Parliament Matters – Legislative bodging: No way to run a chip shop! (Episode 6)

1 Dec 2023
Central Lobby, Palace of Westminster. ©UK Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed)
Central Lobby, Palace of Westminster. ©UK Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed)

Mark and Ruth look at the growing fashion for re-writing Bills mid-air as they pass through Parliament, adding on all sorts of policy bells and whistles at the last minute.

Tony Grew, doyen of the parliamentary press gallery joins them to discuss the risk that the House of Commons is becoming a legislative rubber stamp and increasingly delegating responsibility for scrutiny of new laws to the House of Lords.

Mark advises us all to toughen up our spam filters because we may be under bombardment as the Government proposes changes to direct marketing by political parties in advance of the general election.

And 25 years after the Bank of England was made operationally independent, they discuss a new House of Lords report about the democratic deficit surrounding the Bank. They also look at the four new special inquiry committees the House of Lords has decided to establish for 2024. And they discuss the latest front-bench reshuffle.

Parliament Matters is produced by the Hansard Society with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker trust which engages in philanthropy and supports work on democratic accountability.

Parliament Matters: Episode 6

Please note, this transcript is automatically generated. There are consequently minor errors and the text is not formatted according to our style guide. If you wish to reference or cite the transcript copy below, please first check against the audio version above. Timestamps are provided above each paragraph.

00;00;02;15 - 00;00;17;02

You are listening to Parliament Matters, a Hansard Society Production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Learn more at

00;00;17;05 - 00;00;34;23

Hello and welcome to Parliament Matters Podcast from the Hansard Society. About the institution at the heart of our democracy, Parliament itself. I'm Ruth Fox. And I'm Mark Darcy. Every week we're going to be analyzing what's going on behind the Gothic facade of Westminster, hoping you to stay on top of the key parliamentary issues of the week and what lies ahead.

00;00;35;01 - 00;00;52;23

And we'll be explaining how the system works. Hearing about the latest research and innovations in Parliament and politics from influential thinkers and practitioners providing new perspectives from inside and outside of Westminster. I will be traveling back in time to some of the pivotal moments in parliamentary history to help you understand exactly how we've arrived, where we are today.

00;00;52;26 - 00;01;14;20

Coming up, we've got a special guest from families of the Parliamentary Press gallery, Tony Gray. He reports each day on what's happening in the House of Commons. And the man who made Jim Shannon, the dupe backbencher, a star.

00;01;14;22 - 00;01;33;09

But before we kick off, Mark, I first of all, just like to say a few words of thanks to everybody who's been listening to the podcast, who subscribed, reviewed it, put in some very kind comments on social media and email. It's really much appreciated. We're glad you're enjoying it. So please do write the post on Apple or Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

00;01;33;10 - 00;01;56;09

It helps spread the word we need to this. We're developing it and improving it over time, so your thoughts and ideas will help us do that. So with that, let's get back to business. Mark, what have we got coming up? Well, we've been looking at the growing fashion, it seems, in government, for rewriting bills in mid-air as they're passing through parliament, adding all sorts of bells and whistles at the last minute, often at the behest of backbenchers.

00;01;56;11 - 00;02;13;12

I thought we should talk about a debate on dangerous talks in which a recent Secretary of State admitted that she'd been receiving death threats and why the House of Lords thinks it might be time to bring the Bank of England under more democratic control. And speaking of the House of Lords, we're going to be looking at what the new committees are for 2024.

00;02;13;14 - 00;02;39;22

Yes, the House of Lords has this rather interesting idea of having special purpose committees that examine very specific issues, and they've just announced what the new inquiries are going to be for next year and what they're not going to be as well, which is almost as interesting. And we've got Labor frontbench reshuffle to look at. So with that, I'm to kick off with what was happening in the chamber this week with the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill where the Government brought forward at report stage.

00;02;39;22 - 00;03;02;00

So after the committee scrutiny of the bill brought forward some significant amendments on a huge scale, I mean, hundred and 56 pages worth of amendments virtually, and a new bill by the end of it all, which is getting a bit silly. And this happens more and more at the moment. You see bills being kind of reversed and halfway through the parliamentary process.

00;03;02;00 - 00;03;19;07

And sometimes that's a sensible thing to do and sometimes it just looks like a kind of a builder kind of botching away at some sort of badly designed structure. And it doesn't strike me as any way to run a chip shop. Tony, you must see this. We can we can see at the moment because it's become quite a common thing.

00;03;19;07 - 00;03;36;10

Yeah. And you know, just to talk about the digital data protection and digital information Bill, it was in the last session that was carried over into this session and it did come forward with pages and pages. I mean, there was there was there was one sort of amendment to it that was 17 pages long. It's funny because. Well, it was.

00;03;36;10 - 00;03;54;12

And so something interesting happened that I'd never seen before, which was the opposition in response to this introduced a re committal motion. Yeah. Which would have meant that the whole bill would have had to start committee again. And in fact to be fair deliver they were saying to the government, we guarantee this will take two weeks in committee and it can come back and we can get it done before Christmas.

00;03;54;12 - 00;04;15;02

But the Government objected and so the motion was voted on and voted down. But I think that's an interesting response to what is apparent from the government. Mark's right. You know, sometimes they are technical amendments. Sometimes there are things that have been missed out. Sometimes there are helpful suggestions from backbenchers that have made it into the bill that says, but the principle is the same.

00;04;15;02 - 00;04;42;25

If you introduce a significant amount of substantive amendments at report stage, they don't have any scrutiny in the House of Commons. And the argument it's just for the House of Lords to do that undermines the purpose of the House of Commons when it comes to legislation which is scrutiny and to hold the Government to account. So I think it's an unfortunate way to legislate and it's something like I said, it's not the first time we've seen this and it does set up, as you say, it sets up trouble in the House of Lords because their Lordships can look at these amendments as well.

00;04;42;25 - 00;04;58;07

They weren't properly debated in the Commons and then, you know, all the bets are off. Their Lordships could make merry through the detail of the Bill and possibly change them on the grounds that things haven't really had a chance to look at all this new stuff that was plonked in at the very last minute. Yeah, this is part of a wider conversation.

00;04;58;09 - 00;05;13;18

You know, the job of the House of Lords is to scrutinize legislation and a significant number of Lords amendments are accepted by the Government on all legislation. So I don't want to denigrate with the House of Lords does. Having said that, the House of Commons shouldn't just be a rubber stamp for legislation the Government wants to bring forward.

00;05;13;18 - 00;05;33;00

There's a lot of work that I do that almost none of the say which is in build committees which happens upstairs. So bills are either go through a committee of the whole House or they have a bill committee upstairs and we're going public because I've never been to a bill committee. So few years. I went in and the MP sitting in the bill committee were like waving at me and gesticulating as if to say, Why are you here?

