Committee day…

Lord Norton

I have been appointed to serve on the Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill.  (Lord Tyler is aonther member.)  The Committee has to examine the draft Bill and report by mid-July.  The Bill contains several provisions, covering the Civil Service, the role of the Attorney General, ratification of treaties, appointment of judges, and demonstrations in Parliament Square.  It is not so much a Constitutional Renewal Bill as a Constitutional (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. 

As a Joint Committee, the membership is drawn from membership of both Houses, with several lawyers and members with a particular interest in constitutional affairs; it includes three professors.  The timetable for us to take evidence and report in a couple of months is a tight one.  We met for the first time yesterday (Tuesday) and are meeting again today.

Indeed, today is very much a committee day for me.  I have a meeting of the Constitution Committee this morning – we have several scrutiny items to consider – and then this afternoon, after a party meeting, I have a meeting of the Trustees of the History of Parliament, Sub-Committee E of the EU Committee (we are examining the initiation of legislation in the EU) and the Joint Committeee.  This evening, I have a seminar with my students on placement at Westminster.   The time-consuming aspect of committee work, though, is not so much attending the meetings as going through all the paperwork in preparation for them. 

Tomorrow, I shall be in Brussels with Sub-Committee E: we are taking evidence from various officials there. 

When I posted some diary items on an earlier post, I was asked if I was choosing my busiest days to blog about.  My busiest days aren’t spent in Westminster.  They are usually the ones spent in Hull teaching or engaging in academic research.  My busiest day this week has been Monday.  I know it was a Bank Holiday, but student essays don’t mark themselves!

2 comments for “Committee day…

  1. ladytizzy
    07/05/2008 at 4:13 pm

    How much of your time is devoted to HoL work, and to university work, in rough percentage terms? How much do they overlap? Venn diagram or pie chart?

    Who has benefited most from your experience since joining the HoL – students or peers? I’m genuinely interested on this; please, no self-deprecating answer!

  2. lordnorton
    09/05/2008 at 8:43 am

    ladytizzy: good question but almost impossible to answer. I usually spend four to four-and-a-half days a week in my University office and two-and-a-half days in the Lords. However, the location does not necessarily reflect the nature of the work. Being in my university office researching material for a speech in the Lords presumably counts as parliamentary work. Being sat in the Bishop’s Bar in the Lords having lunch and at the same time marking essays (something I shall be doing a lot of over the next week or so) counts primarily as academic. I have students on placement in the Commons and have weekly seminars with them in Westminster. I teach on an MA Online, which I do as often when I am at my desk in the Lords as when I am on campus. I use the train as a travelling office – I am not interrupted and I get through masses of paperwork – and it depends as to whether it is parliamentary or university work. Though there is some regularity to where I spend parts of each week, the balance between the type of work will vary enormously from week to week. The busiest days, though, are usually the ones on campus because of the volume of teaching I need to get through in order to free up time for the Lords.

    The overlap is enormous in that I do work that is as useful for academic and parliamentary purposes. I was in Brussels yesterday wearing my parliamentary hat as part of an inquiry into the initiation of EU legislation: the evidence was excellent, obviously of value to the committee’s work but also tremendously useful to me in my teaching.

    Who has benefited most? I like to think each has benefited – I use my experience in the Lords to inform my teaching and my academic research to inform my parliamentary work. Wherever I am, I regard myself as pursuing my vocation as a teacher. Given that, I think I would have to say the answer to your question is the House of Lords. Membership of the House helps my existing teaching in Hull whereas my work in the Lords is a more significant extension of informing parliamentarians through my writings. Whether my colleagues think they have benefited is another matter entirely!

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