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Getting ahead of problems

Mark D'Arcy | 10:10 UK time, Thursday, 10 February 2011

Here's an interesting innovation. You've heard of pre-legislative scrutiny, where MPs look at a bill before it's fed into the parliamentary sausage machine?

Well, now the MPs and peers of the Joint Human Rights Committee are to attempt pre-demo scrutiny.

With a TUC demonstration against government cuts planned for 26 March, the JCHR is calling in the organisers and the Metropolitan Police to discuss the human rights aspects of the policing arrangements, before the event. With all the complaints about violence from some demonstrators at earlier protests, and about police tactics like "kettling" this could be a fascinating session - possibly even a kind of al-fresco negotiation between the two sides, under the beady eyes of the assembled former judges and super-lawyers of this very high-powered committee.

One of the emerging trends among select committees - pioneered by the Public Accounts Committee under Margaret Hodge - is to try to get ahead of events, rather than eviscerate the culprits behind some disaster, long afterwards. This is very direct and interventionist parliamentary scrutiny. Who knows where it may lead?


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