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The Week in Parliament

Last week, Parliament returned from its summer recess. Unfortunately I didn’t, so last week’s edition of the Week in Parliament remained ensconced safely in my mind. A shame really, it was a great one. But, now I’m back from my holiday, refreshed and raring to go. So what have we seen in the last couple of weeks?

One of the major points of contention we’ve seen has been complaints about the near-total lack of consultation on the coronavirus related regulations still being introduced by the Government under emergency provisions. It’s an issue we’ve highlighted previously, we discussed it at length in Briefing Paper 38, and in our submissions to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, whose reports have been published this Thursday. In the report, the Select Committee criticised the expedited processes as ‘not always justified’, especially where announcements were made weeks in advance of their actual introduction. The same concerns have been aired in both Houses of Parliament. Baroness Neville-Rolfe in particular requested an opportunity to see lists of consultees. With current cases going through the courts including an upcoming appeal, considering who has been consulted on regulation changes, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes to the Government’s approach.

The Commons touched upon the ongoing Integrated Defence and Foreign Policy Review, a potentially major piece of work that may have gained even more importance due to the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development. That particular merger was expected to be one of the final results of that process, but ended up taking place rather earlier than expected. The furore that the merger kicked up has been closely linked by politicians to the general review. A couple of weeks ago, the Defence Select Committee wrote to the PM and issued a report suggesting that the review needed more consultation with external stakeholders. This week, Dominic Raab was before Parliament answering an urgent question from MPs Angela Crawley (SNP) and Tobias Ellwood), and defending a charge that despite the fact that the review was meant to be the ‘most comprehensive evidence-driven evaluation of foreign policy since the cold war’, the call for evidence had only gone out in mid-August for 20 days. The Foreign Secretary highlighted a few thinktanks that had been consulted with, but we think it likely that this one will be back to haunt him again.

For this week, that’ll be all, as I can feel the teeth of deadlines at my heels. I’m planning on playing around with the format of this column a little over the next few weeks, so any suggestions and comments are welcome. As usual, messages to stephenh@consultationinstitute.org

About the Author

Stephen serves as the Institute’s Legal and Parliamentary Officer. Before joining the Institute Stephen studied Law at Bangor University and pursued a Masters’ degree in Aviation and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal. After this, he returned to London and was called to the bar in 2016 at the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, before deciding not to go into practice and move towards public policy work instead. Within the Institute, Stephen provides legal, political and policy analysis of UK and global current affairs of interest to consultors and consultees.

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