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Legislative process: former senior clerks and parliamentary counsel to give evidence to Lords Constitution Committee

The House of Lords Constitution Committee will hear from former Clerk of the Parliaments Sir David Beamish, former Clerk of the House of Commons Lord Lisvane, and former Parliamentary Counsel Daniel Greenberg on Wednesday 13 June as part of its inquiry on the legislative process.

The roles of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the House of Commons are the most senior officials in each House. The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is a group of government lawyers who specialise in drafting legislation.

This is the third stage of the Committee's review of the legislative process. The first stage on preparing legislation for Parliament was published in October 2017, and evidence has been taken on the delegation of powers, with a report expected in the coming months.

In this stage the Committee is interested in the passage of legislation through Parliament:

  • How bills are considered at each stage of the process
  • The use of parliamentary time for legislative scrutiny
  • The quality of the explanatory materials that accompany bills

At 10.30am Sir David Beamish and Lord Lisvane may be asked questions including:

  • How effective is Parliament's scrutiny of bills? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our scrutiny processes?
  • The evidence we received suggests the Government has been tabling more amendments to its own bills in recent years. Is this the product of effective parliamentary scrutiny or the result of poorly-prepared legislation?
  • What more could the administrations of each House do to support good legislative scrutiny?
  • How far is scrutiny in each House informed by the views of stakeholders? Does this differ between the two Houses?

At 11.15am Daniel Greenberg may be asked questions including:

  • Does the timetabling of stages of bills by the usual channels in each House affect the quality of scrutiny? Should the timing of bills be more predictable, or the process of timetabling more transparent?
  • How significant are the differences between the two Houses in their scrutiny of Bills, in practice as well as in theory?
  • How useful are Explanatory Notes and other material that accompany Bills? In what ways might they be improved to assist parliamentarians' scrutiny and public understanding of legislation?

The session will take place at 10.30am on Wednesday 13 June in Committee Room 1.

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