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A list of public bills since 1979 whose main Commons stages (Second and Third Readings) have been passed within one day. Exceptionally, the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill 2019-21 was passed by both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent on 30 December 2020. Parliament was recalled on 30 December to pass the legislation required to implement the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement following agreement between the UK and EU on 24 December 2020.

Not all bills expedited in the House of Commons were similarly fast-tracked through the House of Lords. In the case of the Dangerous Dogs Bill 1990–91, the Government wanted the bill on the statute book before the long parliamentary recess. An expedited passage through the Commons allowed time for a normal passage through the Lords with Royal Assent being granted before the House rose for the summer recess.

Reasons for fast-tracking a bill may be given in the Explanatory Notes for a bill prepared by the relevant department. The Explanatory Note for the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill explained that the legislation is required to be in place for the 2022-23 tax year and that Royal Assent was needed by mid-November for the Secretary of State to conclude her review and make decisions about benefit and pension rates.

These and other issues are examined in a report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution – Fast-track legislation: constitutional implications and safeguards [HL 116 2008–09]. The report sets out the following justifications which have been used for fast-tracking legislation: 

  • Northern Ireland peace process and devolution settlement (the single largest category in terms of numbers of Bills)
  • To remedy an anomaly, oversight, error or uncertainty that has come to light in legislation
  • To respond to the effects of a court judgement
  • To ensure that legislation is in force in time for a forthcoming event
  • To deal with economic crisis
  • To change a public authority’s borrowing or lending limit or other funding issues
  • To deal with a crisis in prisons as a result of industrial action
  • To respond to international agreements
  • To implement Treasury announcement in the Budget or autumn statement
  • To respond to public concerns
  • Counter-terrorism related

Appendix 5 of the report lists all expedited bills 1979–2009 with a brief summary of the justification given.

The Commons Library Briefing SN05256 Fact-track legislation reviews the outcome of House of Lords Constitution Committee’s inquiry into fast-track legislation and reports how information has been provided to Parliament on bills that have been fast-tracked.

Further information

The Institute for Government’s explainer on Fast-tracked/emergency legislation includes a table showing the typical length of time between stages of a bill in both Houses.

Parliament: facts and figures

This series of publications contains data on various subjects relating to Parliament and Government. Topics include legislation, MPs, select committees, debates, divisions and Parliamentary procedure.


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