‘Alternative vote’ Bill committee stage: day 11

20 January 2011

Members of the Lords continued debating the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – ‘Alternative vote’ Bill. The 11th day of the Bill’s committee stage, line-by-line examination of the clauses and schedules, began on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 January. The House sat until 3.04 am on Thursday 20 January

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved a motion to force a vote on the first amendment discussed in the debate. Known as a ‘closure motion’ it required Members to cease further discussion of an amendment and make a decision through a vote. Amendment 65B proposed by Lord Bach had been under discussion since the session began.

Members of the Lords voted in favour of the closure motion, 229 to 188. Members then voted on amendment 65B which was defeated, 167 to 242.

Members of the House of Lords also voted on amendment 66, introduced by Lord Fowler concerning the parliamentary constituency of the Isle of Wight. The amendment was agreed to, 196 to 122, a defeat for the government by 66 votes.

Committee stage: day 10

The 10th day of the committee stage began around 1.5 hours after day nine concluded, after an all night sitting. Members of the Lords continued to debate the ninth marshalled list of amendments following the conclusion of day nine of the committee stage earlier in the afternoon. The proposals in amendments 63A to 65A to clause 11 concerning the number and distribution of seats were discussed. 

Committee stage: day nine

The ninth day of committee stage of the ‘Alternative Vote’ Bill ended on the day after it began as Members of the Lords debated throughout the night.

A motion to resume, which was proposed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton, brought the ninth day of the committee stage to an end in order for the business of the House to resume. This allowed for Monday 17 January’s business in the Lords chamber, which had continued into Tuesday 18 January because of the all night sitting, to be adjourned. The motion was agreed to by 146 votes to 69.  

Lord Falconer of Thoroton had proposed two motions to resume earlier during the debate, which were both defeated.

On the evening of Monday 17 January, the House voted on a motion obliging Members to make a decision on an amendment under discussion. Lord Trefgarne moved the ‘closure motion’ – requiring Members to cease further discussion of an amendment and vote on it – in relation to amendment 59 to Clause 11: Number and distribution of seats. Lord Soley introduced amendment 59 proposing the creation of an independent commission to decide on the number of parliamentary constituencies – not less than 500 but no more than 650 – in the UK.

Members of the Lords voted in favour of the closure motion, 219 to 130. Members of the Lords then voted Amendment 59 which was defeated, 131 to 211. 

All-night sittings

When proceedings in the House of Lords chamber continue through the night and into the following day, the parliamentary business for the following day cannot commence unless there is an adjournment of at least one hour between the sittings of the House.

Because there was no break in the all-night sitting, it remained Monday 17 January in the House of Lords for an additional 13 hours. Tuesday 18 January in the House of Lords chamber officially began around 1.5 hours after the previous day’s business had ended.   

Further information

The Bill provides for the next General Election to be held under the Alternative Vote system, provided this change is endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes have been made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600.

Committee stage involves the detailed line-by-line examination of the separate parts – clauses and schedules – of the Bill. Any Member of the Lords can take part.

Committee stage can last for one or two days to eight or more. It usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading.

Image: PA

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