Monday 22 October 2007

The House Rules?

Last week the Constitution Unit of UCL published a report on the House of Commons. The report is described on the Constitution Unit website

"The House Rules? is the final output of a two-year Constitution Unit research project investigating who runs, and who should run, the House of Commons. In a year in which the Prime Minister and both major opposition parties have expressed concern about government dominance of parliament, this report seeks to inform the debate by looking at how much autonomy the Commons has over its own affairs – in particular its agenda, its committee system, and its procedures. The authors draw ideas from the legislatures of Scotland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia to set out a programme of reform that would strengthen the control exercised by backbench MPs and committees over their own institution."

The report asks:

Should MPs and committees have more influence over the parliamentary agenda?
Would a ‘business committee’ of the kind existing in other parliaments be a good idea?
Could the power of the Speaker or others to ‘speak for parliament’ be enhanced?
Could the way that committee members are chosen be improved?

The report calls for a new logic of parliamentary control and makes 60 recommendations for change. But it also argues that there is much to celebrate at Westminster compared to other parliaments, so future reforms must build upon rather than undermine the healthier aspects of British parliamentary democracy.

The table of contents, introduction and summary of recommendations can be viewed here. "