Lords and Commons out of sync

lordknight

This week sees the beginning of the long summer recess for both the Lords and Commons, but with the Lords working an extra day. This ought not be remarkable as long as events are proceeding in a normal way. But they are not.

The Commons finish on Tuesday. For a small group of backbenchers who serve on the Culture Media and Sport select committee they finish with a flourish when their proceedings will no doubt be carried live by more than just BBC Parliament. As everyone knows they have summoned James and Rupert Murdoch who still look like they will turn up, although the attendance of Rebekah Brooks looks doubtful following her arrest. It promises to be an interesting session and, given the ability of this scandal to throw up major incidents on a daily basis, there is the potential that it will generate more issues of major public interest.

If the select committee lives up to it’s billing it is bound to appear odd to the public that the Lords is sitting the following day and could discuss any new revelations, but the elected Commons is not. The Prime Minister will be back from his shortened trade mission to Africa and therefore available for Prime Ministers Questions. Instead he will look like he is ducking the scrutiny whilst any urgent question will be left to the Lords, and no doubt to Baroness Rawlings to answer.

We will also have the same potential scenario in October. The Lords has had it’s recess shortened so we come back for the week of Tory conference. This means that any announcements the Tories make to the faithful will have to be announced to Parliament in the Lords if the ministerial code of announcing things to Parliament first is to be followed. Surely a recipe for chaos?

And why are we having to put in the extra days? In short because the Government are running out of time to get their business through the Lords. They are trying to push through several major pieces of legislation – welfare, police, education, localism, and then health. Major changes need significant scrutiny and peers on all sides are taking that job seriously. This takes time and that is now in short supply despite the Government’s unprecedented move of not having a Queens Speech this year to create a two year session. There are serious timetabling problems of the government’s own making.

Maybe everything will calm down. Maybe the sovereign debt crisis will blow over without more economic crises that need debate. Maybe the collapse of confidence in the relationships between politicians, the media and the police will all end happily ever after. Maybe the government will suddenly discover how to create consensus on it’s legislation so it goes through Parliament quickly. If so, it’ll all be fine and there will just be the extra cost of the Lords sitting for a few more days.

Or maybe the Commons will look out of touch as it is not around to debate the massive issues of the day when the Lords are. And maybe then Government business managers will see the benefit of synchronising when the Lords and Commons are in recess.

13 comments for “Lords and Commons out of sync

  1. Lord Blagger
    18/07/2011 at 10:59 am

    And why are we having to put in the extra days? In short because the Government are running out of time to get their business through the Lords.

    Or because you’re inefficient.

    Why not just get you abolished as a quango and be done with?

    600 million of savings over 5 years runs quite a few nurses and prevents people being killed.

  2. 18/07/2011 at 11:01 am

    “And maybe then Government business managers will see the benefit of synchronising when the Lords and Commons are in recess.”

    Or they scrap the recess entirely?

    (yes, I know the recess has it’s uses, but there must be better ways of holding government to account than shutting down the two Houses every summer?)

  3. lordknight
    18/07/2011 at 11:13 am

    No sooner had I hit publish than I hear the PM will make a statement on Wednesday. Maybe they’re learning

  4. Dave H
    18/07/2011 at 12:24 pm

    It appears to be a problem for recent governments that they try to put through too much legislation – there was a mad scramble in the last session of the previous government to try to get too much done for proper scrutiny and it sounds as though this one is doing the same thing. The Lo9rds should take as much time as it needs to properly scrutinise what is presented, because too much bad stuff has already leaked through in the past decade, ambiguous (possibly deliberately so) and therefore misused in ways that were not originally intended (using anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland being a good example of this).

    The Lords should not be afraid to tell the Commons that there is too much to do properly in the time allowed and ask the government which Bill(s) should be dropped to the back of the queue in order that a proper job can be done on the rest.

    As for the hacking thing, it appears that the PM may well have the Commons in on Wednesday.

  5. Twm O'r Nant
    18/07/2011 at 1:11 pm

    Trial by Television?

    The one thing that would have motivated the arrest of Rebekah Brooks was the TV news clip at a select committee meeting, of her admission that she had paid Policemen, as a bribe.

