The proposals outlined today in the Tory Task force report, under the Chairmanship of Kenneth Clarke, make a lot of sense and would, I believe, give much more power to parliament and parliamentarians and away from government and the Prime Minister.
I like the idea of secret ballots to elect people to serve on select committees and I like the way select committee Chairmen could bring forward items for discussion form their committees to parliament. This makes complete sense.
The greater level of scrutiny that select committees would have over ministers and the increased powers to call people to speak and give evidence would also give them teeth.
There is, however, a problem.
Tories always talk big on devolving power when they are in government. Just look at what they do in opposition on councils. They are argue for increased powers of scrutiny, they want the right for opposition parties (when the Tories are the opposition) to Chair scrutiny committees. yet as soon as they get power, they do the very opposite.
In South Norfolk, having had all the benefits of opposition chairmanship of scrutiny for many years, they take this privilege away from the opposition when they take power. Similar stories exist in many other authorities.
We can't judge the Tories on their Task Force proposals really until we some evidence that they will be acted on. The fact remain though that whenever they have the chance in local government to strengthen scrutiny, to return powers to councillors and and ensure that the opposition have the chance to hold ruling groups to account, they fail to practise what they preach.
I very much doubt Ken Clark's proposals will ever see the light of day under a Tory government.