Tuesday, 26 February 2008

First on the ropes

Another late night tonight, debating the EU treaty. It's EU institutions day today, so there were some 20 pages worth of amendments from Bill Cash on yesterday's order paper; thankfully not all of them selected for debate.

I missed the Lib Dems staged walk out earlier - a protest against the Speaker not selecting for debate their amendment on a referendum on continued EU membership - but that means they're boycotting the rest of today's proceedings. I bumped into one of their MPs as she was leaving for the night, who smugly told me she was looking forward to an evening in front of the television with a glass of wine. Alright for some!

We start voting at 11.11pm, so might get home by midnight; some poor souls have to stay even later to make up a quorum on the local government boundaries - Staffordshire tonight, I think, with the mighty Gwyneth doing battle on behalf of Crewe. [Correction - I mean Cheshire! Crewe is in Cheshire - I knew that really]. So I'm in the office having a brief break trying to gather my thoughts for a Westminster Hall child poverty debate tomorrow.

Has been lots happening today. I don't think many people realise the significance of the First Great Western announcement; it means they really are drinking in the last chance saloon. If they don't show significant improvements over the coming year, the franchise can be taken away from them - and because standards will be judged on average performance over the year, they have to start showing improvements very soon. I've put in for a debate on the future of the franchise, but won't know for another week or so if I've been successful. And I'm also due to meet the new management on 7th March, which will be "interesting".

Meanwhile, First Group buses have linked up with Save the Children to campaign on child poverty. I might have something to say on that very soon!

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