Download Constitutional Implications of Coalition Government - Parliament PDF

TitleConstitutional Implications of Coalition Government - Parliament
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.1 MB
Total Pages233
Table of Contents
                            SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION
INQUIRY INTO THE CONSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF COALITION GOVERNMENT
Oral and written evidence
Contents
	Rt Hon. Lord Adonis—Oral Evidence (QQ 88-99)
	Dr Stephen Barber, London South Bank University—Written evidence
		Summary
	Dr Andrew Blick, King’s College London—Written evidence
	Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP, Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP and Tim Loughton MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 58-73)
	Rt Hon. Lord Butler of Brockwell, KG, GCB, CVO and Lord O’Donnell, GCB—Oral Evidence (QQ 111-120)
	Lord Donoughue and Professor Lord Norton of Louth—Oral Evidence (QQ 1-13)
	Rt Hon. Lord Falconer of Thoroton and Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon—Oral Evidence (QQ 121-131)
	Dr Ruth Fox, Hansard Society—Written evidence
		Manifestos and accountability
		Coalition in the last parliamentary session
		Collective ministerial responsibility
		An extended election period
		Investiture Vote
		Alternatives to coalition – lessons from the Lib-Lab Pact 1977-78
	Dr Ruth Fox, Professor Robert Hazell and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
	Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP, Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP and Tim Loughton MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 58-73)
	Professor Robert Hazell, Constitution Unit, UCL—Written evidence
	Professor Robert Hazell, Dr Ruth Fox and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
	Professor Robert Hazell, Constitution Unit, UCL—Supplementary written evidence
		The Caretaker Convention
		Restrictions on government activity
	Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones—Written evidence
	Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)
	Rt Hon. David Laws MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 44-57)
	Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 132-140)
	Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Government, Cabinet Office—Supplementary written evidence
	Tim Loughton MP, Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP and Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 58-73)
	Dr Felicity Matthews, The University of Sheffield—Written evidence
	Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)
	Lord Morgan and Lord Steel of Aikwood—Oral Evidence (QQ 30-43)
	Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan—Written evidence
	Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale,  and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)
	Professor Lord Norton of Louth and Lord Donoughue—Oral Evidence (QQ 1-13)
	Lord O’Donnell, GCB and Rt Hon. Lord Butler of Brockwell, KG, GCB, CVO—Oral Evidence (QQ 111-120)
	Rt Hon. Peter Riddell, CBE, Institute for Government—Written evidence
	Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon and Rt Hon. Lord Falconer of Thoroton—Oral Evidence (QQ 121-131)
	Rt Hon. Lord Shutt of Greetland, OBE and Rt Hon. Lord Strathclyde, CH—Oral Evidence (QQ 74-87)
	Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Morgan—Oral Evidence (QQ 30-43)
	Lord Stephen, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan —Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)
	Rt Hon. Lord Strathclyde, CH and Rt Hon. Lord Shutt of Greetland, OBE—Oral Evidence (QQ 74-87)
	Mr Barry Winetrobe, Dr Ruth Fox and Professor Robert Hazell—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
	Mr Barry Winetrobe, Honorary Research Associate, Constitution Unit, UCL—Supplementary written evidence
		Introduction
		Role of core Civil Service in government formation negotiations
		‘Validation’ or ‘ratification’ of a government’s formation and any written agreements
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE CONSTITUTION


INQUIRY INTO THE CONSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS
OF COALITION GOVERNMENT


Oral and written evidence



Contents
Rt Hon. Lord Adonis—Oral Evidence (QQ 88-99) .................................................................. 3

Dr Stephen Barber, London South Bank University—Written evidence ............................... 16

Dr Andrew Blick, King’s College London—Written evidence ............................................... 29

Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP, Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP and Tim Loughton MP—Oral Evidence
(QQ 58-73) .............................................................................................................................. 40

Rt Hon. Lord Butler of Brockwell, KG, GCB, CVO and Lord O’Donnell, GCB—Oral
Evidence (QQ 111-120) ........................................................................................................... 58

Lord Donoughue and Professor Lord Norton of Louth—Oral Evidence (QQ 1-13) ........... 70

Rt Hon. Lord Falconer of Thoroton and Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon—Oral
Evidence (QQ 121-131) ........................................................................................................... 86

Dr Ruth Fox, Hansard Society—Written evidence .............................................................. 100

