I’m informed that a compromise will be presented soon after 5pm which could bring the Somme-like battle in the House of Lords to an end after weeks of late-night sittings and abrasive filibustering. Although one source tells me it may turn out to be less of a “compromise” and more of a potential way out of the impasse.
More here when it happens: For now here is Nick Watt at the Guardian explaining the situation earlier this afternoon.
Lord Strathclyde, the government’s leader in the House of Lords, has confirmed a deal that is designed ensure the AV referendum should now go ahead on May 5.
He told peers there had been an agreement on a timetable for the Bill’s committee stage, which will now end later this week. This will be followed by a “package of concessions” at the bill’s report stage next week.
This should allow the government to hit the February 16 deadline imposed by the Electoral Commission – which gives 10 weeks preparation before the referendum.
The compromises are likely to include brief public inquiries to make sure the boundary changes take into account local people’s worries. But it won’t be long enough to prevent the redrawing of the electoral map by the next general election.
The proposed solution to the impasse is likely to bring to an end a curious fortnight which has seen some peers sleeping in the Lords to get through the marathon sittings.
David Cameron had previously threatened an unprecedented “guillotine” motion to end the interminable debating – now on its 15th day – but failed to get the support of crossbench peers last week.