    My own long standing interest is in what motivates the judgements of a higher crime and misdemeanour, for which two notorious
    Serbo-croats are now in clink in the Hague.

    One wonders whether Karadzic has all the media clips on which he will be judged by the public on TV, and from TV, when the time comes.

    The task of the judge at the ICTY is easy if the accused does not have the opportunity to present TV news footage of his side of the argument. He may not even be aware of such files, compared with the sifting powers of the News editors.

    Rebecah Brooks has a similar problem if not the same. She has to concentrate on what she meant by that particular remark to th select committee, or whether she merely said it out of bravado, or an attempt to boost news papers sales!

    She should surely be allowed to answer to a select committee, in the same way as she did
    when she made the off the cuff remarks some years ago?

  6. Twm O'r Nant
    18/07/2011 at 4:52 pm

    I have been reminded that parliament cannot be corrupt, but committees of it, may be.

    A case in point was Masonic membership of the Home affairs committee, which Lord Irvine attempted to resolve in about 2000.

    Police again! He demanded that members of the committee should declare themselves, as masons/non masons to be members of the said committee. I did not find the outcome of his deliberations but I some how have my doubts that he had any success, especially after the two resignations of the last 36 hours.

    I spoke at length in agreement with the LC at that meeting.

  7. Twm
    18/07/2011 at 4:53 pm

    I have been reminded that parliament cannot be corrupt, but committees of it, may be.

    A case in point was Masonic membership of the Home affairs committee, which Lord Irvine attempted to resolve in about 2000.

    Police again! He demanded that members of the committee should declare themselves, as masons/non masons to be members of the said committee. I did not find the outcome of his deliberations but I some how have my doubts that he had any success, especially after the two resignations of the last 36 hours.

    I spoke at length in agreement with the LC at that meeting.

  8. Rich
    18/07/2011 at 10:10 pm

    My Lord has lost his mind. The scheduling squeeze has been of the Government’s making? That’s laughable. After the AV bill was filibustered and because of the Opposition won’t agree to take bills in Grand Committee, there is huge pressure on time in the Chamber. That is the Opposition’s doing, not the Government’s.

    • lordknight
      19/07/2011 at 12:05 am

      Wrong Rich. After the Energy bill, we have agreed to the Education bill going into the Moses Room, even thought it is a huge and controversial bill. Sessions are packed and with speakers on all sides. The Opposition have been more than co-operative. The problem is the lack of readiness and controversial nature of government legislation. Maybe ministers should take a leaf out of Lord Taylor’s book and learn to compromise with the Lords.

  9. Lord Blagger
    19/07/2011 at 8:46 am

    Desperate for a say Jim? Commons not taking any notice of you now you’ve been kicked out by the voter?

    Perhaps the commons will decide like the rest of us that the unelected have no say in dictating to the rest of us how much we should pay for power.

    After all it was your party that put 200 a year on poor people’s fuel bills, with the plan to add another 600 on top.

    So much for the poor of the UK.

  10. maude elwes
    19/07/2011 at 4:42 pm

    This pretence at not knowing policeman take bribes is a nonsense. Where have they been living?

    Police are made up of the same material as all of mankind and therefore would be expected to behave as society does.

    Some do and some don’t. But, from parking tickets up, police have been taking bribes for a very long time. In fact as far back as Dickson of Dock Green fame.

    Is it really such a surprise to find it begins at the top and trickles down? I don’t think so. The public are really very mature people. It appears governments are not.

  11. MilesJSD
    milesjsd
    20/07/2011 at 3:01 pm

    In view of another blog saying that “the onus is on the people to ensure their Needs and Constructive-contributions are properly (professionally) written and delivered to the Correct State Department in good time to be considered”

    “Wrong !”

    It is not only the ‘co-duty’ of the Commons and the Lords to synchronise their legislative calendars and timetables

    but their duty to ensure all of the Peoples’ Needs and Constructive-contributions are written and received by the Right-Collating-&-Clearing-House in plenty of time to be read by all and considered in the construction of legislation.

    Surely ?

    1502PM. W20. JSDM.

    • MilesJSD
      milesjsd
      20/07/2011 at 11:31 pm

      please read “…contributions are written by the people, and received by the Right (Desk), in plenty of time…”

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