I am continuing to follow the hearings of both the House of Lords’ Constitution Committee and the House of Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. The HOL Committee is currently studying the matter of fixed term parliaments, as they consider the Fixed Term Parliaments bill, while the HOC Committee is conducting a more general investigation into the matter of coalition formation to see if there are lessons to be learned from what transpired in May.
I’ve previously shared with readers a couple of videos, one from the HOL and one from the HOC. There are a couple more that I will point you to, if interested, but I won’t embed them on my blog. In the HOC Committee video that I posted previously, you can hear the Rt Hon David Laws (Lib Dem) and Lord Adonis (Lab) provide the committee with their take on the negotiations that went on in May. Last week, Oliver Letwin (Con), Minister of Sate at the Cabinet Office and one of the lead negotiators for the Conservatives, delivered his side of the story.
Meanwhile, we previously heard from Canadian Professor Henry Milner as he testified before the HOL Constitution Committee on the issue of fixed term parliaments. Today, they heard from Professor Vernon Bogdanor and Dr. Ruth Fox on the same topic. You can watch that here, if interested. Bogdanor is not a fan of fixed terms, and he raises some interesting points.
While the committee hearings are very interesting (at least to political geeks like myself), there is also a plethora of documentation available on the committee websites that are also very interesting to sort through. Much of it consists of the uncorrected transcripts of the hearings held by the committee (so if you don’t want to watch the videos, you can read the transcripts), but I will single out a couple of reports that aren’t transcripts at which you might want to look.
From the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee site:
- The Committee’s 2nd Report on the Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (PDF) (note – 2nd report means it is the 2nd report prepared by the Committee this session, not the 2nd report on this particular bill.)
From the House of Lords Constitution Committee:
- Fixed Term Parliaments – Written Evidence (PDF): This is a compilation (152 pages) of written submissions received by the Committee on the issue of fixed term parliaments. It includes many submissions from Canadian sources, including a letter from House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken and some provincial Legislative Clerks, and contributions from Canadian political and constitutional experts. I particularly enjoyed the Memorandum from Professor Mendes (University of Ottawa), found on p. 105. There are also contributions from experts from Australia, New Zealand, various European countries, etc.
Next week (4 November), Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell will appear before the HOC Political and Constitutional Reform Committee to discuss his role, and the role of the civil service, in the formation of the coalition Government and the forthcoming Cabinet Manual. The Cabinet Manual is currently being prepared by the Cabinet Office and will consolidate existing conventions that govern much of the way central government operates into a single written document.
Should be gripping stuff!