Today, Friday 10 September, is the date of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill’s Second Reading. You may remember that we had a Second Reading for the Bill back in March, but the Bill fell with the close of the last Parliament in the Summer. With the return of Parliament, the CEE Bill was reintroduced as a Private Members’ Bill by Caroline Lucas MP, alongside 11 co-sponsors, and given today as its scheduled Second Reading.
However, the Parliamentary process means that almost all Private Members’ Bills do not move onto the next rung, or in other words, the Second Reading does not take place. This is due to several things, mainly the sheer amount of these Bills put forward by backbenchers means that only those with backing from the government are likely to pass. In addition, certain Conservative MPs are known for championing a number of their own, sometimes very niche, Private Members’ Bills which they can use as a filibuster in the House of Commons to stop the other ones put forward by other MPs from passing the Second Reading. The process of filibustering essentially involves “talking out” a Bill by speaking at length to ensure that the debate cannot conclude before the allotted time limit.
If Private Members’ Bills do not make it past their Second Reading date, the primary sponsor MP is given another date for a new Second Reading. With regards to the CEE Bill, Caroline Lucas has chosen Friday 29th of October as the new date. This date is the week before COP26 in Glasgow (1-12 November) and coincides with our plans for a COP Outcomes lobby event (details TBC). Again, the CEE Bill will not pass this Second Reading, but we can use this moment to shout out ahead of COP26 that the CEE Bill is the vital legislation needed to tackle the climate and ecological emergency via a joined-up approach, and include citizen’s voices in the process.
The Parliamentary process can seem very dysfunctional and archaic—even those working in parliament get confused by the processes! But – no fear! This is all part of our wider campaign model.
Bills such as ours take a little more time, the Climate Change Act took over three years before it became law. It is all about keeping the Bill on the books in Parliament, gathering the support of as many MPs as possible and building the campaign in the grassroots thanks to you, our wonderful campaigners. This includes getting councils to declare motions in support of the Bill, gathering the support of organisations across the UK, and pressuring MPs to join the nearly 150 supporters in Parliament who back the Bill.
We know it is Zero Hour and that we have no time to wait—this is why we are going all guns blazing and need to grow our campaign in double-quick time. Thanks to you we are speeding ahead and now more than ever we need more campaigners to join us to keep up the pressure on MPs. Ask your friend or neighbour to join the campaign, sign our petition and spread the message about the campaign on social media. All of this would not be possible without your help—let’s keep going!
Mike Wood, Zero Hour Parliament Team.