Committee criticise fast tracking of Parliamentary Standards Bill
06 July 2009
The House of Lords Constitution Committee have today criticised the Government’s approach to the Parliamentary Standards Bill stating that a Bill with such constitutionally important elements should not be ‘fast tracked’ through the legislative process.
The Committee say that despite changes made to the bill in the House of Commons it still contains some constitutionally important aspects. They point out that by establishing a statutory external regulator for Parliament the bill breaks the convention that Parliament regulates its own affairs.
The Committee argue that this is a profound change which could create conflicts between Parliament and the courts.
The main focus of this initial report is the Committee’s concern with the way the legislation is being hurried through Parliament. They state that this has prevented 'proper examination ….of legally and constitutionally complex questions'. They argue that the Bill is the product of a desire 'simply to see something done' rather than the outcome of a suitable law making process.
The Committee doubt whether a 'cobbled together bill' that has been rushed through the legislative process without proper scrutiny or public consultation will help rebuild public trust.
The report also describes as 'constitutionally unorthodox' the Prime Minister’s decision to first announce proposals to reform the House of Commons expenses regime on YouTube.
Commenting, Lord Goodlad, Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, said:
"The Parliamentary Standards Bill is a significant piece of legislation which raises complex constitutional matters. We think rushing the bill through Parliament is unacceptable.
"Parliament and the public need to have the opportunity to look carefully at the implications of what is being proposed. If the aim of the bill is to restore public confidence in Parliament and show that it is listening to legitimate public concerns it seems odd to do that with a bill that has not undergone any sort of consultation process."
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