Most of my work as a member of the House of Lords has taken place in committee. The Lords has an impressive collection of Select Committees that carry out inquiries about issues within their scope. Their reports can often have an appreciable effect on policy development.
The Built Environment Committee was established as recently as this year and I was pleased to be appointed to it, not least because it covers transport. Currently the Committee is looking at planning and housing with a view to assessing the means by which the Government will be able to achieve its aim of adding 300,000 homes a year to the country's housing stock.
We are examining the Government's latest proposals for reform of the planning system. Two things are already clear from the evidence presented to the Committee: a shortage of planners as well as an insufficient number of people with the requisite skills required by a modern construction industry.
The Committee's report is due before Christmas.
The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (DPRRC) has an altogether different remit. Its job is to examine the legislation produced by the Government for the extent to which it is giving power to ministers to fill in the details without further debate in Parliament. The question is where to draw the line between the executive being given a free hand and the legislature having the opportunity to call for ministers to explain and justify the way in which they would use the delegated power they are claiming in a particular Bill.
Historically there has been a tension between the Government and Parliament. The DPRRC seeks to ensure that the balance remains appropriate. It is an absorbing task.