00;05;33;01 - 00;05;54;10

It's very exciting when a journalist actually turns up. Suppose, I mean, I think they were genuinely shocked to see me. A couple of them are sort of said to me, What's up saying, Are you being punished for something? And this is something that's going on with a number of bills because you've got the criminal justice bill where you have the home secretary sort of in in real time accepting labor proposals to ban name changes by sex offenders.

00;05;54;12 - 00;06;11;18

You have the leasehold reform bill, which seems to be being botched again as it goes through parliament. So a whole load of very complicated changes being made to staff. Well, just going back to the data protection Bill, I mean, to put it in context, the government's I mean, yeah, it was it was minor and technical changes and nothing to say here.

00;06;11;18 - 00;06;35;14

But actually, you know, you've got provisions requiring banks to monitor bank accounts, permitting the Department for Work and Pensions to surveillance bank accounts of Social Security claimants, which David DAVIES said he didn't think he'd ever seen a power for a minister to authorize that kind of thing. And then you've got changes to l'actuel practices, which I thought was interesting in the context of the general election coming, which basically it was headlined as a provision for Democratic engagement.

00;06;35;16 - 00;07;09;12

But essentially it would change the the rules around direct marketing by political parties and candidates. Now, with the election on the horizon, what does that mean? And the opposition are asking questions about that and not getting any answers. They were asking whether the provisions about the Department for Work and Pensions, whether that was going to apply to pensions, for example, not just Social Security for the unemployed or the disabled or whatever, but also just for state pensioners, because that widens the remit considerably and opposition Spokesperson couldn't get a clear, clear answer of no, it wouldn't.

00;07;09;14 - 00;07;38;00

And the election one sounds particularly interesting. I think the lesson there is voters beware, you better toughen up your spam filters because come the general election you're going to be under bombardment and the criminal justice bill vote that I thought put an interesting different slant on light amendments. A report stage because Sarah Champion, the Labor MP, has been working, you know, for years trying to get changes in the law to provisions around sex offenders and changing their names.

00;07;38;03 - 00;07;58;26

And Home Secretary stood up the dispatch box and said they're going to introduce this these provisions, but they weren't. They're not on the face of the bill. So they weren't part of the second reading debate. But they're going to come later at report stage. And Sarah Champion seemed somewhat surprised because nobody bothered to tell her peers and James, quote, We have this sort of great line.

00;07;58;26 - 00;08;13;26

She was obviously thrilled. But he said, I disapprove of theft in all circumstance choices except when someone brings forward a truly great idea. So, yes, I'm bringing it forward and talked about it for years and years. That may well reflect a change in the Home Office because there's been a little bit of turbulence there. Just everything is shifting.

00;08;13;29 - 00;08;36;15

I'm stepping a new and somewhat reluctant home secretary, but it is interesting how the government brings forward legislation, doesn't appear to know exactly what they want to do with it. It then goes through Committee Stage, which is the scrutiny process in the House of Commons, and then you arrive at a report and there's all this sort of stuff like a Christmas tree hung onto it, the stuff about benefits and monitoring bank accounts.

00;08;36;15 - 00;09;02;14

I think at some point I think it must have been later in the debate the minister said that it would also apply to child benefit. These are hugely important changes and people like David Davis, he wasn't the only conservative to raise concerns about the fact that they're handing big powers to the DWP. I just think it's not the best way to go about doing this, and particularly given that the Government have been in power for 13 years, I would have thought they'd have a better handle on how to deal with legislation and get it through.

00;09;02;17 - 00;09;16;09

But look, this is a common complaint, particularly from members of the House of Lords. I have to say the legislation comes to the House of Lords. It's not in a form in which it can become law. And so Lords then have to try and take it apart and they have a much longer scrutiny process in the House of Commons.

00;09;16;11 - 00;09;30;15

But you know, when people say they want to get rid of the House of Lords, the first thing I think is we're going to end up with some really, really poor commons that really have to up its game. It's not. Well, exactly, but you know, there are many arguments against the House of Lords, but the expertise and I think is fair.

00;09;30;15 - 00;09;42;29

There is a lot of expertise. It's like with David Cameron going to the House of Lords in the House of Commons saying we're we to be able to scrutinize. I mean he's like the House of Lords to scrutinize him. It would be all when I was the ambassador to and when I was the foreign Secretary. So there is a lot of experience in the Lords.

00;09;42;29 - 00;09;59;13

But like I said, this is really about the fact that the Commons should be given an opportunity to do a better job of scrutinizing legislation. It raises to see I mean, people say to me, you know, the Commons Sundays that Bill and we mark their homework and send it back, you know, with red pen basically written all over it.

00;09;59;15 - 00;10;25;06

But it's also a question of what is going on behind the scenes in Whitehall. And it's not just the turbulence of the last couple of years. It's been going on for a while and it's getting worse where you end up in a situation where something like that. So a champion idea that she's been working, campaigning on for a long time doesn't make it into the bill in the preparation stages, but they suddenly decide somewhere along the line after it's been presented to Parliament that they're going to then put it in.

00;10;25;08 - 00;10;49;15

And we've got similar thing, the leasehold reform bill that's been presented to Parliament and the main provision about tackling leasehold issues is naturally in the bill and they've basically admitted to the Times this week that they're going to have to bring in some late provisions, which apparently was because a decision about what to do in policy terms with make very late in the day by number ten is therefore got a bill that doesn't do what it says on the ten and won't do until he gets to report stage.

00;10;49;18 - 00;11;12;19

It's bizarre and it is in terms of the policy development process. It just shows that it is not working. And for the fact that you get all this stuff being added in late two pieces of legislation the Commons is still knocking off early. Parliament is not using up its full available allotted time. Now what used to be quite a normal thing towards the end of a session when the legislative agenda was basically running out of steam.

00;11;12;22 - 00;11;32;18

But we've barely started this session and already and be knocking off an hour early or so. That was something that Penny Mordaunt was saying business questions this week, that it's all very well the opposition complaining about all this legislative scrutiny issues, but they were not there to fill the time in the House of Commons rose early because there were enough opposition politicians who wanted to contribute to the debate.

00;11;32;18 - 00;11;48;26

But there's often times when they run out of government speakers and the last six or seven or eight speakers in the debate will be from the opposition. This is a whipping issue for me. This is about making sure your troops are there with speeches ready to give them, and if the business finishes early, that's a matter for the whips as far as I'm concerned.

00;11;48;28 - 00;12;10;14

I did note the debate on the national insurance changes, which is going through the all of its common stages today. There were no Labor backbenchers, no Liberal Democrats, and so the Tories, speaking in that bit, made great hay out of it. Again, it's part of what two MP sector jobs are holding the Government to account and scrutinizing legislation are the two main, main things that they need to do in the chamber.

