Washminster

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Washminster

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The One to watch

The activities of the Health Committee have been interesting lately. Ahead of a government policy announcement in November on a new obesity strategy, it is holding a series of high profile hearings on tackling the problem. Yesterday, Jamie Oliver gave evidence.






Jamie's evidence begins 27 minutes into the hearing. Another hearing is going on as I write this.



But a row has developed over the Government's refusal to allow the committee access to the data upon which the strategy is based. Withholding information until it is too late - is one of the oldest tricks in the book - but one which is not in the interest of good scrutiny. For more information - and the exchange of letters - visit the Health Committee website - here

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Ofqual Session

I've just come out of the session that the Education Committee held with Ofqual. It was a very interesting morning. The committee had requested evidence and questions from both "the obvious suspects" - Exam Boards and Teaching unions; and from anyone who has an interest in the subject. These wider calls for evidence and questions are an encouraging development in the select committee system. MPs of course will use their own knowledge - and information provided by interested parties in their constituency - but this allows Parliament to be more effective  in representing the British people.


The questions asked, and answers given should be available within a couple of days as the uncorrected transcript is produced. The video is available athttp://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/5c18324a-e3ad-4efc-8b5a-acb00c017881

Education Select Committee

This morning I will be attending the Education Select Committee - as part of my long term study in the development of that committee. Today's witnesses will be Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator & Chief Executive, Ofqual Amanda Spielman, Chair, Ofqual.  This will be a one-off evidence session on the work of Ofqual, focussing on its work in regulating examinations, including reform of GCSEs and A levels.

More information about the work of Ofqual can be found on its website - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual

The video recordings of the first two evidence sessions undertaken by the committee can be accessed by clicking on the links below

Session with Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State.

Session with Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Education (Ofsted)





Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Obesity



Today, the Health Committee will be meeting for an evidence session as part of their short inquiry into childhood obesity. It builds upon the Committee’s work in the last Parliament on the impact of diet and physical activity on health. This inquiry specifically considers what the Government’s policy priorities should be for addressing childhood obesity.

Their report on the impact of diet and physical activity on health can be downloaded from here.

Today's witnesses include -

Dr Paul Darragh, Board of Science, British Medical Association
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman, Action on Sugar
Malcolm Clark, Co-ordinator, Children’s Food Campaign
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability,
British Retail Consortium
Ian Wright, Director General, Food and Drink Federation
Chris Snowdon, Director of Lifestyle Economics, Institute for Economic Affairs

I very much wish that I could go - but am unable to. However I will be using the excellent facility on Parliamentlive.tv to watch videos of hearings. If you are a follower of Parliament, or have a specific policy interest, this is a website to bookmark.

Monday, 12 October 2015

What's Next?


It's been an eventful time of late. In the UK the Labour Party surprised itself by electing Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader. He has no ministerial or front bench experience - and is ideologically further to the left than most of the Parliamentary Labour Party - but gained an impressive win, and the term "Corbyn-mania" has entered the language. (I never recall the terms Wilson-mania or Callaghan-mania in my youth!). I attended the Party Conference in Brighton - and it was interesting to feel the strange mix of enthusiasm and trepidation - with some individuals showing both.

The Conservative Party Conference was even more interesting - as the battle for the succession to Cameron was clearly in full swing.

Parliament returns this week - and we will see how these developments impact on the atmosphere in Westminster - and upon events themselves.


In Washington, events took an even more dramatic turn - with John Boehner's shock announcement that he was standing down as Speaker. Then, as the GOP conference met to elect his successor, the favourite - Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy withdrew. The disruptive power of the small group of ultra-conservatives was evident for all to see. Further developments will be monitored closely!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Labour Party Conference

A very busy conference - posts rom the conference can be found at http://jdmprogressive.blogspot.co.uk

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Parliamentary Twitter Atlas

Information is power - and knowing what is going on around Westminster can be the key to getting on - whether you work in "the Palace" or outside.

So this atlas - as well as being fun - is useful if you use twitter to know what is going on in the world. (click on the picture for all the detail)


Of course - other twitters accounts to follow include my own @washminsterparl (and if you lean progressively - @jdm_progressive)

Friday, 25 September 2015

Welcome to Open University Students


The new academic year is about to begin for the Open University Law courses. I'll be teaching W200 and W201 courses in Birmingham and Reading. If you have just become one of my students - welcome to the Washminster Blog. One of the objectives of this blog is to explain how the subjects in the law courses relate to what happens in the real world. As someone who works in Parliament (and has worked there for a number of years & has other experience of the academic subjects we will be studying), I can apply theory to practice - and that's what this blog seeks to do.

Of course if you are not one of my OU Students - you are welcome too. I do put in a lot of material related to law, but that is far from the exclusive interest of this blog - as a look back over the last eight years of entries shows.

I like to brighten up posts with pictures, and occasional videos. That may not be possible for the next few days - because of limited access to computing facilities - but there should be some posts reflecting matters in the news.

David

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Planning for Conference

As yesterday's post highlighted - Conference season is upon us. If one is going, what planning is involved? These are my thoughts - after many Labour Party conferences, the first being back in 2000.

Planning ahead is essential. This week there will be people booking their accommodation for the 2016 Conference in Liverpool. Accommodation can be hard to find - particularly as conference gets closer. The numbers involved in a major party conference are immense - delegates, party members, party officials, exhibitors - and most need overnight accommodation during the conference.

Applications for the various tickets are usually required during the late spring and summer. Constituency Labour Parties & affiliated organisations choose delegates to send during this period. "Balcony Passes" are available to party members who wish to attend.

Train tickets also need to be bought in advance.

At the beginning of September, the Conference Magazine is sent out. I immediately get out my conference planning grid - which has evolved since I first attended a conference - in Brighton - back in 2000. Using the conference Magazine I choose which events I hope to attend. The problem is that there is always so much on - so my excel file allows me to put order of preference for each event at the same time. Circumstances change - a really interesting event requiring a long walk in horrendous weather may be sacrificed if I'm running rate (or don't fancy the awful rain and wind outside).

