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Hansard 16 Dec: Column 983 ...
Hansard 16 Dec: Column 983

The European Parliamentary Elections Bill - rejected an unprecendented six times by the House of Lords - will become law on 3 January next year.

This will allow councils to go ahead with organising next June's elections on the basis on the new regional constituencies under the much criticised closed party list system of proportional representation. Parties will not have to restart selection procedures for nominating individual condidates in the existing single-member European constituencies.

Speaker of the Commons Betty Boothroyd told MPs yesterday that the Parliament Acts now came into play.

She explained:'The House of Lords will be asked to return the Bill to this house, where it will be prepared for the Royal Assent. The Parliament Acts require that, before a Bill is presented for the Royal Assent under this procedure, it has been sent to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session in which it was rejected a second time.

'The Bill was sent to the Lords on 3 December. In order to comply strictly with the requirements of the Parliament Acts - and I certainly intend to interpret the Acts strictly - it cannot be submitted for Royal Assent until a month after that date'.

The Leader of the Commons, Margaret Beckett, underlined the government's determination to have the new constituencies and electoral system, indicating the government - with its massive Commons majority- would oppose any motion seeking that the Parliament Acts should not apply.

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