Lessons from the Bundestag

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It was fascinating to give evidence to the Finance Committee of the Bundestag yesterday. As I have given evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords committees as well it was encouraging to note that in some ways we compare rather well.

We don’t charge those giving evidence for water, for a start.

And questioning in the House of Commons is very much less rigidly on party lines.

It was also extremely frustrating that no comment was permitted from experts on evidence previously given by another commentator.

To say the whole thing felt rigged for the purpose of point scoring is to understate things. I genuinely feel that the committee rooms of the Commons and Lords are the places where we see UK democracy at work, and where we also see cross party collaboration in a genuine attempt to find the truth and to deliver new understanding. If that desire was present yesterday (and it could be that I missed it as I had to listen to much in translation, my school German now being of almost no use to me at all) then it was hard to spot.

Actually, apart from the premises (which make our parliament look so mean in almost every way) there was not much here that the Treasury Committee, PAC and other committees I have given evidence to have not done better.

I actually felt rather pleased about that.