We may not yet know the result of the election, but we do know that we will have a new parliament. David Natzler and David Beamish explain what will happen when the new parliament commences next week. No matter the outcome of today’s vote, certain processes will need to be followed: parliament will need to be officially opened, MPs will need to be sworn in, and committees will need to be re-established — and their members and chairs must be elected.
The first days of a new parliament follow a well-trodden path, and the surest guide to what will happen is usually to look up what happened last time, in June 2017. However, much depends on the political context. And we will not know that context until the early hours of Friday 13 December at the earliest. All we know for sure is that the new parliament will meet on Tuesday 17 December, and that if the current Prime Minister returns, the State Opening – the start of the new session – will be only two days later, on Thursday 19 December. If there is a hung parliament, the State Opening could be delayed. Continue reading →
This week the Constitution Unit publishes a new report arguing that the time has come to regulate prime ministerial appointments to the House of Lords – to prevent the chamber’s size escalating further, and prevent government manipulating its membership. The report argues that, despite large-scale Lords reform being awaited, this step is urgent ahead of the general election in May 2015. Here Meg Russell, the report’s lead author, sets out the key points.
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Recent years have seen endless stories about the growing size of the House of Lords (e.g. here and here). Since 1999, when the Lords was reformed to remove most hereditary peers, its membership has grown by one third – from 666 members to nearly 850 (see graph). This has caused not only media embarrassment, but concerns among the chamber’s members about its ability to function effectively. In 2013 the Lord Speaker suggested that ‘if we don’t reform and shrink our numbers, the Lords will collapse under its own weight’; last year she pointed out that debates are ‘coming under increasing time pressure as more members wish to speak, all to the detriment of our ability to hold the government to account’ (pay wall). In a full day debate on the size of the chamber last month, a former Conservative Chief Whip noted that ‘we all agree that the House cannot go on growing as it has been doing’. Yet just last weekend the Sunday Times (pay wall) claimed that a new list of up to 60 peers was likely to be announced following the general election in May 2015.
Who will blink first in the stand-off between Lords and Government over the Reduction of Seats Bill? Lords watchers among us and the fans of self-regulation are on tenterhooks. Ben Brogan the well-informed Deputy Editor of the Telegraph says he has the outline of a deal. Check it out against events.
The outline of the deal, I am told, would involve the government compromising in three areas in exchange for the Labour bully boys pulling stumps. These are:
allowing some kind of oral public inquiry where boundary changes are contentious, maybe an online public consultationa post legislation scrutiny of some sort, perhaps an inquiry, into the reduction to 600 seats.
a greater amount of variation of seat sizes. David Cameron has told the Lib Dems he’s willing to see a 5pc variation around the final figure (say 75,000), and I’m told he will not give any more, which means this one could be a sticking point.To focus minds, Lord Strathclyde, who has been told by Dave to sort it out, has a closure motion ready to table this evening. It would be put to a vote tomorrow. This is the nuclear device, because while it will be gently worded and will aply only to this legislation, it is the guillotine that will fall on the Lords and at a stroke – if their Lordships so approve – will cut off their history of self regulation.