Rushing around…

Been a reasonably busy week, hence fairly light blogging.  Here’s a few super pseudo tweets to cover what I’ve been doing.

Monday:  Into the office on campus and then the train to London: get to Westminster in time for divisions on the Public Bodies Bill.  Chair a meeting of the Conservative Academic  Group addressed by David Willetts, the minister for universities.  Catch the last train back to Hull.

Tuesday: Morning spent teaching final Parliament seminars of the semester, then back to London.  Just miss one vote in the House, but present for four more.  (The Government are defeated on an important amendment to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill because six Conservative peers join the Opposition and cross-benchers in voting for it.) Have a meeting, then back into the chamber.  I speak on an amendment moved by Lord Grocott and then move my own.  For the Opposition, Lord Falconer says he is persuaded by my argument.  The minister isn’t yet persuaded.  May need to come back to it on Third Reading.

Wednesday:  Meeting of the Constitution Committee.  We discuss our report on the process of constitutional reform, prior to taking evidence next week from the Deputy Prime Minister.  I then have a meeting of the peers in our office with the Leader of the House.  Have a meeting of the executive of the Association of Conservative Peers, followed by a meeting of the Association, addressed by Lord Wei.  I attend the weekly meeting of the 1922 Committee, addressed by the Prime Minister.  Then it is off to the Hansard Lecture given by Shadow Leader of the House, Hilary Benn (see my preceding post): he is dreadful in discussing the Lords.  Someone says afterwards that my body language said it all.  Back to the House for a division on the Police and Social Responsibility Bill: the Government lose, on a key provision on elected police commissioners, because 13 Liberal Democrats (and 4 Bishops) vote for the amendment.  There is then a procedural wrangle, with two adjournments. 

Thursday:  I chair a well-attended meeting of the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber.   I spend time in the chamber before going to the Institute for Government for a lunchtime seminar and launch of the Institute’s report on the first year of coalition government.  Panel of Lord Wallace of Tankerness, Nick Boles MP, Peter Riddell and Will Straw.  After they have spoken, Lord Adonis, who is chairing, invites questions.  Two Labour MPs ask questions, so for balance he invites me to  put a question.  (I hadn’t planned to say a word.)  I ask about relations between the two chambers.  Before the panel can answer, Lord Adonis invites me to report on the position in the Lords in the light of the coalition.  I give an overview of what is happening, including my analysis of the 16 defeats now suffered by the Government.  Back to the House for a late lunch and then a meeting with the publishers and Professor Bill Jones to discuss preparations for the eighth edition of Politics UK.  I meet Baroness Thomas of Winchester and Lords clerk Kate Allen to discuss the Public Bodies Bill in preparation for evidence we are giving next Tuesday to the Public Administration Committee in the Commons on the changes made to the Bill. 

Tomorrow the House is sitting.  I need also to prepare material for next week: I have another amendment to move to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill on Monday and the appearance between the Public administration Committee on Tuesday, plus a rather full diary of meetings to keep me occupied the rest of the week.  Oh yes, and a mass of essay marking to complete.  That’s the task for the weekend. 

And yes, I know these are more than super pseudo tweets.  Jumbo pseudo tweets?   Okay, just ordinary paragraphs…


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to Rushing around…

  1. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,

    Ahh! The leisurely life of Lords in London is surely the envy and scandal of the world. There is no reason you could not at least make a pretense of occupation here –some of us find it hard to verify much of this.

  2. ladytizzy says:

    Re Fixed-term Parliaments Bill: what are the historic reasons for choosing election dates? By what logic did political pundits plump for 6 May 201o, more than a year before the rest of us knew? Given that they did ‘know’ one must assume that the opposition parties also knew, so what advantage does the gvt hold in keeping voters in the dark?

    Noting that some schools are selected as polling stations that leads to their closure for the day, a) why are they chosen in the first place, b) why aren’t elections held on a Saturday, or another non-school day? Whichever way you look at this, we’re not exactly short of other options!

    Finally, having noticed a fair bit of chatter in the Lords, is this Bill about the interests of the gvt, Parliament, or the electorate?


    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: Elections have traditionally been held on a Thursday, though there have been exceptions. There is no legal requirement for them to be on a Thursday (well, not until this Bill becomes law). The reason appears to be one of convenience for counting and announcing the result. It is more expensive if held at weekends.

      The Bill is a consequence of the coalition deal. David Laws’ book on the negotiations is instructive.

      • ladytizzy says:

        “David Laws’ book on the negotiations is instructive.”
        Are you his agent?

      • Lord Norton says:

        lasdytizzy: Oh no, that position is held by Lord Falconer of Thoroton who, in his speeches in the chamber, regularly quotes from the book. Mind you, I have done to same but not as many times.

  3. tory boy says:

    “I then have a meeting of the peers in our office with the Leader of the House.”
    Lord Norton please tell us the office politics?! It must be serious if you have to involve the Leader of the House.

    • Lord Norton says:

      tory boy: Not so much office politics as a rather harmonious office. We occasionally organise little office ‘events’. We had an ‘office’ lunch with Philip Blond, from ResPublica, and this time a coffee morning with the Leader of the House. It was a very pleasant get-together.

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