MP Heather Roy’s bill to impose voluntary student membership on students’ associations now appears unlikely to pass before the general election. For several months the Labour Party has been filibustering (extending out the debate on other private members’ bills) to use up the remaining parliamentary debating time before parliament closes for the election.
The vice president of the Massey University Extramural Students’ Association, Dave Crampton, noted last week that because Ms Roy’s bill is a member’s bill, it can only be debated every second Wednesday, on allocated Members’ Days.
Sitting in a queue in front of Ms Roy’s bill however “there is a bill called the Royal Society Amendment Bill which is taking up a lot of time. This bill has 21 clauses and they are up to clause 11. Each clause can be debated for an hour – so that’s around 10 more hours to be debated before the third reading, which itself would take a couple of hours – and then there are two more local bills due back from committee to take precedence on the Order Paper.”
There is less time than that now available to debate private members’ bills before the election, even if the government does not take urgency over some of its own legislation, which it is widely expected to do.
The Labour Party and opponents of the voluntary student membership bill are hoping, that following Ms Roy’s retirement from parliament after the election, either no other MP will be willing to sponsor her bill through its final stages, or that the numbers in parliament following the election result will make it harder for the bill to pass.