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News / Democratic decision-making in health emergencies: Learning the lessons of the Covid pandemic - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 37

This week we have a compelling conversation with human-rights barrister Adam Wagner as we delve into the findings of the Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers. Just before the general election was called, the Commission published its final recommendations, aiming to reshape law-making in the event of a future health emergency in the UK.

31 May 2024
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News / General election called: What now for Parliament? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 36

This week, we dive into the unexpected political shake-up in Westminster, where Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a general election has thrown Parliament into turmoil. The Prime Minister’s surprising move to hold the election in early July, rather than waiting until Autumn, has sent shockwaves through the political landscape.

24 May 2024
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Briefings / General election rules and regulations: what has changed?

With a general election on the horizon there has been a spate of new legislation and regulations to implement changes to the way the election will be run, with consequences for voters and electoral administrators. Parliament has not always had a role in approving these changes. This briefing sets out the core changes to the electoral process that have been implemented since the last general election in 2019, the role that Parliament has played in scrutinising and approving them, and the risks arising from these changes.

26 Apr 2024
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Support / 80th Anniversary Appeal: support our work to make Parliament more effective

Faith in parliamentary democracy is waning at a critical time as we confront domestic and international challenges that are as significant as any the country has faced since the Society was founded 80 years ago.

11 May 2024
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News / Democracy is in danger, warns Theresa May - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 35

In a powerful Churchill Attlee Lecture commemorating the Hansard Society's 80th anniversary, former Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a stark warning about the state of democracy. She expressed grave concerns about the waning trust in democratic institutions, particularly among young people.

17 May 2024
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News / Post Office Horizon scandal: What is Parliament doing about it? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 33

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News / Is AI set to destroy trust in elections? Tackling misinformation in politics & Parliament, with top fact checker Full Fact's Chris Morris - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 32

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Reports / Proposals for a New System for Delegated Legislation: A Working Paper

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Services / Statutory Instrument Tracker® app

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Acts of Parliament in the Parliamentary Archives, Houses of Parliament, Westminster. (© UK Parliament / Parliamentary Archives)

Improve the way we make laws and regulations  

We have crafted a cross party solution to tackle a pressing constitutional problem: the growth in government by diktat fuelled by excessive dependence on delegated legislation, the problems with which were illustrated so starkly during Brexit and the pandemic. Our plan would introduce more robust scrutiny procedures to address the democratic deficit and stop Parliament being reduced to a legislative rubber-stamp.

Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, 18 October 2023. ©UK Parliament / Andy Bailey

Support the next generation of MPs after the general election

We are developing a programme of support to better prepare the next generation of MPs to perform their core function as legislators and scrutineers. The House of Commons is a complex institution: MPs need practical and procedural advice and resources, particularly in the early months after the election, to enable them to make the most of their knowledge and skills on behalf of their constituents and the country.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, at Prime Minister's Questions, 13 December 2023. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED]

Transform the language and rules of the House of Commons 

We are conducting a review of the Standing Orders, customs and practices of the House of Commons. Since 1945, the government-controlled Standing Orders have been systematically reviewed only six times. This initiative is designed to demystify the way the House of Commons works so that parliamentary procedures and processes are easier to communicate, understand and engage with for both MPs and the public.  

Blog / How should Parliament handle the Seventh Carbon Budget - and why does it matter?

The Climate Change Act 2008 established a framework for setting carbon budgets every five years. But the role of Parliament in approving these budgets has been widely criticised, including by the Prime Minister. The Environmental Audit Committee has proposed improvements in the scrutiny process to ensure effective climate action, particularly in the context of the UK’s commitment to achieving 'Net Zero' emissions by 2050. These reforms will significantly alter the way Parliament handles the Seventh Carbon Budget in 2025.

18 Apr 2024
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Blog / Creeping ministerial powers: the example of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill

The Government’s flagship Tobacco and Vapes Bill will ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2009. The genesis of the delegated powers in the Bill – dating back a decade - tells an important story about the way in which incomplete policy-making processes are used by Ministers to seek ‘holding’ powers in a Bill, only for that precedent to then be used to justify further, broader powers in subsequent Bills. This ‘creeping’ effect in the legislative process undermines parliamentary scrutiny of ministerial action.

15 Apr 2024
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Blog / Two Houses go to war: the Safety of Rwanda Bill and the origins of the Parliament Act

The Parliament Act is being bandied about in the media again in connection with the Rwanda Bill. This blogpost explains why the Parliament Act cannot be used in relation to the Rwanda Bill and looks at the origins and key features of the Act to place the current debate about the role of the House of Lords in its historical context.

