Government formation post-election - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents

Appendix 2: Correspondence between the Chair and the Clerk of the Parliaments

Letter from the Chair to David Beamish, Clerk of the Parliaments, 10 March 2015

As you may know, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has been holding an inquiry into the formation of governments after a general election. The Committee has been considering the possibility of the House of Commons meeting shortly after the General Election to debate and confirm any proposed arrangements for the formation of a new administration after the election. At its meeting yesterday the Committee discussed with the Acting Clerk of the House possible arrangements for such a meeting of the House of Commons. A change to the present arrangements for the first meeting of a Parliament clearly has implications for the House of Lords. It would be helpful to us in considering any recommendations we may make to the House if you could indicate the arrangements which would in your view be necessary in order for Parliament to meet on Monday 11 May. It would be helpful to receive any response by Wednesday 18 March for circulation to the Committee. I am writing in similar terms to the Acting Clerk of the House, the Private Secretary to HM The Queen and the Cabinet Secretary.

Letter from David Beamish, Clerk of the Parliaments, to the Chair, 19 March 2015

Thank you for your letter of 10 March asking me about the implications for the House of Lords of a meeting of a new Parliament on the Monday after polling day.

I have discussed with David Natzler the points which you raised with him following his oral evidence to your committee, and all I really need to say is that there is nothing in relation to the House of Lords which would inhibit the sort of changes your committee is considering. Oath-taking in the House of Lords at the start of a new Parliament is in practice fitted round the two Royal Commissions (one at the beginning, one for the approval of the Commons' Speaker), and the arrangements could be adjusted as necessary if the use of Royal Commissions were to be altered or diminished. Indeed, the usual arrangement whereby the Speaker is approved at the beginning of the second day would in any case have to be departed from in the event of a new Speaker being chosen, because the proceedings in the Commons would not have been completed.

In what I say above I have assumed that both Houses would first meet on the same day, and that the Lords would begin the oath-taking on that day. Any proposal to summon the two Houses for different days would, I think, introduce unnecessary constitutional difficulties.

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Prepared 26 March 2015