The House rose today for the summer recess. (The Commons rose yesterday.) It has been a busy period since the new Parliament began. The Government has lost a number of votes. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly backed a motion, moved by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler of Brockwell, recommending a joint committee with the Commons to consider the constitutional implications of the Government’s proposals for English Votes for English laws. The Government interpreted it as proposing a committee to examine alternatives to the proposals or to report on the merits of the proposals, whereas the motion was to look at consequences. Setting up a committee does not get in the way of undertaking what the Government has proposed: the two things (implementing the proposals, a committee to examine consequences) can run in parallel with one another. It is up to the Commons to decide whether to go along with the proposal.
As will be apparent from previous posts, select committees are up and running. The European Committee has, for the first time, issued a ‘green card’. (You can see details here.) We have also got under way considering various Private Members’ Bills, the value of which is to get issues debated; the likelihood of them being enacted is usually small, unless enjoying Government support.
These developments are visible – the public can see what is happening. The House has also introduced a change not visible to the watching public. Whenever we vote now, our names are not crossed off by clerks on a paper list, but recorded on a tablet device. I have done a post about it on Lords of the Blog. We may utilise some old practices, but we also embrace the new.
The House returns on 7 September. Like the Commons, we have a two-week September sitting, before returning for the autumn on 12 October.