Below are photos of my grid for last year's conference in Manchester.


 

I'll be printing out my final version for this year's Brighton conference - and armed with any required tickets, will be ready to set off at the weekend. But first, the packing...

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Party Conference Season

 

We are already into the swing of "Conference Season". As long term readers of this blog will know, I have frequently written about conferences - and attended Labour Party Conferences, many times since this blog began. This Blog has a couple of search facilities - if you want to go back and see what has been written in the past.

There is a dedicated search engine - "SEARCH THIS BLOG" to the right of the page, just above my picture. Alternatively you can search by Month and Year, under "BLOG ARCHIVE" (also on the right of the page).

This year's conferences are -

Liberal Democrats: 19th - 23rd September in Bournemouth
Labour: 27th - 30th September in Brighton
Conservative: 4th - 7th October in Manchester

Other party conferences are -

UKIP: 24th - 26th September in Doncaster
Green Party: 25th - 28th September in Bournemouth
SNP: 15th - 17th October in Aberdeen
Plaid Cymru: 23rd - 24th October in Aberystwyth

Monday, 21 September 2015

Government Spending


The Treasury has produced a brief guide to Government Expenditure, explaining the key terms used. In coming weeks, I'll be looking in detail at how Government money (that's the money provided by you and me) is spent. This is a useful primer on the terms used (from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-understand-public-sector-spending/how-to-understand-public-sector-spending)

1. An overview

Public sector spending, also referred to as government spending or public expenditure, refers to the money that the government spends. It can be spent on a range of different things – from central and local government, to public sector pensions and welfare.
Government expenditure can be broken down and understood in different ways. This guide outlines the basics behind the breakdown of public spending, and explains some of the terms that you may have heard used to describe different areas of the government’s budget.

2. Total government spending

The total amount that the government spends is also known as Total Managed Expenditure (TME). This is split up in to:
  • departmental budgets – the amount that government departments have been allocated to spend; this is known as Departmental Expenditure Limits, or DEL.
  • money spent in areas outside budgetary control – this is all spending that is not controlled by a government department and includes welfare, pensions and things such as debt interest payments.; this known as Annually Managed Expenditure, or AME.

3. Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL)

The government budget that is allocated to and spent by government departments is known as the Departmental Expenditure Limit, or DEL. This amount, and how it is split between government departments, is set at Spending Reviews.
Things that departmental budgets can be spent on include the running of the services that they oversee such as schools or hospital, and the everyday cost of resources such as staff.
The government controls DEL by deciding how much each department gets.

4. Annually managed expenditure (AME)

Annually managed expenditure, or AME, is more difficult to explain or control as it is spent on programmes which are demand-led – such as welfare, tax credits or public sector pensions.
It is spent on items that may be unpredictable or not easily controlled by departments, and are relatively large in comparison to other government departments.

5. Resource and capital spending

Money within both Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL) and Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) can be further split into resource spending and capital spending.
Resource spending is money that is spent on day to day resources and administration costs. Capital spending is money that is spent on investment and things that will create growth in the future.
The breakdown of both DEL and AME in to resource and capital spending means that sometimes people may refer to ‘resource Departmental Expenditure Limit ‘resource DEL’ or ‘RDEL’, for example.
The setting of resource and capital budgets within DEL and AME is also sometimes known as Resource Accounting and Budgeting, or RAB.

6. The role of the Treasury in controlling public spending

HM Treasury has a constitutional role in controlling public expenditure. Government departments need Treasury consent before undertaking expenditure or committing to spending.
All legislation that affects spending must have the support of the Treasury before it is introduced. Policy decisions with financial implications must be cleared with the Treasury before they gain approval by the Cabinet.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Putney Debates

 
The Festival of Freedoms continues. As this blog records, I went to a talk at Conway Hall last week, on Charles Bradlaugh. On Saturday I headed for St Mary's Church in Putney, where in October and November 1647, an extraordinary series of debates took place.

The "Festival of Freedoms" website says "It was a pivotal moment in our nation’s democratic past, as men came to discuss the rights of the people, and the fate of the King."


Professor Justin Champion outlined the history and significance of these debates. Some very modern ideas were discussed at the debates. Geoffrey Robertson has written that "The civil war years, 1641-49, first established what today are regarded as universal values - the supremacy of parliament, the independence of the judiciary, the abolition of torture and of executive courts, comparative freedom of speech and toleration of different forms of religious worship." The Putney Debates were informed by, and discussed, ideas from a group which has come to be known as the Levellers.

There are some excellent books about the debates. I've been reading the book "presented by" Geoffrey Robertson (as opposed to written - he has written a superb introduction. but the bulk of the book is material written by the levellers themselves).



I also picked up Dorian Gerhold's book at the church.



More events are planned in the coming days - see the pdf of the Festival Guide here.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Future Conditional


On Friday evening I went to the Old Vic to watch "Future Conditional". Starring Rob Brydon, it is enjoyable - at points hysterically funny - but with some important issues about Education to think about. As I am currently researching scrutiny of Education in the House of Commons, and take a keen interest in education policy (as well as being a fan of Rob Brydon), it was a must see play. Having now seen it - I would thoroughly recommend it - you will laugh - as well as be forced to think. Writer Tamsin Oglesby takes aim at many aspects of Education, no one is spared - but a key message is the domination of those who have power over those who don't. It has met mixed reviews, but I liked it! (and Quentin Letts absolutely hated it - which in itself is a good reason for going to see it!)

BBC Review
Guardian Review
Independent Review

Lett's rant

The Old Vic - for booking tickets.



Saturday, 12 September 2015

Accustomise your ears to French


VIVRE A LA FRANCAISE AVEC FRL
Tous les jours, retrouvez vos chansons préférées et des émissions toutes plus variées les unes que les autres. Restez connectés à l’actualité avec nos flashs info, toutes les 30 minutes, de 6h à 22h en français et en anglais. FRL, c’est de la  musique pop rock et electro francophone d’hier et d’aujourd’hui : C2C, Daft Punk, Calogero, Téléphone, Zaz, Gaëtan Roussel, Alain Bashung, Indochine, Julien Doré, M, Phoenix, Mylène Farmer, Etienne Daho, Rita Mitsouko, MC Solaar, Cats on Trees, Stromae. Et aussi, les plus grands tubes internationaux.
FRL, pour les french fans à travers le monde, les francophones et les francophiles.
Célébrez avec nous la langue et l’art de vivre à la française :
- En en écoutant en direct ou à la demande sur www.frenchradiolondon.com ou sur votre smartphone.
- En téléchargeant notre application gratuite, disponible pour iPhone et Android maintenant.

