Breaking news from the Commons, as reported by PoliticsHome:
"Jack Straw has said that there will be a new clause in the
Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill on whether votes should be
counted on election night. Mr Straw said that Labour would hold a free vote and that Parliament should send election officers "a clear message" on this. He
admitted that the wording of the clause may not be perfect and require
revising but he did not want to leave this until the report stage of
the bill. He added that "what the new clause provides is that the
count should begin within four hours of the close of the poll.
Everybody accepts where there are requirements for a recount, the count
could be suspended until the following day".
The new clause was tabled by Tory Justice spokesman Eleanor Laing and followed a cross-party campaign, with Labour MP Tom Harris and Tory chairman Eric Pickles having tabled an early day motion in the Commons in support of Thursday night counts which was backed by no fewer than 220 MPs.
6.45pm update: Here's the short statement I have released to the media:
"I am delighted that what started as an internet-based campaign last autumn has finally borne fruit and that General Election Night appears to have been saved. We have argued throughout that overnight counting is absolutely vital to retaining interest and faith in the democratic process.
"I would like to pay tribute to all those who have blogged in favour of the campaign, not least Labour MP Tom Harris, who also tabled the 220-strong Commons motion on the issue, and Mark Pack of Lib Dem Voice.
"It is great to common sense prevailing on the back of a campaign which won high-level cross-party support, including backing from Conservative chairman Eric Pickles, Speaker Bercow, and now the Justice Secretary himself, Jack Straw".