On 16 March 2015, Lord Lisvane, who as Sir Robert Rogers served as Clerk of the House of Commons 2011-14, reflected upon the 2010 Parliament and speculated about potential future changes in Westminster at a Constitution Unit seminar held in the House of Lords. Fathma Khalid reports on the event.
With the May 2015 election fast approaching, Lord Lisvane was invited by the Constitution Unit to reflect on the outgoing parliament. Robert Hazell, Director of the Unit, introduced Lord Lisvane as the unofficial star of Michael Cockerell’s Inside the Commons documentary TV series. Having worked for the House of Commons service since joining in 1972, Lord Lisvane is extremely well placed to present this ‘end-of-term report’ on the 2010 Parliament. He set the scene by pointing out that this parliament formed at a time when the MPs expenses scandal was still raw in the public memory. 227 new members brought a breath of fresh air to the chamber, invigorating the House with enthusiasm and a renewed outlook. The 2010 Parliament was ‘the most rebellious of modern times’, which Lord Lisvane thought was a good sign of a healthy legislature, although he recognised that this may have been due to the nature of coalition. The 2013 defeat of proposed military action in Syria displayed parliamentary confidence and it had repercussions in France and the US.
Lord Lisvane focused on the many changes that have taken place in parliament over the last five years. Deputy speakers and select committee chairs were elected for the first time in 2010. The Backbench Business Committee was created based on the Constitution Unit’s own research (see here and here). Additionally, the Fixed Term Parliament Act was introduced and further changes were made to members’ sitting hours.