Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Those who search through piles of rubbish in the hope of finding something of value
The slightly misleading title is according to wiki what scrutiny actually means: Scrutiny (French: scrutin; Late Latin: scrutinium; from scrutari, meaning "those who search through piles of rubbish in the hope of finding something of value,") Which I think is quite apt considering some policies that come from government at both local and national level. What has been clear to me quite recently during the libraries fight and watching the various select committees is that politicians are incapable of following the rules and putting tribal politics to one side and actually scrutinising policies and departments on evidence. I don't think it applies to all of them of course, there are some very strong committees in Westminster which are chair by independently minded back benches who are unafraid of upsetting their own governments and whips. I think though although the committee system in parliament and scrutiny at local level is a improvement at what has gone before I think improvements are needed. I had jury duty last year and spent a week mainly just sat about waiting to be called, I did get to sit on a case for the last two days which was a very interesting experience. Why can we not have citizen involvement in the democratic process in a similar vein? I would imagine it isn't beyond the wit of government both locally and nationally to arrange "scrutiny service." It would of course still need a professional chairman and deputy, this could be a civil servant and politician but this should only be to run the meetings and answer the questions of the lay members of the committee. They should be the ones doing the actual line by line scrutiny and making sure what has been proposed and that it stacks up. Currently what we have is committees at local level where the bulk of the members are from the party that holds power, in Westminster from what I have seen the committees appear to be a bit more independent but watching how partisan some members of the DCMS committee are I feel they cannot be trusted to be impartial. The system will of course bang on about the cost, considering how much departments like defense waste every year on very, very poor procurement I think it will more than pay for itself. If its good enough for law, its good enough for government.