Government plans to make all passport applicants also have an ID card have been defeated in the Lords.
Peers voted by a majority of 61 to overturn the proposal - backed by MPs last month - for a second time.
Opposition peers say the plans break the government's promise that ID cards will initially be voluntary.
Yay! Once more we say "hooray for the unelected anachronisms!"
What is particularly delicious about the Lords cacking on the government from a great height is that Princess Toni (pbuh)—for God has spoken to him: does that not make him a prophet?—must have believed that he had sorted out this problem years ago.
One of Labour's gripes with the Lords—and the main reason why they have always lobbied for reform—is that the Lords have tended to be Conservative-leaning. That's because, unlike those parasitic cunts in the Commons, the Lords actually had to go out and make a living, and the majority of people who do that tend to be conservative. Well, once they have actually sat down and thought about how much of their earnings they would actually like to keep that is.
So, one of the first things that Toni (pbuh) did—after using the Parliament Act more times in his first term than any other premier ever—was to eject the majority of the hereditaries, leaving only 100 of them (the deal which caused the infamous fall-out between William Hague and Lord Cranborne). Princess Toni (pbuh) then started creating peers like there was no tomorrow; more in the first 7 years of his government than the Tories created in the previous 18 years.
The purpose, of course, was to redress the balance at the very least and, preferably, create a Labour-dominated second chamber. In this way, Toni (pbuh) could pass through almost anything he liked. Unfortunately, Toni (pbuh) has run into a problem.
Those elected to the Lords found that not only did they have a spine, but they also found that they didn't really have to obey the Labour whips anymore. Furthermore, the majority found that with privilege comes responsibility and they started to take their jobs seriously; they started really looking at what was passing through the House; they started looking at whether NuLabour's initiatives were actually the best measures for the people of this country.
Which has started to cause a few problems for our Toni (pbuh) which, of course, is giving the rest of us a bit of a giggle (mixed in with not a few sighs of relief).
However, all is not rosy in the garden.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers have dropped their previous insistence that the scheme should not go ahead until the full costs are revealed.
One can only assume that the peers have decided that they will not get full costs; they must have realised by now that NuLabour actually don't have a fucking scooby what the ID Scheme will actually cost. Furthermore, were NuLabour simply to pluck a figure out of the air, the Lords would be unable to disprove it.
Furthermore, the figures are fairly irrelevent as the overspends and excesses of past IT projects have shown: I have, for instance, written about the NHS National Programme for IT which should have cost £2.3 billion and is currently projected to cost £50 billion (and may go even higher).
The Lords, in my opinion, simply used the costings as a delaying tactic. They knew that any answer would be irrelevent, but the delay would allow them time—which they were given an unusually short length of initially—to study the document more closely and to pull out some more telling objections.
In which case, this latest one is a cracker.
The government has not ruled out using the Parliament Act to force through the measure.
Peers voted by 227 to 166 against the government to insist that people should be able to opt out of the ID card scheme when they get a new passport.
Conservative shadow minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns called the government's plan "compulsion by stealth".
Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips of Sudbury said: "It's not often it's left to the opposition to make sure the government honours its manifesto pledges."
He said the description of ID card plans as voluntary "stretches the English language to breaking point".
This is beautiful. If the government complains that the Lords are blocking a manifesto pledge, the Lords can (and, indeed, have) turn around and point out that they are, in fact, keeping NuLabour's manifesto pledge to introduce voluntary ID Cards.
So, the government is faced with a problem: can they use the Parliament Act to force the issue? Well, in theory, yes they can. However, I believe that this would make their position untenable. The Parliament Act is only supposed to be used if the Lords are deliberately blocking a manifesto pledge*; but, as we have just seen, the Lords are doing no such thing. They are, in fact, unholding NuLabour's manifesto. There is only one thing that Princess Toni (pbuh) can now reasonably do.
Get on your knees and pray for guidance, Prime Minister. But watch your back.
For even now Gordo might be speaking those fateful words: "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest...?"
* There is a further problem: the Parliament Act has, itself, come under judicial review, concerning the validity of the 1949 Act.
Since the 1949 Act was passed, doubts had been raised by legal academics as to whether the use of the 1911 Act to pass the 1949 Act, amending the 1911 Act itself, was valid.
Although repeated reviews have upheld the validity of the 1949 Act, the Countryside Alliance and others are appealing the decision as regards major constitutional changes, and particularly in relation to the Hunting Act 2004 and the Human Rights Act. Whilst this decision is still under appeal, it would be extremely unwise for Labour to force through such a major issue using the 1949 Parliament Act.