N’oubliez pas de nous suivre sur les réseaux sociaux pour rester connectés avec nous.
Merci à tous pour votre fidélité et bonne rentrée !

Every day, catch your favourite songs and programmes, each one different from the next. Stay up to date with our breaking news bulletins, every 30 minutes from 6am to 10pm in French and English. FRL brings you past and present Pop, Rock and Electro music:  C2C, Daft Punk, Calogero, Telephone, Zaz, Gaëtan Roussel, Alain Bashung, Indochina, Julien Doré, M, Phoenix, Mylène Farmer, Etienne Daho, Rita Mitsouko, MC Solaar, Cats On Trees, Stromae. And also, the biggest international hits.

FRL is for French fans all around the world, Francophones and Francophiles. Join us
in the celebration of the French language and the French art de vivre - Listen live ,on demand via www.frenchradiolondon.com or on your smartphone by downloading our free app, available now for iPhone and Android.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I listen in to FRL on a fairly regular basis - it's a useful, but relaxing way to accustom my ears to the French language.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Representing their constituents


We elect MPs to Parliament to legislate on our behalf and ask the questions we would want asked of those who take the decisions which affect our lives. Select Committees are increasingly reaching out to the public to put questions forward.

The Education Select Committee (and others) now regularly announce in advance what issues they are holding inquiries into, and invite anyone to respond to their call for evidence. It's worth looking at the Committees' websites - and responding where you have expertise or opinions which could inform those inquiries.

In addition many Committtees are keen for members of the public to submit questions through social media. Nicky Morgan faced such questions (through Twitter) when she appeared before the Education Committee this week.

A guide for witnesses is available at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/witnessguide.pdf

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Education Select Committee

The Education Select Committee held its first evidence session yesterday. The Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, faced questions which ranged across the breadth of her responsibilities. The session lasted for over 90 minutes.



These days, Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) gain much of the coverage on TV news. Sadly this can give a misleading impression of the work done in Parliament to hold the Government to account. Each Government department has to live with a cross-party select committee which has the power to hold enquiries and to question Ministers and others at length. The "clever" answer which can disarm the House in PMQ's, can lead a minister into deep trouble - and Government backbenchers can be brutal in dealing with a Minister who is evasive.

Today's session will be followed next Wednesday by a session with the Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Already enquiries are being undertaken into

- The work of Ofsted
- The work of Ofqual
- The role of Regional Schools Commissioners

Select Committees play an important role in scrutiny - and the evidence they receive and reports they publish are increasingly important in the work MP's do to get answers that previous generations of Ministers could have avoided answering. A little more light is being shed.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bradlaugh

 
Charles Bradlaugh provoked many controversies, and many myths have grown around him. Last night, Deborah Lavin demolished the myths, and presented an absorbing story of a persistent man, who attracted some very powerful enemies. The talk (which will be repeated at 11.00am and 2pm on Sunday 25th October - as part of the Bloomsbury Festival - and I would thoroughly recommend attending) covered the life of the MP for Northampton. I had always understood it to be case that Bradlaugh was kept from taking his seat by the parliamentary manoeuvres of the Tories, who seized an opportunity to embarrass the incoming Liberal Government of Gladstone. But Lavin made a persuasive case for Gladstone himself being the culprit, eager to be rid of a "supporter" he detested.

It was an ugly fight. As an atheist, he sought to affirm rather than take the oath on a Bible. That had been allowed in courts as a result of legislation - which  Bradlaugh had used as a Solicitor's clerk, prior to the change in law he had complied with the requirement to take an oath. He made it clear that he was prepared to take the oath in Parliament if required, but his enemies denied him that, on the grounds of his atheism. He was sued for voting before he had taken such an oath, in an attempt to disqualify him from parliament - by bankrupting him (the fine was £500 for each vote). His seat was declared vacant a number of times, but he succeeded in winning re-election each time. But as a result of one attempt to enter the chamber he was imprisoned in the Clock Tower beneath the bell of Big Ben. It was Tory pressure that led to his release.

As suddenly as the controversy arose - it died. Lavin asserts that it was because Gladstone now needed Bradlaugh's vote, in a more tightly balanced House of Commons.

An interesting subject - in an engaging presentation. Don't miss it in October! (for more details, and to book - press here.)

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The House of Representatives This Week

That's it - the summer's over!

Labor Day has passed in the USA and the House of Representatives is back at work. This is the schedule sent out by the Majority Leader. (Times are of course those in Washington DC - add on 5 hours if you are in the UK. (GMT +4 during EDT)


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8TH
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. 
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 1344 - Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
2) H.R. 1462 - Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark / Energy and Commerce Committee)
3) H.R. 1725 - National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Authorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield / Energy and Commerce Committee)
4) H.R. 2820 - Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Authorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Energy and Commerce Committee)
5) S. 1359 - E-Warranty Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer / Energy and Commerce Committee)
 
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. 

On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
H. J. Res. 64 - Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce / Foreign Affairs Committee)

Monday, 7 September 2015

Parliament Returns


Both Houses of Parliament return today.

The House of Commons Calendar for the week can be found here and the House of Lords here.
Expect it to be a fiery week - as MP's get their first chance to question the Government about the events of the summer. First major item of business in the Commons is the 3rd Reading of the European Union Referendum Bill.

I'm looking forward to the first public meeting of the Education Select Committee - which I am continuing to follow for research. Earlier this year I presented papers to the Political Studies Association on the committee in the final year of the 2010 Parliament and to the 12th Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians, on the scrutiny in the House of Commons of Education. I hope to present further academic papers, focusing on the Education Select Committee, in future months. Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan (no relation), is appearing before the committee on Wednesday.

