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Ding-ding-ding-ding Clear the lobby! May 15, 2006

Posted by Julian Todd in Politics.

The speaker stood and said we will now do the Second Reading on New Clause 19. he did an Aye and No calling.  It sounded like more Ayes, but when he asked a second time, the Noes shouted much louder.  Then he said "Clear the Lobbies" and the microphones were turned off. 
Three minutes later they turned the mics on again for a few seconds to redo the calling, and for the Tellers to be appointed.  All the MPs who weren't there at the debate now have seven minutes to come in and pack the vote.  

Presumably the microphones are off to respect the MP's privacy as they make their decision about which way to vote on this important matter.  


1. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

This is the first time I have sat down right through the whole process. There just these guys and gals flooding in our of nowhere like an off-duty jury who has missed the whole hearing of the case, but comes in just in time to vote on the verdict.

The last 10 minutes of the debate was a winding up by the minister, dismissing and addressing all the points that were brought up during the debate.

2. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

“Lock the doors” Mic off after half a second. We will get a count shortly.

3. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

By the way, the start of the debate can be found at:


for the next few hours, till we get a more permanent version uploaded onto Theyworforyou.

The chamber is pretty full, with lots of chatting going on. Oh this passing legislation is so much fun.  I wonder which way the vote will go.  Will all those MPs be swayed by the force of the arguments presented in the chamber while they weren't there?  Or is it just going to be the usual charade.  Do you believe your eyes?

4. goatchurch - May 15, 2006


Ayes 438 Noes 4 What?!! Those guys must have shouted No pretty loudly.

Now voting on the amendment (a): to insert the word “reasonably” into the phrase “the minister considers”. And here we go again.

5. Spy Blog - May 15, 2006

Live blogging the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill over at the Save Parliament Blog

“Live blogging” of the Commons Report Stage of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is available at Save Parliament Blog Oliver Heald MP, leading for the Conservative Opposition did mention “blogsites” in his thanks to the various bodies who …

6. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

If only 4 people voted No, with 438 Ayes that explains why Sir Alan Hazelhurst, the Deputy Speaker nearly let Clause 19 through through on the nod.

I guess one of the Noes was near a broadcast microphone, which is why it appeared louder than it was.

Next vote on the amendment to the newly agreed New Clause 19

Ayes 194 Noes 255

7. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Now we are back to only 20 or so MPs in the Chamber again

8. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Ayes 194 Noes 255.

So that’s 255 of our representatives who believe that a government minister should be allowed to make provisions which he unreasonably considers necessary for the purpose of reducing regulatory burdens.

Other amendments to this clause: (b), (c), (d), and (e) are now ignored consigned to the dustbin:


9. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

I told you: They made up that rule that the House should never be counted! Don’t you understand? That’s the law. One shouldn’t break the law like that. Do you want someone to log on to parliamentTV every hour and note how many bodies are on the benches? What kind of chaos do you think that would that cause?

10. jax - May 15, 2006

Was watching here this afternoon but had no time to comment, just catching up online.

What’s a disbenefit? Or don’t I need to worry about this “(d) creates any disbenefit for any person which is greater than any benefit to that person.” any more?

11. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

This New Clause 20 is an entirely distinct new power, different to the more controversial new Clause 19. I don’t really understand it. This is hard.

12. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

David Heath doesn’t understand it either, and is showing up some contradictions in it. It’s about changing regulatory functions of certain bodies to make their activities more “transparent, accontable, proportionate and consistent”. What bodies does this cover? Some bodies are excluded by clause 23 in the Bill.

13. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

The camera positions in the Chamber are carefully sewlcted, no doubt there are hyndreds of MPs taking careful note of the debate just off camera.

We need something like theis proposal from the USA – the Read the Bill Act


which if passed here (or even in the USA) would mean that politicians who have not actually read or heard the text of the BIll, they would not be allowed to vote on it.

14. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

The excepted bodies which are not referred to in this clause areare: the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, the Office of Communications, the Office of Rail Regulation, the Postal Services Commission, the Water Services Regulation Authority.

15. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Although this is a Cabinet Office Bill, Bridget Prentice, the junior Constitutional Affairs Minister is now at the Despatch Box, presumably because of the Law Commission stuff.

16. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

That’s a nice idea. But you can’t really legislate to force someone to read something. I’ve got an simpler idea.

If the public began reading the Bills — just small groups of us, but providing a good cover — then the MPs would have to read them too. We have seen it in action. We have read this particular Bill, so they have. One follows the other. They behave when they are watched.

17. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

They are now considering New Clause 21


The minister (name?) is now dismissing the proposed amendments to this Clause.

This clause allows for the reports produced by the Law Commission to be converted into law without going through the process of Parliament.

Amendments (a) and (b) hinge on the phrase “That purpose is the implementation of recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, WITH OR WITHOUT CHANGES.” and attempt to limit the changes. Amendment (b) seems to take account her arguments against amendment (a) — (allowed to take account changes that have happened since the Law Report was made).

18. goatchurch - May 15, 2006


Amendment (b) is also too restrictive, she says, because the govt might come up with better wording than the law commission. ie they’re not giving the power to this body, but they want to act in their name, and change what they said.

19. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Now onto New Clause 10, which is an opposition amendment, proposing that the Law Commission rule should not apply to certain bodies of law, such as authorisation of forcible entry, search and seizure. The minister is saying that the rest of the Bill overtakes this.

“There really are very few people in the house now”

20. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

What is “highly contoversial”, what is “controversial” ?

21. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

“Controversial” means not “reasonable”.

This debate has been disappointing for most of its course, because they keep talking in generalities. If they were doing it seriously, they would have checked through a bunch of law commission reports and seen whether they had been fit to fasttrack into legislation. Not talk abstractly.

Similarly, I can’t stand the talk of regulations, where they count them. “60 new regulations a month, and the Act only got rid of 6.” It’s the regulations themselves that count, not the number of them. The number says there’s a lot of them, but what are they?

It’s like saying “Goatchurch” wrote 5000 words on this blog today. Doesn’t mean I’ve said a lot. It means I could/might/should have said a lot, but the statement is utterly content-free unless you know the quality of my writing, and so on. No one addresses this nonsense.

22. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

David Heath: when is a law commission recomendation a recomendation? Not been told.

Why does the minister need the power to change law commission proposal before putting it into law. In the Standing Committee, the minister Jim Murphy said time and time again that they needed to change the law commission recommendations in case they were out of date. He addressed this in amendment (b) to this clause, and he doesn’t know why the government is rejecting it. They have given no other reasons for this power.

Also points out there is no end of legislative opportunity for many of the criminal measures. There is a Criminal Justice Act going through like a christmas list every single year.

23. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

“Similarly, I can’t stand the talk of regulations, where they count them. “60 new regulations a month, and the Act only got rid of 6.” It’s the regulations themselves that count, not the number of them. The number says there’s a lot of them, but what are they?”

There are about 3500 Statutory Instruments aa year


and who knows how many Regulations every year, so removing 6 or 60 or 600 a year via this “fastrack” LRRB process still does not address the real issue of bureaucracy.

24. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

We have another division. Clear the lobby. 

[I wish I was down the pub]

Now we get a whole bunch of guys coming in from the pub to vote on a law whose effect will last a very very long time.  

25. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

The last bit by David Hawarth LibDem Cambridge is important – the Law Commission reports are the mechanism by wihich the Common Law (i.e. all the legal precedents made by courts over the years) , rather than Statute Law gets amended in this Bill,.

The NC 21 unlimited “with or without changes” power of Ministers to implement any such changes by Order, is a huge power that the Executive is grabbing.

26. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Yeah, but you’re still stuck with counting. Until we have more of a handle on what’s going on, like with some decent IT to allow us to surf across the data, we are limited to counting. Some of those statutory instruments refer to putting up road works in Barnsley. I don’t really call that “regulation”. We have to know what it’s doing. What if there’s a regulation that says “Rupert Murdoch need pay no tax for the next five years”? We would never find it. It would just be one increment on the quantity. The numbers are content-free.

27. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Some of the SIs are virtually whole Bills in themselves e.g. the Air Traffic Control Orders, and run to several pages, or they include hugely complicated Statutory Codes of Practice like for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Codes.

28. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

New Clause 21
Ayes 336 Noes 135

now dicviding on Amendment A to NC 21, the one proposed by the Chairman of the Procedures select committee.

29. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Order Order. Ayes 326 Noes 133

The new clause is imposed. Now dividing on Amendment (a), that the minister can make changes to the Law Commissions.

30. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Or was that Ayes 326 Noes 135 ? Either way, NC 21 passed.

31. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

re the long Statutory Instruments: That’s exactly my point. I’ve seen much longer, and I’ve seen ones that were three words long. However, our only depth of interaction with them from a global perspective is to count them. But that’s got to mean very little if their sizes can differ by a factor of a thousand. It’s like counting the number of plants in your garden. A blade of grass: 1, Tree: 2, piece of moss: 3.

32. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Of course it passed. What was the point of the last seven hours of this show if it wasn’t always to vote the way the whips say? Hmm? It’s done for our benefit.

So when we challenge some agent of the state about some crappy law or the need to present an ID card, they can say: “This measure was all properly debated by your democratically elected representatives in Parliament last year, so don’t you get in the way of what everyone else in this country overwhelmingly wants you to do, you unpopular out-on-a-limb little pipsqueak.”

33. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Ayes: 196 Noes : 262

So New Clause 21 unamended is added to the Bill.

34. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Ayes 196 Noes 262. The amendment rejected. The govt can make changes to a law report before implementing it

35. goatchurch - May 15, 2006

Question as in the order paper. Clearing through things. I don’t see it. Motion number 4 Question as the Order paper. Ayes have it.
Motion number 5 Question as the Order paper. Ayes have it.
Motion number 6 Question as the Order paper. Ayes have it.

It’s over. the ajournment debate begins.

No one actually said the words: “I beg to move that the house do now adjourn.” What a disappointment.

36. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

As i said before what you have been watching is the *full* Parliamentary scrutiny process in the Commons., with the alleged “opportunity for amendment” and debate, with a couple of dozen MPs actually attending the debates, and then hundreds of them (from both sides) magically appearing for the votes.

None of that applies to Orders, they are on a “take it ot leave it” basis.

Obviously some of them will have been watching the debate on the internal Houses of Parliament TV monitors, but most will not have bothered to even read let alone understand the implications of what they have just voted for.

Will the broadcast and print media even bother to report this debate in any detail tomorrow ?

37. James - May 15, 2006

Does this still mean that the bill will likely go to the Lords without the measures to protect self-modification (NC26, guillotined, as I understand it seems to do this, although other later guillotined amendments on look like they have a similar effect.)?
I would have thought the Lords might have an opinion on this matter.

38. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

NC 26 only partially prevents self modification – it only applies to Part 1 and not to the other 3 Pars of the Bill

Given the performance of the House of Lords on the Terrorism Act 2006 and on the Identity Cards Act 2006, I do not see that they will “improve” this Bill very much either.

39. Watching Them, Watching Us - May 15, 2006

Are the “other amendments which do something similar” other Government amendments i.e. in the name of Hilary Armstrong ? If not, then on todays showing, none of them will pass either.

40. James - May 15, 2006

I stand corrected. I meant to say ‘to allow part 1 of the bill to be modified’.

The short answer to the above question is no they are not government amendments (the other guillotined amendments are NC3, NC11, NC18)

41. James - May 16, 2006

Oh, I had realised that there was another days debate, I thought this would only be for third reading in which apparently little debate happens. So perhaps some of these amendments will be discussed after all.

42. James - May 16, 2006

Well, perhaps not NC26 that seems to be missing from today’s proposed amendments.


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