The House sits today for swearing in of members (and the Commons for electing the Speaker), so we will begin the process of adapting to a new situation.   Apart from parliamentary work, I am in the middle of essay-marking, to be followed by marking exam scripts – and completing a number of academic articles.  However, I thought I would do a quick trailer for a couple of forthcoming posts.

I shall be doing a post on Why it is no to proportional representation and an elected second chamber.  The reason for the conjunction will be apparent from the post.  The principle underpinning the opposition to PR and an elected House of Lords is the same.

I also plan a post on the proposed 55% rule for dissolution.  There is clearly considerable confusion as to the coalition proposal for fixed-term Parliaments and for an early election only in the event of 55% of MPs voting for a dissolution motion.  Part of the confusion arises from uncertainty as the relationship between votes of confidence and the proposed enhanced majority to trigger a dissolution.  I am in the prcoess of looking at the position covering votes of confidence and dissolution in every other national legislature.  It’s a demanding exercise, though not as daunting as it may sound: I do have the material on every legislature to hand. 

I hope that whets the appetite….

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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10 Responses to Forthcoming…

  1. Len says:

    Indeed it does! I very much look forward to reading your arguments, especially as I myself am currently on the fence on the issue of electoral reform for the Commons.

  2. David Rostron says:

    I look forward to it.

  3. Yes, appetite whetted! I look forward to your critique against PR and an elected second chamber—and your reason for linking them together.

    The 55pc rule for dissolution needs clearing up, too. I wonder if, were MPs to take their responsibilities to hold the Executive to account more seriously (and not be mere lobby fodder, as the pundits have written—perhaps unfairly), would Cameron’s assertion that a 55pc threshold makes the Commons more democratic be taken seriously. Prime ministers, for instance, would not seek dissolution for partisan considerations solely without canvassing the opinions of their backbenchers who were, in turn, answerable to their constituencies.

    From my reading of the British press, it appears that UK politicians are more independent in this regard than their Canadian counterparts; disaffected MPs should remember Cassius’s chastisement:

    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

    Thankfully, there are political scholars like Lord Norton to keep us well-informed. I intend to rely on your wisdom a great deal when assessing a principled conservative standpoint on parliamentary reform.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    I, too, would like to see the pre-nup between PR and an elected HoL after having convinced myself (and others!) that, in essence, it’s either both or none.

    May I put an urgent-ish question to you: what tips can you give for an individual replying to a call of public consultation? In particular, should I assume the reader has some, none, or total knowledge of the subject, thus requiring some, none, or total explanation of my viewpoint?

  5. maldencapell says:

    Lord Norton,

    Could you give your views on the Japanese House of Councillors too? A sparring partner of mine cited it as an example of an effective, elected second chamber in a unitary parliamentary democracy.

    I couldn’t find evidence either way to refute or support her claims…

    • Lord Norton says:

      maldencapell: Not so long ago I hosted a meeting in Westminster addressed by a Japanese former minister who detailed the problems associated with the Japanese Diet. The Japanese system shows the problems when you have two elected chambers with the potential for conflict.

  6. ladytizzy says:

    Watching today’s proceedings on BBC Parliament, Baroness Boothroyd highlighted the armrests delineating the reserved seating for the Lords Spiritual. She was uncharacteristically coy on the reasons, though hinted at the dining habits of earlier incumbents.

    Do tell!

  7. Lord Norton: As you know, Canada’s Dominion Parliament has ‘flexible’ fixed election dates (flexible, because since the law was enacted, the Government which sponsored the bill was granted a dissolution of Parliament, having argued a fractious minority situation as cause).

    Here is a Library of Parliament summary (with pros and cons), a list of suggested readings, and the legislative record detailing general information).

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