Friday 13 July 2012

Even Commoner than the Commons

This is quite an old story, but I’ll admit that it had passed me by.  The UK Coalition is introducing a new stage in the legislative process called the ‘public reading’ stage, which creates a formal mechanism for members of the public to comment on, and suggest amendments to, parliamentary bills.  It’s been piloted on the rather Orwellian-named “Protection of Freedoms” Bill, but will in due course be introduced as a formal stage for all legislation.
I can’t imagine that many of us will take advantage of this process, or that the Government would pay very much attention to anything we did say.  It is likely, however, to be used by a range of interest groups, often people who have a degree of expertise and knowledge which is lacking in the average MP.  The sort of expertise and knowledge which supporters of the continuation of a second chamber argue that chamber should provide.
At the heart of the debate about the future of the House of Lords is the desire of some to have a mechanism by which someone else can do the job which MPs seem patently unable or unwilling to do, namely to scrutinise badly drafted legislation and suggest amendments.  At the same time, however, they want to avoid giving those scrutineers any real power or influence which might enable them to challenge the right of the House of Commons to pass badly-drafted legislation any time it the government so wishes.
This new legislative stage might provide an alternative way of doing that; and the scrutineers wouldn’t even need to be paid, let alone provided with an elegant club house in Westminster with nice red benches upon which to rest their backsides.  It’s not a bad idea, although I have a preference, whatever other changes are made, for those sitting on the green benches to do the job for which they are elected rather than behave as slaves to the whips.

1 comment:

G Horton-Jones said...

John have already shown and are showing how effective Joe public can be in influencing government
This is a very effective tool for galvanising public involvement on current issues and it would be a very stupid political party that did not listen to what was being said
The power of the BBc and ITV "national News2 and that of newspapers such as the Daily Mail to control public knowledge and events is slipping rapidly away
On apersonnal level I find that Institute of Welsh Affairs has a lot going for it in that positively encourages response to its daily articles of Welsh interest
ps Am I alone in thinking that it is getting more diificult to prove I am not a robot or is my eyesight failing