THE UK Government has been told to respect the Commons, and take the commands of MPs seriously.

Last year Tory ministers were found in contempt of parliament, after they failed to comply with a resolution, an arcane procedure, demanding the government release its legal advice on Brexit.

In a new report, the cross-party Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), has called for resolutions to be treated seriously, as “expressions of will of the UK’s elected representatives”.

Though the committee also accepts that these resolutions “may have no legal effect”.

The MPs also caution both Parliament and Government not to set precedents “with long-term effects in reaction to short-term political pressures”.

Since the Tories lost their majority at the last election, the government has often ignored motions tabled for debate by opposition parties, often allowing them to pass unopposed rather than risk a humiliating defeat on what is ultimately a non-binding resolution.

In a bid to force the government into action, Labour began using the “humble address” process.

Launching the report, Bernard Jenkin, the Tory MP who chairs the committee said: “Resolutions of the House are an expression of the will of the nation’s elected representatives, and so should be treated seriously, but how Government responds is a matter of politics, not law.

“The evidence from the Clerk of the House was unambiguous. Parliament can only change the law by the law.

“The Commons cannot bind the Executive or compel a minister to act through a resolution unless it is specified in law. It is for ministers to decide how to respond to a resolution of the House.

“PACAC concludes that it is for the House of Commons, not the Government, to determine what is legitimate scrutiny, and the Government is expected to engage in good faith with resolutions of the House of Commons, even if it cannot implement their terms as expressed, or chooses to disagree.

“While we took no direct evidence on the question of Brexit, this is clearly relevant to what may or may not happen next.”

He added: “It is also true that the credibility of Parliament’s sovereign powers depends upon their being exercised responsibly.

“There are good reasons why government legal advice has been protected from disclosure. Parliament and government must be mindful of the need to avoid setting long-term, far-reaching precedents through actions designed to address short-term political considerations.

“Our report clearly states the case for such a balance”.