Constitutional Scrutiny by Parliamentary Committee

Constitutional Scrutiny by Parliamentary Committee

At a time of significant structural change, the UK’s constitutional and political arrangements face unprecedented challenges. There are strong arguments to be made for increasing the level of scrutiny of constitutional reform by accountable bodies, particularly through the vehicle of the Parliamentary Select Committee.  Yet, the number of Committees tasked with examining constitutional matters has decreased; in particular, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee was not re-appointed following the 2015 General Election.  Drawing on a detailed case study of the work of this unique committee, Dr Eloise Ellis examines the implications of its dissolution for the parliamentary scrutiny of constitutional reform more broadly.

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The Demise of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee: A cautionary tale of the indulgence of executive power?

The Demise of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee: A cautionary tale of the indulgence of executive power?

By Graham Allen MP, Dave Richards and Martin Smith

Brian Barry suggested that: ‘…there has been a massive rise in the incidence of sanctimony and smugness among the successful that has nothing to do with any change in the underlying reality… It has been stimulated by politicians who have realised that it is possible to win power by recruiting the most … successful forty per cent or so of the population in a crusade to roll back the gains made by their fellow citizens in the previous forty years’. Written fifty years ago, the spirit, if not the empirical accuracy of this sentiment, still holds true. The Conservative Party have returned to power with an outright, yet slim majority. The turnout, though slightly up on previous elections at 66%, saw the Conservatives secure a 36.9% share. Read another way this means that only 24.7% of those eligible to vote did so for the new governing party. The Westminster model was, of course, always designed to deliver out right winners thanks to the machinations of the first-past-the post electoral system. In 2015, it can certainly be said to have done its job. But in an increasingly anti-political age, with a growing sense of cynicism with the ways and means of the Westminster system, it might be argued that a new government with such a precarious majority would be well served by operating with a public show of humility, not hubris. Continue reading