28th March 2013
In a couple of earlier posts (here and here), I looked at the creation and operation of the McKay Commission on the West Lothian Question, criticising the fact that it was set up unilaterally by the Government, despite dealing with a core issue of parliamentary procedure.
Sadly, its newly-published report confirms this executive-centred approach to parliamentary reform. The key section entitled ‘next steps’ (paras 248-9) contains phrases like “We envisage that the Government would first make an assessment of our proposals and put before the House..” and “When the House has expressed its views, we suggest that the Government should move for a select committee to advise the House on the details..”
Announcing publication of the report on 25 March, ministers said: “We will consider seriously and constructively this report and provide a substantive response to it in due course.”
The initial response from parliamentary officers and committees was ….. [fill in the blank].
Presumably Parliament is expected, as usual, to sit back quietly and wait for its executive masters to work out how it should operate. The idea that one of the Commons’ select committees dealing with House matters (given the current Political & Constitutional Reform Committee’s inquiry into the ‘Wright Committee reforms’, we currently have 2 of them, ie it and Procedure Committee) should do a brisk inquiry into the subject of WLQ and the McKay Report, independently of Government’s own deliberations, is presumably far too revolutionary for the current House. Ditto for some sort of initiative of this sort by the Speaker.
Or perhaps they will surprise us all?