27 Jan 2011

Commons set for parliamentary guerilla warfare?

Could parliamentary guerilla warfare across both Houses of Parliament be on the way?

There’s a temporary ceasefire in the House of Lords in the row over AV and Parliamentary Constituencies but only till Monday. That is when, I am told, concessions or warfare will win the day. The government says it is ready to wield the guillotine, to bring in new rules (already drafted) that would mean Lords debates were cut short by government-backed decree. It goes against centuries of tradition and the parties have the weekend to avoid it.

Mark Harper (constitutional affairs minister), Charlie Falconer, Sadiq Khan (now shadow Justice minister) and Tom Strathclyde are going to be on the phone a lot over the weekend. The Commons whips and No. 10 and Ed Miliband’s team are taking a very close interest as well. Labour is threatening that if the rules are changed by the government in the Lords, Labour will play rough in the Commons – that means drawing out debates, potential very late or all-night sittings and as much disruption as is possible to government business. A new fractious period could be in the offing.

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