Who killed the EU Referendum Bill?

"I," said the Labour Peer Lord Lipsey, "with my procedural motion to curtail the Lords' sitting on Friday."

"I," said the government Chief Whip, Baroness Anelay, "when I made it clear that if the House rose on Friday, I would allocate no more time to the bill."

"Us," said a cross party alliance of Labour, Lib Dem and, especially, crossbench peers, and even a handful of Conservatives, "when we produced a deluge of amendments on every aspect of the Bill, which could never, realistically have been debated in the available time."

"We," said quite a number of pro-EU Conservative peers who didn't turn up at all…

"I," said Nick Clegg, "when I refused to allow this to be a government bill, thus forcing the Conservatives to use the much more tricky private members' bill route."

The EU Referendum Bill had never had that much of a chance, and in the end there were quite a few sets of fingerprints on the murder weapon.

It was Labour's Lord Lipsey who administered the coup de grace a little after 3pm last Friday.

That's the point by which peers normally rise in their Friday sittings, and he had calculated that if they were to complete their committee stage consideration of the Bill - which was pretty essential to keep the bill alive - they would have to go on until about 3am on Saturday morning.

That intervention led to the vote which closed proceedings (confusingly the motion was that the House should "resume" - this was because it was sitting as a committee, so resumption meant ending the committee stage, which would in turn have led to adjournment for the day) but by that time the Bill was already doomed.

The committee stage had already been spun out to the point where it could not have been completed in time to go through the other stages of consideration, report and third reading, and then be sent back to the Commons to allow MPs to vote on the amendments made by peers.

In the circumstances, Labour's offer to allow the committee stage to continue into this Friday was nothing but an offer to prolong the agony; continued debate without the prospect of meaningful progress.

Outrageous? A rejection of the public will? Maybe.

But the Lords has its processes, and it's not long since some of the people condemning their actions on this bill were promising to die in a ditch rather than allow its replacement by an elected upper house.

There is certainly a very powerful argument that the trust simply doesn't exist to allow Parliament alone to decide this country's relationship to the EU; that the salami-slicing of UK sovereignty has to end and that the public has to be consulted.

But peers are also entitled to ask if this bill was the right solution.

Will 2017 turn out to be an illogical date, by which no revised package of membership terms for Britain could possibly be negotiated?

What about the voting rights of UK expats, in the EU and elsewhere?

There were plenty of reasonable questions to be asked and plenty of reasonable refinements to be suggested, and many peers were unimpressed with the argument that the bill was the settled will of the British people and should simply be waved through, unamended.

A few amendments to a government bill would be no problem - given the government's stranglehold on the Commons agenda, plenty of time could have been found to deal with them.

But this is, of course, not a government bill, because Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems did not allow it to be.

So it lost those automatic advantages, and would never have been given ex-gratia debating time in the way that, for example, former home secretary Roy Jenkins engineered extra time for David Steel's Abortion Bill, back in the '60s.

So what happened over the last few Fridays (extending back to the marathon Commons committee stage) was that opponents of the Bill engineered a situation where it ploughed into the sand, without ever directly opposing it.

And in the end that's my real qualm about these events.

Procedural game-playing happens in any parliament, but I sometimes find myself wishing that controversial measures were killed off in the open, in the light of day.

Isn't the whole problem with the European issue that, time and again, successive governments have preferred procedural fixes and sleight of hand to having a direct debate and an open vote?