LORDS

Committee warns against rush to legislate on Succession to the Crown Bill

21 January 2013

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has today raised concerns with the fast-tracking of the Succession to the Crown Bill. The Committee says that given the "undoubted constitutional significance" of the Bill it should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.

The Committee heard from the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, that the decision to fast-track the Succession to the Crown Bill was made for "pragmatic business management" reasons. The Committee says that fast-tracking legislation for this reason is "never appropriate".

The Committee says that fast-track procedures will "rarely, if ever, be appropriate for significant constitutional matters". The Committee draws attention to recent commentary about potential unintended consequences of the Bill, and concludes that Parliament should be given the time to debate such matters fully.  It concludes that "in parliamentary scrutiny there can emerge issues which had been previously overlooked or hidden."

Commenting Baroness Jay of Paddington, Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, said:

"The Government appear to want to legislate on royal succession as quickly as possible. This risks shortcutting proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Succession to the Crown Bill is clearly of constitutional significance and as such should not be treated as fast-track legislation.

Recent commentators have raised possible unintended consequences of the Bill. The Committee is of the opinion that those matters are the kind of issues that Parliament must have suitable time to discuss; that will not be the case if the legislation is fast-tracked."

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