Constitutional reform law ‘lacks scrutiny’

By staff

Nick Clegg’s constitutional reform bill will not receive the level of parliamentary scrutiny it deserves, a committee of MPs has argued.

In a letter to the deputy prime minister, Graham Allen, chair of the political and constitutional reform committee, claimed the parliamentary voting system and constituencies bill and the fixed-term parliaments bill had both escaped proper attention from lawmakers.

Both bills were published on July 22nd, just days before MPs broke up for the summer. They receive their second reading when the Commons returns in September.

“We regret that the government’s timetable has denied us an adequate opportunity to scrutinise the bill before second reading,” Mr Allen said.

He compared the areas covered to Lords reform, which will be “subject to full pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint select committee over several months before a bill is formally presented to parliament”.

He added: “On what principle can you justify this different treatment of legislation affecting the two Houses?”

The letter is the last thing the deputy prime minister needs as he struggles to get his constitutional reform agenda through the Commons.

He already faces an almighty battle just getting the referendum on AV onto the statute book, let alone to convince voters to support it.

Last week Labour said it would not support the bill, despite havings its own manifesto promise of an AV referendum, and over 40 Tory MPs have backed a motion demanding it be held on a separate date.