Starting in February, the Speaker of the House of Commons began a series of lectures from holders of the great offices of state (Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary) on the subject of ministers and parliament.
The first four were repeated last night on BBC Parliament. If, by some means or another, you can access BBC Parliament they’re worth a watch! EDIT: Also available here to international viewers!
Ken Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer in the mid-1990s and current Lord Chancellor, gives a broad-brush overview of his time in Parliament, from 1970 onwards, and how ministers and MPs got on including on legislation.
Alastair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007-2010, talks about the financial crisis and how it affected ministerial accountability to parliament, particularly with regard to ministerial statements.
Theresa May, current Home Secretary, talks about diversity in Parliament and a wide range of subjects around ministerial accountability.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary in the mid-1990s and current chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, talks about how the Foreign Office’s relationship with parliament is different to domestic departments.
David Blunkett, former Home Secretary in the early 2000s, discusses his time in government at the Home Office.
David Miliband, former Foreign Secretary, discusses the relationship between ministers and shadow ministers and politics during a crisis.
Jack Straw, former Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Chancellor, discusses how much more accountable ministers are today than they used to be and gives some advice to current ministers on how to survive.
Margaret Beckett, former Leader of the House of Commons and Foreign Secretary, talks about the difficulties of balancing parliamentary and ministerial responsibilities and argues for government responsibility over further Parliamentary reform and that the influence of MPs has increased rather than decreased.
EDIT: The second part with the remaining lectures is here.