives which is being stymied by a chamber with no democratic mandate whatsoever.

      1. Spanner1960 27 Dec 2012, 7:48pm

        “I’m not sure what you mean by forcing it through based on personal opinion.”
        What I mean is bypassing any form of democratic voting process.
        This is effectively playing judge, jury and executioner.
        Likewise with the fox-hunting vote, it was not decided upon by common consensus. What is the point in having a house of elected representatives, and another of (debatebly) good and just people, if the whole thing becomes a foregone conclusion and it is railroaded through?

        Whatever you think of the political system, the last thing any of us want is for this to be seen as some kind of “fck you, we are going to do it whether you like it or not”, process.
        The whole thing is, when we win the argument, (which will inevitably happen sooner or later), justice, law and equality will have been seen to be done, and the opposition will have no argument because it was seen to be brought about by the will of the people, not Cameron throwing his toys out of his pram because things didn’t go his way.

        1. Bobbleobble 27 Dec 2012, 8:26pm

          Nobody is bypassing any form of democratic voting process, the Commons and the Lords will vote but in 1911 and 1949 it was decided that the power of the Lords to overrule and/or delay the will of the elected chamber had to be curtailed.

          You talk as if the Parliament Act isn’t a part of our constitution and Cameron has just thought it up in the last couple of weeks to circumvent the Lords. It has been around since 1911.

          The Commons represents the will of the people, not the Lords. The Parliament Acts reflect this.

          1. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:18pm

            The Parliament Act has been used three times in five years, after half a century in which they were only actually resorted to, with the utmost reluctance, once.

            They are the responses from piss-poor politicians and shoddy debate.

      2. Craig Nelson 27 Dec 2012, 7:53pm

        The hunting thing certainly wasn’t Blair’s personal idea. He was against it but had to go with the clearly expressed voice of the elected Commons and very strong party feeling. Also it was a longstanding manifesto commitment and the issue had been debated ad infinitum and needed to be brought to some kind of resolution. In ou constitution when the democratically elected house are opposed to the unelected one, the elected chamber must in the end give way if we’re to have any semblance of being a democracy.

    2. I sympathise with some of the things that you are saying, but I think you ignore the fact that gay marriage is a civil right. A civil right, presumably, is something which is owed a certain group, by right, and therefore not by any democratic mandate. Whether a democracy is contrary to that right is largely irrelevant to the reasons which motivate that right. If that were not the case then at various stages in history minority groups could have been legitimately denied a right, based on the fact that a majority opposed them. This doesn’t seem fair. As such, I suggest that a consideration of the nature of a civil right may involve going against a majority, and, indeed, using many avenues not usually used, in order to institute the right.

    3. Another stupid and curmudgeonly statement from Spanner. All three major parties are in favour of SSM and made it clear before the last election. Polls show that there is a clear majority of the electorate ready to accept it too. Civil Partnerships may have felt forced through at the time but who of any worth now, only a few years later, has anything bad to say about them? Most political opposition to SSM use CPs to argue that we have the rights we need already.
      Blair was wrong to bring in CPs? I’ve heard it all now.

  12. Spanner1960 27 Dec 2012, 5:55pm

    I have to say, this really pisses me off.

    Whether you support fox-hunting or not, what Blair did to ram the law home was totally WRONG, and I think this is the situation is the same.

    We live in a democracy, and like it or not we have to live by the will of the majority. To force something through based on one’s personal opinion, however honourable, is simply unacceptable.

    We have to remember the age of consent bill took years, and was dropped to 18, and later 16. It was not done in a single leap. This fight may well continue on, but it has to be won fairly and squarely with the agreement of the majority of the UK electorate, and not just shoehorned in, otherwise we will forever have to suffer the equanimity of being told that fact, and that we shouldn’t really be doing this.

    We have to do this through the proper channels, and beat those fvckers into submission using the proper means, not by engaging some “cheat” mode.

    1. Polls suggest a small majority of the population do support marriage-equality, just as, according to polls, a small majority of the population did support a ban on fox hunting when that was introduced. The problem is the House of Lords which tends to lag behind popular opinion because all its members are appointed for life, many of who were appointed decades ago. The Parliament Act is a hard-won measure that tries to compensate for that bias. It certainly isn’t a “cheat”.

