They call it the heavy lifting, or – less physical, more forensic – using a fine-tooth comb. The second chamber is where detailed and precise scrutiny of legislation occurs. For Bills which raise vital questions about civil liberties, such as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill this is all the more important. It was therefore to the surprise of Lib Dems in the Lords that it was, aside from a misplaced attempt to reintroduce the so-called “Snooper’s Charter”, almost exclusively Lib Dem peers doing the heavy lifting . At one point I passed a note to Brian Paddick and Sarah Ludford, the team with me on the entirety of it: A lot of people want to talk about the issues we’ve raised but they couldn’t be ****d (complete to taste) to write their own amendments.
Our concern, really to make sure that this sort of legislation is fit for purpose and balances the need to protect the public with precious civil liberties, is often derided. It is important to get every dot and comma right. It is therefore a badge of honour to be accused by Norman Tebbit of “dancing around on pins” or, in Michael Howard’s words, “the pesky Lib Dems”.
The Bill that came to the Lords was very different from when it was first trailed by the Prime Minister, speaking to the Australian Parliament about “excluding” people from the UK. Lib Dems in Government ensured that such claims, made for electoral reasons, were not reflected in the legislation that was finally published. This is not to say it came to the Lords in a perfect state and our work has ensured that checks and balances on the State have been increased.
The full article is here