Another Government defeat

Lord Norton

The Government have suffered another defeat, this time on the Public Bodies Bill.  Earlier today, Lord Lester of Herne Hill moved a pavement amendment for a later amendment to limit ministerial powers.  In the light of the minister’s assurance that he would look again at the issue, Lord Lester sought to withdraw his amendment but as some peers objected, the question had to be put.  In the event, the amendment was carried by 235 votes to 201. 

The voting was similar to last week’s on an amendment to the ID Cards Bill.  The cross-bench peers divided disproportionately in favour of the amendment, by 59 votes to 8.   The turnout on the Conservative side was also notably below strength.   Given that the Government lost a vote in which it was supported by Conservative peers, it may be in particular difficulty on some later amendments when it will not be able to carry all its supporters with it.

21 comments for “Another Government defeat

  1. 24/11/2010 at 12:31 am

    So even with all the newly announced peers, the government would have been defeated, assuming new Conservatives and Lib Dems all vote with the government and new Labour peers against. It’s only a small change in the balance when you consider the difference between the numbers (32).

    It’s good to see the name of a new marquess voting with the government this evening anyway!

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      25/11/2010 at 11:05 am

      Jonathan: Yes, it is pretty similar to the defeat on the ID Cards Bill in that even if all the newly-announced peers had been introduced, it would not have saved the Government from defeat.

  2. 24/11/2010 at 9:40 am

    Is this a failure by the government whips to ensure enough participation by coalition peers? I understand that the Lords aren’t managed quite the same way as MPs but it does seem the whips should be paying a little more attention to the parliamentary arithmetic in the upper chamber. Does the coalition have a theoretical numerical advantage anyway?

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      25/11/2010 at 11:09 am

      Alex Bennee: The coalition outnumbers the Labour Opposition, but it can be outvoted – as happened here – if cross-bench peers turn up in reasonable numbers and vote disproportionately against the Government. A Government defeat may also be facilitated by some coalition peers absenting themselves from a division. The turnout of Conservative peers in this division was notably lower than the turnout on the Labour benches.

      The whips keep members informed of what is happening, and signal what is the most important business, but they have no sanctions (or carrots) of any note to influence the outcome.

  3. Croft
    24/11/2010 at 10:45 am

    193 (C) + 79 (LD) -v- 234 (L)
    then dividing (usually evenly) but not in this debate 181 (XB) + 25 (Bishops) + ~26 Others.

    The interesting question is considering the usual XB split why is this so different. Might make an interesting exercise to compare those XB peers, and there are many, who are have/are/were or still have expectations of employment in the same Quangos that would be covered by this bill.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      25/11/2010 at 11:11 am

      Croft: I think your last point may apply more especially to debates we shall be having on the various bodies listed in the Bill rather than the voting pattern.

  4. Carl.H
    24/11/2010 at 12:20 pm

    I thought the mood of the House including Tories was against this Bill which is sensible. To then find nearly all Tories voted against a limiting amendment say`s what ? Coming Master ?

    Well done the Cross-bench peers.

    Nevermind perhaps Father Christmas will bring Dave some MORE new peers for Christmas, if not I expect the Commons to start dismantling the Lords soon after.

  5. Twm O.r Nant
    24/11/2010 at 5:46 pm

    New creation of Marquis or just new?

    • Carl.H
      24/11/2010 at 11:01 pm

      “New creation of Marquis”

      Can we leave the tents out of this one !

    • 25/11/2010 at 12:15 am

      Sadly not a new creation, but a life peerage for the Marquess of Lothian allowing him to sit in the Lords.

      • Twm O'r Nant
        26/11/2010 at 9:24 am

        but a life peerage for the Marquess of Lothian allowing him to sit in the Lords.

        He is so keen. Neat? Life peerages for all hereditary peers now eh? The football chant

        “Here we go! Here we Go! Here we go!”

        would seem a appropriate at this fine juncture.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          26/11/2010 at 5:11 pm

          Twm O’r Nant: It is not unusual for hereditary peers to be offered life peerages. More Labour hereditary peers are in the chamber as life peers than sit by virtue of being elected to stay under the provisions of the 1999 House of Lords Act. All hereditary peers who had served as Leader of the House were also offered life peerages. There are therefore more hereditary peers sitting in the House than the 92 provided for under the 1999 Act.

          • 26/11/2010 at 10:52 pm

            I believe Lord Lothian is the first hereditary peer granted a life peerage who had never sat in the House prior to 1999, which was why, unlike the others, he had an introduction ceremony. Of course, his life peerage has nothing to do with being a hereditary peer, being instead in recognition of his career in the Commons.

  6. Croft
    25/11/2010 at 10:48 am

    Michael Ancram, just created Lord Kerr of Monteviot, has been the 13th Marquess of Lothian since 2004.

  7. Croft
    25/11/2010 at 12:18 pm

    LN, could you explain the purpose of a pavement amendment compared to putting down a wrecking clause or moving an amendment at the time of bill on the points in dispute?

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      25/11/2010 at 4:56 pm

      Croft: A paving amendment is one creates a path for a later substantive amendment, for example by providing ‘this provision shall be subject to section 9 (limitations on ministerial power)’ and the later substantive amendment inserts section 9. The paving amemdment agreed on Tuesday refers to a later provision that has yet to be inserted. We thus need to include something substantive, otherwise we have part of the Bill making provision for something that does not exist.

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    26/11/2010 at 12:11 pm

    New creation of Marquis”

    Can we leave the tents out of this one !

    We were most active in the third crusade.

    • Carl.H
      28/11/2010 at 10:59 pm

      You`re sure it wasn`t the tent-h…Ooohh

  9. Croft
    26/11/2010 at 12:35 pm

    Ok thankyou, is it therefore not possible just to have a section nine with a clause stating that ‘any group mentioned in this clause shall be exempt from the provisions in clause 1 (ie any earlier clause)’.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      26/11/2010 at 5:08 pm

      Croft: In the instance you give, I think there would need to be something in or near the earlier clause to signal the connection. There is sometimes a procedural advantage in having a paving amendment in that it can ensure a debate at a much earlier stage (as in this case). The substantive amendment is grouped for discussion with the paving amendment, so one gets a full debate early on rather than towards the end of committee stage.

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