Lost laws: which legislation will slip through the net before the UK election?

<span>Penny Mordaunt, leader of the Commons.</span><span>Photograph: Jon Super/AP</span>
Penny Mordaunt, leader of the Commons.Photograph: Jon Super/AP

Rishi Sunak’s promise to deliver a secure and stable future for the country has been left hanging in the balance as a number of laws that would have kept people physically safe from terror attacks, dangerous cycling incidents or even from no-fault evictions will probably not be introduced to parliament before the election. The legislation for his much-vaunted smoking ban is also in peril.

Sunak’s government had 16 bills subject to the “wash-up” on Thursday, a period in the parliamentary process when legislation is swiftly pushed through before an election. The laws not likely to be passed are:

‘Martyn’s law’

Sunak has been accused of misleading the mother of the Manchester bombing victim whom this legislation is named after, as he had promised to introduce the law to parliament by summer recess. It is unlikely to pass before the election.

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The legislation would require venues and local authorities across the UK to have training requirements and preventive plans against terror attacks.

Martyn Hett was one of the 22 people who died at the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017. His mother, Figen Murray, said Sunak “actually agreed … he looked me straight in the eyes”, but acknowledged he was supportive of the law and must have been in a “really difficult position”.

The government’s delayed victims and prisoners bill will however finally become law. It will also enable compensation for victims of the infected blood scandal to proceed before the election.

The hundreds of victims of the Post Office scandal will have their criminal convictions quashed under the Post Office offences bill.

Criminal justice

Negotiations are still taking place over this legislation, including amendments to the bill that would ban the practice of taking a person’s house for crime, more commonly known as “cuckooing”, and a new criminal offence for causing death by careless cycling. The Commons leader, Penny Mordaunt, said the amendments were “unanimously supported” and she would make sure those involved in discussions would note these proposals.

Renters reform

This legislation would have finally scrapped no-fault evictions, something the Conservative government had promised to end in their 2019 manifesto. The renters reform bill would have also banned fixed-term tenancies, introduced a decent homes standard, given renters the right to have a pet, made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against families receiving benefits or with children, and established an ombudsman for the sector.

Tom Darling, campaign manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “After waiting years for change, renters will have been badly let down.”

Leasehold reform

The government’s long-awaited leasehold reform bill, intended to stop sharp practices by freeholders, will not be passed before the election. The legislation would make it easier and cheaper to extend leases and buy the freehold, cap ground rents at 0.1% of the property value for lease extensions in most cases, and ban leaseholds on newly built houses in England and Wales. Labour could revive the bill, but it had promised to abolish leaseholds in the first 100 days yet reversed on this policy last month.

Smoking ban

Sunak’s headline smoking ban is not likely to be passed, leaving his legacy in tatters. The prime minister had insisted in his snap election speech he would ensure the next generation grew up smoke-free. The tobacco and vapes bill would have increased the legal age of cigarette sales by one year each year.

Football governance

The former Conservative minister Tracey Crouch was forced to acknowledge on Thursday morning that the government’s plans to create an independent regulator for football would not pass before the election. The Conservative government’s legislation was too far from completion to be included in the wash-up process.

NatWest share sale

The Treasury, which still owns 27% of the high street bank NatWest after bailing out its parent company during the financial crisis, is expected to cancel plans to sell a chunk of its remaining shares to retail customers, since there will not be time to do so before the general election. The process, which the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced during the autumn statement, was due to launch this summer.


A private member’s bill designed to block lawsuits that intimidate and financially or psychologically exhaust journalists and other public watchdogs looks likely to be discarded. The government had backed the strategic litigation against public participation (Slapps) bill, put forward by Wayne David MP, but the legislation had not yet made it to the Lords for amendments, meaning it is unlikely to make the wash-up.

While the current draft of the bill has been described by campaigners as too weak, this removes any chance of strengthening the measures and bringing forward a law in good time. Labour has been supportive of the need for reform, but anti-Slapps measures are likely to be low down the list of priorities.

Media bill

One piece of legislation that has passed is the media bill – which increases the protections offered to UK broadcasters in the face of competition from US streamers such as Netflix. It was already in its final stages when the election was called.

It had widespread support within the British media industry thanks to measures such as requiring smart TVs to prominently display British television programming. The bosses of almost every UK broadcaster, including the BBC’s Tim Davie, ITV’s Carolyn McCall, and Sky’s Dana Strong, came together to urge parliament to pass it.

There had been fears it could be derailed by a government-backed proposal to end the press regulation framework put in place after the phone-hacking scandal. The proposal had the backing of newspaper owners but was opposed by many peers – putting the whole piece of legislation at risk.