How not to respond to a committee report

Lord Norton

On Tuesday, the House debated a report from the Constitution Committee of the Lords on The office of Lord Chancellor. It was a reasoned report, making a number of recommendations.  In the debate, peers commended various of the proposals advanced by the committee.  However, what was remarkable was the unanimity among backbench speakers as to the inadequacy of the Government’s response.  (You can read it, in the form of letter from the then Lord Chancellor, here.)   The report was published last December and it took the then Coalition Government more than two months (they are expected to respond to reports within two months) to prepare a response.  The response was notably inadequate, both In terms of length and content.   As I said in my speech, it basically conveyed the message, “We broadly agree with the report, except where it makes any substantive recommendation, in which case we don’t agree with it, but we can’t be bothered to engage with the report and provide reasoned arguments for our stance”.  As I went on to note, the minister’s letter consisted of 115 lines, excluding headings, of which 58 comprised direct quotes from the committee’s report.  In other words, half the Minister’s letter simply reproduced the committee’s recommendations.  The Government’s actual response occupied 57 lines, constituting fewer than 800 words.

The criticism came from all parts of the House, including from distinguished jurists on the cross-benches.  The strength of feeling was clear and the minister could hardly ignore it.  He has taken the views of the House back to his Department.  I suggested the Government produce a fresh response to the committee’s report.  Watch this space.

 

1 comment for “How not to respond to a committee report

  1. MilesJSD
    16/07/2015 at 2:22 am

    What worries me is the fact that Western Civilisation still entraps and erodes us under set-in-concrete Constitutions
    dominated by out-of-date “life”-paradigms
    such as the Euclidean, Cartesian, Medical Reductionist Mechanistic and “science one-track-mindednesses”, and the legalistic “black or white. Yes or no, ‘precisely which straw is breaking the camel’s back’, “competitiveness”.

    All tantamountly-arrogantly inhibiting both Earth-Life progress and Human Developmental advancement.
    [Under British Law for instance “there is no such legal entity as “health” [AgeConcern Plymouth’s ‘free’ legal; advice.
    Adversarism, often one-eyedly destructive, “winner takes all” in both the Earthlife-conservation and the desperately needed Earth-citizenship education programme, rules both our head-&-heart reasoning and the excessively destructive Life-results we are wreaking upon the ground.

    Thus, the Constitution itself must be out-of-date, and increasingly “full of holes”;
    and thereunder what chance have we, many of whom are striving to rid oujrselves of both Official Repression and complicit Self-Suppression got
    of having “fit for longest-term Purpose” Lord Chancellors,
    and fit all other “constitutionally-set, appointed, or elected Governance and Establi8shment job-parameters ?

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