Thursday, 8 September 2011

Magna Carta Day

Yesterday Eleanor Laing was given leave to introduce a Bill which would make 15th June 2015 a national holiday. It would celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

The procedure used was that of a "ten minute rule bill". This is covered by Standing Order 23. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays a member is given 10 minutes (the SO actually speaks of "the Speaker, after permitting, if he thinks fit, a brief explanatory statement...) to give reasons why the House should grant leave to bring in the bill. Actually leave is not needed to bring in a bill - SO 57 says "A member may, after notice, present a bill without previously obtaining leave from the House to bring in the same". This happens very early in the day's business - and can pass almost unnoticed - and that is the point about the 10 minute rule bill procedure. It is rarely used for serious legislating - instead it gives the member an opportunity for "prime time" coverage of the issue he or she wishes to raise. It occurs straight after Questions - and of course on a Wednesday, straight after PMQs (Prime Minister' Question Time). Many 10 minute rule bills get national publicity earlier in the day.

Ms Laing's purpose was to draw attention to the campaign for a holiday to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta. I have to say that I can not be neutral on this issue. I strongly believe that in the UK we should give more attention to this important event and document in British history. I was the co-founder of a Facebook group as far back as 2007 - "Magna Carta Day!" - do please join!

This blog has frequently dealt with the Magna Carta and its significance
May 2011
June 2010
June 2007
Threats to Liberty
The Rule of Law

The request for leave and the subsequent First Reading can be watched at 01:01:30 onwards (you will need to move the slider to that point (although there's quite a bit to see beforehand - including a message from the Queen; PMQs; A point of order; and Introduction of a bill under the Art 57 procedure)

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