25 Mar 2024
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Blog / What was the problem with House of Commons Standing Orders in the Gaza debate? Forthwithery explained

Procedurally, what was the cause of the furious party row over the Speaker's decision to break with precedent on an Opposition Day debate on 21 February 2024 ? What happened, what does it tell us about parliamentary procedure and why it matters, and what could be done to ensure the problem does not arise again?

27 Feb 2024
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Blog / How should Parliament scrutinise new treaties?

Today, for the first time in its history, the House of Lords will discuss a motion that the Government should not ratify a treaty until the protections it provides have been fully implemented: the UK-Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership. How Parliament deals with treaties has long been the subject of debate. A new report on Parliament's role in scrutinising international agreements offers some practical proposals for reform.

22 Jan 2024
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Blog / Why are MPs speaking more often but for less time? Five possible reasons

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Blog / Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe

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Blog / How does a former Head of Government end up on trial for evidence given in Parliament? The case of Austria’s Sebastian Kurz

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Blog / Hybrid Bills and Parliament: History, procedure and controversies

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Briefings / General election rules and regulations: what has changed?

With a general election on the horizon there has been a spate of new legislation and regulations to implement changes to the way the election will be run, with consequences for voters and electoral administrators. Parliament has not always had a role in approving these changes. This briefing sets out the core changes to the electoral process that have been implemented since the last general election in 2019, the role that Parliament has played in scrutinising and approving them, and the risks arising from these changes.

26 Apr 2024
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Guides / The Parliament Act 1911: A procedural guide

The Parliament Act 1911 is one of the UK's most important constitutional laws. It removed the veto of the House of Lords over legislation (subject to certain conditions) and has been central ever since to the centuries-old debate about the proper role of the House of Lords in our democratic system.

24 Mar 2024
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Submissions / Commons scrutiny of Secretaries of State in the House of Lords: Evidence to the House of Commons Procedure Committee

Following the appointment of the Rt Hon Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton to the role of Foreign Secretary on 13 November 2023, we submitted evidence to the Procedure Committee inquiry into the options for MPs to effectively scrutinise Secretaries of State in the House of Lords and the work of their departments.

18 Dec 2023
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Briefings / The Criminal Justice Bill: Concerns about the delegated powers

Ahead of the Criminal Justice Bill’s Committee stage in the House of Commons, this briefing paper focuses on three clauses in the Bill that contain delegated powers that are of particular concern and that highlight different aspects of the problems with the system of delegated powers.

11 Dec 2023
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Publications / Delegated Legislation: What types are there, and how are they made?

Delegated legislation is the most common form of legislation in the United Kingdom. It is the legislation of everyday life, impacting millions of citizens daily. But the terminology and procedures that surround it are complex and often confusing. This explainer unpacks delegated legislation - the terminology and Parliament's role in scrutinising it - to reveal more about how delegated legislation really works.

05 Dec 2023
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Briefings / 6 things to look out for in Parliament in the next Session

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Guides / What is the debate on the ‘Address’?

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Guides / What is the King’s Speech?

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Guides / The King’s Speech and State Opening of Parliament: A procedural and constitutional guide

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Journal / Parliamentary Affairs call for papers: Special section on the state of British politics in 2024/5

This call for papers is for a special section of Parliamentary Affairs on the state of British politics in 2024/5. It will identify the key institutions, issues and challenges that need to be addressed by any new Government taking over in 2025, following the general election expected at the end of 2024.

03 Jul 2023
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Journal / Marking 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement – Parliamentary Affairs special collection

To mark 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, we have curated a special collection of articles from our journal Parliamentary Affairs. The articles cover a range of themes, from devolution and the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly to peacebuilding, consociation and women's rights.

06 Apr 2023
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Journal / Marking 20 years since Parliament approved military action in Iraq – Parliamentary Affairs special collection

To mark 20 years since the House of Commons voted to approve military action in Iraq on 18 March 2003, we have curated a special collection of articles from our journal Parliamentary Affairs. The articles cover a range of themes from the Hutton Inquiry and the Iraq Dossier to war powers and the Government's use of secret intelligence.

18 Mar 2023
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Journal / Parliamentary Affairs 75th Anniversary special collection on House of Lords reform

To mark the Parliamentary Affairs 75th Anniversary Lecture, delivered by the Speaker of the House of Lords on the topic of reform of the Upper House, we have curated a special collection of articles from the journal archives, exploring Lords reform from unique perspectives and different historical contexts since the journal's inaugural issue in December 1947.

07 Dec 2022
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Journal / In memory of our former Chairman, Sir David Butler (1924-2022)

Sir David Butler was Chairman of the Hansard Society between 1994 and 2001. To mark his long association with the Society, we have brought together a collection of some of his work for us, including some of his articles for our journal, Parliamentary Affairs.

10 Nov 2022
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