Details of recent events held by the Hansard Society can be found below.
We audio record our events where possible, for a list of all of our recent events which can be listened to via mp3 download, please click here
The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, set out Labour's goal of a 100% elected House of Lords in a packed event at Portcullis House. Hilary Benn said:
"The changes I have set out tonight – which some might not see as relevant to restoring trust – are in fact all about doing so. Because by giving MPs more of a chance to speak up on behalf of others, people will feel they are being better represented"
The shadow cabinet minister also outlined his vision of the allowing Select Committees to table amendments to legislation and creating a House Business Committee. He also proposed the introduction of a Backbench Business Committee, enabling MPs to vote on these and other constitutional reforms.
Questions from the floor included the referendum on Scottish independence, the subject of local primaries and recalling your local MP.
Listen again to the event:
Part 1 - Rt Hon Peter Riddell & Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Part 2 - Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Questions & Answers
Part 3 - Q&A
Part 4 - Q&A
View photos on Flickr
Read a copy of Hilary Benn's speech
Ahead of the UK's second nationwide referendum, the Hansard Society and the RSA held a joint debate in central London on the arguments fore and against changing the voting system used to elect MPs. On May 3 2011, the British electorate will be asked the following question:
'At present, the UK uses the 'first past the post system' to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the 'alternative vote' system be used instead?
Less than a mile from the seat of the UK Parliament, electoral reform expert and Reading University academic Dr Alan Renwick, The Sunday Telegraph’s comment editor Robert Colvile (supporting first-past-the-post) and chief political commentator of The Independent on Sunday John Rentoul (supporting AV) gathered to reflect on a month of relentless campaigning and to discuss the implications for our national political culture.
Listen again to the event:
Part 1 - Dr Alan Renwick
Part 2 - John Rentoul
Part 3 - Robert Colvile
Question & Answers:
Part 4 - Q&A
Part 5 - Q&A
Part 6 - Q&A
View photos on Flickr
What is the purpose of referendums? Does the result really represent the people? And are they effective? These were a few of the issues discussed at a packed debate in the Portcullis House in Westminster on 3rd May 2011, just 36 hours before the UK's first nationwide referendum since 1975. With a panel comprising Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Research Professor at King’s College London, Steve Richards, chief political commentator at The Independent and Lord Norton of Louth, Professor of Government at the University of Hull, the pros and cons of this rarely used political instrument were discussed.
Professor Vernon Bogdanor argued that referendums were a good tool and people should decide these issues rather than the politicians. Yet journalist Steve Richards firmly believed referendums often lead to low quality debate and poor turnouts, something evident he says during the recent AV campaign. Foremost constitutional expert Lord Norton described referendums as "misleading, unbalanced and dangerous".
Listen again to the event:
Part 1 Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Part 2 Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Questions and Answers:
View photos on Flickr
The eighth Audit of Political Engagement was launched on March 30 in Parliament.
The Audit series provides a statistical context to everyday speculation about the state of political engagement. In doing so, the Audits indicate the degree to which attitudes and behaviour change year-on-year and allows a fuller picture of participation and interest in politics.
The report shows that while last year's momentous political events increased the public's interest in politics to a record 58%, there was no matching rise in political or civic activity. Beyond voting, people were no more likely to get involved or participate in politics than they are in non-election years.
The Audit research also examines public attitudes to Parliament. While the public's knowledge of Parliament has increased, satisfaction has decreased.
At the launch event a packed room heard Rt Hon Peter Riddell , Chair of the Hansard Society preside over a panel consisting of Mark Harper MP - Minister for Political & Constitutional Reform, Lord Archy Kirkwood - Chair, Information Committee, Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP - Chair of Labour's Social Action Forum.
The report's authors Dr Ruth Fox and Matt Korris presented the report's findings.
Download the Audit of Political Engagement
Copy of presentation
Listen to the event:
Presentation by Dr Ruth Fox and Matt Korris/ Mark Harper MP
Lord Archy Kirkwood
Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP
Questions and answers:
View on Flicker
Michael Raftery, Director of the Hansard Society Citizenship Education Programme, chaired a panel discussion on the issue of Politics versus Young People in Parliament on Wednesday March 16.
The event was well attended and the majority of the audience were people aged under 25.
The panel consisted of; Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, former Education Secretary, Craig Whittaker MP, member of the Education Select Committee, Aaron Porter, President of the NUS and Adam Crabb, campaigner for Bite the Ballot.
