Parliamentary scrutiny does make a difference to legislation - 16 July 2008
New Hansard Society research challenges conventional view of Parliament's effectiveness
A new book from the Hansard Society, Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process, analyses the elements that come together to make an act of Parliament and concludes that the widely-held view of Parliament as a ‘rubber stamp' for government legislation bears little resemblance to reality.
The research draws upon the findings from detailed case studies and over 80 interviews with ministers, MPs, peers, government and parliamentary officials and pressure groups. Key conclusions include:
- Although there is a predominant belief within government that to change a bill is a sign of weakness, parliamentary scrutiny does make a difference to the final shape of an Act
- MPs and peers, whether individually or collectively, have a larger impact than is commonly recognised
- External actors have a marked influence on legislation, often by working closely with parliamentarians
- Reforms have enhanced parliamentary scrutiny in recent years
- Nonetheless, the volume and complexity of legislation continue to inhibit Parliament's effectiveness
Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process also suggests some recommendations for reform, including:
- More structured and straightforward government consultations
- An increase in pre-legislative scrutiny
- Improvements to the committee stage
Fiona Booth, Hansard Society Chief Executive, commented: ‘Our research challenges the myth that government always gets its way. Parliamentary scrutiny, both in the Commons and the Lords, does make a significant difference to legislation.'
Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process is published on Wednesday July 16 at an event in Parliament where Rt Hon Jack Straw MP is keynote speaker.
For further information, to obtain a PDF copy of the research, contact Virginia Gibbons at the Hansard Society on email@example.com or 020 7438 1225 or 07812 765 552
- Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process looks primarily at five case studies, the Export Control Act 2002, the Equality Act 2006, the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the Welfare Reform Act 2007, tracking them through various stages of the legislative process. It also looks at other legislation, most notably Private Members' Bills.
- Law in the Making: Influence and Change in the Legislative Process (ISBN 978 0900432 39 2, price £10 plus p&p) by Alex Brazier, Susanna Kalitowski & Gemma Rosenblatt with Matt Korris, is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and is available from the Hansard Society (http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/).