Keeping fit

Wednesday of last week was the last sitting day before the summer recess, which meant that the House sat at 10.00 a.m. rather than the usual 3.00 p.m.   It turned out to be a busy day.

I had the usual meeting of the Constitution Committee in the morning. We take evidence from Lord Justice Goldring and Mrs Justice Macur as part of our inquiry into the process of judicial appointments.   In the chamber, the principal business, after Questions, is the Third Reading of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.  Although there are only a few amendments, the Opposition decides to divide on several of them.  The first division takes place just before noon.  A second is called just after 12.2o.  I vote and then leave immediately to walk to the Law Commission, which is housed in Tothill Street, a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster.  I am scheduled to talk to members of the Commission on the role of the House of Lords. 

I arrive in time to be offered a light lunch.  I am just finishing a sandwich when I get a text message saying there is another division.  I dash back to the House.  Although Tothill Street is not that far away, the problem is not the distance but the fact that standing between it and Parliament is Westminster Abbey – which means, in summer, massed ranks of tourists.   The quickest way is also the one most densely packed.   I amaze myself by making it with a minute or so to spare.

I head back to the Law Commission and make it in time for my scheduled talk.  The chief executive has thoughtfully made sure the pot of tea I had to leave is now by my side, so I am more than happy.   I speak about the Lords – covering what I see as the two levels of debate about what the House will do in the future – and answer a range of questions.  The session is just coming to a close shortly before 2.00 when I get a text message: ‘minister on her feet’.  I assume the minister will take a few minutes to reply to the debate, so see no need to rush.   The session concludes.  As I am walking back, I get a message saying a division has been called.  I pick up my pace, negotitate my way around all the tourists and manage to get back in good time to vote.   There is then a further division and the Third Reading concludes. 

That was probably enough exercise for the day.  The main business during the rest of the day was completing committee stage  of the Localism Bill.  Given the number of amendments still be to completed, it looked – until mid-evening – as if we would be sitting very late, possibly well into the small hours.  I stay in readiness for a potential marathon, but then agreement is reached that proceedings should be concluded promptly, with extra time taken at Report stage.  As a result, all remaining amendments are dealt with without debate and the House rises at 7.50 p.m.   A somewhat earlier start to the summer recess than had been anticipated….

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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One Response to Keeping fit

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    We expect more here. Our legislators are required to discuss a debt ceiling contnuosly for months and not actually agree on almost anything about it. It is very demanding work and I am not sure Your Lordship could stand the strain…

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