Having had an all-night sitting that lasted more than 22 hours, today we had one that lasted for two hours! Agreement had been reached that the House would debate four groups of amendments to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill. On the basis of yesterday’s sitting, these would take several hours. In the event, debate was relatively short and the minister, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, said in the light of debate in the chamber he was prepared to look at the proposal that would allow the Boundary Commission to deviate from the requirement to keep within + or – 5% of the electoral quota. This appears to have had a positive effect. At the moment, we are anticipating another long session tomorrow (Wednesday) but it is possible that if there are discussions between the two sides, progress may be quicker than expected.
Unfortunately, the early rising does not mean I will get away early. There is life outside the chamber. Last night I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution – we had an excellent panel of speakers on the draft Cabinet Manual – and this afternoon I had a meeting of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee. This evening, I will be chairing a meeting of the Parliamentary University Group.
At the Merits Committee, I did query (after the formal proceedings) what the effect would have been had the chamber sat beyond 2.15 p.m., which would have the effect of wiping out Tuesday’s business. It would have remained technically Monday in the chamber but the committee was scheduled to meet on Tuesday. Would it therefore mean that it could be Monday in the chamber but Tuesday in the committee? The chairman took the view that the question explained why I was a professor.