00;12;10;16 - 00;12;29;04

And I mean I don't mind if they finish early, frankly, personally, but I do I do take issue with the fact that the parliamentary time is very precious. There isn't a huge amount of time. If you think about the amount of time that's taken up with backbench business debates, opposition day debates and the amount of time taken up in the chamber with urgent questions and ministerial statements and departmental questions.

00;12;29;07 - 00;12;48;11

When you break it down, there isn't actually a huge amount of time for legislation that's often missing that the Government goes back to the Opposition and of its own backbenchers and says, Well, I'm sorry, we just pressure Parliament time. Well actually there's just a problem in terms of how it will be managed. And there's a similar problem surfacing in select committees where some of them are really struggling to keep up a quorum, to have enough members to do proper business.

00;12;48;11 - 00;13;04;14

And I think some of them are just by the skin of their teeth and probably after sort of hurried texts to missing members come along quickly. They're just about managing to operate. But you do get the feeling that at some point we're going to get a situation where a select committee is all due to go and there aren't enough members in the room to make it work.

00;13;04;17 - 00;13;24;09

And an interesting thing this week in Westminster Hall, which is the second chamber off the main one, it's not got division lobby. So sort of non contentious business is what takes place there. There was a debate about dangerous dogs off the back of two petitions signed by one of them signed by 600,000 people, another by 100,000 people. So a lot of public interest in this.

00;13;24;09 - 00;14;00;17

It's off the back of the obviously the attacks by dangerous dogs on children. And we've had a number of incidents that employees are concerned in their constituencies. You've got problems around the implementation of the the Bully Dogs XL Bully dogs. Yeah, the implementation of that legislation and the complexities of pinning down that particular non official breed was interesting, I thought, because it was a two and a half hour debate and it was fascinating and it was MPs admitting right across the political spectrum how complex this was and how conflicted they were about it.

00;14;00;19 - 00;14;19;06

And there is a statutory instrument going through Parliament at the moment, but it's going to be incredibly difficult. So the way it's delegated legislation procedures work to get a debate on the instrument. So this in effect became the proxy for that. And yet that's the sort of thing that perhaps ought to be being debated in the chamber because it is so complicated.

00;14;19;08 - 00;14;48;02

Having said that, the original things are still exact. I think it was 1990 or 1981 is often held up as the absolute example of reactive legislation, legislation that's introduced because something has become a public scandal. The government thinks it needs to do something, introduces this legislation, even though experts are saying it isn't going to work and so you then have a situation where particular breeds of dog, which can sometimes be difficult to identify, are bad and other breeds are good, and then other people will say, well, actually this is about the dog and the owner, not about the breed.

00;14;48;04 - 00;15;05;26

So I understand why that debate had a lot of MP saying they don't understand that the best way to proceed with that. It's difficult and it's complicated. But like I said, it's I often think about the Dangerous Dogs Act, the original one, as being a really good example of a really bad law. Yes, the case study of what not to do is not responding to media stories.

00;15;06;01 - 00;15;30;09

But the other thing that came out of that debate was Tyrese Coffey, who of course is the recent DEFRA Secretary, Department of Environment, Secretary of State. She was sacked in the recent government reshuffle, so she'd actually signed the statutory instrument for this sex only dogs legislation and she said that because of this and the controversies around it, she'd received death threats.

00;15;30;11 - 00;15;52;00

And what struck me was how nobody, none of the employees responded to that. It was like that was just normal. Not at all and expected. And I think, you know, it's not just sort of let's see where we are in terms of the position employees are facing. And it's truly depressing, isn't it, that actually now death threats are pretty much normalized for members of parliament?

00;15;52;07 - 00;16;13;05

They all understand that they operate under a security threat. There have been these terrible cases like Sir David Amos, like Jo Cox, and it's now just almost part of the operating parameters for MPs that they have to operate with security precautions and be very careful who's admitted to their presence in a constituency surgery and all those kind of things.

00;16;13;05 - 00;16;42;19

It's not how you would want democracy to operate. I mean, I've had some horrifying conversations with members of Parliament about the police doing security assessments of their homes, coming into your house and telling you that you need to change this and you need to change that and you need to be aware of that. I'm not going to go into into the specific security details of it, but that generally made me feel that it's not the job I want to do anyway, but it generally made me feel that a lot of people who might have a significant and important contribution to make to our politics will be put off just because of things like death threats,

00;16;42;26 - 00;17;08;03

threats to your children, constant abuse online, which for female MP in particular, it's just I don't know any solution to it, but it is it's profoundly depressing. It's not clear that there is a solution out there. It's just the world we live in now. And unless the authorities are prepared to stamp very hard on people making death threats online and to deal very proactively with MP security concerns, then well, that's a sort of palliative, really, but it doesn't get to the root of the problem.

00;17;08;03 - 00;17;29;01

I think it's just the society we now live in. Now heaven help us. Yeah. And you know, for some MP, it can be a postcode lottery. Some police forces take it more seriously than others. Some police forces are a lot more proactive about it. I remember an MP telling me that whenever Sir David Evans was killed five or 10 minutes after the news broke, the phone started ringing and he turned to his research and said that would be the Chief Constable.

00;17;29;03 - 00;17;47;10

And it was. And so, you know, these things can be very reactive. But like I said, I just think that particularly for female employees but also for male employees, it's just a profoundly difficult situation. And my concern is that it turns people away from wanting to be an MP, which I think is still a noble thing to want to do.

00;17;47;12 - 00;18;13;14

I'd so it's not new. It's certainly it's more sustained. I think, you know week to week basis now for MP. But certainly when I used to work for an MP in the early 2000, at the time of the Iraq war, MPs then were particularly on the government side, obviously were getting an awful lot of threats. We certainly have them in our constituency office and I have the same number of Special Branch and the police chief say that you know, if there were any issues around the office, we would ring.

00;18;13;14 - 00;18;32;15

And certainly on one occasion we had to barricade ourselves in the office for fear that there was something happening outside and the police were downstairs and basically on the phone to me advising us what to do. But that was rare. That was exceptional. Now that kind of thing is much more the norm. And obviously the security precautions that go with it a much more substantial.

00;18;32;16 - 00;18;47;22

It's also to do with the fact that social media is just a sewer of this sort of thing. So if you want to abuse an MP, it's a couple of taps on your phone or on your keyboard and off it sent. And these have always been under threat. You know, Ian Guy was killed by an irate car bomb, as was every naif.

00;18;47;24 - 00;19;10;24

But it's the ubiquity of it I think that makes it tough. But I think I think the difference there is those were terrorist attacks by known terrorist groups. What you've now got is the kind of lone loony on social media making threats that they may eventually sort of egg themselves into performing. It's not political targeting for a sort of terrorist activity.

