The House of Lords is now on the first day of the Report Stage of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill. This exciting piece of legislation sets up a new Marine Management Organisation under which many of the existing, diverse areas of marine regulation would be centralised, streamlines the existing marine licensing system and provides powers to create a joined-up marine planning policy, introduces new measures to reform fisheries management, provides a framework for establishing marine conservation zones and enables the creation of a walkable route around the English coast.
The Bill has received eleven full days of detailed debate during the Committee stage. For those not directly involved the discussion has been – shall we say – less than riveting. The LibDems – in particular, Lord Greaves – have spoken often and at length.
A little earlier the first division of the day was called. The procedure is that three minutes after the division starts, the question is again put to the House and, if at that stage those moving the amendment do not shout “Content”, the amendment automatically falls. This is what happened: it was a LibDem amendment and they failed to repeat their shout of “Content” after three minutes.
A chastened Lord Greaves was subsequently seen wandering round the House – allegedly – telling all and sundry that he must have dozed off at the critical moment.
Given the soporific nature of most of his previous contributions on the Bill, this was regarded as poetic justice.