We are in for a long haul. When debate on the second group of amendments dragged on – with peers speaking at length, digressing and explaining at length why they were not filibustering – a peer moved the motion ‘That the question be now put’. Such a closure motion is used only in exceptional circumstances. Indeed, it is so exceptional that the occupant of the chair is required to read out – and to do so slowly – a statement making clear that it is exceptional. The motion is not debatable and if carried the question on the amendment before the House must then be put. The closure motion was carried by 219 votes to 130 and the amendment then defeated by 131 votes to 211.
Immediately this had happened, Lord Falconer of Thoroton then moved, from the Opposition front bench, that the House do resume. This is a prerequisite to the House adjourning. This was defeated by 188 votes to 124. The House then settled down a bit – these things are relative – and moved to the next set of amendments. We are thus in the third grouping – out of 64 – and it is now nearly 1.00 a.m.
I shall soon be ready for another pot of tea. The Bishop’s Bar is staying open until 7.00 a.m. or thirty minutes after the House rises, whichever is the earlier – I think I know which it will be.