Jul. 9th, 2012

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I was outraged when I discovered what was going on ... I am terribly sorry for the failings at the firm ... it falls short of the standards ... I was personally outraged ... I'ts not acceptable ... Cheerio, I'm off to The Cotswolds

I've had trouble sleeping recently, so I've been watching a fair amount of BBC Parliament (because it's usually the best thing on, not because it's soporific, though The House Of Lords is pretty boring!).

One of the things that I've realised is that the committee system of calling folk to account doesn't seem to be working.

There was an interesting piece on The Record Bites by a chap on the Treasury Select Committee where he was talking about the dual role of select committees, (can't remember his name, ginger hair, a bit van Gough-ey): the first is a forensic and investigatory role, where they try to find out what went on, and the second is a role of holding to account where MPs forcefully put the concerns of the electorate to the person before them.

It seems to me that these two aspects are getting in the way of each other. The first certainly seems valuable and, if the latter is valuable, I think it would be better to separate them (as kind of medieval stocks for plutocrats, I'm not so sure it is, but as they seem to face few other sanctions in their charmed lives of crime, I'd be loathe to abandon it).

For example, it's clear that all these Chairmen and other cream have had training at Emote, Fobbing and Fobbing or similar high-class spiv finishing schools. You'd be much more likely to find out what's going on if you called up random people from the marzipan layer, ideally ones with nothing to lose from spilling the beans: people on the out, with an axe to grind, or have been emotionally unbalanced by the affairs. That would stand a much better chance of splitting the rotten fruit in two. I believe that parliament has in its power the ability to call up whoever it wants, so that should be do-able.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be fair for these people to be faced by parliaments bruisers whether incisive hard-hitters or fools like the MP for Dover (I forget his name, acts like Alan B'Stard on the Charity Commission Select Committee). An investigation like that would need to be carried out with a more measured tone, I think.

When that's done you could have the pointy-stick committee call up the people at the top to shout at them, if you must.

The first committee needs sensible people on it and it's not entirely clear to me where you find those amongst MPs. Not that there aren't many sensible folk across all parties in parliament but that it's hard to appoint them in terms which would keep out the few overwhelming fools (who are often just new MPs who haven't got a grip yet, so it's not their fault, but if you shake their legs they do jingle for a few years, it seems). Judges would be a disaster because judges, while also being sensible folk on the whole (though there are also exceptions), foolishly tend to associate with lawyers. Bishops would probably do a pretty good job, I think, but there aren't that many to go around. You'd need to extend it to include other faiths, n'all, n'none, somehow. I don't think you can (or should: definitely shouldn't, in fact) make it explicitly religious, but if someone could draw up some secular parameters which encompass folk like bishops, that would probably be the kind of folk you'd be after. The Lords might do quite a good job, actually. We just need a way of keeping them awake for long enough. But I'm not really satisfied by any of these suggestions. What do these Investigative Magistrate johnny's in Europe do?

The other thing which really needs sorting, I think, is the idea of sub judice: that gordian knot needs to be cut by someone with some courage, someone with an assistant who's prepared to navigate the fog and sherry fumes of those wallowing in sentimental invocation of parliamentary tradition, and other canards.

Anyway that's my 2p! :-)


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