The death of public enquiries

TalkPolitics takes a well-aimed shot at the new arrangements for establishing and operating public enquiries in the UK. Apparently, a cosy deal between Government and Opposition saw the passage of a bill, without a vote, of the Inquiries Act 2005, which

changed the process by which public and other governmental inquiries are convened, conducted and, ultimately, reported on, not a single one of which serves the public interest. It does this by taking away from the independent chair of such an enquiry and from Parliament itself, a whole series of rights which have been in place since the 1920’s, rights which the government has now, through its ministers, reserved solely and exclusive to itself.

One of New Labour’s weaknesses, in my opinion, is that they are insufficiently interested in establishing and sustaining institutions that nurture and protect the rights and values that they espouse, preferring wherever possible to grant themselves discretion to act as they choose. This is a myopia that we will come to regret in time.

1 thought on “The death of public enquiries”

  1. This is indeed a major scandal — both in substance, and in the procedure whereby it was smuggled onto the statute book with the connivance of the Opposition but almost entirely without public or parliamentary debate.

    The full text of the Act is online, starting at

    With so many other outrageous things going on, and so many questions waiting to be answered on a huge range of other controversial issues, it’s hard to see how the harm done by this cynical fait accompli can be undone. Despair!


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