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The Week in Parliament

EDIT: Oh. Oh dear. This article was written on Friday. Sorry about that.

♫It’s coming home; it’s coming; football’s coming home♫*

We’re so close aren’t we? Just one match between England and glory. You’re not even paying attention to this really are you? What if I promise you something football related in it? Caught your attention just a little bit? Oh go on then, let’s see what we can do.

*or as I have been insisting to my Dungeons and Dragons group “We’re all culling gnomes”- little joke for my nerdy consultation folks out there feeling left out whilst the cool kids play sports

Westminster

Over the course of the pandemic we have become used to seeing shortened, online-only, or otherwise unusually formatted consultations. They’ve been discussed in court too, with the leading authority being from the Article 39 case which said they may be permissible under the circumstances, so long as the fundamentals of consultation law are respected. We’ve seen them reduced to a couple of weeks, or even a few days. We might now have seen the shortest one yet.

With the unexpected occasion of England getting to the Euros final, the Government have temporarily altered licensing laws to extend the hours in licensed premises on final day. The regulations allowing this, the Licensing Act 2003 (2020 UEFA European Championship Licensing Hours) Order 2021, were consulted on in what the Minister described in the House as a “truncated but effective” way. How truncated? The explanatory note details that the consultation was with ‘selected partners’, by telephone on 6th July.

Whilst I’m reluctant to play killjoy here (only kidding, if I had a motto it might well be “Having fun? Not anymore), there are potential issues with this. As consultees, the Government listed the British Beer and Pub Association, the British institute of Innkeeping, UK Hospitality, the LGA and the National Police Chief’s Council, of whom only the NPCC raised objections. Public health bodies have also been involved. There are some notable absences here, a near total lack of consultation with those living around pubs being the most obvious. We must hope that the LGA put across the views of local communities.

The truth is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Government seem to have been caught on the hop with this one- the Minister admitted as much in a slightly stumbling way:

“We could not really have foreseen—of course we had every confidence in them—how the England team would progress or just how successful this tournament has been”

Whilst there seems little likelihood of challenge of these regulations (not even I am that mean spirited), and we might let it slip by in the festive spirit of national celebration, it does put a nice punctuation mark at the end of the effects of covid on consultation- the standards, perhaps, slightly slipping. With rumours abroad that if England are lucky enough to win, the PM will pull a new Bank Holiday from nowhere, it will be interesting to see if they consult on this too.

Still. Perhaps I shouldn’t be such a misery-guts. Come on boys, bring that football home. We’ve been waiting quite a while.

Wales

Interesting debate in Wales this week over the issue of second homes and holiday accommodation, with the Government planning to consult on changes to local taxes to help manage holiday homes. In light of the often undisguised animosity between local residents of popular holiday destinations and their more transient holiday home occupying neighbours, it could be an interesting one to watch. Indeed, there were already some rumblings in Senedd, with one MS criticising the planned trials and the vagueness of the consultation commitment. The Minister responded fairly forcefully, reminding the Chamber of the risk of JR if changes are not properly consulted upon. In light of the ongoing housing crisis, we wonder if we might start seeing other authorities starting to look more critically at this issue. Will there be a cascade of consultations? We’ll have to wait and see.

 Scotland

There might have been something incredibly exciting for consultors from Scotland this week- unfortunately the Official report website was down, so we’ll never know…

About the Author

Stephen serves as the Institute’s Legal and Parliamentary Officer. Before joining the Institute Stephen studied Law at Bangor University and pursued a Masters’ degree in Aviation and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal. After this, he returned to London and was called to the bar in 2016 at the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, before deciding not to go into practice and move towards public policy work instead. Within the Institute, Stephen provides legal, political and policy analysis of UK and global current affairs of interest to consultors and consultees.

Read more about Stephen

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