Monday, January 14, 2013

Montgomeryshire still in business - thanks to their Lordships

Their Lordships have really put the proverbial cat among the pigeons tonight. They have voted 300-231 to amend the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill to postpone any review of Parliamentary constituency boundaries until 2018. I spent 90minutes at the bar of the House of Lords listening to the debate. Must admit I found the Government speakers more persuasive, but the opposition peers just voted the new boundaries down anyway. And I must also admit that my wife and I shared a bottle of House of Commons champagne over dinner as a sort of celebration. Best keep this quiet though.

The background to tonight's vote is constitutionally interesting - and a bit dodgy in my opinion. Getting on for two years ago both the Lords and Commons passed a law that the number of MPs should be reduced from 650 to 600. The law also decreed that the new constituencies should be redrawn to be of equal populations, and that there would be a vote to approve the new boundaries (as agreed by the Boundary Commissions) in Oct. 2013. After much soul searching I had decided that I would vote against them. This would have been my first rebellion. I have been suffering much anxiety about this.

But then, a small group of cross party peers put down an amendment to a totally unrelated bill proposing that the implementation of the new boundaries should be postponed until 2018. This was rather unusual, because amendments are supposed to be relevant to the Bill being amended. The Parliamentary officers who advice thought it was not an appropriate amendment, but the 'mischievour' peers went ahead anyway - and won comfortably.

So what on earth happens now. We don't know yet. Will the Gov't try to reverse the amedment and play ping pong with the Lords. Will the Gov't try to move an amendment with some other date. Will the Gov't accept the Lords amendment, through gritted teeth, and give up. I really don't know. Matters should become a bit clearer in the next few days. Anyway, as it stands tonight, the Montgomeryshire constituency is still in business. Top me up Bobbie.


Paul said...

You should probably clarify that the bar you spent 90 minutes at is a physical barrier, rather than a watering hole!

Glyn Davies said...

Thanks Paul. You are right. I should make clear that 'the bar' is nothing to do with drinking. Its the barrier at the back of the Lords Chamber beyond which no MP is allowed to pass.