Democratic structures are shaped by the individuals who operate within them, so we have an ongoing interest in the role of MPs and Peers. The Parliament and Government programme looks at who represents the public at Westminster, how our politicians operate and, more broadly, the effectiveness of representative democracy.
Representative Democracy in Parliament
A Year in the Life: From member of public to Member of Parliament (2010-11)
Building on the 2005-06 study of new MPs (see below) the Programme is currently conducting an expanded research project with the large new intake of MPs from the 2010 election, using a mixed methods approach of surveys, discussion groups, interviews and background research. A paper with interim findings from the project can be found here. The project is also being extended to comparative work with the new Assembly Members in Wales, the new MSPs in Scotland, and the new TDs in Ireland*, following their elections in 2011.
* Working in partnership with Dr Mary Murphy at the University of Cork.
Who Governs? Forming a coalition or a minority government in the event of a hung Parliament (2010)
In conjunction with the Study of Parliament Group, the Parliament and Government programme produced published a new pamphlet examining what will happen in the event of an uncertain general election result this year – with particular focus on the implications for Parliament, but also looking at issues such as financial markets, how long it will take to resolve and the role of the Queen. Click here for more. It also follows up our earlier work, No Overall Control (see below).
Briefing Papers (2009-)
The Parliament & Government programme has started producing a series of briefing papers, considering the issues around Representative Democracy. The first in the series examines House of Commons Reform.
No Overall Control (2008)
There was increasing
speculation in late 2007 and early 2008 that the next general election
would produce a Parliament in which no single party holds a majority of
seats in the House of Commons. To examine the impact of this
possibility, we brought together a group of distinguished commentators
to discuss the implications of a ‘hung parliament’. These essays
brought together under the title No Overall Control: The impact of a 'hung parliament' on British politics.
A Year in the Life: From member of public to Member of Parliament (2005-06)
Following the 2005 general election the Hansard Society worked with
the new Members of Parliament to examine their aspirations for and
expectations of their new role, how they approached their work as an MP
and their experiences of life in Parliament. It shed light on their role
as a legislator and constituency representative, exploring how they
balanced the competing demands and responsibilities that these different
roles often entailed.
The final report, A Year in the Life: From
Member of Public to Member of Parliament
, provided unique insight into
the role and work of MPs and made a number of influential
recommendations, not least in highlighting the importance of providing a
better and more comprehensive package of induction and support for new
Members, a recommendation that was subsequently adopted by the House of
Commons Administration Committee.
Representation of Women and Minority Groups
Has devolution delivered for women? (2010)
This new report concludes that the battle for fair and equal representation of women is far from won and urgent new action is needed if the progress made in Edinburgh and Cardiff over the last decade is to be sustained in the next one. It explores the progress that has been made in improving the levels of female representation in the devolved legislatures over the last 10 years, analyses how this happened and what obstacles now threaten that progress. Click here for more.
Women at the Top (1990-2010)
In 1990 the Hansard Society held a Commission to examine women's
representation in politics and in public life more widely, producing
the Women at the Top report. Every five years subsequently a follow-up
report has been produced, the most recent one being Women at the Top 2005: Changing Numbers, Changing Politics?,
which examines the presence and role of women in political life today.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Women at the Top, the Parliament & Government programme is organising events and publications and has a launched the Women at the Top blog.
The Hansard Society is also a member of the Women and the Vote coalition that campaigns for better representation of women in politics.
Speaker's Conference (2009)
The Parliament & Government programme has given evidence to the Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation
. Programme Director Ruth Fox and Hansard Society
Chairman Peter Riddell appeared before the Conference to answer
questions at an oral evidence session. A transcript will appear on this webpage
and a video can be found here
. The Society's written evidence will be published by the Conference in due course.
No Politics, Please...We're Women! (2008)
In 2008 the programme put together a briefing paper collating all our statistical research from the Audit of Political Engagement and other reports on women's attitudes to politics, and the Society held an event in Parliament to discuss the findings. A copy of the paper, a summary of the event, and audio recordings of the speeches can be found here.
The Nature of Representative Democracy
Democracy Series (2006-07)
The programme published a series of thought-provoking essays and
commentaries which are of interest to a wide ranging audience. The Democracy Series pamphlets considered subjects such as political parties, voting, exporting democracy, capitalism and Islam.
Neglecting Democracy (2005)
The health of our representative democracy was examined in Neglecting Democracy
This pamphlet presents a defence of the representative system from its
philosophical roots to its application in 21st century mass societies
like the UK.