A new group

On Tuesday, I attended the inaugural meeting of an all-party group.  This one was well attended!  It is a new group on the constitution.  I was elected as chair.  The purpose of the group is to provide information on constitutional issues on a non-partisan basis.  We plan to examine issues from a historical and comparative perspective.  Despite the growth in the number of all-party groups, I felt this one was justified given that the constitution is very much on the political agenda.  Given the legislation planned in this and future sessions, there is a need to provide factual information and analysis on matters such as electoral systems, referendums, dissolutions and second chambers, as well as inter-cameral relations.  I don’t think we are going to be short of topics.  I suspect our meetings will attract a good attendance.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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13 Responses to A new group

  1. maldencapell says:

    Sounds great my Lord, will you be informing us of the meeting dates? No doubt many among us readers will want to attend.

  2. The Duke of Waltham says:

    In spirit, anyway…

  3. Carl.H says:

    It`s certainly a group I very much approve of and is very important. Since the British Constitution seems very much de facto, it would be eductaional, to all, to shed some light on the many parts of it.

    How much of it maybe down to interpretation I know not but would think a good deal.

    I feel it will be rather like an archealogical dig on an extremely important site and will take an awful lot of time. We know from Government machinations that the “Bloody Sunday” report took over thirty years, nearly 40 actually, so I expect this group to be running ad infinitum as changes will occur along the way.

    I also expect along the way for their to be some parts of our constitution that may appear contradictorary. It will be extremely complex and will bring up many an argument such as the power of the Commons over the Lords.

    My Lord has certainly put himself in a position where work will be unending. Good luck.

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      “How much of it maybe down to interpretation I know not but would think a good deal.”

      Considering how open to interpretation articles of written constitutions are regularly discovered to be…

  4. Chris K says:

    Good luck with it. I’m still itching to know the name of the other all-party group!

    Is the House of Commons vote last term on “chair” replacing “chairman” binding on Your Lordships too?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Chris K: The use of ‘chair’ by the Commons is not binding on the Lords, but the term tends to be used by all-party groups which are open to members of both Houses.

  5. Francis says:

    Congratualtions, sounds very interesting and worthwhile.

    Maybe this new group should have a dedicated Blog?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Francis: Many thanks. As you will see from my comments below, although there is no blog for the group the Constitution Society, which is providing administrative support, does have a website.

  6. ladytizzy says:

    I am surprised that this is a new APG. Where on earth did parliamentarians discuss, say, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill?

    Kidding apart, you led to me wondering what the conditions are for such a group to become recognised and, in particular, which conditions satisfy the ‘All Party’ bit.

    If each group is simply open to any member of any party would it be more appropriate to call them Open Groups, especially in the light of the interesting times in which we are governed?

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: There are various rules governing the formation of all-party parliamentary groups. You can find details at:
      http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/

      They are in effect open groups. You have to have the support of members drawn from different parties to form a group, but meetings can be attended by any interested parliamentarian. Details of group meetings are circulated to MPs and peers each week on what is known as the all-party whip.

  7. Lord Norton says:

    Thanks for all your very supportive comments. Administrative support for the group is being provided by the Constitution Society, which is a non-partisan educational charity established to inform people about the constitution. Further details can be found on the society’s website at: http://www.reconstitution.org.uk

    I anticipate we shall be making public our programme as soon as it is finalised.

  8. ladytizzy says:

    Thank you for the very helpful link (above), Lord Norton. I hadn’t appreciated that another type of group existed, namely Associate Parliamentary Groups.

    The published rules state that these differ from All-Party groups to enable members who are not members of Parliament to have full voting rights. What does this mean in practical terms?
    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/pcfs/pcfsgroupsrules.pdf (paragraph 19)

    I alighted on one such website and was thus surprised to see the claim that their Associate Parliamentary Group … “is limited to members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.” Are they wrong, or did they vote themselves out?
    http://www.apgaw.org/membership.asp

    As an aside, the page (above) also states: “Politician’s mailbags are still dominated by letters on a variety of animal welfare issues.”
    Is this true and, more importantly, how do they know?

  9. Congratulations indeed! Good to know about the Constitution Society, too. I especially appreciated (finally!) an opportunity to see Lord Norton in action.

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