The bill to call a referendum on the Alternative Vote this May in the UK needs to pass by 16 February. With a long stream of amendments being debated in the House of Lords, the legislative process is coming down to the wire.
The dispute delaying the bill has been over provisions attached by the government that links the referendum to a review of the constituency boundary process and reduces the number of MPs from 650 to 600. Labour objects to these provisions.
This week it appears that the deadlock in the second chamber has been broken, and the bill will soon come to a vote.
Among the proposals thought to be on offer is the suggestion that public inquiries take place where boundary changes are contentious. There is also likely to be some sort of post-legislation scrutiny of the reduction to 600 seats and a greater variation of seat sizes – a key demand of Labour. (The Independent)
The government had threatened to use the “guillotine” on the bill–that is, to cut off debate and pass it without Lords consent.