As noted in earlier posts, the Festival of Freedoms takes place - and I hope to attend a number of events.

On Saturday the announcement of the result of the Leadership elections for the Labour Party is announced. sadly I won't be at the special conference for that announcement - but I'm sure it will dominate my conversations at Westminster this week.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Gordon Welchman

Regular readers of this blog will already know that I live about a mile from Bletchley Park - and I am both a big fan of the place (and the tremendous work that has been done there to save, then turn it into a first class place to visit (I thought of using the term - 'museum', which it is - but that word has connotations of dry sterile exhibits - and Bletchley Park is warm, alive and engaging)) and a regular visitor. I'm reading through the many books that have been published about BP - some by the key players themselves.

Tomorrow evening (Monday 7th September), BBC2 are broadcasting - "Bletchley Park: Code-Breaking's Forgotten Genius". It's not about Alan Turing - who, we have come to understand in recent years - played a, once over-looked, key role in code-breaking, Mathematics and the development of computing. Instead it is about another of the fascinating characters who were brought together in Bletchley Park - Gordon Welchman.


Welchman too was a mathematician - and in 1950 he wrote a book, "Introduction to Algebraic Geometry". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (in a piece written by the son of the Head of BP)  recognises that "he made a SIGNIFICANT contribution to the solving of the Enigma machine cipher...he instinctively grasped a whole range of problems, possibilities, and solutions which included two vital mathematical constructs as well as a concept of the total process required, from the intercepted German ciphered traffic to passing on significant intelligence implications to the commanders in the field...the task of converting the original breakthrough into an efficient user of the material was one for which Welchman should receive much of the credit"

While Turing headed up Hut 8 (which dealt with naval codebreaking), Welchman headed up Hut 6 (army and air force codebreaking) .

I'm looking forward to the programme - I hope you do too (and tell your friends)

There are some good books available -

By Welchman himself -


and




Saturday, 5 September 2015

jdm_progressive



Warning - this won't be for everyone.

While Washminster is intended, BBC style, to be politically neutral (though I make no secret of the experience which lies behind this blog) - I have set up a website for those who consider themselves to be 'progressives'.

jdm_progressive was launched yesterday - and if you think it might be your 'cup of tea'  - please try it out at http://www.jdmprogressive.com/

It includes information about the UK Labour Party, the US Democrats and the French Parti Socialiste - and has links to my jdm_progressive twitter feed and a dedicated YouTube channel. I value feedback - so please let me know what you think.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Festival of Freedoms



There is a feast coming up - in the Palace of Westminster - and elsewhere - of events that are part of the Festival of Freedoms. I've booked for a number. Do let me know if you have tickets and are going - it would be nice to meet up. (and the events themselves are quite interesting!). For more information, follow the link here.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Dumbing Down of Politics


Thomas E Mann is an academic specialising in the US Congress, whose work I have great respect for. Of particular note (but there is so much more that he has done) is the joint writing he has done with Norm Ornstein - The Permanent Campaign and its Future (2000); The Broken Branch (2006); It's Even Worse than it Looks (2012).

In a recent Brookings Post he wrote - and it is worth reading!

Donald Trump and the Amen chorus of Republican presidential aspirants may have appeared to monopolize the capacity to make fantastical claims about what’s wrong with America and how to fix it. But a rival has appeared on the scene, outlining a very different fantasy plan to run for president on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig looks meek—a dead ringer for Mr. Peepers—yet is anything but. Lessig built an impressive career in legal scholarship on the regulation of cyberspace, and the mild-mannered, soft-spoken academic became a cult hero among libertarians fearful of increasing legal restrictions on copyright, trademark and the electromagnetic spectrum. But Lessig’s transformation into a political activist was spurred by his personal revelation that money in politics is the root of all our governing problems. Eliminate the dependence of elected officials on private donors and the formidable obstacles to constructive policymaking will crumble. Simple but searing truth, or a caricature of a complex governing system shaped by institutions, ideas/ideologies, and interests?



Lessig became a whirlwind of energy and organization to promote his new values and beliefs, leading efforts to “Change Congress,” convene a second constitutional convention, raise awareness of corruption in politics through the “New Hampshire Rebellion,” and start the “Mayday PAC,” a super PAC designed to end all super PACs. He wrote the bestselling book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and A Plan to Stop It, delivered a series of popular TED talks, and tirelessly traveled the country with his PowerPoint.

With none of these enterprises yet bearing fruit, Lessig has decided to raise the stakes. He has announced that if he receives $1 million from small donors by September, he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, running as a “referendum candidate.” His single-issue platform, built around the concept of “Citizen Equality,” consists of “true” campaign finance reform supplemented by electoral reform (to weaken the influence of gerrymandering) and voting rights. His goal is to use the election to build a mandate for political reform that will cure our democratic ills. Lessig will apparently have nothing to say about anything other than political reform, insisting that his issue should be and can be the number one priority of voters in the 2016 elections. If nominated and elected, President Lessig will serve in office only long enough to enact the Citizen Equality Act and then resign, turning over the powers and responsibilities of the office to the vice president. Recently he generously informed the Vice President that he would happily enable a third Joe Biden term by selecting him as his running mate.

The hubris of the Harvard Professor is breathtaking. In virtually every respect, his strategy is absurd. Lessig’s political reform agenda is stymied by Republicans, not Democrats. Why not direct his energies where the opposition resides? All of the current Democratic presidential candidates support the thrust of these reforms. But saying that this is their highest priority is likely to harm, not boost, their candidacies. Why would even the most ardent supporter of the three pillars of Lessig’s reform agenda cast a ballot solely on this basis? Big and important issues divide the two parties today and the stakes of public action or inaction are huge. We don’t have the luxury of using the election to try to build a mandate for a set of political reforms that would have no chance of passing in the face of GOP opposition and would be of only incremental utility if they did.

