Today sees James Wharton’s European Union (Referendum) Bill reach its report Stage in the House of Commons. Many people doubted the Bill would ever get even this far but there is no doubt this is the stage when a Private Members’ Bill is at its most vulnerable.
Any member can suggest an amendment to the Bill and indeed dozens of amendments have been tabled. Not all have been selected by the Speaker for debate but those which have been split into four groups for debate.
The first dealing with who will be eligible to vote in the referendum, the second on the date of the referendum, the third on the actual question which should be used and the fourth on the conduct of the referendum
The European Union (Referendum) Bill commits a future Government to an in-out referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU before the end of 2017.
Many people feel that the EU has been heading in a direction that they never signed up to.
If the Conservatives win the next General Election there will be an in-out referendum before the end of 2017.
Some have claimed that it is pointless trying to pass a Bill which seeks to bind the next Parliament but this Bill does not seeks to do that. It does make a provision which extends into the next Parliament but that happens all the time in Parliament. If this Bill becomes law there is no legal impediment to the next Parliament repealing it. Clearly the Conservatives will not repeal it as we are working so hard to get it on the Statute book. The question for the Labour and Liberal Democrats is will they repeal it?