Dr Ruth Fox, Professor Robert Hazell and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
................................................................................................................................................ 105

Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP, Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP and Tim Loughton MP—Oral Evidence
(QQ 58-73) ............................................................................................................................ 125

Professor Robert Hazell, Constitution Unit, UCL—Written evidence ................................ 126

Professor Robert Hazell, Dr Ruth Fox and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
................................................................................................................................................ 134

Professor Robert Hazell, Constitution Unit, UCL—Supplementary written evidence ........ 135

Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones—Written evidence .............................................................................. 137

Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan
and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)................................................................ 143

Rt Hon. David Laws MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 44-57).......................................................... 156

Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP—Oral Evidence (QQ 132-140).................................................. 171

Rt Hon. Oliver Letwin MP, Minister for Government, Cabinet Office—Supplementary
written evidence..................................................................................................................... 182

Tim Loughton MP, Rt Hon. Paul Burstow MP and Rt Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP—Oral Evidence
(QQ 58-73) ............................................................................................................................ 184

Dr Felicity Matthews, The University of Sheffield—Written evidence................................. 185

Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan
and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)................................................................ 188

Page 2

Rt Hon. Lord Adonis—Oral Evidence (QQ 88-99)

2 of 233

Lord Morgan and Lord Steel of Aikwood—Oral Evidence (QQ 30-43) .............................. 189

Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan—Written evidence ......................................................................... 206

Rt Hon. Rhodri Morgan, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale,
and Lord Stephen—Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)................................................................ 208

Professor Lord Norton of Louth and Lord Donoughue—Oral Evidence (QQ 1-13) ......... 209

Lord O’Donnell, GCB and Rt Hon. Lord Butler of Brockwell, KG, GCB, CVO—Oral
Evidence (QQ 111-120) ......................................................................................................... 210

Rt Hon. Peter Riddell, CBE, Institute for Government—Written evidence ........................ 211

Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon and Rt Hon. Lord Falconer of Thoroton—Oral
Evidence (QQ 121-131) ......................................................................................................... 214

Rt Hon. Lord Shutt of Greetland, OBE and Rt Hon. Lord Strathclyde, CH—Oral Evidence
(QQ 74-87) ............................................................................................................................ 215

Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Morgan—Oral Evidence (QQ 30-43) .............................. 228

Lord Stephen, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones, Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Rt Hon.
Rhodri Morgan —Oral Evidence (QQ 100-110)................................................................... 229

Rt Hon. Lord Strathclyde, CH and Rt Hon. Lord Shutt of Greetland, OBE—Oral Evidence
(QQ 74-87) ............................................................................................................................ 230

Mr Barry Winetrobe, Dr Ruth Fox and Professor Robert Hazell—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)
................................................................................................................................................ 231

Mr Barry Winetrobe, Honorary Research Associate, Constitution Unit, UCL—
Supplementary written evidence............................................................................................ 232

Page 116

Dr Ruth Fox, Professor Robert Hazell and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)

116 of 233

people that the secretary of state might not like for political reasons. That is just reality and
one of the discomforts of coalition that the parties have to live with.

The Chairman: I know that Lady Wheatcroft wants to raise the question of collective
responsibility, which comes, I imagine, from what you have just said.

Q23 Baroness Wheatcroft: Absolutely, and I appreciate the response you gave that
governments have to be pragmatic in these circumstances. I go along with that but when I
read your responses to the issue of collective responsibility there seemed to be a theme
that, on the whole, the sanction would be public opinion. Public opinion does not like it
when governments are split; this helps enforce collective responsibility. I wonder whether
that really applies once you lose single-party government. It seems to me that the doctrine
of collective responsibility is fading fast. I understand that when Professor Hazell interviewed
people the divisions seemed stronger within parties, but nevertheless they felt obliged,
during the lifetime of governments, to abide by the doctrine of collective responsibility. We
have seen examples under this government where that is not the case. I wonder if it reaches
a stage where you think that is potentially damaging.

