Friday 26 March 2010
Tuesday 23 March 2010
Monday 22 March 2010
Sunday 21 March 2010
Saturday 20 March 2010
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My Lords, the Government's 2008 White Paper on House of Lords reform proposed that Members of a reformed second Chamber should be able to vote in elections both to the House of Commons and to the reformed second Chamber. The proposals would enable all members of the peerage and new Members of the second Chamber to vote in all elections.
Lord Bach: I do not think that the constitutional position could have been put better, but I am looking forward myself to being able to vote in a general election again.
Lord Acton: My mother's father-the late, late, late Lord Rayleigh-adopted the American colonists' mantra, "No taxation without representation". Does that not answer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington?
Baroness Butler-Sloss: Would not the Minister like to divide the Peers from the lunatics?
Friday 19 March 2010
Thursday 18 March 2010
However the audio is available at -
Details of the Speakers are available here.
(2)A person shall be guilty of treating if he corruptly, by himself or by any other person, either before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly gives or provides, or pays wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing, any meat, drink, entertainment or provision to or for any person—
(a)for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting; or
(b)on account of that person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting, or being about to vote or refrain from voting.
(3)Every elector or his proxy who corruptly accepts or takes any such meat, drink, entertainment or provision shall also be guilty of treating.
Wednesday 17 March 2010
Tuesday 16 March 2010
The following two motions are expected to be debated together:
Privileges The Chairman of Committees to move that the Report from the Select Committee on the Guide to the Code of Conduct (2nd Report, HL Paper 81) be agreed to.
House Committee The Chairman of Committees to move that the Report from the Select Committee on the Rules Governing the Use of Facilities (2nd Report, HL Paper 47) be agreed to.
These deal with Members' behaviour.
The following two motions are expected to be debated together:
Procedure The Chairman of Committees to move that the 2nd Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 51) be agreed to.
Procedure The Chairman of Committees to move that the 3rd Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 82) be agreed to.
These amend Standing Orders and practices relating to European Business.
Monday 15 March 2010
If you want to see Will Kaufman (or hear his singing of particular Guthrie song) see his MySpace page accessible here.
Sunday 14 March 2010
Saturday 13 March 2010
Friday 12 March 2010
Thursday 11 March 2010
Wednesday 10 March 2010
- the way that select committees had been enhanced (paying handsome tribute to Mrs Thatcher for allowing Norman St John Stevas to set up the system of Departmental Select Committees)
- the removal of hundreds of hereditary peers from the House of Lords - which is now smaller but more active and assertive
- the establishment of the Grand Committee in Westminster Hall which offers greatly increased opportunity for MPs to raise issues
- the creation of the Scrutiny Unit to assist committees
- establishment of a regular practice of the Liaison Committee questioning the Prime Minister
- introduction of "topical questions" in the Commons Chamber
- more written Parliamentary Questions accepted than ever before
- buttressing MPs' ability to get information through the Freedom of Information Act
- the requirement in s19 of the Human Rights Acts for Ministers to state whether the bill they are presenting is in their opinion compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (something which he said had "changed the way Government operates"
- pre- and post- legislative scrutiny
- the replacement of Standing Committees in the legislative process with Public Bill Committees which are able to take evidence
- the programming of bills. Mr Straw recognised the validity of some of the criticism of this - but noted that they avoided the unnecessary filibustering and guillotines which had curtailed real discussion of legislation. He argued that under the old system little scrutiny took place while the opposition were filibustering - then a guillotine would be imposed allowing very little meaningful scrutiny. He acknowledged that there was a need for more scrutiny on the floor and suggested that time limits on speeches rather than programme motions may be the best way to move ahead.
Four major areas for reform were highlighted
- Commons Reform - which was now moving ahead in the wake of the expenses scandal
- Lords Reform - upon which he said "the time has now come to complete the process"
- Wider Constitutional Reform - focusing on - the electoral system and addressing the crisis of trust.
- Discussing the balance between Direct and Representative Democracy (He pointed to recent events in California and Switzerland as warnings about too great direct democracy)
Mr Straw's final remarks concerned Conservative proposals for cutting the size of the House of Commons. He made an impassioned attack on this proposal - which is not to be put to the British people in a referendum, and which had not been discussed with other parties. He described it as "a dangerous piece of gerrymandering" which would disproportionately reduce the representation of urban areas, Scotland and Wales. He pointed to the Electoral Reform Society which had warned that the proposal would destabilise the link between constituents and MPs.
Details of this speech - and future meetings in the Parliamentary Reform Lecture Series will be available on the Hansard Society website.
Tuesday 9 March 2010
Some of the Ministers may be assisted by a PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary). These are unpaid MPs who acts as a minister's eyes and ears in Parliament, making sure the minister is kept well informed of backbench opinion. While they are not members of the Government, they are regarded as part of the "payroll vote" and are expected to vote with the government - or resign. It is often the first step towards a ministerial career.
Press Here to see the Ministers in the Department of Energy & Climate Change. and Here for the Ministry of Justice.
The Civil Service Structure
In the UK Ministers are assisted by Civil Servants - who are professional staff, not political appointments. There are strict restrictions on their political activity. The most senior Civil Servant in a Department is the Permanent Secretary. They run the civil service within that Department and are also the "Accounting Officer" for the Department. There is an excellent guide to the Civil Service available here. [See about us: Leadership]
Ministers have their own Private Office, headed by their Private Secretary. The Private Secretary to the Secretary of State is the Principal Private Secretary.
Monday 8 March 2010
Sunday 7 March 2010
Saturday 6 March 2010
Friday 5 March 2010
Thursday 4 March 2010
Wednesday 3 March 2010
During the day there were three panels. The first was "The Sit-Ins: Activism and Reaction". The history of the sit-ins was outlined - with a paper by John Kirk on 'The Sit-Ins and the Courts: Little Rock, Lupper and the Law, 1960-64. This described how the law was used - and described the US Supreme Court case Lupper v Arkansas. George Lewis considered "the impact of the Sit-Ins on the ideology of Southern Segregationalists - while Clive Webb discussed Southern White reactions to the Sit-Ins.
The first afternoon session dealt with the emergence and impact of the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee. (SNCC - pronounced 'Snick'). Peter Ling argued, with an impressive use of statistics - that this was not one committee, but several. His colleague at Nottingham University, Professor Sharon Monteith, described some of the writings of key players - and how their stories (novels and short stories) give us an insight to the SNCC. Joe Street spoke of the intellectual transformation of SNCC impacted upon their view of community.
The final panel dealt with the international dimensions of the Sit-Ins. Simon Hall considered how 'Cold War Patriotism' influenced both sides of the dispute. Segregations alleged that it was a plot by Communists to attack the South's way of life - while pro-civil rights activists stressed how the actions of the segregationists was undermining the USA's role in promoting democracy around the world. Stephen Tuck described how the events affected other countries - including the UK.
A book based on the day's conference is anticipated.
The primary event in the campaign of Sit-Ins took place on 1st February 1960 -when four African-American students - Ezell A Blair Jr (later known as Jibreel Khazan); David Leinhail Richmond; Joseph Alfred McNeil and Franklin Eugene McCain - sat down in a segregated lunch counter in Woolworth's in Greensboro. They were refused service. A sit-in began and grew over the following days. A website on the subject can be found here.
An interview with Franklin McCain can be listened to -