Beds for British Lords as voting debate goes through night

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LONDON - Britain’s upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, completed a marathon 21-hour sitting Tuesday during which members were offered camp beds, board games and other treats to survive the night.

The session, which will be resumed later Tuesday, is all-important to ensure that the Conservative-Liberal government succeeds with plans to call a referendum on Britain’s first-fast-the-post voting system May 5.

The bill on the referendum has met with strong disapproval from the opposition Labour Party, whose representatives in the House of Lords have employed all possible delaying tactics to make it miss the deadline for final passage.

Matters are complicated by the fact that the referendum issue is tied up in the proposed legislation with plans to cut the number of House of Commons (lower house) members of parliament (MPs) to 600.

The proposed referendum is aimed at finding out whether Britons want to change their traditional voting system to a more proportional pattern known as the Alternative Vote.

In a sheet entitled the “Overnighter,” peers were told where they would get food, entertainment and a place to rest during the all-night sitting.

“It would be advisable if you could sleep there, or if that is impossible, tell us where you will be so we can do our best to get round and ensure everyone wakes up for each vote,” it said.

Filed under: Politics

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