Peace appears to have broken out in the Lords. This afternoon, the Leader of the House, Lord Strathclyde, announced that agreement had been reached through the usual channels on the timetable for committee stage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill. Committee stage will be completed by Wednesday and the Government will bring forward concessions at Report stage. The announcement is a great relief. As I said in the debate on 20 March, there was still time for an outbreak of common sense and that appears to be what has happened.
As I have explained in a post on Lords of the Blog, the debate itself appears to have proceeded on the basis of some myths expounded by some peers: that the coalition enjoys a clear majority in the House and that Government’s attempts to force the Bill through without the support of the Opposition is somehow illegitimate. Of 31 votes held in the Parliament up to the Christmas recess, the Government lost nine of them, hardly a sign of Government dominance. Hardly any major constitutional measure over the past century has been enacted on the basis of cross-party agreement. Normally, they have been the subject of partisan conflict and passed by the Govermment majority in the teeth of Opposition resistance.