00;19;10;24 - 00;19;30;21

It's much more diffuse, but much more almost threatening than that because it's so pervasive in anybody. And you saw this in the case of the man who murdered Sir David Emmons. He'd actually looked into other employees. He he'd considered he considered Michael Gove as a target. So it is it's a new and very worrying aspect to our democracy.

00;19;30;24 - 00;19;59;21

Turning from that rather depressing subjects to another worrying aspect of our democracy, the democratic deficit that the House of Lords has identified in respect to the Bank of England's. The Lords Economic Affairs Committee has got a new report out this week, which I thought was quite interesting given the economic situation and the criticisms the bank has had over the last few years about its failure to meet inflation target and the peers were suggesting that actually there needs to be more parliamentary scrutiny and accountability of the bank to Parliament than there has been in recent years.

00;19;59;23 - 00;20;19;08

And so at the moment the Bank of England is mainly interrogated by the Treasury Committee, which has endless sessions where members of the committee that set the interest rate, the monetary Policy Committee, are given a little bit of pre appointment vetting by the Treasury Committee, although it's actually quite rare for them to say this person should be on the monetary Policy committee.

00;20;19;10 - 00;20;43;26

But these are incredibly powerful people and it's a generic problem here. Lots of incredibly powerful people in what I think of as the Quango ocracy fuel, more important than those who set interest rates that determine how much you're going to be paying in your mortgage, determine how much industry has to pay to borrow, and all those things that have a gigantic effect on the economy and the Bank of England's performance has come in, as you say, root for an awful lot of criticism from all sides.

00;20;44;02 - 00;21;18;17

Once upon a time, this was seen as Gordon Brown's great reform. It happened almost immediately right at the beginning of the news 25 years ago, since just question came in 25 years ago, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee has been looking very hard at this for quite a long time. And just about every Freudian authority figure in the city has been interviewed by the committee to come up with this report and it's sufficiently weighty that when they all collectively say there isn't enough traction on what this independent committee does for the institutions of democracy, you wonder if government is going to take any notice or whether it's just too dangerous with the markets be too upset

00;21;18;17 - 00;21;36;22

if they actually act it. What they're proposing is a once every five years a big review of its of its remit and how it's operating so effectively. I see my thinking once Parliament, so I suppose and that would cover things like the inflation target that they were expected to meet. Well it's remit because I think there's some worry that the remit is shifting.

00;21;36;22 - 00;21;56;10

So yes, it's got the inflation target, it's got financial stability. Obviously this all sort of feeds through in terms of the economy that we all feel in terms of prices. But the feeling is that the government, successive governments have sort of imposed additional things that the bank has to have regard to, has to consider climate change, that climate change was the big one that's been highlighted.

00;21;56;10 - 00;22;24;17

Equalities is another one that the committee highlights. The problem is these things are seem to me to be bound up. You know, you think about the sort of the state of the economy, the implications for climate change in terms of interest rates and inflation, the implications of another energy crisis. You know, it's not hard to see over the course of the next four or five years if the economic situation were to deteriorate, if there were to be another economic crisis, another energy crisis, you see inflation going back up again.

00;22;24;19 - 00;22;47;20

It's not hard to see how this sort of pressure on the bank and the political pressure around so much influence over our lives through prices. How much of our taxes is being spent on debt? Interest is second only to the NHS, though not hard to see how that becomes a major political problem our future government has to deal with actually, do we want to continue with operational independence now?

00;22;47;20 - 00;23;05;20

House of Lords report says yes, but politically you can see how that could become problematic in another crisis. Yeah, but I think it's unlikely that if there is a Liberal government elected next year, I think it's unlikely they're going to come in and overturn one of the the big policies of the labor movement. Having said that, not initially, but later on, it's not the UK today.

00;23;05;27 - 00;23;23;16

I mean, the situation deteriorates. The Treasury Committee is obviously has got a lot of things on its plate. So it may well be I mean, if the Lords are so concerned about it, why haven't they made this one of their subjects? Why haven't they just had a Bank of England committee in the House of Lords that can spend all of its time examining what the bank does, speaking to other experts about what the bank does?

00;23;23;16 - 00;23;36;22

I think there are a lot of people in the Commons who are a bit wary about the Lords even having an economic affairs committee in regard. It is a bit heretical that the House of Lords is getting involved in money matters, even to that delicate extent. I mean, the House of Lords really wanted to get into economic management.

00;23;36;22 - 00;24;02;01

I think the Commons might take a pretty dim view of that. Well, there's nothing stopping the Commons setting up a special committee to deal with. Well, I think in the bank, in the in the banking legislation 25 years ago, I think there was a debate and there was an implied commitment that the House of Commons should review, should scrutinize the Bank of England's annual report and to some extent you can say, well, that comes through the Treasury Committee, but there's not a debate on it on a regular basis in the Commons in the way that they could be, which would at least focus some minds.

00;24;02;07 - 00;24;25;04

But let's remember why this happened in the first place, because the whole decision to outsource control of interest rates away from direct political interference, you know, politicians set the parameters and then someone else would manage it was because of the feeling that politicians tinkered too much, that, you know, a prime minister in desperate straits would like to be able to announce a cut in interest rates at the party conference to get himself off a political hook regardless of the state of the economy.

00;24;25;09 - 00;24;40;09

So that was why it was dumb to take that out. And for a long time it was very successful. Now, it may be that they just got lucky, and benign economic conditions meant that the system wasn't tested for quite a long time. But for a long time people looked at that system, said this was the right thing to do.

00;24;40;11 - 00;25;09;25

And I don't think, for example, the incoming Labor government, were that to happen, would want to frighten the horses and frighten the markets more specifically by changing those arrangements early on. As you say, it might come later if the political pressure really got off to a boiling point. But as an early move, I can't really see it. I think it's something in the future, if there were to be another crisis or the economic conditions were to deteriorate still further, because the reality is the issues around interest rates and inflation do narrow the options that the democratic government has got available to it.

00;25;09;27 - 00;25;29;22

And you can see how we saw the trust government, the dismissal of the OBE. Ah, and so now that is the warning of the risks that are associated with taking that approach. You frighten the markets and yeah, there is consequences ensue. But also in the event of a political crisis or an economic crisis in a few years time, it's easy to blame the unelected bureaucrats.

00;25;29;24 - 00;25;47;14

Well, that was one product of one of the House of Lords special select committees that they set up every year to look at a whole range of very specific subjects. They launch it very wisely. They have these special purpose committees that have a short term life span, and then they appoint a whole new set to look at a new set of different subjects.

00;25;47;14 - 00;26;05;07

And literally this week they've come up with the next set of subjects. They're going to be looking at in the coming year. Yes, it's a bit like Dragons Den repairs, really. They bid for what committee inquiries in the next year. I think they should have and they have they have 39 proposals put forward and they shortlisted them and then the peers who were proposing them.

