I have had a number of speaking engagements in recent days, all dealing with parliaments from different perspectives. Last Tuesday, I spoke at Imperial College London, addressing constitutional developments and then taking part in a debate, opposing the motion ‘That the House of Lords should be abolished’. The meeting was organised by the Conservative society, the Debating society and the History society. The audience was clearly highly intelligent, voting the motion down by a large majority.
On Friday, I was at Leiden University in the Netherlands to address the annual conference of the Dutch Society for Constitutional Law. I last spoke to the society six years ago, when the conference was in Maastricht. This year I spoke on ‘Maintaining the Balance?’, addressing the relationship between parliaments and other branches of government. After examining the relationship between legislatures and governments – drawing on my recent speeches to Mexican and Italian legislators – I looked at the relationship between parliaments and the courts, identifying three models of legislative-judicial relations. I plan a separate post on these.
This evening, I spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution. My topic was ‘parliamentary reform’ and my thesis was that we rarely talk about parliamentary reform, even though we may think we talk of little else. There is much discussion of reform within the Commons and reform of as well as within the Lords, but little discussion of reform of Parliament as Parliament and what we expect of it within our political system. The problem lies not only with the use of parliamentary in the term, but also with the use of reform, as it is used in different senses. One consequence with not looking at Parliament as a whole is that we neglect inter-cameral relations, an area that we could fruitfully explore. I have done a more extensive post on Lords of the Blog.
My focus now shifts from speaking engagements to completing more writing commitments, working around a rather full schedule of essay marking!