Professor Robert Hazell: May I mention a core document for your inquiry in terms of the
operation of this coalition government? That is the document published on 21 May 2010, the
Coalition Agreement for Stability and Reform. It is a very short, very clear three-page document
setting out the principles and procedures by which the two parties in the coalition would
manage the collective business of government.
To go back if I may to the previous discussion about the appointment of ministers, it has two
sentences on that which are very clear. It says: “The Prime Minister, following consultation
with the Deputy Prime Minister, will make nominations for the appointment of ministers.
The Prime Minister will nominate Conservative Party ministers and the Deputy Prime
Minister will nominate Liberal Democrat ministers”.
Coming to your point about collective responsibility, there is a quite a long section, section
2—

The Chairman: I think we are familiar with it.

Professor Robert Hazell: The point I am making is that the coalition government are very
clear how the principle of collective responsibility applies.

The Chairman: They were in principle. This is the point we are making. They were in May
2010 but the point that Lady Wheatcroft is making is that when there are obvious
divergences from even that agreement, which was as you said relating specifically to a
particular situation, at what point does the doctrine—as Lady Wheatcroft appropriately
called it—of collective responsibility simply need to be abandoned?

Professor Robert Hazell: Forgive me but I think it has a lot more elastic in it yet. Under the
previous government led by Tony Blair as Prime Minister for 10 years, collective
responsibility was frequently quite conspicuously absent in terms of the relationship between
No. 10 and the Treasury. This is nothing special or unique about coalition governments. In
terms of the doctrine potentially having a lot more elastic, forgive me for harking again to
Commonwealth examples but it is helpful to see how other Westminster systems have
adapted to coalition government. In New Zealand, collective responsibility has been relaxed

Page 117

Dr Ruth Fox, Professor Robert Hazell and Mr Barry Winetrobe—Oral Evidence (QQ 14-29)

117 of 233

a lot further than we have seen here and the government have been able to operate
perfectly effectively.

Baroness Wheatcroft: My point was that both of you, Dr Fox and Professor Hazell,
argued that the public do not like ministers misbehaving—I suppose that is the way to put it
simply—and therefore they respond at the ballot box. That is a sanction held over
government and collective responsibility. But I wonder whether that is the case when you
have not just the Brown/Blair axis but a government effectively split between two parties
that have major disagreements and it becomes apparent that that affects the doctrine of
collective responsibility. Will the public be much more indulgent?

Professor Robert Hazell: A criticism that you could make of our study is that we only
looked at the first 18 months of the Government. That is true and maybe we caught them at
their most harmonious moment. Recent contacts I have had in Whitehall suggest that it is
still the case that many of the most important differences within this coalition Government
are those between ministers of the same party, not between the coalition parties. On the
whole, the Government have shown a lot of discipline in relation to their collective
responsibility. You might have a different perspective because, as one of our interviewees
famously said to us, we have a coalition Government but not a coalition Parliament, so the
differences between coalition parties are much more closely visible to you as
parliamentarians—it is the same in the other House—than perhaps they are to those
working in Whitehall.

The Chairman: In a sense, that is what we are addressing: parliamentary responsibility.

Barry Winetrobe: I think this is a situation where you have to think what “collective”
means: collective in facing whom? Collective responsibility grew out of the idea of a group of
ministers having a collective purpose against the monarch, whereas that was not the original
idea. Then it was collective vis-à-vis Parliament: it was the confidence principle, to use the
traditional constitutional jargon. A great part of the traditional doctrine was all this notion of
confidentiality, secrecy and privacy—a lot of which has been modified drastically in the last
10 or 15 years. People do not really see that as a core part of it. When I was doing some
work on it in the devolved Parliament of Scotland—which contrary to what Lord Lang said,
is for these purposes a Parliament in the same sense that this is one—there was clearly a
fear that if collective responsibility was not imposed the two parties might split within the
government. Therefore, in addition to the traditional notion of collective ministerial
responsibility, i.e. holding all the ministers together whether of one party or not, there was
need for a further layer which I called—although it did not take root—a collective coalition
responsibility. That was the idea of binding, in addition, the two parties together.
As it turned out, certainly in the early days of the eight years of coalition government, that
did not arise as a problem. The issues and controversies about collective responsibility and
whether ministers should resign were in traditional areas of disagreeing on a constituency
basis and so on. The notion of it being necessary to bind the coalition together did not really
arise so clearly in those days. I am not saying it will not arise now. If I remember correctly,
the Scottish guidance in the Guide to Collective Decision-making and in the Ministerial Code did
not say when it should be set aside, whereas the present agreement does. I do not really
think that makes much difference. Again, it is the transparency. If everybody makes clear that
this is what they are doing and that there are set points at which there are disagreements,
the public accepts that. What I think is the problem is if you are pretending one thing and
doing another. I do not think that the idea of speaking out against things is really

