Are MPs and peers about to lose their half term holiday?
The whole effort by Labour peers to filibuster the AV referendum and constituencies bill has been driven by the apparent need for the legislation to be in place by next Wednesday to meet the May 5th election date.
For there’s a legal requirement that there has to be 10 weeks between a measure for a referendum getting the royal assent and the date of the election. But as Michael Crick is reporting this means an actual “final date” of February 24th – which is bang in the middle of parliament’s half term holiday which is due to start next Thursday.
My understanding is that ministers are planning, if required, to make peers and MPs work through their break to provide more time.
If that doesn’t do the trick they have a back-up option – to insert a clause into the new bill abolishing the ten week requirement.
After all, it will be argued, if a general election can take place with less than a month’s notice why should all the extra time be required for the referendum.
Ministers don’t want to find themselves in a situation where they have to accept a last-minute watering down of the constituency part of the bill because of the deadline.
It might seem a long way off but what happens with the bill could have a big impact on the outcome of the next general election.