There was debate between the panel and the audience on the issues of the EMA which several members of the audience had strong views about. The issue of volunteering was also heavily discussed along with the topic of student protests. Aaron Porter said he was not "convinced" student protests weren't a response to policy itself but "anger, despair & frustration" that politicians broke a promise.
Listen again to the debate
Intro, David Blunkett MP and Craig Whittaker MP
Aaron Porter and Adam Crabb
evening saw the annual Hansard Society Parliamentary Reception in Holyrood. Hosted by Alex
Fergusson MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament; the reception
highlighted the Hansard Society's key role in raising awareness and encouraging
political engagement across Scotland.
The Presiding Officer also noted several other successes of the last twelve
months, including the hosting of the Hansard Scholars on their study visits to Edinburgh and the
excellent research conducted into women in devolution.
McMillan, the Chair of the Hansard Society Scotland Working Group, spoke and
paid tribute to the work of the Hansard Society and that of Project Manager
Emma Megaughin. The reception also provided an opportunity for the Hansard
Society to thank those MSPs, parliamentary staff, and sponsors for their
ongoing help and support.
was held in partnership with the Centre for Scottish Public Policy.
read the Presiding Officer's speech in full here.
26 Jan saw Professor Stein Ringen give a fascinating lecture entitled, 'Whatever has become of the Mother of All Parliaments?' to a joint Hansard Society and Royal Society of Arts (RSA) event.
The event was chaired by Fiona Booth, Chief Executive on the Hansard Society and she was joined by a distinguished panel comprosing Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park & North
Kingston, Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair
of the Public Accounts Committee and George Parker, Political Editor of the Financial Times.
In his lecture, Professor Ringen of Oxford University discussed the need for the House of Commons to reform in order to improve the standing of parliament and described how Parliament is making 'bad laws'
To listen again to the lecture and the liQvely discussion had by the panel, click on the links below.
Questions and Answers
Wednesday evening saw the first Hansard Society Democracy Forum of 2011.
Chaired by Virginia Gibbons, the speakers were two of the
country’s most experienced politicians, Tony Benn and Baroness Shirley
Debating issues such as political transparency, self-promotion and
accuracy, the panel provided a fascinating insight into political memoirs and
their unique ability to catch the spirit of the time.
Responding to a suggestion that diary admissions can be seen as a betrayal of trust, Shirley Williams admitted that reporting anecdotes and conversations with friends can be very problematic. Tony Benn commented that luckily, his reputation as a prolific diarist meant that most were already prepared to see their
conversations in print.
When discussing political transparency, Tony Benn suggested that publishing cabinet minutes could increase
public understanding of the political process. Shirley Williams commented that
publishing information of a sensitive nature was not always wise and argued
that publishing the Blair-Bush correspondence for example, would severely undermine
Questions from the audience raised some interesting issues, particularly on
the panel’s opinions on the recent Wikileaks scandal with Tony Benn arguing that
‘truth’ is the lifeblood of democracy. Shirley Williams suggested more caution, arguing that under
authoritarian leadership, freedom of information can also be a dangerous tool for
the regime to locate and suppress opposition.
Listen again here-
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
The Hansard Society launched its latest publication Making Better Law in Parliament on December 14 2010. Joint authors Dr Ruth Fox and Matt Korris gave a presentation on the report's findings and recommendations. Sir George Young MP (Leader of the House of Commons), Baroness D'Souza (Convenor of the Crossbench Peers), Graham Allen MP (Chair of Political and Constitutional Reform Committee) and Chris Bryant MP (Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform) sat on a panel chaired by Rt Hon Peter Riddell (Chair, Hansard Society) which discussed the report and the issues highlighted by the Hansard Society.
Listen again to the discussion.
Presentation by Dr Ruth Fox and Matt Korris
Sir George Young MP
Graham Allen MP
Chris Bryant MP
The Hansard Society and Welsh Assembly jointly hosted an event exploring the issue of gender and devolution. Taking place in the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay, it explored what progress had been made in improving female representation since devolution, what obstacles threatened that progress and what new measures might now be needed.
The event in Wales followed on from a similar event held in Scotland earlier this year. Both events discussed the Hansard Society and the British Council's pamphlet Has Devolution Delivered for Women?
Mai Davies, news journalist chaired the meeting and was joined by Dr Ruth Fox (Hansard Society), Eleanor Burnham AM (Liberal Democrat) Christine Chapman AM (Labour) and Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid Cymru).