Baroness Smith of Basildon – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Cabinet Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon on 2015-11-09.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will (1) produce a (a) Green Paper, and (b) White Paper, and (2) consult with Parliament, prior to recommending any legislative changes to parliamentary procedures following Lord Strathclyde’s review of the powers of the House of Lords.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston):

Lord Strathclyde is being supported in his review by a panel of external experts and a small secretariat of civil servants in the Cabinet Office. The secretariat does not include political advisers. The expert panel comprises Sir Stephen Laws, former First Parliamentary Counsel; Jacqy Sharpe, a former Clerk in the House of Commons and Clerk to the Joint Committee on Conventions; and Sir Michael Pownall, former Clerk of the Parliaments.

Several reviews have examined the powers of the House of Lords, including the Royal Commission on the reform of the House of Lords (2000) and the Joint Committee on Conventions referenced above (2006).

The review led by Lord Strathclyde is due to consider how to protect the ability of elected Governments to secure their business in Parliament in the light of the operation of certain conventions. The review will consider in particular how to secure the decisive role of the elected House of Commons in relation to its primacy on financial matters; and secondary legislation.

Ministers regularly discuss a wide range of issues with the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service.

Lord Strathclyde will determine the way in which the review is undertaken and the content of his recommendations, including any definitions required. It is not possible to provide an estimate of the cost of the exercise at this stage, but neither Lord Strathclyde nor his panel of experts will be paid a fee. Lord Strathclyde is expected to seek views from a wide range of Parliamentarians, parties and groups in undertaking his review, and has issued a letter to all Parliamentarians inviting their input. He is also seeking views from the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the House. Lord Strathclyde will report to the Prime Minister, and the Government will decide how to proceed upon receipt of his recommendations.