After detailed discussion of amendments to the Hunting Bill in the second chamber the government says it will not find any further time for the legislation in this session.
The debate on Tuesday night ran late into the evening, and as peers took two days of intense debate to cover just five of the 50 or so proposed amendments to the Bill, Lord Whitty declared that the government would not set aside any more time for the Bill before the Queen’s Speech.
He told peers: “This is pretty unprecedented. Even in the days when we were dealing with huge constitutional issues, such as the reform of this House, we never took that long over single amendments for a Bill.”
This decision puts the government in a difficult position: if it chooses to employ the Parliament Act the public could see that as a decision made by Downing Street, reached undemocratically, rather than by parliament.
For these reasons the Prime Minister may well have reservations about this option, and his advisers are said to be looking at different ways of re-introducing this controversial piece of legislation which Labour made a manifesto commitment to as far back as 1997.
One other option could be to introduce a Private Member’s Bill and see the legislation through that way, but if the House of Lords remains adamant that it favours a registration scheme over an outright ban, the stand off could again continue for many months, which would embarrass Number 10 and the government as a whole.
For the outcome onlookers must wait for the contents of the Queen’s Speech on 26 November.