Campaign finance does play a corrosive role in our democracy and I have invested much of my career grappling with it. There is no doubt that money in elections facilitates the transfer of economic inequality into political inequality, and the spectacle of several hundred plutocrats dominating the finance of our elections should be a target of serious reform efforts in the courts and the Congress. At the same time it is foolish to imagine that campaign finance is the only route for private wealth to influence public policy or that its reform will dramatically transform the policy process. Money did not prevent the major legislative enactments of 2009-2010—including the stimulus, student loans, the Affordable Care Act, and financial services reform. Nor is it likely to be the critical factor on climate change, immigration, infrastructure or jobs and wages; which party wins the White House and whether control with Congress is unified or divided is key. If anything, the Lessig campaign is likely to weaken the forces for political reform by demonstrating just how small the relative priority for this action is.

Trump offers the country his outsider status, success in building his personal wealth, an outsized personality, a brashness in asserting how easily he can solve the country’s problems, and a hearty appetite for and skill in stoking the anger and fears of a segment of the country. He feeds the notion that a strong, fearless, wily leader, inexperienced and mostly uninformed in politics and governing, can be the man on a white horse saving a great country losing its exceptional status. His claim that all politicians are bought by private interests—a claim Lessig eagerly embraces—fits well with his grandiose claims that he alone can fix what ails the country. A significant segment of Republican voters, presumably not well versed in the American constitutional system are attracted to him, at least enough for him to be a factor in this election campaign.

Lessig is a far less commanding presence but his ambition burns no less than that of Trump. The notoriety, celebrity, and adoring audiences are heady stuff, even if on a much smaller scale. Lessig told Bloomberg that Trump’s candidacy is evidence that his reform message is taking hold. Lessig said, Trump “strikes people as credible when he says all these people (politicians) are bought—I used to buy them …Trump is saying the truth.” Lessig will be a minor figure in this election and the causes for which he fights are unlikely to advance from it. Both Lessig and Trump, despite their differences in visibility and importance in the election, will have contributed to the dumbing down of American politics, a reality that will bring tears to the eyes of civics teachers and political science professors across the country.

It is well worth signing up for Brookings newsletters - which can be done here.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

New to Congress

C-SPAN aired this interview with freshman, Brendan Boyle, who was elected last November as the Representative for the 13th District in Pennsylvania.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

And so back to work....

The summer is over (if you have been in Milton Keynes this last weekend, you'd know how true that is - it has rained, and rained, and rained - and I have been wearing a jumper!). Yesterday was the "Late Summer Bank Holiday", the last Bank Holiday here until Christmas Day.

Next week Parliament returns, and on the following Saturday the result of the Labour Party leadership election will be announced. It's time to put away the summer reading and get back to day to day politics.



Washminster returns - and this is the 2200th post. This blog has been running since March 2007. Do please free to look at some of the previous posts. They can be accessed in date order - or through the search function.

Autumn 2015 looks interesting - in the UK (where the major opposition party chooses a new leader, but faces an uncertain future) - This blog will follow the results - and (as in previous years) report directly from the Labour Party Conference at the end of this month. Parliament will be more closely monitored, as I do further research into the evolution of scrutiny. In the USA the long march to the 2016 elections continues - and who knows what further surprises are in store.


As part of my work, I monitor political stories (particularly relating to the work within legislatures - the UK Parliament; US Congress; French Assemblée nationale and the European Parliament) and teach Constitutional Law. Having twice run for the UK Parliament and once for the European Parliament (and participated in numerous elections - from local councils in the UK to three US Presidential elections) - I maintain a keen interest in the 'nuts and bolts' of elections.


So - whether you are studying Constitutional or EU Law or Political Science - or enjoy viewing politics on a comparative basis - or want to pick up anecdotes about history and politics - do become a regular, and welcome visitor to the Washminster Blog.

...and do tell your friends. Posts you like (or which infuriate you - I love a vigorous debate!) can be posted on Twitter and Facebook.

So here goes for a busy few months!!!!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Labour Party Leadership

I'm not going to use this blog to declare my support for any candidate - or, if you are eligible to vote in that contest - try to persuade you to support one or other of the candidates. Of course, I have my own views - and have been telephone canvassing for one of the candidates - and my facebook friends also know who I am backing - but this is not the place for me to campaign!

It has turned out to be a very interesting election. It's the first that is truly 'one person, one vote'. In previous elections the decision has been made through an electoral college - and it was possible to vote many times - within the different electoral college. So in 1994, I had a vote as a Labour Party Member; and votes as a member of the then TGWU (now Unite) and GMB Unions; and votes as a member of various Socialist Socities including the Co-operative Party; the Fabian Society; the Society of Labour Lawyers and the Christian Socialist Movement.

But for most of its history, the Labour Party selected its leader, purely through the Parliamentary Labour Party. Labour MPs got to vote - but no one else. I'm glad those days are over - and I campaigned for the change - but it had certain merits. That electorate knew the potential leaders up close - saw them regularly in action - and could rate their performance. (Of course those days preceded complete and live TV broadcasting from the chamber and committee rooms).

So - without revealing who I will be voting for - what sort of things should the electorate for the 2015 Leadership (and Deputy Leadership) consider when casting their votes? [Voting is by ordered preference - 1 for your preferred candidate; 2 for your second choice and so on].

What I did to come to my decision was to rate each candidate on a grid. Some were subjective; other's objective - such as how many MPs had supported their nomination. The square for "Who is backing had two entries - one for the total number - and another for MPs who I have a particularly high respect for (so that list, being personal - is also not going to be published.) I gave 4 for the best candidate 3 for the second best and so on. I added the figures for each candidate - by this time the decision was clear for me.



Do you have any other factors that you would propose? Please send me your suggestions and comments - to Washminster

Saturday, 1 August 2015

JDM's History Explorer

 
When not researching Parliament or Congress, I enjoy reading about - or visiting places associated with - history. Recently I started another blog dedicated to that passion.

http://jdmhistory.blogspot.co.uk/

The photograph today was taken in Milton Keynes Shopping Centre - it is a mosaic found in the Roman villa discovered in (what is now) Bancroft within the city. I have lots of information about the history of Britain's "New City". A friend from America told me that she was pleased that I loved the place to which I had moved - but "unlike many of ancient towns in England, Milton Keynes has no history". That was like a red rag to a bull - and I've been researching the great history of Milton Keynes ever since.

