Hectic schedule, light blogging

55718The past couple of weeks have been somewhat manic.  When at the Lords, I have been lucky if I have got away from the Palace before 11.00 p.m. – actually, thinking about it, I haven’t been that lucky – with meetings or debates packed in between morning and evening.  Some of the work has been in the chamber.  I spoke on Second Reading of the European Union Referendum Bill.  You can read the speech here.  Some has been committee based.  On the Constitution Committee, we are continuing our inquiry into devolution and the union.  This morning, I moved to the other House to give evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in its inquiry into English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).  You can watch the session here: my evidence (with Sir William McKay) commences at 10.25.

Well, it was ostensibly on EVEL.  Part of the questions did indeed cover the subject and the recommendations of the Commission to Strengthen Parliament, which I chaired, and which formed one of the three options considered by Government.  However, coming after yesterday’s events in the Lords – when the House defeated a statutory instrument on tax credits – the questioning opened on that.  The session concluded by asking my views on the constitutional implications if the size of the House of Commons is reduced, but there is no change in the number of ministers.  I gave evidence on this to the committee in the last Parliament (and indeed was appointed a specialist adviser by the committee in order to help draft the report) and members are keen to return to it given the planned reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

The fact that the questions ranged over these topics gave me an opportunity to address the problems of successive Governments pursuing a raft of constitutional issues but doing so as discrete measures without addressing their implications for other changes or indeed thinking about them within the context of the constitution as a constitution.  I didn’t quite put it in these terms (though I came close), but Governments tend not to understand the constitution.  We may be seeing more evidence of this shortly.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Hectic schedule, light blogging

  1. Dave Green says:

    I miss the use of your expression “constitution qua constitution”, Lord Norton!

  2. maude elwes says:

    I will only comment in this post on the Lords vote to so called ‘overule’ the wishes of the elected house. I watched it all by the way and it was the most stimulationg viewing of political chicanery I have ever seen. I loved the entire scenario and I loved the women who tabled the rebellion. I felt they should be raised on chairs and paraded for all to see that having the ‘unclubbable women’ is, after all, a necessary balance to our democracy.

    Then to get to the nitty gritty. What was pased was simply a compelling of the Coomons to rethink the situation regarding the removal of tax credits on about 3 million of the poorest people in our nation and the horror it would impose on our children from those families. And if not the Lords who would be able to do that with any suitable power? We all know the rethink can be simply turned around again with a few changes in wording. However, I blame the Commons for this scenario.

    And why I blame them is, we have no sensible or robust opposition in that house. Had we had a force of true moral objection from the bunch in the green room, the red room would not have been faced with the proposition of having to seek mercy on those most affected. And the Lords did exactly what they are there for, they asked for a review, and that’s all they did.

    This government must remember and remember well, they were elected on a risable majority. The opposition is weak and easily side tracked by the commanding vocabulary and arrogance of the ‘put them back in the workhouse brigade.’ Therefore the Lords had no other option than to rise to the position they had to take. Regardless of the writhing and squealing of the Eton boys who thought they were going to have an easy ride.

    And what they must take on board is, this is only the beginning, as Chicago told them many moons ago. ~So they better hold onto their hats. Good on those Lords.

    • maude elwes says:

      Missing the typing errors is a misery I have to endure every time I look at these posts of mine. Squeal with red face.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s