Members began by discussing a motion to annul the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015. An amendment to the motion, to add a specific reason for the proposed annulment, because it ‘goes against the advice of the Electoral Commission’, was agreed, with 267 for and 257 against. However, when the main motion to annul was put to the vote the result was 246 for and 257 against, so the Order continues unchanged.
Members then discussed a motion to annul the Asylum Support (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015, the vote was 68 for and 194 against, so the Regulations remain unchanged.
About the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015 (SI 2015/1520)
This Order proposes to bring an end to the transitional arrangements for converting voter registration by household to individual registration. This Order requires registration officers to remove from the electoral roll entries for people who have not confirmed their individual registration immediately after the second canvas in December 2015, rather than after the third canvas in December 2016.
Two motions to annul the Order were proposed.
About the Asylum Support (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015
These draft Regulations propose that all persons supported under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (destitute asylum seekers and their dependants) receive a weekly payment of £36.95 to enable them to cover their essential living needs. This would move away from the current system where payments to children and adolescent asylum seekers are made at a higher rate than adults.
A motion declining to approve the Regulations was proposed and also a regret motion.
How do these draft regulations become law?
These changes are proposed through regulations, which are a Statutory Instrument (SI). An Act will often contain a framework and statutory instruments are used to provide detail that would be too complex to include in the Act itself. They are also easier for the government to change than an Act – for example to upgrade the rate of payment each year or amend the necessary forms in the light of experience.
The Asylum Support Regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure, and must be debated and approved in both Houses before it can be made law. As part of this procedure, a vote can be taken on them if the House wishes, but is not essential The Commons have already approved the Regulations.
Most Statutory Instruments become law without a vote (the negative procedure) unless, as in the case of the Electoral Reform Order, a Member puts down a motion to annul it. If the motion to annul is voted on and carried the Regulations can have no further effect in law. A regret motion expresses a view but does not stop the legislation.