Do take a look at the new blog - which covers not just Milton Keynes - but wherever I indulge my passion for history.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Scrutiny


The paper I presented at Wroxton was called, ""Battles on Many Fronts: Education Scrutiny and Debate in the Twenty-First Century House of Commons". It was presented during a panel on "Westminster in Context" which also discussed papers by Meg Russell & Ruxandra Serban; Mark Shephard;  and Louise Thompson & Cristina Leston-Bandeira.

The paper describes the various opportunities open for parliamentary scrutiny of Education - and includes a table listing and giving examples of these. It looked in more detail at the scrutiny in the Education Select Committee and at the Public Bill Committee which undertook the committee stage of the Education and Adoption Bill. A further table was produced showing who had participated in Education Questions (which are held at 2.30pm on the Monday of every 5th Parliamentary week.

I'm happy to supply a copy of the paper, just email me.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Wroxton Conference


Last weekend I attended the Twelfth Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians. These are biennial conferences which have been held since the 1990s, and have settled in the Oxfordshire home of the North family. Lord North was the Prime Minister at the time of the American Declaration & War of Independence. Even the British Government website describe him as  "the man who lost Britain’s American colonies". It is now the home to an American University, Fairleigh Dickinson.

The workshop brought together parliamentarians from across the world, mainly from the countries who use the "Westminster Model" of legislatures, (Professor Meg Russell and Ruxandra Serban of the Constitution Unit put forward an excellent argument in a paper arguing that that term was in fact not useful, and should be retired.) and "parliamentary scholars". The workshops are organised by Lord Norton, whose textbooks and other writings have informed students of the British Parliament and UK politics for, dare I say it, generations.

I've attended a number of these conferences - and each time have returned home invigorated and inspired. There is some really good research going on, which is being put to practical use. The conference concluded with a discussion based with the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) report on "Common Principles for Support to Parliaments". The Parliaments of Bahrain, Bangladesh, Flanders (Belgium), Greece, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, The Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and of course the United Kingdom were all represented. Academics and practitioners of  Parliamentary development were also there in number.

I enjoyed reading some of the papers and attending the presentations and discussions. I have an extended reading list now to fill up the summer!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Westminster has closed for the hols!

... but Washminster will continue through the summer. I've spent the last weekend at the Wroxton Workshop for Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Scholars - then headed off to Bristol.

I will return to blogging very shortly!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

APPGs and Select Committees

Sometimes a media report on Westminster will mention reports "by MPs", or by "committees of MPs". Such phrases don't highlight the nature of the group involved.
 

Select Committees are set up by the House of Commons. (There are also Select Committees in the House of Lords and Joint Committees). The most well known are the Departmental Select Committees, which are covered by Standing Order 152. Further related Standing Orders are 121-152K (2015 Standing Orders as amended by the Addendum of June 2015). One of the most well known, and influential select committees is the Public Accounts Committee - which I attended on Tuesday.

There is a video on committees - accessible here.


APPGs (All Party Parliamentary Groups) are set up by MPs and Peers themselves. They are wholly unofficial. They can range from APPGs promoting serious policy issues, to ones celebrating a particular leisure or cultural interest of its members (such as the Jazz Appreciation APPG). A register of APPGs is regularly published (the latest - March 2015 - is available here)

The range can be seen from the last 20 entries -

Weight Watchers
Wellbeing Economics
West Coast Main Line
West Midlands
Wine and Spirit
Women and Enterprise
Women in Parliament
Women in the Penal System
Women, Peace and Security
Women’s Sport and Fitness
Wood Panel Industry
World Governance
Writers
Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire
Young Disabled People
Youth Affairs
Youth Hostelling
Youth Unemployment
Zoos and Aquariums
Zoroastrian

A guide to the rules governing APPGs can be found here.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Spending Review


This morning's British newspapers & news websites are full of information about the Spending Review which Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced yesterday. (Guardian,  Daily Mail, (how's that for balance!) - BBC, SkyNews).

The document itself is available here.

The results will be announce on 25th November - keep that date for your diary!

Periodic Spending Reviews have become a regular part of the British political scene. The most recent (with links) were in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Health Select Committee


Over the last year I have been attending sessions of the Education Select Committee - and for the last few weeks the Public Bill Committee for the Education & Adoption Bill. Yesterday I attended a Hansard Society event on select committee (which I will post about later this week).

Today, I hope to watch another committee in action - the health Select Committee. Here are the details -


The House of Commons Health Committee will be hearing oral evidence from Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, from 9.30 am.

The Committee is expected to question Mr Stevens on a variety of matters affecting the NHS, including the financial performance of the NHS, prevention and public health, the NHS workforce and staffing, urgent and emergency care, mental health services, and the post-Francis Review progress on changing culture in the NHS.

Ahead of the session, the Committee has received a brief statement from NHS England on progress with the NHS Five Year Forward View, published last October. The text of that statement can be found below.

Overview of progress on the Five Year Forward View

When the NHS came together to produce the Five Year Forward View our ambition was to reframe the terms of debate: to set out a shared view of the challenges ahead and the choices we face about the kind of health and care service we want in 2020. Working with patient groups, clinicians, local government and national partners, we tapped into a widespread consensus on the need for change, and a shared ambition for the future.

It’s a future that empowers patients, their families and carers to take more control over their own care and treatment: a future that dissolves the artificial divide between family doctors and hospitals, between physical and mental health and between health and social care. One that no longer locks expertise into outdated buildings, with services fragmented, patients having to visit multiple professionals for multiple appointments; one organised to support people with multiple conditions not just a single disease.
W
e now have a consensus about the challenges ahead, a commitment to at least £8bn of additional funding and support for the changes needed to shape the future NHS. Our shared challenge is to close three gaps in health care: the health and wellbeing gap, the care and quality gap, and the funding and efficiency gap. In the months since the Forward View’s publication, we have made progress in all three areas.

