Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Parliament not busy? Government hectic.

The meme of the day is that Parliament has nothing to do; members are so starved of new legislation to pass, adventurist wars to debate or set-piece play-acting opportunities for public grandstanding that they are having to take longer holidays. The egregious Squeaker is so disturbed that he has introduced top-of-the-pops style steadycams to wander the chamber capturing ultra-CU up-nostril shots, dutch tilts and power zooms in an effort to improve his news coverage.

Cynics are not convinced. Some two out of three new laws are made in Brussels, not Westminster, so the EU has won; our Parliament is redundant. Which is only partly true, I think.

If Parliament is not busy, government certainly is; the tendency to legislate by Statutory Instrument, and particularly the provisions of the negative resolution procedure, mean that Ministers can churn out new laws that never attract a single word of debate in the chamber, and Cameron's government uses them in Spades, as the official figures show;

Up a third at least from the previous Labour shambles. Those civil service cuts haven't worked, then Dave - or perhaps, as we all suspect, you're as committed to centralist Whitehall command and control as all the rest?

And of course short Parliamentary sittings are very attractive to a government that sees Parliamentary oversight as an inconvenience - particularly the work of the select committees, which have been evolving a power all their own. Halve the time the House sits, and you halve the embarrassment of ministers and civil servants called to lie testify by the committees. 

So no cause to celebrate, as the MSM would believe. Less democracy, more undemocratic governance. 


Sackerson said...

Excellent work, Raedwald, you've just made me find out about negative resolution procedure.

Nick Drew said...

an excellent recent book - The Blunders of our Governments - points out, inter alia, that the UK Parliament is almost uniquely rubbish at pre-legislative scrutiny: contrasts very badly with (e.g.) Germany, which in many other respects has a similar parliamentary system

the Committee stages of (UK) legislation are entirely partisan and whipped, with no serious attempt to knock the Bill into shape: majority party members seek to ensure Govt gets its way; opposition just tries to score a few points along the way

result is shockingly crap legislation time after time, the sole product of lobbyists + the Whitehall ivory-tower circle-jerk, untouched by intelligent critique or inputs from real life etc

there's an obvious answer to 'what should our MPs be doing' here ...

G. Tingey said...

Every single word is true.

Now what?