Overseas voters law debate put off

Debate on the bill to give Britons living more than 15 years overseas back their vote has been delayed again – after being previously listed on the Parliament's website as taking place on a day when Parliament is not due to sit.

The Overseas Electors Bill 2017-2019 finished a series of ‘committee stage’ discussions by a group of MPs on November 14 last year and was listed on the bill's official website (and is still listed here) as to be debated by the full House of Commons again this Friday, January 25 – however it is now listed on the bill's website with the date ‘to be announced’. 

Sources close to the government said the government is still committed to the bill, but Parliament will not be sitting on Friday and a new date will be announced in the near future.

The bill is a private member’s bill, which are usually only allocated time on 13 'sitting Fridays' during a parliamentary session to be heard by the full House of Commons.

A parliamentary session typically lasts around 12 months from spring to spring, but exceptionally we are still in a session that started in June 2017. The Parliament website shows that the last, 13th sitting Friday of the current session was originally expected to be November 23, 2018. 

We are seeking further information as to why the report stage debate was scheduled on Friday January 25 previously, and what has changed.

The bill, introduced by Welsh Conservative MP Glynn Davies, had its first reading in the House of Commons on July 19, 2017 and its first full debate at the second reading on February 23, 2018 after the government announced its intention to back the bill. Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said at the time it should be known as 'Shindler's Bill' in honour of voter rights campaigner Harry Shindler, who will be 98 this year. 

Ending the '15-year rule' was a promise in the Conservative manifestos for the elections in 2015 and 2017 and a bill for this was originally listed in the Queen's Speech documents for the parliamentary session 2015-16.

Previous articles

Would Britons abroad have a say in a People's Vote?

Gives our votes back - veteran's heartfelt plea to UK MPs

Shindler's Bill moves on to next stage

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