Last week, the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill achieved some unexpected publicity. There was a leak from the committee about what had been discussed as to the proposed size of the House. On what one suspects was a slow news day, the BBC had a substantial item about the committtee’s deliberations. This gave the committee public exposure that it has not previously achieved. Indeed, we seem so far to have failed miserably in our attempt to raise public interest. That’s certainly the case if we use as our criterion the written submissions made to the committee.
Last week, I was collating the written submissions made to the Constitution Committee as part of its inquiry into the judicial appointments process. I put the pile of submissions alongside those submitted to the Joint Committee. Despite judicial appointments not exactly being a first-order constitutional issue, the pile of submissions was more or less the same height as that for submissions to the Joint Committee. As you will see from the Joint Committee’s website, we have so far had 98 written submissions. The vast of majority of these are from MPs, peers, academics and organisations such as interest groups and think tanks. On my count, a maximum of 22 are from members of the public, a category that could hide some academics. Whether or not the number increases significantly as a result of last week’s unexpected publicity remains to be seen.