It is 10.45pm and Day 11 of the Committee of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill has been under way for seven hours. We are now on amendment 66ZB – the fourth amendment debated today.
The mood is better than during the all-night session earlier in the year and the average time spent per amendment has fallen as the Government hint at more flexibility both on the timetable and on one or two of the substantive issues.
However, the improved mood was nearly wrecked by Lord Thomas of Gresford who moved a closure motion on the first amendment being debated after a little more than ninety minutes of discussion. Closure motions are normally extremely rare – the one used during the all-night session was the first time the procedure had been used for twenty years. So the second use – less than forty-eight hours later – provoked a substantial discussion and debate. The net result was an hour of voting (a closure motion, if pressed, automatically requires a division and, if passed, another division on the substantive issue follows immediately) and debate on whether the procedure had been righly used. As the debate that was forcibly closed was drawing to an end anyway, the effect was probably to prolong rather than shorten proceedings.
Another own goal by the Government?