Taxi for the Government Chief Whip!


Sorry, but just ocassionally I need to have a bit of a moan. Parliamentarians aren’t supposed to complain, it is our job to listen and respond to other people’s complaints. And anyway we’re alright so what have we got to moan about. Despite all that, like everyone else, I sometimes want to sound off about the stupid way they do things at work.

Last night at 23.53 we started, yes started, a second reading debate on the Water Industry (Financial Assistance) Bill. The debate lasted just short of two hours by which time we had completed our scrutiny of what is probably now law and we all tried to find a taxi home.

This law allows the government to give every South West Water customer a rebate of £50 (just in time for the local elections), and to give Thames Water up to £4.1 billion (yes that is a lot of money) to help fund the new tunnel needed to deal with London’s sewage.

In the Lords there is a convention that we don’t amend legislation if all it does is spend money. This bill was certified a money bill and so we were just commenting on this measure by the Commons. It was therefore never going to be high profile or high priority because we were only commenting and few would listen.

Nevertheless if we are going to be asked to comment we might as well do it properly. And the early hours of the morning is not properly.

It was not a bad debate all things considered (Hansard record here), and again we heard characteristic Lords expertise from the likes of Earl Selborne, Lord Smith and Lord Fowler. But we were denied the contribution from Lord Berkeley who had assiduously prepared because it was impossible for him to stay.

And why did we get in this mess? Because of incompetent government timetabling, the responsibility of the Lords Chief Whip.

Having suddenly extended our Easter recess by a week she finds there is not enough time for the Scotland Bill and the Legal Aid bill to be finished off with enough time. On Monday the Chief Whip was heavily criticised in the Chamber by Lord Forsyth on her own side for not giving the Scotland Bill enough time after the time taken to discuss procedure. They even had to pull Lords discussion of the statement on Party Funding.

So when it became clear yesterday morning that the LASPO Bill on legal aid would go late I tried to persuade people to postpone the Water Bill. we didn’t want another shambles. But no we had to do it last night. It couldn’t be moved into today because that would annoy the Scots again. They would have been happy if we had given them proper time in the week that was, but it was too late to cancel the extra week of recess.

So that was that. However late LASPO went we had to debate all stages of the bill before going to bed. And that is what we did to the best of our ability. But it still wasn’t good enough.

Thanks. Glad it have got that off my chest.


4 comments for “Taxi for the Government Chief Whip!

  1. tory boy
    28/03/2012 at 7:08 pm

    I remember the HoL having to sit late due to the incompetent timetabling of Labour Chief Whips: Lord Carter, Lord Grocott, Baroness Royal and Lord Bassam. One fine example is the Fire and Rescue Service Bill. Stop making such a pathetic partisan point. Baroness Anelay is worth two of Lord Bassam.

    I also remember the HoL having to sit way beyond 10pm under the Brown and Blair governments. In addition the Lords sat at 4am in the morning dealing with very poor Labour anti-terrorism legislation. So don’t try and cry foul play when you don’t know how bad your own side were at timetabling.

  2. maude elwes
    29/03/2012 at 11:25 am

    You see how important it is for the House to be open and running seven days a week. Weekend opening is a must as well as cutting those long school holidays you all take so frequently.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Otherwise, I suggest this is blatant sabotage. Someone, somewhere, doesn’t want these offices to run smoothly. The first look is to who will benefit from the resulting chaos. There you may find the reason for all this bad management.

    Nothing can run so poorly unless it is deemed to do so.

  3. MilesJSD
    30/03/2012 at 8:16 am

    Noted; with thanks.

    But how do we sit, who find that in order to do our civilised and democratic duty, we have to be sitting in attendance at our BBC Parliamentary Channel and our Personal-Computer screens “24/7/52/five-years/’life- or longest-term'”;
    often all night between midnight and 10 a.m.
    (the latter being about the earliest we can expect to see our citizen’s-submissions noted and published by Hansard-&-the- operational-core, of the Lords of the Blog)

  4. maude elwes
    30/03/2012 at 12:31 pm

    On second reading of this thread, I feel your best option is to drop into Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, et al, and pick up an application form. They are always hiring. And I’m sure you, with your excellent resume, will rise up to management in no time at all.

    Drop us a line on the blog once you’re settled in, be glad to hear from you! LOL

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