00;26;05;07 - 00;26;31;20

And sometimes it's several peers working on a cross-party basis. They have to present their topics and they've chosen for it had to be something, an inquiry that could be done fairly quickly, sort of ten months, 11 months max and preferably quicker if they could. So they've chosen four. So first one is the prevention of preterm births. Last year there were probably 7.6% of births in the UK were preterm, which is sort of pre 37 weeks.

00;26;31;23 - 00;26;50;18

It's costing the NHS in England and Wales about £3.4 billion a year. And of course one has to assume that the knock on costs of preterm births, if there are development issues and health issues and educational issues that have to be factored in as the children get older, that's the first inquiry. Second is they're going to look at the link between food, obesity and diet.

00;26;50;18 - 00;27;08;18

And you can also see the link also to NHS costs and ultra processed foods, whether eating a sort of chemistry set worth of ingredients with those mysterious stabilizers and numbers and whatever that go into food that is going to be on our shelves for a while, then easily microwavable what they were actually doing to us when we eat them all.

00;27;08;18 - 00;27;29;29

And it's obviously a subject that people are beginning to get very, very concerned about, whether it mainlines into the obesity epidemic and maybe stoking it if people are eating stuff that isn't, as it were, proper food. Is that one of the reasons why binge eating becomes more and more a part of their lives? Yeah. And then the third one is post legislative scrutiny of the Inquiries Act 2005.

00;27;30;05 - 00;27;45;05

So obviously we've got a big inquiry going on at the moment, the COVID inquiry. But some peers want to look at whether there are ways in which some of these inquiries could be better done, could be more efficient. Looking at the ways in which the sort of the scoping of the inquiries is done, there is an interesting issue there, isn't there?

00;27;45;05 - 00;28;02;05

Because the government, it's not exactly marking your own homework, but you're kind of appointing the teacher who mocks your own homework When there's an inquiry about something that government's been involved in, it's the Prime Minister decides that they're going to appoint, you know, such and such an appeal court judge to go and preside over a year long inquiry.

00;28;02;05 - 00;28;29;02

And this is going to be its remit and it's almost entirely the Prime Minister's decision who conducts the inquiry and what their operating instructions are. Maybe they would command more credibility if Parliament had a bit more teeth into this process. So I think that the constraint on the Prime Minister at the moment is whether people believe the inquiry is good enough, but there's no formal way for Parliament to get into that unless there's an opposition day debate or something like that.

00;28;29;04 - 00;28;51;12

And I do wonder whether there ought to be inquiries of such an important part of government. Now the inquiry into Grenfell, the inquiry into COVID, remember the Hutton inquiry into the Iraq war, and they're just such an important part of governance now, getting them right and getting credibility for them and avoiding any suspicion that they've been botched to avoid a nasty result for ministers is now quite critical.

00;28;51;13 - 00;29;12;14

One of the issues with the issue of inquiry is they cost too much and they go on for far too long. I think your proposal is interesting, but it would require the Prime Minister to give power to Parliament and not prime ministers. Nevertheless, not something Prime ministers tend to do. But I do think it's worth reviewing the Act and looking at some of these issues, particularly as you say, around the credibility of these.

00;29;12;14 - 00;29;28;08

Not that I'm not that I'm saying the good chaps or top asses that are appointed to the to leave these inquiries aren't doing their job properly, but there could be a way to streamline them to make them a little bit more efficient, certainly in terms of time that they take and the amount of money that cost. I mean, Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader, always seems to have a riff.

00;29;28;09 - 00;29;51;23

This is slightly before the current inquiries. Actually, I'll see your quick inquiry led by junior judge and I will raise you a full inquiry. Under the terms of the 1922 Tribunals Inquiries Act, presided over by a High Court judge, almost have officers default response to any proposal for an inquiry into pretty much anything. And it worked. He would always say it would be more credible if you did it this way.

00;29;51;25 - 00;30;17;24

And then the fourth and final committee that the additional committee that they're going to have next year is post legislative scrutiny of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which of course is Theresa may's Theresa may's signature. Yeah. And she's making some legislation. She seems incredibly proud of that. And this is the whole phenomenon of people being trafficked into the UK, held under conditions of slavery, working in all kinds of very menial, very demanding jobs.

00;30;17;27 - 00;30;44;02

Of course, you've got sex trafficking and sex slavery, and there's this horrifying business of people being trafficked into prostitution in this country. So it's an issue that a lot of MPs have been concerned about. There was a very active All-Party Group that pursued this cause for quite a while, but it dovetails into immigration legislation and the treatment of people who've been trafficked under immigration legislation.

00;30;44;02 - 00;31;06;27

So it gets into this whole debate about how you operate the immigration laws and whether being trafficked should entitle you to different treatment under immigration law, which the government has been resisting. I'm actually talking of immigration. That was one of the interesting proposals that did not get adopted by the Lords Liaison Committee, but it was from the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less.

00;31;06;29 - 00;31;37;14

He proposed an inquiry on the vision and effectiveness of UK asylum and immigration policy. He basically taken part in the illegal migration bill, proposed a number of amendments and he wanted these amendments to sort of be packaged up into to form an inquiry looking at a ten year strategy for refugees and human trafficking. And he wanted the idea of this strategy encouraging the government to take a long term holistic view and an internationally collaborative approach to immigration fellowships decided not to pursue that one.

00;31;37;15 - 00;31;59;02

But it was interesting that the Archbishop was was giving it another push. The Archbishop was quite roughly handled by the junior Home Office Minister in the House of Lords during those debates. I remember it quite well and I think quite a number of noble eyebrows were raised by that, by the way, he was dismissed and possibly that's got him going as well because he's someone who does push for changes for legislation.

00;31;59;02 - 00;32;17;12

He was involved many years ago in the Banking Commission, which was set up after the interest fixing scandal in the city of London, And he was a very active participant in that. And this is someone who knows how to do detailed lawmaking despite being a spiritual leader. He's also a very practical legislator. So that would have been a very, very interesting inquiry.

00;32;17;12 - 00;32;39;08

And maybe the Lordships on the Liaison Committee thought that it was possibly too interesting. Talking of interesting, did either of you see the appearance of the Permanent Secretary, the Home Office, and one of his officials at the Home Affairs Committee this week? Well, I heard about it because apparently he didn't have very many answers and the widow got quite agitated by the fact he wasn't answering their questions.

00;32;39;08 - 00;33;01;20

Yes. Yes, it was abject. And this is so Matthew Roycroft, the permanent secretary at the home office, and his deputy, Simon Ridley. And they were all a variety of figures about immigration and how many people were being returned. And and they couldn't give any answers at all. No figures. They just kept saying, we'll write to you. And it was excruciating.

