Parliamentary Select Committees: Are elected chairs the key to their success?

Parliamentary Select Committees: Are elected chairs the key to their success?

By Mark Goodwin, Stephen Bates and Steve McKay

In the past two months, two of Britain’s richest men have been forced by Parliament to admit to, and apologise for, serious failings in their business practices that could end up costing them millions in compensation. Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley admitted to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee that, despite being Britain’s 22nd richest person with an estimated fortune of £3.5bn, he had not been paying staff in the company’s main warehouse the minimum wage. A few weeks later, the same committee witnessed what many saw as a bizarre performance from another British billionaire, Sir Philip Green, as his failings in the sale of British Home Stores were exposed in between complaints about excessive staring from the committee members. These are just the latest in a string of high profile inquiries by parliamentary select committees over the past six years that have also seen Rupert Murdoch attacked with a custard pie, Michael Gove alleging a ‘Trot conspiracy’ in English schools and a vice president of Google being informed that “you do evil”.

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The Speaker election row tells us two important things about parliament

The Speaker election row tells us two important things about parliament

On 26 March, its final sitting day, the House of Commons rejected government proposals to reform how the Speaker is elected at the start of the new parliament. Here Meg Russell reflects on what this teaches us about parliament, suggesting it holds two lessons. First, that the 2010 House of Commons was more resistant than its predecessors to government dominance; but second, that further reform is still needed to reduce that dominance.

Please note this blog piece was originally published on the Constitution Unit blog.

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“A model of good practice and innovation?”: The governance of the House of Commons

“A model of good practice and innovation?”: The governance of the House of Commons

By Barry Winetrobe

The recent fiasco over the appointment of a House of Commons Clerk/Chief Executive has led to the appointment of a select committee on House governance chaired by Jack Straw.  It is tasked with reviewing this complex topic, especially allocation of the most senior responsibilities currently held by the Clerk/Chief Executive, and reporting to the House by 12 January 2015. Continue reading