Increasing anger from crossbench peers at Labour’s filibustering in the Lords looks to be preparing the way for either Labour backing down or (for the Lords) highly unusual procedural decisions to end the filibustering. As I put it earlier in the week, if Labour loses the support of the crossbenchers, it will not only lose the struggle over this bill but weaken its ability to successfully oppose other legislation in the future.
At the same time, the government has been showing its willingness to listen to scrutiny rather than filibustering by agreeing to two changes to the ways in which the new rules for drawing up Parliamentary boundaries would work.
Crossbench peers were urged by Cameron at a private meeting to recognise that the government has made genuine concessions on the bill and that a group of Labour peers are abusing the procedures of the Lords to prevent legislation reaching the statute book. He wants the peers to take the rare step of agreeing to a guillotine of the bill, ending centuries of total self-regulation.
The two changes are ones that Liberal Democrat peers Paul Tyler and Chris Rennard have been pushing for, namely giving greater consideration to existing constituencies boundaries and to ward boundaries.
Although getting within 5% of the electoral register quote for a constituency is still the determining criteria, these two changes will mean that when there are options two or more of which all meet the 5% target, then more consideration will be given to reducing the level of disruption to existing boundaries and to avoid crossing ward boundaries.
There have been various stories put about how ward boundaries will need to be crossed all over the country under the proposed rules, though in fact the modelling that the party has done along with detailed modelling carried out by others shows that ward boundaries will only need crossing in very exceptional, if any, cases. However, by giving ward boundaries slightly greater formal weight may reassure some.