The past three weeks have provided highlights of different sorts. The week before last it was meetings with the Prime Minister. I was at a sandwich lunch with him in his office in the House of Commons on Wednesday. On the Thursday morning, I was at a breakfast buffet at No. 10. I don’t normally get to see the Prime Minister two days running.
Last week, the emphasis shifted to the chamber and legislation. I pursued my amendments to the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. My focus was Part I of the Bill and the need to shift the emphasis from those who lobby to those who are lobbied. As it stands, the Bill does not enhance transparency and it is not about lobbying. Given that, I did raise objections to the title of the Bill! I pursued my amendment to require ministers when making policy statements to publish details of those who had made representations to them on the issue. You can read the debate here. When the minister proved unresponsive, essentially arguing it was all too much trouble, I rather surprised both front benches by pushing my amendment to a vote. It was lost by 226 votes to 175, but I made my point.
I was on my feet again on Thursday, when we debated the future of the civil service. There were so many speakers that we had only three minutes each. As with many others, I supported the case for a commission on the civil service. If the Government failed to support the proposal, I argued the case for the House to set up an ad hoc committee. You can read my brief contribution here.
The highlight of this week was delivering the first of this year’s Speaker’s Lectures on Parliament and Policy. As regular readers will know, I gave the Speaker’s Lecture on Enoch Powell in 2011. This year’s lecture, given on Tuesday in the Speaker’s State Rooms, was on ‘Parliament and Political Parties’. I was impressed by the attendance – there was a good turnout, not least of MPs. The lecture is being broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday at 9.00 p.m.