There’ll be a one hour debate at close of play tonight, maybe around midnight. It’ll constitute the Committee Stage and Third Reading (instead of the 50 or so hours the DE Bill would otherwise have had). The clauses taken are up to the speaker and MPs have to speak to the clauses, unlike last night’s Second Reading where we could speak on any bit of the bill. There’ll be at least one vote, but probably one only, and that’ll come at the end. If there is more than one vote, the last one’s the key one which passes the Bill in its entirety. Any other votes are likely to be pseudo-votes on amendments designed to present an appearance of opposition. So watch for the final vote.
Last night, the Lib Dem (only the front bencher attended, the very decent Don Foster in an impossible position) argued for an amended Clause 43 (the photography stuff, orphans and so forth). His amendment was to exclude photos from before 1950. Whatever, it won’t matter because Labour and the Tories have agreed to cut it out altogether. There will be other changes too.
On disconnection, though, it doesn’t look to me like anything’s going to change. Don Foster argued for Lib Dems last night that there should be additional safeguards, but agreed with disconnection without the right to be heard in court. That means the Lib Dems will almost certainly support the bill.
But who knows? Most Labour, Tory and SNP MPs support the bill, as does the SNP. Those who don’t have been open about it and will vote accordingly, I think. But I noticed a lot of Lib Dem back and frontbench MPs Tweeting against it last night without turning up. As I’ve said below, none at all spoke. There’s the pressure point, if I may say.
For what it’s worth, I think any MP who uses social media to tweet their opposition to the bill should be prepared to literally stand up and be counted on the night. If people ask them on Twitter, and we all know they’re reading tweets as the come in, they can only either hide or respond. There are very few MPs in the chamber right now, which means most are in front of their Macs and PCs. The question to ask MPs is; “What will you vote on Third Reading”?
This sounds party-political, I guess, but it isn’t intended that way. It’s just a matter of people being as authentic in real life as they are on social media. I’ve seen a few folk ask what MPs are paid for. Well we’re ultimately only really paid to legislate. To literally walk the way we talk. Folk might be surprised at how some MPs respond to a bit of late pressure.