The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Wed 15 Mar 2006

More Pro-Celebrity Bogies

For Het Grauniad, Alan Travis writes about the Pro-Celebrity Bogies Tournament. We could be in for a long one - says Mr Travis,

It could last until July. Cdr. Clarke is busy telling anyone who will listen that he is prepared to hold late night votes every week for the next four months until the peers give up, bored and exhausted with the whole thing... Peers could delay the bill right up to the summer; and that means the Home Office cannot let the contracts for the equipment, the staff and the buildings for Europe's biggest public computer project.

"At some point the Lords will have to consider the will of the elected chamber", is the official ministerial line. If the Lords do dig their heels in and keep the bogies going until July, the interior minister will have to resort to invoking the Parliament Act. That will mean a new bill in the new session in the autumn and a further delay of at least a year in the legislation reaching the statute book.

The project's start date has already been delayed by six months to 2008/09. Invoking the Parliament Act to ram ID cards through the House of Lords will mean a start date of at least 2010 - beyond the next general election. And that is too long a game even for Cdr. Clarke.

With me in the commentary box is the aroma of a freshly-battered piece of cod and some slightly stale vinegar. Next Door's Cat, good evening.

Eeeh, 'ello. Good game, this. Patty Scotland, she's a rum piece o'werk. She said,

The people of this country, elected them and did not elect us. I hope we will not have to return to it again and that we will not trouble the other place to shout even louder than the two occasions when they have said 'bogies'.

So, an appeal to - well, an appeal to some mythical constitutional settlement. Has Patty not taken any notice of Simon Hughes' contribution for the Celebrities? He's arguing that the settlement is done for, because Labour has no particular mandate.

Eeeh, no. The Celebs' McNally, he came out of the penalty box and said,

This House must retain the right to say, 'Not in our name'. That is the process and that is the process we are going through today.

Peston appeared from the subs' bench for the Professionals, and he followed Patty's appeal to twentieth-century constitutions.

The other House may be wrong, and they often are wrong. But the other House is the elected chamber. I thought we had accepted for some time that they were the primary chamber and whether they were right or wrong they must get their own way.

'Ave yer noticed 'at nobody's been discussin' the actual rights an' wrongs of this? All it's been is - on one paw, this, on the other paw, that, on the other paw, the other.

Except, young Cat, for Anne Lay of the Celebs.

We believe quite simply that there are other and better ways of securing our safety, reducing the fraudulent use of services and managing migration; ways that would not pose a risk to our freedom that this grandiose scheme would do, ways that financially would be more prudent.

Anyway. Shall we cut to the chase? The vote was 310:277, and the word was: Bogies!

Yeeeeeh! Ah 'asen't been so excited since ah went to Grimsby on fish-market day.

4.1 on the snot-o-meter, both sides content to ratchet the game up slowly, conscious that this could drag on into the autumn.

Back to the Commons to-morrow, then, where both sides will be looking at to-day's news on the Education bill. The second reading was achieved only thanks to Conservative support, with something like 50 rebels on the Labour benches. The programme motion, curtailing debate on the bill, wasn't subject to Conservative agreement, and survived by only 10 votes. Education is subject to devolution in Scotland and Wales; were voting restricted to English MPs, as a sensible answer to the West Lothian question requires, the procedural motion would have fallen.

Could David Cameron be playing a clever game here; forcing the government to rely on his party's votes makes it look more like the Conservatives are a party of government, and not a party of opposition for opposition's sake. It's a step on the road towards making the Tories look like a professional operation, and hence electable. And it ratchets up the pressure on Mister Blair; this is a moral defeat for the soon-to-be-former-PM. It also raises the tension in the bill; if it were to be defeated now, it would be a clear vote of no confidence in Blair.

posted 15 Mar 2006, 20.25 +0000


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