Government defeated in another record House of Lords vote

It is the Third Day of the Report Stage consideration by the House of  Lords of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill and the Government has suffered a serious defeat in another record turnout of Peers.

The issue was an amendment proposed by Lord Pannick, a Cross-bench Peer, that has the effect of allowing the Boundary Commission in exceptional circumstances to permit a constituency to be as much as 7.5% above or below the population quota if that is necessary to create a viable, ie workable, constituency.

He was supported – inter alia – by speeches from two former Secretaries to the Cabinet, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster and Lord Butler of Brockwell.

The result of the vote was 275 in favour of the amendment and 257 against – a total vote of 532, exceeding yesterday’s record.  82 Cross-benchers and unalligned Peers supported the amendment (with 11 against).  Five Bishops also voted – splitting three to two in favour of the amendment.

The Third Reading of the Bill is now likely to take place on Monday – another breach of the Conventions of the House, as the normal procedures would have the Third Reading at least a day later.  The House of Commons will consider the Lords amendments on Tuesday and, assuming the Government reverses the Lords’ changes, the Bill will be back in the Lords next Wednesday.  And then, potentially we are into “ping pong” …..

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