UK Filibuster

Almost everything I know about filibustering I learnt from The West Wing, and I assumed it was a quirk of the US legal system. I’ve just seen the term used to describe a UK MP’s 197 minute speech, blocking an amendment to the “Criminal Law (Amendment) (Protection of Property) Bill”.

Aside from being a truly excellent word, filibustering is the practice of holding up the passing of legislation by talking until the bill’s allotted time is up. In the US the speaker can read from anything they like – tWW’s example involved Dickens – and cannot pause for more than a moment, rest on anything or take any food or drink. There was all sorts of fuss recently when the US Republican party took moves to scrap the practice. It was all mixed up with the Democrats’ opposition to various judicial nominees, I think. Known (weirdly) as ‘the nuclear option’, the Democrats blocked the attempt.

Fun as the idea is, I find it a rather strange concept. I’d really prefer that laws be passed through debate and reason!

The UK version wasn’t a proper filibuster, however:

For fortification Mr Dismore – co-chairman of the All-Party Wine and Spirit Group – drank only from a cup of water.