In a speech to the Hansard Society on 11 October, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP proposed three key reforms for the House: the establishment of the House Business Committee approved in 2010; reform of Private Members’ Bills; and the creation of a mechanism for Members to request a recall of the House.
Should the Liaison Committee have as its chair someone who is not simultaneously a select committee chair, and should the identity of that person be determined by the government? The answer to these questions will tell us much about how this cohort of MPs, particularly government backbenchers, view the relationship between Parliament and the executive.
The Coronavirus crisis is spotlighting the importance of the House of Commons Chamber in our democratic life. 7-8 May marks 80 years since the Norway Debate, the event which demonstrated this most famously. Over two days of debate, MPs’ performances in the Chamber and a decision to force a division had historic consequences.
The extensive take-up of remote evidence-taking by House of Commons select committees during the Easter recess is a significant Coronavirus-induced change of practice. It shows how procedural and technological change can help support scrutiny.
Several parliamentary committees scrutinise delegated powers and delegated legislation. But what is the aim of this scrutiny, what standards are applied, and what are the value and limits of Parliament’s role in this aspect of the legislative process?
There will be gaps in a new House of Commons’ scrutiny of the government and engagement with the public until the events required at the start of a Parliament have taken place and all the necessary institutions and processes have been re-established. The length of time taken over procedures at the start of a Parliament therefore matters.
There have been many calls for Parliament to become ‘virtual’ during the Coronavirus pandemic, using remote working to ensure proper scrutiny of government during the crisis. But how should a ‘virtual’ Parliament operate?