The House of Lords Constitution Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the constitutional implications of COVID-19.
It is exploring the impact of the pandemic, and the Government’s response to it, in relation to the operation of the courts, the ability of Parliament to function effectively and hold the Government to account, and the use and scrutiny of emergency powers.
The Committee is calling for evidence on the workings of Parliament and Government in response to the pandemic and what the future of parliamentary scrutiny might look like as a result.
The Committee welcomes written submissions on any aspect of this topic, and particularly on the issues and questions set out below. You need not address all the questions in your submission. We welcome contributions from all interested individuals and organisations. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 20 August at 12 noon.
1.What effect have virtual proceedings had on different types of parliamentary business? Have some things worked better than others? E.g. Oral questions, statements and debates, bills and statutory instruments, committees.
2.Have virtual proceedings changed which members participate and the form and style of debates? Have they become more, or less, inclusive?
3.If the ability of Parliament to operate normally is compromised for an extended period, what are the core tasks that are required to maintain (a) the business of government, and (b) effective democratic scrutiny?
4.Are the processes for considering and agreeing a recall of the House of Lords satisfactory?
5.How effectively do you think the Government has engaged with Parliament during the pandemic?
6.Has consultation between the parties and groups in the House of Lords about the management of business, and new procedural arrangements, worked satisfactorily?
7.What lessons can be learned from the parliamentary scrutiny of the Coronavirus Bill, as a substantial and complex piece of emergency legislation?
8.To what extent are the safeguards on emergency powers (such as provisions for 21-day reviews) compromised when Parliament is not sitting or sittings are restricted? How might these laws–or the parliamentary procedures to scrutinise their use–need to adapt?
9.What does Parliament need to do to operate effectively in the short-term? What further procedural or practical changes should be considered?
10.What aspects of virtual or hybrid proceedings should be retained after the end of social distancing and for what purposes?