Page 232

Mr Barry Winetrobe, Honorary Research Associate, Constitution Unit, UCL—
Supplementary written evidence

232 of 233

Mr Barry Winetrobe, Honorary Research Associate, Constitution
Unit, UCL—Supplementary written evidence

Introduction

1. As I did not provide written evidence in advance of my appearance before the
Committee on 16 October, I wish to take up the Committee’s offer of providing a
supplementary submission, to mention two issues which I had hoped to raise at the
session but was unable to do so due to time constraints. In both cases, I hope the
Committee will consider these points in preparing its report.


Role of core Civil Service in government formation negotiations

2. There seems to be a general consensus that the core Civil Service should be the lead
facilitator of any government formation negotiations, especially after an election
producing a ‘hung parliament’. However, having read accounts of the 2010 episode
and the 1999 and 2003 Scottish devolution examples, I hope the Committee will
address the appropriateness of this consensus, rather than simply adopt it. There has
been some concern expressed at perceptions that, in May 2010, senior officials’
advice was motivated by concerns at financial markets’ reaction to governmental
uncertainty.8 In 2003, senior Scottish officials seemed to take a relatively active part
in the negotiations, including helping draft the final agreement.9


3. It may be that there are other bodies who may be able to fulfil necessary negotiation

facilitation functions as effectively as the core Civil Service, but without raising any
negative perceptions affecting existing constitutional proprieties about the role of the
Civil Service. For various reasons, ‘high’ constitutional bodies such as the UK
Parliament, the UK Supreme Court or Buckingham Palace would not seem to be
appropriate. However, it may not take too great a leap to imagine that the Electoral
Commission could act as negotiation facilitator, a role that, arguably, is a logical and
practical extension of its existing remit and purpose.


‘Validation’ or ‘ratification’ of a government’s formation and any written
agreements

4. There has been much discussion, including in the 16 October evidence session, of
various devices for securing some form of validation or ratification of the outcome of
government formation negotiations, especially where a coalition results from a ‘hung
parliament’ election. These typically include parliamentary processes such as a
debate and vote on any written agreements, or a prime ministerial ‘investiture vote’.
The idea seems to be some form of nod, however symbolically and indirect, towards
public adoption of the outcome of an election in which they participated, based on a
theory that elections produce parliaments which then produce governments.


5. However, during the 16 October evidence session, there seemed to be some

consensus among the Committee that representative democracy nowadays has to
take greater account of growing public expectations, and ability, to participate


8 Debate on 20 January: Constitutional and Parliamentary Effect of Coalition Government, HLLN 2011/002, 17.1.11, p5;
Lessons from the process of Government formation after the 2010 General Election, HC Political and Constitutional
Reform Committee, 4th Report, 2010-11, HC 528, January 2011, paras 39-43
9 Ben Seyd, Coalition Governance in Scotland and Wales, May 2004, p14; Sir J Elvidge, Northern Exposure: lessons from the
first twelve years of devolved government in Scotland, 2011, pp14-17, esp the idea of a ‘negotiation support team’.

Page 233

Mr Barry Winetrobe, Honorary Research Associate, Constitution Unit, UCL—
Supplementary written evidence

233 of 233

proactively in their governance. For example, resort to referendums is now, for
good or ill, more acceptable as a constitutional and political option in particular
situations. Initiatives such as ‘e-petitions’ and the proposed ‘MP recall’ are other
examples. Yet, through the new fixed term parliaments law in particular, direct public
participation in government formation is, if anything, reduced due to the likelihood of
longer intervals between general elections.


6. The public may feel they are entitled to a more direct say in government formation -

especially after a ‘hung parliament’ election outcome - than watching their elected
representatives ratify a deal, ‘stitched up’ amongst some of them, for a government
which was not on offer during the campaign. Notwithstanding genuine issues of
timing, and the risks of prolonging periods of uncertainty, it is not impossible to
envisage ways of consulting the public, whether by a second general election or by a
referendum endorsing the new administration. I hope the Committee will feel that
the public deserve to have this issue given some consideration in its deliberations and
subsequent report.


21 October 2013

Similer Documents