I expect that any of you with an interest in current affairs and politics have, like me, been watching the goings-on at Westminster with regard to the new terrorism laws. Those who are not familiar with the arcane workings of the Mother of Parliaments may be puzzled to learn that our "constitution" (largely unwritten, of course) provides no mechanism for resolving intractable disputes between the lower, elected, Commons and the upper, appointed and hereditary, Lords. There is no scope to use the Parliament Act here (which relies on the same bill being submitted in two separate sessions before the Commons can force its will on the Lords) – and rightly so, in my view, as there is little point in having a reforming chamber if it can not make any reforms. As a consequence, when neither side will give way (and, to be fair, both sides have made some concessions, albeit not to the satisfaction of the other side) the toing and froing will essentially continue until one or other side runs out of oomph. In that respect the Lords is at a disadvantage, its members being largely of greater age than those in the Commons and with the misfortune of having to sit through the small hours in response to the Commons votes. The majorities opposing the bill in the Lords were diminishing as the night wore on, partly because of the concessions won, but also, I suspect, because some of their older Lordships couldn’t keep up the pace and had retired to their beds.
What might seem more puzzling, particularly to those overseas, is the way in which time stops still in the Palace of Westminster on these occasions. As the sitting has not yet finished, even though it is the afternoon of Friday 11th March outside of the palace, it is still Thursday 10th March within. In fact, it could possibly continue to be Thursday there until Sunday evening, if that makes any sense. On occasions, I could do with days that lasted that long.
Oh, and if you were looking for an opinion, here it is – I think the bill as it stands is flawed, and agree with the LibDem proposals to increase the burden of proof required. I also agree with the Tories when they state that an electronic tag won’t be much of a deterrent to an Al-Qaeda operative if your average petty criminal already has ways of getting out of them. I didn’t find Charles Clarke’s attempt to guilt people into supporting him particularly helpful on The World At One today, when he said that we should approve the bill because today is the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings – I don’t think that really helped the discussion at all.
Which is one of the reasons why I ran around this morning to make sure that I have a vote to use on May 5th.

3 Replies to “Commentary”

  1. Point of information noted, although my text still reads correctly whether you use the misconceived or the true meaning of the phrase.

  2. I think this shows the importance of the House of Lords. While I disagree heartily with their behaviour over fox hunting, recent events have shown that they are often all that prevents the government riding roughshod over the rights of the general population.

Comments are closed.