Closing the care and quality gap

As a catalyst to create new ways of delivering care that are better suited to modern health needs, we have initiated a ‘Vanguard’ programme to develop, implement and learn how to replicate the new care models outlined in the Forward View. 269 localities came forward with their ideas on how to design new models of care, and following a period of peer assessment, 29 were selected to form the initial cohort. We have since initiated two further Vanguard groups.  The first invites expressions of interest from hospitals across England to develop new ways of collaborating and sharing resources.  The second seeks areas covering five million people to become Urgent and Emergency Care Vanguards. The successful areas will be announced shortly.

Our aim is not just to improve services in the Vanguard areas, but to develop models that can be replicated elsewhere, so that all patients can benefit in the future. However, there are a number of local health and care systems where the conditions for transformation do not yet exist. In these challenged areas, we will implement a ‘Success Regime’. The first cohort includes North Cumbria, Essex and Northern, Eastern and Western Devon. These areas will benefit from short-term improvement in current performance, support for medium and longer term transformation, and a greater focus on leadership capacity and capability.
We have also established independent taskforces on Cancer, Mental Health and Maternity services, to identify further opportunities for improving these specific services.

Closing the health and well-being gap

To meet the needs of patients in a sustainable way, the NHS can no longer simply respond to the forecasts of ill health and increased costs; the NHS must become a pro-active agent of change, taking bold action in partnership with individuals, local government and third sector bodies to ‘bend the curve’ on predicted trends. To drive this increased emphasis on prevention, we have established a national prevention board, chaired by Public Health England, and with an early focus on diabetes prevention.

The Diabetes Prevention Programme, together with Diabetes UK, aims to halt the predicted rise in this disease, by delivering at scale lifestyle interventions that have been shown to help individuals at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Seven local demonstrator sites have been developing the early stages of the programme and over the next few years we roll out the programme out across England.

Closing the funding and efficiency gap

The Forward View highlighted that if we continue with the current model of care and historic trends continue, it is likely we will face a substantial funding gap between projected health spending requirements and available resource. So the NHS needs a combination of new investment and new efficiency to create the headroom to manage increased demand and continue to improve care. To achieve these savings there are three main areas where the NHS is taking action:

Preventing and managing demand – reducing, wherever possible, the need for health care in the first place by supporting people to keep healthy, through actions like the Diabetes Programme.
Maximising the value of our £115bn spend – driving up productivity and reducing inefficiencies so that more of our budget is spent on patients who need our care, with early action to reduce agency spend and consultancy services.

Redesigning services – investing in new ways of providing joined up care in a more clinical and cost-effective way for patients and their carers through the development of New Care Models.

Delivering together

We have established an NHS Five Year Forward View Board to bring together the CEOs of the national NHS bodies to ensure oversight and delivery of the vision. Because the scale of the required changes cannot be driven by the centre nor delivered by the NHS alone, we have also launched a programme of engagement, led by the NHS Confederation, NHS Providers and other partners such as the LGA, National Voices, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of GPs. The results of our engagement and the Spending Review process will inform the service’s national and local planning processes in autumn, providing the foundation for the next phase of delivery.

Further information

The oral evidence session will be open to the public and will take place in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House. The session will also be broadcast live on www.parliamentlive.tv and on BBC Parliament.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hansard Society


Today the Hansard Society will hold its AGM in the Palace of Westminster. The Society has been a great advocate and educator about the Westminster Parliament and beyond (and as Parliaments have been established in the other nations of the UK, it has been active within them). It's website states -

"The Hansard Society believes that the health of representative democracy rests on the foundation of a strong Parliament and an informed and engaged citizenry. Founded in 1944, we are a charity working in the UK and around the world to promote democracy and strengthen parliaments. An independent, non-partisan political research and education Society our work is devoted to:

1. Exploring the evolution of representative democracy: offering evidence-based ideas for reform of political and parliamentary institutions, processes and culture to help foster democratic renewal.
2. Educating citizens, particularly young people: so that they have the knowledge and confidence to play an active role in our democracy and be future leaders in civic and political life.
3. Connecting citizens with parliamentarians and policy-makers: through innovative on and off-line initiatives to address the democratic deficit.
4. Convening debate on topical political issues: providing a non-partisan forum for the exchange of ideas about our democratic future.

The website is well worth exploring. It has some excellent resources. Each year they produce their "Audit of Political Engagement", which is taken very seriously by Parliamentarians and academics. Those who don't use it deny themselves much useful information about what is going on in the minds of electors. Can anyone wishing to be an MP afford not to read it?

It has also played a key role in encouraging Parliamentary Reform during its history - and Parliament is all the better for it.

After the AGM some of the newly elected select committee chairs will discuss how committees organise their work, their role in the scrutiny process, the challenges the committees will face over the coming year, as well as their aims for this Parliament and what they would consider a successful outcome.

I'm really looking forward to going.

For further information about the Hansard Society visit http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/



 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

APSA


It's that time of year again - renewal of my subscription to the American Political Science Association. Why does a Brit like myself join APSA? (I am a member of the UK's Political Studies Association). There are some excellent resources for any academic interested in US Politics. There are three journals which are supplied to all members.

The American Political Science Review
Perspectives on Politics
PS: Political Science and Politics

To date I have been receiving the physical versions - and there are regularly articles of interest to me as a researcher into the US Congress; Elections & Political communication. My home though does not have enough storage space - and from now on I'm only going to get the pdfs.
 
In addition there are Organised Sections -  I'm a member of the Legislative Studies Section - and have had membership in
Political Organizations and Parties
Political Communication
Political Psychology
Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior
Due to pressure of time, I am doing less in those areas now, so leave them at the end of this month.

There are various conferences put on by APSA - and perhaps one day I will get across to attend one.

In my view, if you are serious about studying US Politics, APSA membership is a must!

Friday, 17 July 2015

European Scrutiny at Westminster

My apologies for a lack of posts in the last week - I've been completing and writing up a study of scrutiny of Education by the House of Commons. More details on that to come....

