This week I am based almost wholly in Westminster, a combination of parliamentary business and the fact that students still working on projects are my students in Westminster. The teaching semester has finished in Hull.
On Monday, it was a case of getting to the House in time for the debate on the report of the Leader’s Group on the Working Practices of the House. Because of the number of speakers – over forty – there was an advisory time limit of 5 minutes. I edited my speech and kept within the time. I focused on the recommendations on legislation. I argued that pre-legislative scrutiny needs to be the norm and not the exception; Bills – especially if introduced in the Lords – should go to an evidence-taking committee; and we should establish a committee for post-legislative scrutiny. You can read the speech here (at column 1579). The debate was constructive, with clear support for a range of reforms to how we do business.
Tuesday was an opportunity to catch up on work. In the afternoon, it was committee business – a meeting of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee – and then the hustings for the Lord Speakership. Five of the six candidates spoke and, as a result, the outome is now uncertain. The presumed front runners did not live up to expectations and the others – well, all bar one – exceeded expectations. I had to leave during the question session in order to chair a meeting of the Conservative Academic Group. The speaker was Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, who gave an excellent account of his policies.
This morning was taken up with the meeting of the Constitution Committee: we agreed our report on the process of constitutional change. Immediately after lunch, it was a meeting of the executive of the Association of Conservative Peers, followed by the meeting of the Association. It was then off to Buckingham Palace for a garden party. This year the weather was ideal. (I was there a couple of years ago when there was torrential rain – everyone got soaked – and it had to be abandoned.) I have to leave early to get back to the Palace – Westminster that is – for an ACP meeting addressed by the Prime Minister. No sooner has that concluded than there is a vote. I then go into a conclave with fellow peers to discuss current issues.
Tomorrow is busy but less hectic, principally a meeting of the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber and seeing students. It is then back to Hull on Friday for academic meetings. I need to get on with research at the weekend. As my earlier post indicated, there are chapters to be written.