00;33;01;20 - 00;33;20;18

And the point about this is that when you are a permanent secretary of a government department and you know you're going to be in front of a select committee, you should know what they were likely to ask you this This shouldn't this question should not under any circumstances be a surprise because it's the bleeding obvious, but you do get a chance to chat to the committee beforehand, say, what's the general areas you think they're going to ask me about?

00;33;20;18 - 00;33;38;28

So there's no excuse for not having this information to hand because they were clearly going to ask it. So what on earth was going on? I don't know. But I mean, it was just it was just awful. And you could see the Conservative MP laid in first and then the Labor and and then the Home Affairs Committee chair, Dame Diana Johnson, who, you know, you could just sense she was just incredibly frustrated.

00;33;38;28 - 00;33;54;20

A few things in committee more, I think, than just not being given the information. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting when you watch select committees, the most effective hunt is a PAC, So know what they do. So one will come from this angle broadly, it will be labor. You take the trade union rate, you take the bosses rate, and they'll come out on issue.

00;33;54;23 - 00;34;10;02

But but it is very obvious when everyone is angry and everyone is asking questions and not having them answered that something's gone wrong. I mean, if you're a minister, you might be able to get away with saying, I don't have the figures in front of me, I'll write to you. But if you're the permanent secretary appearing before the committee, that really is another level of fuss.

00;34;10;02 - 00;34;26;28

The question let's see. And one of the most interesting factors about this was that one of the leading questioners and the most visibly frustrated questioners was Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who was basically kicking the living daylights out from an official from his own government in the course of this interrogation. It was pretty brutal stuff.

00;34;26;28 - 00;34;49;24

And it gives you an indication of the sheer toxicity of this issue within the conservative party itself. I mean, I was reading this morning that Robert Jenrick, the minister of State at the Home Office for Immigration, is being described as having been radicalized by his experience of trying to operate immigration policy in the Home Office. And I have to say that if these officials were coming to him with performances like that, you can see why.

00;34;49;26 - 00;35;05;29

Yeah, I understand that immigration is an issue for the voters, but I'm still of the opinion that when it comes to the next election, it will be issues to do with people's mortgages, National Health Service, bread and butter issues that will be of interest to more voters than just immigration as an issue. But you're right, it is toxic.

00;35;05;29 - 00;35;27;22

It's toxic within the Conservative Party, particularly in the factions, which I mean, Sir John, he's questioning the prime minister about this. He was Suella Braverman, this kind of backbench guru, when she was home secretary. He's a senior former minister himself, and he was trying to get the prime minister to commit to much tougher action. Yeah, I mean, I was just thinking about this because I had dinner with a friend last night who's he's not a political person.

00;35;27;24 - 00;35;47;23

We were talking about this immigration issue. Friends are not political people. One or two. Yeah, it's a refreshing change of pace. And and he said to me, well, how do you solve this immigration issue? And I was completely stumped. There are no easy answers here. I don't know. You know, the government's got, you know, these record immigration figures, 700 plus thousand but you're not this much is poem like lyrics.

00;35;47;26 - 00;36;10;24

No I think I think I can have a go at it though. I think I could probably do a better performance in front of a select committee than him. Right. Meanwhile, of course, the other thing we've got to sink our teeth into is the latest reshuffle. When consequential really on the rebellion the other week over girls are in various Labor frontbenchers having to resign when they backed a resolution in the Commons calling for a cease fire.

00;36;10;24 - 00;36;33;23

And there's been some sort of backfilling as a result of that on fairly junior ranks of the Labor frontbencher with a few interesting appointments there and personnel changes. One of the surprising things from my perspective was the two MPs who won by elections this year have been appointed to the Labor frontbench already. So Ashley Dalton won the West Lancashire seat after Rosie Cooper, the Labor MP, stood down.

00;36;33;25 - 00;36;57;15

She's been appointed shadow Women and Equalities Minister, and Michael Shanks, who won the prosecution in Hamilton by election. It was caused by Margaret Ferrier being recalled. Former SNP member. He's been appointed Shadow Scotland minister. Well, well, they don't have any choice. Admittedly, they have many choices in Scotland, but still two MPs who barely started on their parliamentary careers now elevated to the front bench.

00;36;57;15 - 00;37;16;02

I think this idea that, you know, you have to do your time and you have to be in for a couple of parliamentary sessions before you get made, a minister or shadow minister has gone. Yeah, I think if you're talented and you're good, you should be on the frontbench. The thing about Scotland is the Labor Party went and I only got two on PS and Scotland and one as the shadow Scottish secretary and the other is the junior shadow that explains his appointment.

00;37;16;02 - 00;37;33;12

But he's I mean he's I saw his maiden speech, I think he speaks very well. I'm sure he'll do a great job. But in terms of Ashley Dalton, I think it's interesting as well that that's an area that Labor's had some some issues with, particularly around trans issues. Leavers find themselves somewhat exposed. So I find her appointment interesting as well.

00;37;33;12 - 00;37;58;04

But you know, I do think we've seen some people who were only elected in 2019 coming in to government and the actual government, not the shadow government. So I do think it just shows how that traditional idea of it's going that you have to do your time and then you you must become a. One of the interesting things I actually find about the government reshuffle was the number of people who had been secretaries of state who were not coming back into government in a you know, in a in a lower position.

00;37;58;05 - 00;38;21;21

Andrea Leadsom, for example, is now a junior minister in the Health Department. That's a job that she obviously really wanted to do. But I think that idea that once you've been a secretary state, you must come in back into government at that level. I think all of those rules are gone and I'm very much in that spirit. Part of the Labor frontbencher reshuffle saw Jim McMahon, who had been the shadow transport secretary and was then the shadow environment secretary and then left the frontbench.

00;38;21;21 - 00;38;43;21

He's now back as the shadow Minister of State for local Government, so he's gone down a notch, but he's in an area he knows a bit about because he's a former council leader in Oldham, so he's in an area he knows a bit about, working with his close political ally Angela Rayner, and is quite interesting to see him come back quite so rapidly because I think he was seen as not having made enough impact in transport and then in environment.

00;38;43;23 - 00;39;01;06

But now he's in a sort of more technical and slightly secondary position. Maybe it will work better for him. It's one of the things that occurred to me over this issue of whether or not Labor frontbenchers working to resign over this Gaza cease fire motion. If the polls are correct, Labor are six or seven months away from government.

00;39;01;08 - 00;39;17;25

If you're resigning from the frontbench when you're six or seven months away from government, that's that's a significant the greater risk to your career and your aspirations than it is if you do it when you're you're newly in opposition. And I think I think what we're seeing here is Labor are attempting to put together a team that they want to go into government with.