An interesting (short) report on reforming the scrutiny of EU matters has been written by Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska and  published by the Centre for European Reform. Your comments would be welcomed.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fundamental Constitutional Principles Explained

If you are a law student (or about to study Constitutional Law - perhaps the W201 Open University course, which begins in October), or are interested in the workings of the "constitution" in a country which does not have a "Constitution" in the sense of a single written document - then I recommend looking at the session held yesterday by the House of Lords Constitution Committee. It contains two evidence sessions. The first involved Ministers from the Cabinet Office; the second two members of the UK's Supreme Court. It covers a number of key principles - and discusses them. Any student watching this will gain an important advantage when exams come, and it really was a fascinating session. I lost sleep over it!!!

BBC iPlayer: http://bbc.in/1IKOqQM (available in the UK for 28 days)
Parliament Live: http://goo.gl/FdruzX

Witness(es): Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and John Penrose MP, Minister for Constitutional Reform, Cabinet Office; Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President, and Baroness Hale of Richmond, Deputy President, The Supreme Court.



Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Emergency Debates

Yesterday the Speaker granted a request for an emergency debate, which will take place in the House of Commons today, on the issue of using Standing Orders, rather than legislation, to introduce a new system to give "English votes on English laws" [EVEL]

The procedure for calling such emergency debates is set out in Standing Order 24 -

24.—
 
(1) On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday a Member rising in his place at the commencement of public business may propose, in an application lasting not more than three minutes, that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration. If the Speaker is satisfied that the matter is proper to be so debated, the Member shall either obtain the leave of the House, or, if such leave be refused, the assent of not fewer than forty Members who shall thereupon rise in their places to support the motion, or, if fewer than forty Members and not fewer than ten shall thereupon rise in their places, the House shall, on a division, upon question put forthwith, determine whether such motion shall be made.
 
(2) If leave is given or the motion is so supported or the House so determines that it shall be made
(a) the debate shall be held on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter; and
(b) the Speaker shall announce either
(i) the length of the debate and the time at which it is to be held; or
(ii) that he will make such a statement at a later named hour during that sitting.
 
(3) Proceedings in respect of a debate under this order may last not more than three hours and, at the conclusion of the time allocated to them, pursuant to paragraph (2)(b) of this order, the motion, unless otherwise disposed of, shall lapse.
 
(4) A Member intending to make an application under this order shall give notice to the Speaker by twelve o’clock on a Monday, halfpast ten o’clock on a Tuesday or Wednesday or nine o’clock on a Thursday, if the urgency of the matter is known at that hour. If the urgency is not so known he shall give notice as soon thereafter as is practicable. If the Speaker so desires he may defer giving his decision upon whether the matter is proper to be discussed until a named hour, when he may interrupt the proceedings of the House for the purpose.
 
(5) In determining whether a matter is proper to be discussed the Speaker shall have regard to the extent to which it concerns the administrative responsibilities of Ministers of the Crown or could come within the scope of ministerial action. In determining whether a matter is urgent the Speaker shall have regard to the probability of the matter being brought before the House in time by other means.
 
(6) The Speaker shall state whether or not he is satisfied that the matter is proper to be discussed without giving the reasons for his decision to the House.
 
(7) If the Speaker announces that the debate will take place on the same day as the application is made, proceedings on any business postponed as the result of that announcement, may continue, following the conclusion of proceedings on that debate, for the same time beyond the moment of interruption as that taken by the debate, and shall not be interrupted, except as provided in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business).
 
The House of Commons Library has produced a list of emergency debates granted since 1979 - which is available here.
 
Yesterday's Hansard report records the application and its grant -
 
5.19 pm
 
I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the means by which the Government seek to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his statement on English votes on English laws.
 
Last Thursday the Leader of the House outlined a scheme that goes well beyond anything the Government have previously proposed or on which they have consulted, including an exclusion of Scottish Members from voting on parts of the Budget. Their wish is effectively to set up an English Parliament within this United Kingdom House of Commons and to do so by inviting the House to amend its Standing Orders. The substantive issue will be debated in due course, but that is not what I seek to bring to the House now. Rather, it is the process that I submit is specific and important and that should be given urgent consideration.
 
I am not one of those who has ever sought to avoid answering the West Lothian question. On the contrary, I long for the day when the English members of my family may benefit from devolution in the way that we have done in Scotland since 1999. This, however, is not the way to do it.
In this Session alone, we have already spent four days debating a Bill giving extra powers to the Scottish Parliament. We still have more to come, after which consideration will move to the other place. Addressing the democratic position of the people of England, however, is apparently to be done from scratch, in one day, in this Chamber alone. Obviously, I am concerned about the message this proposal sends to the people of Scotland, but, quite apart from that, I happen to think that the people of England deserve better treatment than this.
 
Let there be no doubt: we are dealing with a major constitutional change. It is one that undermines a fundamental principle of the workings of this House, namely that no matter where we come from, once we get here we are all equal. To seek to do this in one day by amendment to our Standing Orders may be technically competent, but it is, I would suggest, an abuse of process. It is constitutionally outrageous and I fear that it puts a further unnecessary strain on the Union. That is what the House must consider and what the country must hear debated before we go any further.
 
The right hon. Gentleman asks leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the means by which the Government seek to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his statement on English votes on English laws. I have listened carefully to the application from the right hon. Gentleman and I am satisfied that the matter raised by him is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Has the right hon. Gentleman the leave of the House?
 
Application agreed to.
 
Leave has very clearly been given. The right hon. Gentleman has the leave of the House. What remains is for me to communicate to the House the necessary details. The debate will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 7 July, and in conformity with normal practice on these occasions—albeit these occasions are relatively infrequent—it will be held as the first item of public business. It will last for three hours and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the right hon. Gentleman’s application.
 
The Parliamentary website published this statement -
 
The House of Commons has agreed to an application for an emergency debate on the means by which the Government seeks to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his Statement on English Votes on English Laws.

The Speaker has decided that this debate will take place on Tuesday 7 July, after Questions, any Statements and the Presentation and Ten Minute Rule Bills, for up to three hours. The scheduled opposition debate will be held afterwards.