It was not a good day yesterday for all those who say that there is no point in having Private Members’ Bills anymore because not one but two completed their passage through the House of Commons. Firstly, the Riot Compensation Bill which updates the centuries old law on the amount of compensation payable to those whose property is damaged as a result of a riot. The old Act was passed before even motor cars had been invented. The new Act modernises the law and introduces a £1 million cap on claims.
The second Bill to complete its progress removed an anomaly in the law relating to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. This is the independent body which looks again at claims from convicted criminals that there has been a miscarriage of justice. At present the Commission can send for documents from public bodies but not private bodies and this Bill provides that a Court can now order a private individual or company to hand over documents relevant to their investigations.
Now, admittedly both these bills are what MP’s refer to as hand out Bills. In other words they are Bills which have been given out by the government. So, right from the start they have the support of government. I proved in the last Parliament that where an MP comes forward with a change to the law which makes sense the government can be persuaded to support a Private Members’ Bill and the process can be used to change the law.