Taking less than a minute, Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords, thereby completing the last of its parliamentary stages. It now awaits Royal Assent and will come into force “on the day Parliament first meets following the first parliamentary general election after this Act is passed”.
Hansard recorded, 12 Mar 2015 Vol 760(117) Column 772
Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Moved by Lord Faulks
That the Bill do now pass.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): My Lords, with this Motion I should like to thank all those noble Lords who have spoken during the course of the Bill, or otherwise provided support throughout its passage. I extend particular thanks to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, as well as to all parties for their support. In particular, I thank the Bill team for its help.
Our analysis of the Bill was made after its introduction to the Commons on 18 December last year; however, it was not subject to changes in either House. A copy of the Bill as brought from the Commons is available here, and the Explanatory Notes here. The date of the General Election is set by Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 and will be 7 May 2015, although that of the return of Parliament is yet to be announced.
However, with regard to “the day Parliament first meets following the first parliamentary general election”, Frank provides the following clarification: intuitively, it might be assumed that this must be the day of the State Opening: meetings to swear (of which there are usually three or four) are in advance of the State Opening and no business other than swearing may be transacted at them. However, the first entry in the House of Commons Journal of the present Parliament reads as follows [emphasis added]:
Tuesday 18 May 2010
The House met at 2.30 pm.
1. Meeting of the House
The House met on the first day of this Parliament, pursuant to Proclamation.”
Thus it appears that the Act comes into force on the first swearing day. [See Simon Kershaw’s comment below]