Despatches from the legislative front-line II: hour 14 on day 9 of the Committee Stage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill

It is 5.45am and the House of Lords has been sitting since 2.15pm yesterday.  It is still Monday here.

The House is now debating the fourth amendment on today’s (Monday’s) marshalled list.  There have been four votes so far.  Two on motions from the Opposition to adjourn (the Conservatives and the LibDems voted to carry on). 

One was on a closure motion – an extremely rarely used procedure – which required the Lord Speaker to say:

“I am instructed by order of the House to say that the motion ‘That the Question be now put’ is considered to be a most exceptional procedure and the House will not accept it save in circumstances where it is felt to be the only means of ensuring the proper conduct of the business of the House; further, if a member who seeks to move it persists in his intention, the practice of the House is that the Question on the motion is put without debate”.

This had the effect of curtailing the debate on that amendment leading to a vote on the amendment, which the Government won.  However, the inevitable consequence of the procedural manouevre was that the debate on the following amendment took much longer.

The Government have not yet learned that every time they use bullying tactics to restrict debate, Opposition peers will redouble their efforts to scrutinise the Bill properly.

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