Friday, 11 June 2010

Confirmation Hearings

The US Senate has a long history of "confirmation hearings" - rooted in its constitutional role to give its "advice and consent" to the President in respect of appointments to the judicial and executive branch. The process is described in a CRS Report available here.

It has long been a hope of reformers in the House of Commons that Select Committees will play a greater role in scrutinising major appointments. As with many things in the British Parliament, there has been a slow evolution of their role. The Coalition Agreement appears to suggest that things are about to change.

A House of Commons Library paper issued this week, outlines some of the background and issues. It is available here.

Britain is not about to adopt a system like that of the US Senate - we won't be rushing into the types of logjams in appointments that can occur when there are partisan divisions over particular nominations - and individual MPs won't be able to put "holds" on nominations - but there could be a significant improvement in the ability of Parliament to scrutinise.


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