Although the House only came back on Tuesday, it already feels like it has been a demanding week. I was in the chamber on Tuesday for the statement on Scotland’s constitutional future. There is clearly going to be a major clash between the SNP-dominated Scottish Government and the unionist Government – and Parliament – at Westminster. The constitutional position and how it was going to be handled, not surprisingly, dominated discussions.
Wednesday morning was taken up with a meeting of the Constitution Committee. The chair, Baroness Jay, was abroad, so I chaired the meeting. Just like old times. We had a very productive meeting. I had a string of meetings during the rest of the day, but these were variously interrupted by divisions – a total of four – on the Welfare Reform Bill. The first took place when I was attending a meeting of the 1922 Committee addressed by the Foreign Secretary. The last occurred shortly before 9.30 p.m. The first three votes were on important provisions of the Bill and the Government lost all three, in each case by clear majorities – a product of Opposition and cross-bench votes and some Liberal Democrat abstentions.
This morning was taken up with a meeting of the Joint Committee on the House of Lords Reform Bill. We resume our regular evidence-taking sessions on Monday. The afternoon was spent in other meetings, including seeing students. Time between meeting followed the usual routine of catching up on paperwork – and trying to ensure that my Parliament and Hull e-mail in-boxes did not exceed their limits. Some attachments seem to be the length of short books. How long before I join the developing movement to cease using e-mail?
The next two days for me are going to be taken up interviewing candidates for Thouron Scholarships. It is an intense two days, but more like teaching than Westminster – in other words, structured and following a clear routine.