The Government has set out the next stage in Parliament's consideration of the Procurement Bill. But don't expect the Bill to come into force before spring 2024.
The Government recently announced the next stage of the Procurement Bill's passage through Parliament. The House of Commons’ report stage will take place on Tuesday, 16 June 2023. This represents a further opportunity for MPs to propose amendments and have them debated by the House. Immediately following the report debate, the Bill will have its third reading and pass the House of Commons. It represents the first positive steps on the passing of the Bill since the House of Commons completed its detailed consideration of its provisions in February.
After the report stage will follow the process known as “ping pong”, during which both Houses of Parliament agree the final text of the Bill. We anticipate that this process will not take long and the Bill will be ready for Royal Assent before Parliament starts the summer recess on 21 July 2023.
At that stage, while the Procurement Act (as it will then be known) will be part of the law, it will not be fully in force until the Government makes regulations commencing various parts of the Act. Those regulations will also make transitional provisions setting out how the Act applies to procurement processes started and contracts awarded under the current regime. Additional regulations will also set out the various forms and notices required by the Act and what they must contain.
We understand the Government will consult on the draft regulations over the summer and autumn. This makes it unlikely that the final form of the regulations will be ready for further consideration by Parliament until at least the first quarter of 2024. Many of the substantive regulation-making powers under the Bill require the express approval of both Houses of Parliament. This means that even once the regulations are laid it will normally take six or seven weeks before they are approved and take effect.
The recent news from the Government is welcome. But, current timelines suggest that we should not expect the Procurement Act and its accompanying regulations to take effect much before spring 2024.
To support public bodies, suppliers and their advisers navigate the Procurement Act, we will shortly launch our procurement reform page. This will bring together expert commentary, insight and tools to help make sense of the changes and how they will impact your organisation.