It’s Tuesday afternoon. In the chamber, the House is engaged on a marathon debate on the Health and Social Care Bill. Because so many peers signed up to speak – no less than 100 – the House began sitting today at 11.00 a.m. and will similarly commence at 11.00 a.m. tomorrow. The BBC doesn’t understand the procedure in the Lords. It keeps reporting that 100 peers “have requested the chance to speak” as if they may not get the chance to speak. The situation is straightforward: 100 peers have signed up to speak and 100 peers will speak
On my way to the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee I noticed that the committee corridor was a little crowded. I doubted that there was that much interest in the work of the Merits Committee. We were in Committee Room 3A. Across the corridor in Room 3, the Communications Committee was taking evidence from Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, and Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, as part of its inquiry into investigative journalism.
Back in my office, which overlooks the King George V statue, I saw a demonstration by the statute. It was quite noisy, but as usual the chanting was such as to make it impossible to hear what was being chanted and the posters were too small to be readable from my window. However, there was a large banner, which was almost obscured by a policeman leaning against a bollard. It read ‘Stop Police Brutality’. The two or three police officers on duty seemed more interested in chatting to one another and checking the time.
I’m hoping to get away earlier this evening than I did last night. There was a late night division – shortly after 10.00 p.m. (which the Government won, unlike in two earlier divisions) – and, after getting on with some papework, it was close to 11.00 p.m. before I got away. Unusually, I wasn’t the last one to leave the office. I’m hoping to be away by 10.00 p.m. tonight, but we shall see….