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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Bills backlog 'causing shambles'
Parliament
Lords say Parliament must have time to do its job
The government has been warned "something will have to give" because a huge amount of legislation is causing a logjam in the Lords.

The backlog has already placed a question mark over the date of the Queen's Speech.

And opposition peers are complaining they will have to return from the recess a month before MPs to deal with the bills piling up waiting to be scrutinised.

Bills still to pass through the Lords
Countryside and Rights of Way Bill
Northern Ireland Bill
Jury Trial Bill
Crime Bill
Political Parties Bill
Freedom of Information Bill
Transport Bill
Fur Farming Bill
Tony Blair has introduced a near-record number of bills this session.

Opposition peers' leader Lord Strathclyde said he feared the state opening of Parliament would be put back to the end of November.

It usually takes place after the annual party conferences finish in October.

Lord Strathclyde said the government's "shambolic" legislative timetable had resulted in a mountain of work for peers and they must now return on 27 September.

He said: "We make no complaint about that. That is our duty.

"But equally, we will not be prepared to cut short scrutiny of bills because the government has tried to legislate too much."

Ministers blamed

Lord Strathclyde went on: "And we will not be deterred from our duty by crude threats to remove more members of the House in a new Lords Bill."

He said the government faced more difficult choices if it wanted to complete its programme.


We will not be prepared to cut short scrutiny of bills because the government has tried to legislate too much

Lord Strathclyde
"Time pressure imposes a discipline on government that no other pressure can. It will be long, hard work to complete the programme that remains.

"The opposition will behave with the good sense and co-operation it always does.

"But something may have to give. If it does that will be the fault of the ministers who overloaded the programme, not of a Parliament doing its job."

In addition to the backlog of bills, Conservative Baroness Young, who led the campaign to save Section 28 on homosexuality, is to table amendments to the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill, which lowers the gay age of consent to 16.

No-one was available from the government to respond to the criticisms.

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See also:

30 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Fistful of peers to break log jam
26 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Lord of mischief
04 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Agonising over hooligans
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