Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You have to be joking, oh, you aren't.

 Bit late with this one, but here we go.
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has said he wants to be able to answer MPs' questions in the House of Commons.
Current rules say peers who serve as ministers can face direct inquiries only in the House of Lords.
But Lord Adonis told BBC One's Politics Show he and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson would be "delighted" to face MPs in the Commons chamber.
He has written to the Speaker to suggest this, but said the Commons was not the "fastest-moving" institution.
The promotion of peers to cabinet rank means some of the leading figures in government cannot face questions from their own and opposition MPs in the Commons itself.

Whilst there are certain merits to the suggestion, it is the thin end of the wedge. If a peer is allowed to speak in the Commons as a minister then the obvious question is: why not allow them the other privileges of an MP? Why not allow MPs to speak in the Lords? It's a nonsense, and incredibly dangerous nonsense at that.

I think though we are witnessing the end of British Parliamentary government in this country. New Labour has treated the Commons with utter contempt - as some utter inconvenience and archaic irrelevance, a club which you just have to be elected to for some strange, outré reason in order that you can become a Cabinet minister within eighteen months of getting elected - and I doubt Call me Dave's mob 'get it' either.

Of course, the simple solution here would be: don't (as governments of all stripes have generally not done for many decades now) appoint peers to important ministries. Alas, our glorious Reichsfuhrer appears not to grasp such a possibility.

But there is no 'solution' needed, fundamentally.

The Transport department and the Business department both have MPs serving as Mandelson's and Adonis' direct deputies. Those MPs can (and do) answer questions on their department in the Commons. MPs can question ministers such as Sadiq Khan very effectively, and do. Those ministries have a more than adequate representation in the Commons.

So what this amounts to is 'lets wreck the constitution (yes I know it's not really a constitution) because Andrew Adonis and Peter Mandelson's egos are a little fragile about the suggestion that they are 'second-class' members of the government because they aren't elected, and consequently can't get into the part of Westminster which gets the better TV coverage.'

The fact that crap like this can even be proposed openly is a testament to how little regard for constitutional government there is at the moment.

2 annotations:

James Higham said...

Peers in the commons? Are they house-trained?

JuliaM said...

"I think though we are witnessing the end of British Parliamentary government in this country."

I fear you are right. The best way to demolish an ancient tradition? Devalue it in the eyes of its adherents.