Council makes recommendations to Hybrid Bill review
The Council has submitted recommendations to the latest stage of Parliament’s review of Hybrid Bill petitioning procedures. The review looks at ways to simplify the process and make it more user-friendly for petitioners against future Hybrid Bills.
The High Speed 2 (HS2) Bill is a Hybrid Bill because it involves both a change in law that would affect the general public (as in a Public Bill), and would also have a significant impact on specific individuals or groups (as in a Private Bill). We are concerned that the complex petitioning process can be difficult for potential petitioners to understand, and that it needs to become more efficient to achieve the best outcomes for all. This week the House of Lords Select Committee report recognised the process “did not serve petitioners well” or the Committee in “trying to give petitioners a proper hearing”.
Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, told the House of Lords Select Committee in September: “…. This process is very difficult to navigate, particularly for vulnerable residents, particularly for people who run small businesses and are trying to juggle… keeping a business afloat, keeping a family and navigating what can sometimes appear quite byzantine procedures.”
The Council’s recommendations for future Hybrid Bills include:
- Helping petitioners to navigate the process by simplifying the language used, giving them fair hearings, and making reasons clear when petitioners are not considered to be ‘specially and directly affected’
- Abolishing fees to petition, as these can put people off taking part in the petitioning process
- The Promoter and Nominated Undertaker (the Secretary of State for Transport and HS2 Ltd in the case of the HS2 Bill) taking a more collaborative, and less commercial approach to negotiations with petitioning local authorities
- Making the structure and timetable for negotiations clear, so that offers of assurances are not made at the very last minute before appearances at Select Committee
- Commissioning a review of the HS2 Hybrid Bill petitioning process so that lessons can be learnt for the next phase of the scheme.