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[Sticky] Ping-pong and the Parliament Acts
In order for a Bill to become law, identical versions of it must be passed by both Commons and Lords*. If the two chambers pass different versions of the Bill, a game of parliamentary ping-pong breaks out, with changing versions of the legislation bouncing back and forth between the two houses until a compromise version is found.
How it will work
If the Lords amends legislation and sends it back to the Commons, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House must move one of the following for each amendment (filling in X with the appropriate amendment number):
- I beg to move that this House agrees with the Lords in their Amendment X,
- I beg to move that this House disagrees with the Lords in their Amendment X, or
- I beg to move Amendment XA in lieu of Lords Amendment X.
MPs may debate the Government's motion(s), but debate will be short, perhaps only 24 hours. Unless it is clear that there is a significant government-party rebellion, there will not be a formal division, and the motions will be deemed to have been passed.
Any amendments agreed to will be made to the final Bill. Any amendments disagreed to or replaced by an amendment in lieu will be returned to the Lords. The A-Team will determine the Lords' response, and this will be announced in the thread. If the Lords insist on their amendments, the process repeats. This continues until either both houses are in agreement or the bill falls.
* unless the Parliament Acts are enforced, for which, see below.
The Parliament Acts
The Parliament Acts allow the Commons to push through a Bill with they have passed but which the Lords are blocking. For the Parliament Acts to apply all of the following must be true:
- The House of Commons have passed the same bill twice,
- The House of Lords have blocked the bills both times, and
- at least one year has passed between the Commons' two attempts.
How it will work
Therefore, if a bill has been thwarted by the Lords, you must wait one year, then try again with exactly the same text as before. You may amend dates, and include any Lords Amendments that had previously been agreed, but the bill must be otherwise the same. If the Lords block it again, you may then inform the A-Team that you wish to invoke the Parliament Acts. This will then be announced, and the Bill will become law.
Please remember that use of the Parliament Acts is incredibly rare. They have only been used 7 times since they came into force shortly before World War One, and their invocation is always controversial.
For those interested, the seven times were:
- 1914: Home Rule for Ireland
- 1914: Creating the “Church in Wales” from the Church of England
- 1949: Amending the Parliament Act itself
- 1991: Granting UK courts jurisdiction over Nazi war crimes
- 1999: Using proportional representation in European Parliament elections
- 2000: Lowering the age of consent for homosexual acts to the same as heterosexual ones
- 2004: Banning hunting with dogs