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Rishi Sunak forced to delay HS2 law and six other bills until at least 2024

The Government is being forced to push its legislative agenda into next year after privately admitting that at least seven bills meant to become law months ago will have to be delayed again.

Ministers had already been forced to abandon some bills and extend the Parliamentary session by six months to try and get their programme through.

But now, with some of their most crucial pieces of legislation including the controversial Illegal Migration Bill held up by multiple battles in the House of Lords, i can reveal that other bills will be delayed until at least 2024.

Government insiders have told i they have been taken aback by the ferocity of the disagreements with peers, who have been sitting into the early hours of the morning in an attempt to get through their work on a handful of major bills.

However, they are confident they can push through what is left of this session’s legislation.

“I think we’ll get through it all,” a minister said. “We can always threaten to extend the parliamentary term so that it bites into the grouse-hunting season – that should hurry the peers up.”

All the legislation going through Parliament was originally due to be completed by May, one year after the last Queen’s Speech, which was delivered by the then Prince of Wales in the absence of the late monarch, who was ill.

The parliamentary session has already been extended and is now expected to end in November, when the first King’s Speech since 1951 will take place.

Seven bills that were intended to be on the statute book by now are set to be “carried over” – meaning that they will not be considered by the House of Lords until after the King’s Speech and will therefore not become law before next year, just months before a likely general election.

The delayed legislation includes the contentious Conversion Therapy Bill, which outlaws most forms of therapy to turn gay people straight, and the Victims and Prisoners Bill which gives victims of crime greater rights during the justice process.

The other bills to be carried over are the Data Protection Bill, Holocaust Memorial Bill, Digital Markets Bill, Economic Activity of Public Bodies Bill and the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill, which legislates for the second part of the High Speed 2 line.

A number of other proposed laws contained in the last Queen’s Speech have been abandoned entirely, including the Bill of Rights and the Schools Bill, after months of chaos amid ministerial changes that have sown uncertainty in Government. “Some bills have ended up stuck in the Commons because they can’t work out what to do with them,” a Labour source said.

The House of Lords has made a record 20 amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill, setting up a showdown with the Commons where a highly unusual four days have been set aside to consider the changes.

Peers have yet to sign off on the Online Safety Bill, the longest piece of legislation ever written, and are also considering the Levelling Up Bill, a sprawling law that is highly vulnerable to extra amendments because it covers so many different topics, prompting critics to compare it to a “Christmas tree” strung up with decorations.

“It is a monster of [Michael] Gove’s making, the Christmas tree bill to end all Christmas trees,” a source said. “The Government runs a bit of a risk from its own backbenchers and crossbenchers, that they give so much away they have a second round.” The bill is not expected to be complete until October.

The battles in the Lords have also led to less of the usual co-operation that helps the upper house run smoothly.

One opposition insider said: “There is a lot of holding stuff and delaying stuff, and the Tory guys in the Lords are being quite tricky. There is a lot of stuff that is getting to the backlog, and there is not enough time – it’s the complete opposite to the Commons where nothing is happening.”

In the House of Commons, business is regularly finishing mid-afternoon, with many MPs staying away much of the time. Conservatives in the 80 most vulnerable seats have been given permission to take off one week out of every six so they can campaign in their constituency, i understands, while others are being encouraged to make multiple trips to areas with upcoming by-elections.

The Government was contacted for comment.

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