A Labour MP and a National Party-aligned blogger have joined forces to object to the Government's frequent use of urgency to push legislation through Parliament.

Labour MP Grant Robertson released figures on the use of urgency since 1999 which showed in its first two years National pushed 17 laws through without allowing public submissions - compared to the four or five each term when Labour was in government.

Urgency extends the sitting hours of Parliament, allowing the Government to get more legislation through. It allows a government to easily bypass the select committee process, where the public give views on law changes and MPs iron out problems in the bill.

Mr Robertson and Kiwiblog blogger David Farrar posted the figures on their blogs this week and called for changes to make it harder for a government to skip select committee stages.

Their joint call coincided with the Government calling urgency again to rush through the Christchurch Earthquake legislation as well as stages of other bills including child abuse protection, a prohibition on internet filesharing and tougher sentencing for offenders who assault police.

Mr Robertson said urgency was sometimes warranted, such as with the Christchurch earthquake legislation. However, it was being used excessively and on some controversial bills. One example of National bypassing the select committee process was the law change implementing national standards in schools - a controversial policy which could have benefited from expert submissions.

He proposed requiring a 75 per cent vote in Parliament before the select committee stage could be missed on any bill.

Mr Farrar said it should happen "very, very rarely" and suggested at least requiring the Speaker's permission first.

Mr Robertson and Mr Farrar also suggested increasing Parliament's sitting hours or adding extra weeks, rather than using urgency to try to get laws through in a limited time.

A spokesman for acting Leader of the House Simon Power said it was a first-term government with an "enormous" legislative programme.

"The need to pass Christchurch legislation has added to that workload."

Asked about missing select committees, he said the Government had ensured that did not happen for significant constitutional issues, such as the Marine and Coastal Area Act and electoral finance reforms.

Mr Farrar said both Labour and National should commit to less urgency and urged people to let their MPs know if they objected to bypassing select committees.

He proposed increasing the number of sitting weeks each year to make up the time, saying National had effectively added 139 hours over two years through urgency.

Laws which passed under urgency without any select committee consideration between December 2008 when National came into Government and December 2010:
9-Dec-08: Bail Amendment Bill provided for bail to be denied if there was any risk of a defendant absconding, interfering with witnesses, or offending while on bail.

Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill implemented national standards in primary schools.

Employment Relations Amendment Bill introduced 90-day trial period for small companies and allowed bosses to consider KiwiSaver contributions when negotiating pay increases.

Sentencing (Offences Against Children) Amendment Bill required courts to take into account factors such as the defencelessness of victim, abuse of trust and attempts to hide the abuse when sentencing for child abuse or ill-treatment.

Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill introduced tax cuts, cut some aspects of Kiwisaver, including holding employer contribution levels at 2 per cent rather than increasing up to 4 per cent.

Energy (Fuels, Levies, And References) Biofuel Obligation Repeal Bill removed Labour's requirement for an increasing proportion of petrol and diesel sales to be biofuels.

Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Bill removed Labour's 10-year ban on new fossil-fuelled thermal electricity generation.

Electoral Amendment Bill repealed Labour's Electoral Finance Act and reinstated the old Electoral Act as an interim measure.

Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill was the first of three bills for the new Super City in Auckland. It provided for the end-date of the previous city councils, set up the Auckland Transition Agency to manage the change, and restricted the powers of the city councils until the new Auckland Council was born.

Corrections (Use of Court Cells) Amendment Bill allowed court cells to be used to house prisoners as a last resort.

Policing (Constable's Oaths Validation) Amendment Bill was a technical bill to retrospectively validate the oaths of a swathe of police officers following a change in the swearing-in procedure.

Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Bill replaced Environment Canterbury's elected council with government appointed commissioners until 2013. Gave powers to impose a moratorium on water and discharge permits.

Immigration Act 2009 Amendment Bill brought forward the date at which implementation work could start on changes from new Immigration Act, including set up of Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

28-Apr-2010 (Extraordinary Urgency)
Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Tobacco Products) Amendment Bill increased tobacco tax in three stages.

Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill increased GST to 15 per cent and cut income taxes.

Civil Aviation (Cape Town Convention and Other Matters) Amendment Bill aligned NZ law with international Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the Cape Town Convention).

Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill allowed police officers to run for local council and be councillors without having to leave the Police.

14-Sep-2010: (in extended sitting hours, rather than Urgency)
Canterbury Earthquake Response Bill gave government greater powers to deal with recovery after the September earthquake. Set up the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill so-called Hobbit Bill - specified workers on film productions are independent contractors unless they specifically entered into an employment agreement.

Summary Proceedings Amendment Bill (No 2) made offences such as theft purely summary offences if the property involved was less than $500.