The folly of fiddling

Lord Tyler

I have no way of knowing whether today’s report in the Independent – about English MPs’ role in the House of Commons – is accurate, since it is evidently a leak from those in the Conservative Party who are clearly seeking to demote those who represent Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland constituencies.

What I do know is that the remit of the McKay Commission concentrated solely on the mechanics of the Commons.  When I and my colleague Lord Marks gave evidence we pointed out that any constraint on the role and responsibilities of MPs would have implications for our House as well:  would Peers from Scotland, or those with ancient Scottish titles, be similarly affected ?  If the Commons introduced a procedure which gave a special voice to one group of MPs how would this impact on our consideration of that Bill ?   How would they deal with subsequent Lords amendments ?

No doubt the formidable Lords Constitution Committee will examine these issues, and ask too why this is an appropriate time to make such a major constitutional change, shortly before the outcome of the Scottish Independence Referendum either makes it redundant or requires another major rethink.  Of course, eventually, we all have to face-up to the lack of devolution in England, but this must be the most idiotic time to try to deal with it by fiddling with parliamentary procedure.

10 comments for “The folly of fiddling

  1. Lord Blagger
    10/07/2013 at 4:37 pm

    Look you passed the law that prevented English MPs from fiddling as you put it, in Scottish and Welsh laws.

    Now your complaining that you want the Scots to fiddle in English law.

    Hypocrite.

    Meanwhile, we get no say in your fiddling in our affairs.

  2. 10/07/2013 at 5:16 pm

    I agree that they shouldn’t “fiddle” with parliamentary procedures.

    However, if they were to fiddle, the question isn’t whether MPs are “English” or “Scottish”, it’s whether they represent a constituency that is affected by the legislation. As peers don’t represent a constituency, the issue isn’t relevant to the upper house. Whether a peer – or his title – is Scottish doesn’t matter.

    • Dave H
      11/07/2013 at 12:49 pm

      It’s more complicated than that. If there’s a bill before Parliament regarding (for example) a nuclear power station in Somerset, that is going to directly affect only two constituencies, so in theory only two MPs would be eligible to vote. Or you could argue that if the bill involved the use of taxpayers’ money, it affects all constituencies and so all MPs should get to vote.

  3. ladytizzy
    10/07/2013 at 5:46 pm

    Oh. I had presumed Lib Dems had the answer but chose not to share this with us until later stages of the Draft Lords Reform Bill.

  4. Croft
    11/07/2013 at 11:22 am

    “If the Commons introduced a procedure which gave a special voice to one group of MPs how would this impact on our consideration of that Bill ?”

    In what way is this any different than the Scottish Grand Committee that operated before devolution?

    I rather suspect as always this is more about politics. The vast majority of all parliamentary bills are English (or E and Welsh the latter decreasingly so as devolution continues). If English MPs had a blocking vote the LDs and Labour would be in a minority on most parliamentary business. Clearly this would cripple Labour’s ability to legislate via Scottish votes and the LDs ability to play kingmaker in a hung parliament.

  5. Nazma FOURRE
    11/07/2013 at 12:38 pm

    Dear Lord Tyler
    I strongly feel that the commons cannot rule ammendments of the House of Lords which should be left on its own for prior decisions about the Lord’s committee.Let the Lords be free to dress up their own political values and leadership.I still will be suggesting the appointment of Lords from other European countries.I wish you could give to this idea which I shall continue to cherish,a memory share among other lords and that other Europeans could have the chance to be Lords.
    God save the United Kingdom. God bless the Lords and the Queen.
    Nazma FOURRE

  6. Tally
    12/07/2013 at 6:39 am

    The Scottish Welsh and Northern Irish Parliaments are exempt from the House of Lords,they have no need for it. It then follows that England has no need for the House of Lords where unelected non English Peers can reject purely English affairs. the time has come to scrap the House of Lords and have an elected British Grand Committee to use that chamber for pan British affairs only. The 4 Nations of the UK to have equal representation regardless of population size.
    The House of Commons can then be used as the English Parliament,with hopefully a lot less MP’s.

  7. Senex
    12/07/2013 at 1:49 pm

    Constitution Committee: do they interpret the constitution for the executive before government bills are presented in the Commons?

    NO! Well who does then, because we all need to know?

    Let’s start at the top: the Queen is an ex-officio Head of State who derives her office from another office that of being a member of the executive in the HoL. She is the only Head of State in Europe if not the world who is a member of the executive in this way? The reason: continuity and political stability over centuries. To say this almost sounds like an apology.

    Next the Lord Chancellor: much has been said in debate on his role but very little on the provenance of the office. The King is all powerful but he has duties of a technical nature that would make him a dull boy if he were to pursue them. Answer: delegate these duties to another and enjoy life. So the powers of the Lord Chancellor are the King’s but can the King trust the person(s) who now administer his power, after all, no Act of Settlement 1701 yet exists.

    The answer is NO; he is unwilling to trust his judges so he is present in the HoL when they go about their business. A millennium later or so the Law Lords faced with their removal from the HoL are at odds as to whether they should go or not.

    Crucially, whilst still under a writ of summons they take a majority vote amongst themselves. The outcome will lead to the creation of the UK Supreme Court. These Judges acted politically to deny Parliament its right to facilitate the interpretation of the constitution as part of a constitutional pre-processing legislative model.

    What everybody missed is that the Lord Chancellor never left the HoL at all, his powers simply returned to their point of origin and the Queen is now the Lord Chancellor. One has to ask what ‘King’ in their right mind would want to see all of this techie stuff land back in their lap. No more fun you see!

    New Labours political paradigm was born in the USA during the Clinton era. It remains a constitutional post processing model that trusts judges in a Supreme Court. Oddly though, they never gave the UK Supreme Court the powers of a post processing model; they in effect betrayed their own political paradigm. Or was there another more sinister motive for doing this?

    The net result is we have a constitutional pre-processing model with a post processing UK Supreme Court with no constitutional powers. We are stuck in limbo between the two; the people robbed of their constitutional protection by what?

    Things have been stripped to the bone and now a Dark Ages ‘Saxon’ Queen is the only judge left to interpret the constitution and this only a few years away from a new Caroline era where the King will not be shy of interpreting the constitution the way he wants. Parliament has made all of this possible.

    Blair’s Lord Chancellor reforms ruining constitution
    http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/opinion/letters/blair039s-lord-chancellor-reforms-ruining-constitution

  8. Old Albion
    12/07/2013 at 2:07 pm

    I find myself in complete agreement with’Tally’

  9. Stephen Gash
    12/07/2013 at 6:59 pm

    Replace the unelected Lords with an elected English parliament. Or better still let’s have English independence.

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