The past week has followed its usual pattern, in so far as I have a normal working week. On Monday, there was the meeting of the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill. We took evidence from IPSA and the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Some of the exchanges between MPs and the chairman of IPSA were a little tense. On Tuesday, there was the usual meeting of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee and on Wednesday of the Constitution Committee: we had a fruitful meeting with the Health minister, Earl Howe, to discuss the Health and Social Care. I attended the usual party meetings (including the 1922 Committee, addressed by David Cameron) and chaired the weekly seminar with my students – the speaker this week was John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards – before catching the train back to Hull in order to teach on Thursday and Friday.
The only exceptional meeting of the week was with a parliamentary delegation from Vietnam. The parliamentarians are visiting Norway and the UK in order to study how legislatures deal with constitutional issues. They were especially interested to know how the Constitution Committee operated. I spent nearly an hour explaining the basic framework of the UK constitution and how the Constitution Committee works in order to fulfil its terms of reference. I then spent another hour responding to questions. I always enjoy such sessions. The Vietnamese Parliament is keen to develop – I have previously co-authored a booklet for it on parliamentary procedures – and the parliamentarians were here on an intense three-day visit. The session with me was the first of several meetings organised for them. In preparation for their visit, the Constitution Committee’s report on the process of constitutional change was translated into Vietnamese. It is perhaps just as well we did not do the same for the Government’s response.