00;39;18;02 - 00;39;44;19

And you saw this again with Chris Bryant, a long term backbencher, chair of the Standards Committee. He gave that up to go and become a middle ranking shadow DCMS minister. I think that what we're seeing here is Labor's preparing for government and so someone like Jim McMahon, who's as you said, has significant experience I think was probably been asked to come back on the understanding that if Labor win the election he'll be in government and be able to manifest change in this area rather than just shadow another minister.

00;39;44;19 - 00;40;06;19

And with councils dropping like nine pins at the moment as they run out of money and fighting for effective sort of local government version of bankruptcy, you imagine that local government might be quite a live portfolio to hold and the other thought I have about this is it will be very interesting to see how the Labor leadership handles the resilience ease the people like Jess Phillips, who quit the frontbench and how quickly if at all, it allows them back.

00;40;06;19 - 00;40;26;21

Do they dismiss them as sort of lightweight militants who didn't stick with it when the going got tough, or do they understand the position they were in and possibly the agony they went through over this and therefore say that there is a way back for them? I don't know is the honest answer, but I would imagine that this was a difficult issue to a significant amount sacrificed to resign.

00;40;26;21 - 00;40;41;26

And I guess it depends how good they are. That's that's the answer. If they're an effective communicator and they're going to be good as a minister, I think the Labor frontbench might be more generous than it might be, but we're predicating this on the idea that Labor are definitely going to win the next election and that's that's not the case.

00;40;41;27 - 00;41;02;18

Not a done deal. Okay, Mark. Well, we've some questions from our listeners, so I think we should turn to them now. So first of all, right, Yeah. First one we've got it's actually anonymous, but it's just in the rumors of reform to the House of Lords, what reforms to parliamentary practice do you hope and fear may come from a new Labor Government?

00;41;02;21 - 00;41;20;19

So Tony, feel free also to chime in. What do you hope and what do you fear might happen? Well, the big one I'd like to see, but which I actually can't imagine, any government, whether it's a Labor government or a Conservative government actually doing, is then finishing off what we call the right reforms to the workings of the House of Commons.

00;41;20;19 - 00;41;41;19

So this dates back to before 2010, before the Conservatives came in, and Tony Wright, the Labor MP at the time, proposed a whole variety of changes. The ones that did get done were about electing the chairs of select committees. The bit that didn't get done so much was about giving MPs a bit more control over their own agenda.

00;41;41;21 - 00;42;00;06

There's a backbench business committee that sort of ropes off a certain amount of commons time for debates chosen by backbenchers and that's gone ahead. But he also wanted a House Business Committee, which would give backbenchers the chance to say, Oh, hang on, we could do with two days for the report stage of that bill. We need a little bit more time on this.

00;42;00;08 - 00;42;23;22

We want to arrange things slightly differently that way. All this is happening too fast. We need a bit more deliberation built into the consideration of this bit of new law, and that hasn't happened. I can remember the kind of quote that filtered back to me was that senior figures in the Labor government of the last days of Gordon Brown didn't want to bequeath to what they thought would be an incoming Conservative government, a system they wouldn't have liked to have had to live with themselves.

00;42;23;22 - 00;42;44;21

So it's sort of a whipsaw and the kind of thing that they didn't want to impose that on an incoming government and it just never got done. The incoming conservative Lib Dem coalition was theoretically committed to the idea, but then quietly dropped it. That's the change I'd like to see. I can't really see it being done though, because governments don't like to be scrutinized more than they already are.

00;42;44;21 - 00;43;03;26

Yeah, I don't agree with the idea. I think the government has an absolute right to set the agenda of the business and actually the backbench Business committee has something like 35 days, which is a huge chunk of parliamentary time. Yeah, but none of it has to do with actual legislation. It's the timetabling of legislation. He's saying, hang on a minute, should we really be railroading this very big complex?

00;43;03;29 - 00;43;18;18

I don't think I don't think the government I don't think backbench efforts have got a better idea of how to set out time for legislation than the government business managers and the whips and the usual channels so much as polls. I think that electing the chair of the Select committee has been a good thing, but also that's often a popularity contest.

00;43;18;18 - 00;43;34;12

If you think about it, you know, it's a you can pretty much predict whoever is the best known person going for the job is going to is going to get it. I always think with that one, that it's very often when it's a government member who gets to chair a committee, I think the opposition usually lines up behind the person who you think is going to be most trouble to the government.

00;43;34;18 - 00;43;53;29

MM Yeah. So there's a kind of perverse incentive to put in the troublemakers there, but I don't think that's a bad thing either. Well, my hope is that they agree to introduce reform to the delegated legislation process entirely about the Hansard Society review sort of proposals which will be published in full in the New Year. So we've already got the interim sort of proposals out there.

00;43;53;29 - 00;44;19;17

We've consulted on them. We're just finalizing the final report. I think that's a big constitu tional issue, but it's also a big issue for a government that wants to be for a frankly more effective and efficient. There are some real opportunities there for for Labor. So we are hopeful that they might do that. But is that a quick answer to That's just listen, my claim to fame is getting delegated legislation into GQ and Vanity Fair.

00;44;19;17 - 00;44;45;29

Well, it certainly will be yours, but what are we afraid of, though? I mean, the question is what we might be afraid of. And I'm afraid that they actually don't have an agenda for parliamentary reform. Their focus is very much on lords reform, on a package of proposals that isn't frankly going to be implemented, but they might not do the sort of the smaller, helpful proposals for Lords reform in terms of dealing with hereditary and making it a small house and so on.

00;44;46;01 - 00;45;06;19

But actually in terms of the Commons, they haven't really got their teeth into any kind of agenda. And actually what they do do might be changes that come about purely as a consequence of trying to get quite a big legislative agenda through quite quickly. I mean, my main concern is that they're not going to do what they should have done years ago, which is move out of the building and let it be refurbished in a full decant.

00;45;06;21 - 00;45;29;02

But even that decision has been put off until I think it's 2025. And every day the parliament continues to sit in that building. It's a huge fire risk and a risk to people's lives. And so my main concern is that the Labor Government will get it and then start all this nonsense about how we couldn't possibly leave the House of Commons chamber despite the fact that the Government spend its entire time sitting in the House of Lords chamber because the House of Commons chamber was destroyed in the Second World War.

00;45;29;07 - 00;45;47;18

You're in the parliamentary press gallery. I mean, what's it like to be kind of a resident of that building? I'm actually I'm actually secretary of the press gallery, so I deal with a lot of people complaining about how cold or how hot their offices are. It's not an ideal, but it's not, isn't it? I mean, you see, I've seen pictures of members of the press gallery with umbrellas because the water's coming through the roof.

