Tuesday saw the Government come to Parliament to ask for the renewal of control orders, for the fourth time since they were introduced in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. In 2006, the orders were agreed without a division. In February 2007, just two Labour MPs rebelled. A year later, just three did. This time, the number of rebels had risen to 16. The rebellion also saw Diane Abbott and Andrew Mackinlay cast deliberate abstentions in both lobbies. With the Conservative frontbench abstaining three Tory backbenchers – Douglas Hogg, Richard Shepherd and Robert Walter – also voted against the renewal order.
Both Opposition parties also boycotted the introduction of Regional Select Committees, objecting to the fact that each committee will have an in-built Labour majority, regardless of the political representation in each region. As a result of the Opposition boycott, a series of motions were passed in which only Labour MPs were appointed to the new regional bodies. Can’t see that working well.
The final division of the evening was on a motion that the new Chairman of the Committee on Members’ Allowances, Don Touhig, should be paid in line with chairmen of other select committees. Labour split 229/9 in favour, the Conservatives split 11/27 against (with most Tory MPs sitting out the vote), while Lembit Opik was the only Lib Dem MP to vote in favour of the motion, as 30 of his colleagues voted against.