A delegation from Vietnam

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.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to A delegation from Vietnam

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: It perhaps follows on from my last sentence in terms of a failure to understand our constitution…

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton & Lady Tizzy,

        In every system of long duration it begins to seem silly to warn of slippery slopes and dnagerous precedents because frankly if a political order endures for a long time it has endured a fair amount of evil and banality for political purposes. Nonetheless, abstaining from the calls of Cassandra and Jeremiah is a cure worse than the disease. Suppose one does not think getting rid of hereditaries and Bishops is a terrible idea (and I do think it is a terrible idea) and one also believes that federal considerations are not paramount in the US Senate and believes that we should have kept legislative election of Senators (both of which I believe) and believes that the Italian system is not actually a vastly complex hybrid which really ought to be more openly aristocratic (which I do believe) — suppose one favours something near pure democracy. Then even supposing that belief system, does it not seem dangerous to suggest that iregular means be used in the legislature itself?

        I am willing to admit I would consider iregular means to political change as resort under duress but to suggest it in the workings of the legislation itself undermines the later operation of the new machinery one would create. Then any kind of legitimacy may become suspect I would imagine. Perhaps the Guardian’s words misrepresent the DPM’s position. However, one does wonder….

    • ladytizzy says:

      Frank, The Guardian(/i> switched to the Lib Dems in the run-up to the 2010 election after a lifetime of supporting Labour. To date, I have seen no evidence of duress unless one counts the beaded brow of Polly Toynbee.

      “Lord Norton & Lady Tizzy” – kind of has a ring to it…

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    Should it be Đồng chí Chúa Norton? Your post seems some how timely as the US forces leave Iraq. I imagine comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam have arisen in several minds…

    I should know some Vietnamese which has the appeal of being spoken by many of my long-time co-reigonalists as well fellow Louisianans and being written in an Alphabet. The folks here however, have had a slowly evolving relationship with their mother land. While they range in opinion many are Roman Catholics whose really Loyalty politically was to the people as a whole and the Royal House of Nguyen which once ruled in Hueh. Of course some are also of such persuasion because they are members of that disestablished House. To the degree that Louisiana is still Louisiana this is still a place where such feelings are understood. with all there nuance and complexity.

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