Committee work

In recent decades, the House of Lords has become a more specialised body, making far greater use of committees.  Much of my time is taken up with commiteee work, which absorbs more of my energy on a regular basis than the chamber.   

This week I had committee meetings on three succeeding days.  On Monday, there was the first substantive meeting of the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill.  We had an informal seminar with four academics on the history of Lords’ reform.   On Tuesday, there was a meeting of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee.  As we had not met since July, the number of statutory instruments we had to consider was substantial.  The paperwork was about a foot high and had to be carried with two hands.  On Wednesday, we had a meeting of the Constitution Committee, at which we had to consider various Bills that are coming before the House.  When the House resumes in October, we will be continuing with our inquiry into judicial appointments. 

Though I was also in the chamber for various items of business, not least on Wednesday, my working week is becoming very much a committee-oriented one.  The pattern of this week will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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3 Responses to Committee work

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    I am sure you are aware that the primary indicator of status and stature of anyone in either House of Congress for most of the last century or more has been the number and quality of committees in which the legislator was a member and the quality of offices held there. Even where very important office has been held in the body without the committees as well the role in the main body is almost always seen as a sinecure, exception, retirement gift ar place saving partisan move… This is perhaps amoving together of things across the Atlantic. One less costly than popular election of all peers, this similarity derives perhaps from the volume of legislation compared to earlier epochs.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Frank W. Summers III: Indeed, there is some status that attaches to committee membership, at least select committees. In the Commons, one has to distinguish between select committees and public bill committees (formerly standing committees). Chairing a committee carries a particular kudos. When I became chairman of the Constitution Committee in the Lords, one colleague said to me ‘Oh, that makes you just one place below the deity’. That may be the compensation for the fact that we do the work for no remuneration!

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton,

        Your Lordship will excuse me if (even allowing for the lower case ‘d”) I may say that your colleague seems to be a bit better Parliamentarian than either a Thomist, Druid or Pagan cosmologist…

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