      1. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:06pm

        “because all its members are appointed for life…”
        I think not. The right dishonourable Tony Blair MP put pay to that.
        There are 775 sitting lords, of which only 92 are hereditary.

        1. Which leaves about 650 life peers. They’re appointed for life: the clue’s in the name. The only ones not there for life are the 26 bishops. So, yes, they pretty much are all appointed for life.

  13. Spanner1960 27 Dec 2012, 5:56pm

    I have to say, this really pisses me off.

    Whether you support fox-hunting or not, what Blair did to ram the law home was totally WRONG, and I think this is the situation is the same.

    We live in a democracy, and like it or not we have to live by the will of the majority. To force something through based on one’s personal opinion, however honourable, is simply unacceptable.

    We have to remember the age of consent bill took years, and was dropped to 18, and later 16. It was not done in a single leap. This fight may well continue on, but it has to be won fairly and squarely with the agreement of the majority of the UK electorate, and not just shoehorned in, otherwise we will forever have to suffer the equanimity of being told that fact, and that we shouldn’t really be doing this.

    We have to do this through the proper channels, and beat those bastards into submission using the proper means, not by engaging some “cheat” mode.

    1. Spanner1960 27 Dec 2012, 5:57pm

      oops. sorry for the repeat.
      Trying to circumvent this sh|tty little websites puerile censorship rules.

  14. The threat of the Parliament Act may just discourage some from voting against it. This issue has been explored over and over with the electorate and polls show that marriage equality is a popular move. The Lords have no leg to stand on. They are legless – as usual.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Dec 2012, 7:04pm

      Plus, the issue of Lords reform. They’d better bear that in mind if they vote against it. The Tory backbenchers are vociferously against any reform. The 26 bishops must be quaking at the thought of having no more power in government. Who in their right mind would vote for a bishop in an election, certainly not the majority of the British electorate?

      1. Too right. I’m sure all parties are dying to get them out but waiting for the right moment. It’s just a matter of time.

  15. It was used to lower the age of consent for gay men to 16 in 2000. That was when scum like Baroness Young was alive (she was made a peer on the advice of that old cottage queen Edward Heath [the irony of it!). I imagine there are still plenty scumbags like her sitting in the House of Lords.

    1. Robert (Kettering) 27 Dec 2012, 7:30pm

      Yes there’s that totally unelected and unelectable disgrace “Warsi” sitting in the HoL?! She’s dead against any equality unless, of course, it’s for her religious chums.

      A vile woman with no mandate whatsoever from anyone.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Dec 2012, 8:25pm

        This is a very smart move by Maria Miller. First the quadruple lock, a brilliant move in my view and now the possibility of using the Parliament Act. The Lords are doomed on this one in the long run assuming they vote against it caught between a rock and hard place. Either way, they lose, not us. So what if we have to wait another year, we still win. I’d be happy with that. Ideally it won’t have to go that far but if it does, so be it. The hate-mongering bigots outside or inside the Lords will have lost either way. They’ve already shown signs of it by the growing vitriole we’re hearing on almost a daily basis. The more outrageous they get, the more support we’ll get. Sane, rational people don’t want to be associated with that nonsensical rabble.

        1. Dave North 27 Dec 2012, 9:28pm

          Precisely.

          The CofE for example after the shambolic drivel on the women bishop result only served to tell the public, how out of touch they are, only served as an initial catalyst in the equal marriage debate.

          In essence they said that the leader of the CofE, ie the Queen, was not worthy of being a bishop due to the fact that she was a woman.

          Strike 1

          Next. The idiots chose xmas day to spew bile onto the idea of equal marriage. Bad move.

          Strike 2.

          What about all that christian love sh!t .

          And we even had her pope spew his clove to everyone. Except Gays.

          Strike 3.

          I think the general public got the message of “love” they were sending.

        2. Spanner1960 28 Dec 2012, 5:09pm

          I disagree.
          We will only win by default if we railroad this through.

          I for one do not want some pyrrhic victory, but one that truly demonstrates the will and choice of the majority of British people. Otherwise we will suffer the accusations forever and a day, just like the fox-hunting debacle.

      2. Yeah, the real aristos must take one look at her and gwuff into their muff.

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