With the parliamentary session coming to an end on 29 April, the CEE Bill has “fallen”—temporarily! What sounds quite dramatic is actually standard parliamentary procedure. We knew this would happen and it’s all taken into account in our campaign strategy. Soon we will be back in Parliament, stronger than ever.
So what’s happened to the Bill?
At the end of each parliamentary session, the slate is wiped clean of all proposed legislation and motions. So it’s not just our Bill that is currently no longer on the books: all bills that have not passed into law since this session began back in 2019—including the Government’s own proposed legislation—must be reintroduced in the new session, which starts on 11 May.
What’s the plan?
The CEE Bill was presented by Caroline Lucas, with cross-party support, in September 2020 as a Presentation Bill. This is one of three different forms of private members’ bill, which is legislation proposed by backbench MPs. We opted for a Presentation Bill because it is the best way of getting your foot in the door in Parliament. With a Presentation Bill, you can build support for a new bill and learn how to respond to the concerns of MPs and political parties without exposing it to a vote in Parliament. The risk of pushing for a vote on your bill too early is that you are likely to be defeated before you’ve had a chance to build a case for it.
Since the bill was presented, we have been building that support and have an understanding of the kinds of arguments that sceptical MPs are bringing. So in the new parliamentary session in May, we will crank it up a notch, and reintroduce the bill as a more ambitious kind of private members’ bill. There are a couple of options here (the ten-minute rule bill and the ballot bill)—and we are currently working hard to hammer out the details. We will let you know as soon as things are pinned down. In the meantime, rest assured that we’ll definitely be back on the books in Parliament at the earliest opportunity (around mid-June). Our campaign is significantly stronger than it was back in September. And even then we were able to introduce the Bill with sponsors from seven parties—our aim for the next session is all-party support.
A campaign inside and outside Parliament
The details of the campaign will always need tweaking as we move along. We have to remain agile and respond to the peculiarities of parliament. But our overall strategy stays the same: we remain in the game inside Westminster, raising the profile of the Bill and convincing more and more MPs and peers that the CEE Bill is the framework legislation needed to address the climate and nature emergencies. Outside Westminster, we build support among organisations, local councils and individuals, spreading the key messages of the campaign—about taking responsibility for our impact on the climate and natural world, the importance of staying under 1.5 degrees globally, and the need to give citizens a say in the transition in order to ensure that everyone is on board with the changes needed. With this dual pressure within Parliament and outside it, the Government will see the growing support for the CEE Bill and increasingly understand why it’s essential.
What can you do in this interim period? Focus on the campaign outside Parliament
The campaign remains the same. What we are calling for certainly isn’t changing—and we’ll be back in Parliament very soon. But we need to be strategic about how we use our time. And with a period of a few weeks between the last parliament ending and the CEE Bill being reintroduced in June, this is a good time to use our energies to build the campaign outside Parliament and shift our focus temporarily away from MPs. That means talking to our friends, family, neighbours and—restrictions permitting—people in the street about our Alliance. A good way into these conversations is to ask them to sign our new petition. It also means we can stay in touch with them going forward and keep them involved in the campaign.
Our Alliance is growing stronger by the day. And with your help, once the new parliamentary session has started—and the CEE Bill is re-introduced in Westminster—we can make the strongest possible case to the UK Government that they should back it ahead of the vitally important COP15 and COP26 summits this autumn.