Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, met Martin this morning to seek advice on how he could arrange for the issue to be debated. Martin would not accept the amendment because he decided that a referendum on EU membership was not relevant to the bill being debated, which was about ratifying the EU's Lisbon treaty.Forgive me, but isn't "working with the Commons clerks to see if they could find a way of wording an amendment on a referendum that would be acceptable under Commons rules" exactly what has been going on for the last couple of weeks? I distinctly remember David Howarth telling a group of students from Cambridge visiting parliament a couple of weeks ago (of which I was a part) that his day was being mostly taken up with a procedural wrangle with the clerks over exactly this point.
Following Clegg's meeting with the Speaker this morning, an aide to the Lib Dem leader said the two had had "a very good and constructive" discussion.
The aide said the Lib Dems would now be working with the Commons clerks to see if they could find a way of wording an amendment on a referendum that would be acceptable under Commons rules. She said they were "confident" they would be able to find a solution.
Given that we have already been bending over backwards to find a way to make the ammendment "in order" through consulation with the clerks, does this comment indicate something else, perhaps? Might Nick's meeting have produced some sort of commitment from the speaker?