14 Nov 2017

Leader of the pack

From The House, 6:55 pm on 14 November 2017

The Leader of the House is the Minister who manages Government business, organising which Bills get debated, leading the troops into battle in the Chamber, and fronting the Government's approach to the Business Committee (where decisions are reached about everything from Select Committees to the sitting calendar).

The person in this role has enormous capacity to change the way Parliament functions, including making it easy or almost impossible for the Opposition to do their job well. 

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins. nov 2017

Chris Hipkins: Leader of the House Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The House sat down with Chris Hipkins, the New Leader of the House to discover what his philosophy of the job is, and how the Government will manage its business.

We also ask how he has managed trying to construct an Order Paper (the list of Chamber business) with so little time between the announcement of a coalition and the opening of Parliament. And whether he is taking a fresh look at the Labour Member's Bills that have been adopted as Government Bills.

And we discover that Chris Hipkins wants to look at giving the Opposition more assistance in writing Members Bills. Government BiIls are written with advice from the Public Service and with legal drafting expertise from the Government Drafting Office.

Backbench and Opposition MPs writing Member's Bills can ask for advice from the Clerks, but bills are frequently drafted by the MP themselves. That sometimes leads them to be badly written. 

Chris Hipkins says "there's no good reason why Government can't support a quality law-making process, regardless who the sponsor of that law is. ...It would result in a better quality of decision making by the Parliament, so that is something that I'm going to be looking at."