Wednesdays tend to be my busiest days – though given some upcoming parliamentary business that may change. Yesterday was a fairly typical day in that it was full and varied. I was in shortly after 8.30 a.m. and left at 10.20 p.m:
10.15: Meeting of the Constitution Committee. As Baroness Jay is not able to be present throughout, I chair the meeting. We agree a report on the Public Bodies Bill, raising serious concerns. We take evidence from the minister, Mark Harper, on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill. He is on top of his brief and deals well with our questions. We will be preparing our report on the Bill next week.
After lunch, I attend the weekly meeting of the Association of Conservative peers. I then head to 4 Millbank to record an interview for the BBC ‘Week in Westminster’ programme. Peter Riddell chairs and Lord Tyler and I discuss how the Lords will deal with the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which has now cleared the Commons and will have its Second Reading in the Lords on 15 November.
I return to the House in time for a ministerial briefing on the Public Bodies Bill, which is having its Second Reading next Tuesday. The minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, and his officials outline the Bill and then virtually drown in a barrage of criticism. The Bill is seriously flawed in constitutional terms and this is made clear by peers from all parties.
The meeting finishes in time for me to get to the weekly meeting, at 5.30, of the 1922 Committee – Universities minister David Willetts is speaking on his announcement earlier in the day on student finance.
I then chair the weekly seminar with my students. This week’s speaker is Robert Rogers, Clerk Assistant in the House of Commons, who explains the role of the Clerks and the current management structure of the House. There are several questions, the last being a bit like the light-hearted question at the end of Question Time: is the wig you wear in the chamber uncomfortable?
I use the evening to catch up on paperwork.