Posts Tagged ‘Crime and Courts bill’

Nick picks Ed over Dave. Leveson is coming.

13/03/2013, 03:49:17 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The Leveson saga reached a turning point in the House of Commons at lunchtime today. As ever with that place, it was wrapped in the arcane minutiae of parliamentary procedure, but make no mistake it was pivotal.

Following the Conservative’s refusal to countenance enacting Leveson, pro-reform forces have looked to make amendments to existing bills to legislate for the majority of Lord Leveson’s recommendations. Principally, these amendments have been tabled for the Crime and Courts bill and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill.

The Conservatives have been privately panicked at the prospect of these amendments coming to a final vote in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Their whips have been warning the leadership for weeks that it is unlikely the Tories will be able muster the votes to defeat the amendments, and so prevent Leveson becoming law.

Late last night came a final throw of the dice. The Conservative whips tried to re-schedule Commons debate on the Crime and Courts bill amendments. Specifically, they tabled a welter of new amendments to the bill – 29 pages of them – and tried to specify that any debate of the Leveson changes would happen after consideration of the government’s new additions.

With a fixed limit of two days debate on the amendments, all of the Leveson provisions would have been lost.

This procedural attempt to remove the Leveson amendments was contained in something called a programme motion: a motion which sets the timetable for parliamentary debate and is itself discussed, and voted upon, on the floor of the House of Commons.

In response, Labour tabled an amendment to the programme motion that would have guaranteed time for debate of the Leveson amendments.

For the Conservative plan to work, they needed the co-operation of their Liberal Democrat partners to defeat Labour’s amendment to the programme motion.

It offered the Lib Dems a potential route to help out David Cameron without being seen to publicly renege on their commitment to support Leveson.

Until this lunchtime, no-one on either side of the debate knew conclusively how hard the Lib Dems would push their coalition partners on Leveson. When Lib Dem home office minister, Jeremy Browne, got up to speak at the despatch box, on the programme motion for the Crime and Courts bill, he implicitly answered the questions on the Lib Dem’s commitment to Leveson.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon