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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > October 2017 > The House rules

The House rules

The Speaker of the Commons on how parliament can be improved

Times of great upheaval often yield unexpectedly positive outcomes and, in the case of the expenses scandal, this outcome was the establishment of the Reform Committee of the House of Commons, known as the Wright Committee, named after the former Labour MP Tony Wright. Although there was no direct correlation between the political authority of the House of Commons and its members ordering bath plugs and duck houses on the company card, there was a pervasive sense that the marginalisation of parliament and parliamentarians had contributed to a climate in which the abuse of expenses had sometimes occurred. Rather than looking at how to ensure the Biros were not being taken home at the end of the working day, the Wright Committee was charged with providing an answer to a more searching question: what was the office for in the first place? The role of the backbench MP, perhaps especially, had become a particularly dispiriting one: relegated to criticising from the sidelines but with little opportunity to contribute.

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In Prospect’s October issue: Andrew Adonis, Steve Richards, Gaby Hinsliff, Rachel Sylvester and Jennifer Williams look at the idea that leadership is the only thing that matters when it comes to elections. Adonis leads the cover package arguing exactly that point and outlining his ratings of the leaders who have competed every election in the UK and the United States since 1944—Richards offers a rebuttal. Hinsliff, Sylvester and Williams profile three potential leaders in waiting—Amber Rudd, Jo Swinson and Angela Rayner. Elsewhere in the issue we map out the potential road the UK might travel down to stay in the European Union and explore the relationship between UN Secretary General António Guterres and Donald Trump as the two prepare to meet at the UN. Also in this issue: Philip Collins on the similarities between Britain’s Brexiteers and the Gaullists of yesteryear, John Bercow explains how parliament could function better and our “View from” comes from Nairobi, where the recent election result has been annulled.