X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

Collective responsibility and the Leveson report

15 January 2013

3:04 PM

15 January 2013

3:04 PM

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has signed off on an agreed breach of collective responsibility in the boundaries vote, but what does that mean for the way the government works from now on?

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman argued this afternoon that this did not in any way set a precedent for the way the two coalition parties vote on other policies. He added:

‘The Cabinet Secretary was consulted. It has been formally agreed but only in this specific instance. Having consulted the Cabinet Secretary, they recorded their agreement to set aside collective responsibility on this occasion. The rules with regard to this allow for the setting aside on very specific issues of collective responsibility where, as in this case, the two party leaders have agreed that.’

Even if you buy the idea that this is is all fine and above board and that Lords reform and the boundaries are linked in the Coalition Agreement (on which matter, more here), it is very difficult to accept that this is the last time ministers will be tempted to use this in the Coalition. There might be many policies where the two parties are able to reconcile their differences before bills reach the Commons, but on one issue, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have already broken with another piece of government protocol by giving separate Commons statements on the Leveson report.

[Alt-Text]


Then, the Lib Dems were keen to give their own viewpoint because Nick Clegg disagreed with David Cameron’s rejection of statutory underpinning. The talks are still ongoing, but a crunch point is already approaching. At the end of the month, Labour is planning to force a vote on its own draft Leveson legislation. Now the party obviously does not have any power to bring legislation into play, but a carefully-worded motion calling for statutory underpinning could well create some dividing lines which could include the Lib Dems.

Downing Street says all this is rather too hypothetical at the moment to start considering whether collective responsibility could be suspended for a second time to allow Lib Dem ministers to express their own party line on press regulation. Besides, the talks are progressing pretty well at the moment: Tories are impressed with the way Ed Miliband and colleagues are trying to avoid making this a party political football, and if consensus is possible on the idea of a Royal Charter, then an insurrection in the Commons may not be necessary.

But if divisions over the fundamental question of whether to use statute or not open up, the ground has already been prepared for separate party stances on Leveson within the Coalition. In that instance, Sir Jeremy Heywood would have to decide whether collective responsibility should be waived again.

Is Leveson a fundamental threat to a free press? On Wednesday 30 January, the Spectator hosts a debate between advocates of statutory regulation Chris Bryant and Max Mosley and those against statute, Richard Littlejohn, Paul Staines and John Whittingdale. You can book tickets here.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close