Dame Anne Begg is a wonderful person to interview: she is insightful, incisive, and good company.
Begg chairs the work and pensions select committee, and as well as talking about how media pressure caused her to become Parliament’s leading welfare policy expert because she is wheelchair bound, she discussed some of the troubles that new MPs have with scrutinising government policies. In particular: her committee is predominantly made up of MPs who are “still finding their feet… [and] what their role as an MP is”, Begg says. This is affecting the quality of their scrutiny: “Inevitably, when you come in as a brand new government, you’re going to think that everything your side is doing is wonderful; and when you come in as the opposition, you’re going to think the other side is dreadful,” she explains.
It’s a striking comment, but also worth chewing over. With the coalition pushing policies through at a frightful pace, are the freshly minted backbench MPs who often make up the membership of select committees ensuring that policy is well-formulated? Read the full interview here