Filibustering in the House of Lord’s

THIS CONTENT WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MY OLD SITE AND FORMS PART OF THIS SITE’S ARCHIVE

Today in the House of Lord’s the Letwin-Cooper (Commons) Bill is being debated. The debate in the House of Lord’s has not been so much on the issues of the board, but rather on the procedure. MP Sir Oliver Letwin was accused in the Upper chamber by the Government’s Lord’s Front Bench of orchestrating a constitutional crisis – in Letwin’s words the desire is for the house of commons to become a cabinet.

The Lord’s primary arguments against the bill have been that the debate does not need to be done in one day; however, a second argument is that the bill isn’t needed because the Prime Minister had already announced that she was working towards the same end as the bill.

The government’s Lords still trust their government; as you would expect. However, a Rogue Speaker is the description of John Bercow given by the government’s front bench leader in the House of Lords.

There are a few things to know about this bill and procedure in the House of Lords. It is likely that the bill will pass, the numbers in the upper house seem to support it; but, its delay could be until Monday. Though arguments in favour of doing it in one-day, are that the House of Lords has previously passed a motion that emergency legislation on Brexit could be passed in one day.

There also seems to have been an issue with the legislation papers – that this was a) a private members bill; and that extraditing this process is beyond the comprehension of the process of the upper chamber. And b) that the sponsors name in the upper chamber wasn’t on the papers.

Further to this there is arguments against the way that the bill processed through the commons (and that one vote by which it processed). There issues that the Letwin-Cooper bill did not have a committee/reports stage and a truncated 3rd reading.

The debate in the House of Lords is arguing about how the perception of the debate will be perceived; as well as the ignoring of the standing procedures in the commons. The government’s frontbench in the Lord’s is essentially both right – but it does come across as essentially attempts to block the passage of the bill. And that’s the point being made by one of the Lord’s as I write – that if the Lord’s is seen as blocking or preventing the bill from going forward, it will also be a constitutional crisis in the making – and could involve the total re-organisation of the upper chamber.

The tone and debate in the Commons and Lords is actually, argued, as having an effect on how the government negotiate with the EU. There is a sense, listening carefully that the House of Lords is divided, not quite so much as the commons – but not so much on Brexit itself but on the necessary nature of the progress of the bill.

The Lords’ is also usually less rowdy than the lower chamber, but there have been a few moments today where one thought one was in that other chamber. But on the whole, it has been less rowdy, if slightly more cheeky towards one another.

Whether the bill will pass today; tomorrow or on Monday is a matter of debate, that may take up most of the day!

One hopes that the filibustering will soon be done so that the upper chamber can vote and this bill, which seems to be popular; and for the Lords to filibuster, rather than amend, or send back to the commons on technical grounds, would be in itself a negation of the constitution.

The Lords’ seem to be trying to be putting the question of should the motion be moved, but there are many arguments at the moment is “what’s the question”? – And they’ve gone to division (i.e. to vote).