00;45;47;19 - 00;46;08;17

The building is both unfit in that sense and unfit in the sense that if you're in a wheelchair, you can't even access the press gallery. So in both senses, it's unacceptable. But I mean, I gave evidence to a joint committee on restoration renewal, I think it was 2015. Nothing's happened. Nothing's moved forward. And it's incredibly frustrating, both from an access point of view, but just from the fact that it's not an appropriate working environment.

00;46;08;22 - 00;46;32;16

Yeah, I mean, I think the defense of the parliamentary staff, I think they'd say things have moved forward. They've made a lot of progress in terms of working out what work needs to be done. There's been an awful lot of investigations and not actually doing the work to be a bit the political and financial question of are we prepared to decant out of the building somewhere else and are we prepared to pay what this actually cost to put right.

00;46;32;18 - 00;46;53;19

That is still stock, as we were discussing on the last episode with with Dean McAleer from the Public Accounts Committee. And. Well, that brings us to an interesting question from Kev Alsop. He was actually asking we wanted to ask Mike this and we didn't get to it last week. But, you know, what about a different approach to parliament where the building becomes a museum and a new parliament is built somewhere like the Midlands?

00;46;53;26 - 00;47;11;14

Well, I don't we're not moving out to London. That's, that's the first thing. That's right. But I actually I wrote a piece, I'm in favor of moving it to Yorkshire, but I wrote a piece, I wrote a piece a couple of months ago that just suggested that we knocked on Norman Shell in North and build a 21st century parliament in that space and keep the old building as a museum.

00;47;11;18 - 00;47;29;02

And you could you could even have the pageantry of the King's Speech in the old building. But I'm not in any way opposed to building an entirely new 21st century parliament that reflects the best of British design and architecture and all that sort of stuff, but actually works in the way that we require it to in the 21st century.

00;47;29;02 - 00;47;45;27

And it's this idea that the building that our our parliament is ancient. It's not ancient. Like I said, the House of Commons chamber was completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe. It didn't open again until, I think, 1950 or 51. So the idea that it's ancient and that have to sit in that palace in that place, I fully think it has to stay in Westminster.

00;47;45;29 - 00;48;07;05

I fully think it has to stay on the river. But apart from those two things, I'm entirely open to any building. In my case, this isn't what I'm saying. It's dead right that the Parliament should move somewhere else. Parliament has to be next door to the government, physically. Next door to the government. You have to have a situation where when something big happens, a minister can come straight into the chamber and explain what's going on.

00;48;07;11 - 00;48;24;24

You can't have a situation where, you know, they have to get on a train. It's a three hour ride to wherever parliament happens to be at the time where they're going to pop up and zoom. That doesn't work either. Well, I mean, we've seen how ineffectual Zoom questioning was during the pandemic. The pandemic parliament showed very clearly the limits of kind of virtual parliamentary debate.

00;48;24;24 - 00;48;47;28

I agree. So, yeah, if you're going to move the parliament to York or or Barnsley you've got to link the government with it, for democracy to function effectively, you need to build it like a Brasilia. You need to build an entirely new capital city. I mean, we could do that, but I mean, I used to love the building, but I increasingly detest it because it's just not a practical working environment for a 21st century legislature.

00;48;48;05 - 00;49;11;00

I'm interested in your proposal because I do favor now abandoning the building, allowing the restoration work to take place. I think there should be a World Heritage Visitor center. And, you know, you could turn the palace into it, but yeah, you turn the palace into a museum. It generates income and you you move parliament to a purpose built 21st century future proofed building fit for the future.

00;49;11;00 - 00;49;30;22

And as Tony was saying, there are all the buildings on the rest of the parliamentary estate, the offices of the House, MPs and staff just across the road from the Victorian Palace of Westminster, places like the Norman Shaw buildings that could easily be converted to that purpose. Yeah, so we're in agreement. We're in we're sort of in agreement on that.

00;49;30;22 - 00;49;59;01

Yeah. So watch this space. I think that's all we've got time for now. So we've actually got a few more questions. We'll get to them in future episodes. But in the meantime, thank you, Tony, for joining us. It's been fascinating and a pleasure. I really enjoyed it. Well, that's all from us for this week's episode of Parliament Matters, Please hit the follow or Subscribe button in your podcast app to get the next episode as soon as it lands and help us to make the podcast better.

00;49;59;01 - 00;50;24;19

By leaving a rating or review on Apple, Spotify and sharing your feedback, our producer tells us it's important for the algorithm to keep the show a boost and tell us more about the algorithm. I know about algorithms. You know, I write my scripts with a quill pen on vellum and then send it in by carrier pigeon. Well, before we go, a quick reminder also that you can send us your questions on all things Parliament by visiting Hansard Society dot org dot UK slash PM YouTube.

00;50;24;21 - 00;50;50;27

We'll be discussing them in future episodes, including our special Urgent Questions editions dedicated to what you want to know about Parliament. And you can find us across social media at Hansard Society to get more content related to the show and the wider work of the hands of society. Parliament Matters is produced by the Hansard Society and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

00;50;51;04 - 00;50;57;06

For more information, visit or will find on social media @HansardSociety.

Subscribe to Parliament Matters

Use the links below to subscribe to the Hansard Society's Parliament Matters podcast on your preferred app, or search for 'Parliament Matters' on whichever podcasting service you use. If you are unable to find our podcast, please email us here.

News / Democratic decision-making in health emergencies: Learning the lessons of the Covid pandemic - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 37

This week we have a compelling conversation with human-rights barrister Adam Wagner as we delve into the findings of the Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers. Just before the general election was called, the Commission published its final recommendations, aiming to reshape law-making in the event of a future health emergency in the UK.

31 May 2024
Read more

News / General election called: What now for Parliament? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 36

This week, we dive into the unexpected political shake-up in Westminster, where Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a general election has thrown Parliament into turmoil. The Prime Minister’s surprising move to hold the election in early July, rather than waiting until Autumn, has sent shockwaves through the political landscape.

24 May 2024
Read more

Briefings / General election rules and regulations: what has changed?

With a general election on the horizon there has been a spate of new legislation and regulations to implement changes to the way the election will be run, with consequences for voters and electoral administrators. Parliament has not always had a role in approving these changes. This briefing sets out the core changes to the electoral process that have been implemented since the last general election in 2019, the role that Parliament has played in scrutinising and approving them, and the risks arising from these changes.

26 Apr 2024
Read more

Support / 80th Anniversary Appeal: support our work to make Parliament more effective

Faith in parliamentary democracy is waning at a critical time as we confront domestic and international challenges that are as significant as any the country has faced since the Society was founded 80 years ago.

11 May 2024
Read more

News / Democracy is in danger, warns Theresa May - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 35

In a powerful Churchill Attlee Lecture commemorating the Hansard Society's 80th anniversary, former Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a stark warning about the state of democracy. She expressed grave concerns about the waning trust in democratic institutions, particularly among young people.

17 May 2024
Read more