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European Union (Referendum) Bill and the Parliament Acts

Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The European Union (Referendum) Bill could be presented for Royal Assent under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 if it is passed by the House of Commons and rejected again by the House of Lords.

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The European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14, a private Member’s bill, provided for an in/out referendum on membership of the European Union to be held before the end of 2017. It was passed by the Commons in 2013-14 but not passed by the Lords.

During the debate on the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of the 2014-15 Session, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, confirmed that he would support a bill to provide for an in/out referendum, if it were introduced in the current Session. Subject to certain conditions, such a bill could be presented for Royal Assent in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949.

Robert Neill, who was drawn third in the private Members’ bill ballot, has given notice of his intention to introduce the European Union (Referendum) Bill 2014-15.

The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 allow public bills other than money bills rejected by the House of Lords in one parliamentary session to be presented for Royal Assent in the following session if they are passed by the House of Commons and rejected again by the House of Lords. Section 2(3) of the 1911 Act states that for this purpose a bill is deemed to be rejected by the House of Lords “if it is not passed by that House either without amendment or with such amendments only as may be agreed to by both Houses”. A number of conditions about timing apply to the process. The Parliament Acts do not apply to bills that extend the life of a Parliament, bills which originated in the House of Lords, private bills or provisional order bills.

Commons Briefing papers SN06912

Author: Richard Kelly

Topics: EU political integration, Europe, Legislative process, Parliamentary procedure

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