The House of Lords has just voted by 188 to 176 – after more than three and a half hours of debate – to delete the first part of the first clause of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. The words deleted are:
“There is to be a police and crime commissioner for each police area listed in Schedule 1 to the Police Act 1996 (police areas outside London).”
This creates a gaping and effectively irreparable hole in the Bill as all the clauses that relate to policing and crime commissioners are now in effect void.
At present, the Government is still planning to resume consideration of the Bill in less than half an hour, but it is not clear what can actually be discussed.
The voting figures show that the amendment was supported by 129 Labour peers, 37 crossbench peers, 13 LibDems and 9 others (including 4 bishops). 128 Tories and 36 LibDems supported their Government, along with twelve crossbenchers. There were a significant number of abstentions amongst the LibDems and a fair few absences from the Conservative benches.
This is a huge embarrassment for the Government – particularly on the anniversary of the coalition.