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.
In the run-up to the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019 we will be tracking the progress made by government and Parliament in preparing the statute book for exit day. Our analysis draws on parliamentary data and our own Statutory Instrument Tracker which we built several years ago to support our research on delegated legislation.
When an executive has negotiated a treaty that it can’t get through its legislature at the first attempt, as is probable in today’s ‘meaningful vote’, something in the process has gone wrong. If Parliament is going to get a bigger role in treaty-making, the experience of the Article 50 process could and should be taken as an opportunity to learn lessons.
In 2018, Jersey saw the launch and then abandonment of what could have been a unique official attempt to define formally the role of the jurisdiction’s parliamentarians.
If the result of the ‘meaningful vote’ - whenever it is held - is that no UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement enters into force, it could be near-unique in 170 years of UK treaty-making. But if the Withdrawal Agreement goes through, its parliamentary process will still be unusual: it could be the UK treaty with the most parliamentary decision-making involvement ever.
For its ‘fake news’ inquiry the House of Commons DCMS Committee has reportedly acquired papers related to a US court case involving Facebook. Andrew Kennon, former Commons Clerk of Committees, says the incident shows how the House’s powers to obtain evidence do work, but that it might also weaken the case for Parliament’s necessary powers in the long term.