The Coronavirus crisis is spotlighting the importance of the House of Commons Chamber in our democratic life. 7-8 May marks 80 years since the Norway Debate, the event which demonstrated this most famously. Over two days of debate, MPs’ performances in the Chamber and a decision to force a division had historic consequences.
The extensive take-up of remote evidence-taking by House of Commons select committees during the Easter recess is a significant Coronavirus-induced change of practice. It shows how procedural and technological change can help support scrutiny.
Several parliamentary committees scrutinise delegated powers and delegated legislation. But what is the aim of this scrutiny, what standards are applied, and what are the value and limits of Parliament’s role in this aspect of the legislative process?
When countries are facing a national health emergency, the work of parliaments is as important as ever: to scrutinise government decisions, to authorise expenditure, to pass legislation. But how are legislatures around the world responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and what are the key issues involved in moving to a ‘virtual’ operation?
On 8 April, responsibility for the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal (R&R) Programme transfers from the parliamentary authorities to independent governance bodies. This should usher in a new era for the project, but it has been accompanied by persistent rumours that the refurbishment will be downgraded to a short-term programme of minor repairs.
With respect to the importance of delegated legislation, the next stage of the Brexit process is unlikely to be much different from the last. Without urgent, substantial reform of delegated legislation scrutiny in the House of Commons, much of the detailed implementation of Brexit will be done by the executive with limited parliamentary oversight.
Should the Liaison Committee have as its chair someone who is not simultaneously a select committee chair, and should the identity of that person be determined by the government? The answer to these questions will tell us much about how this cohort of MPs, particularly government backbenchers, view the relationship between Parliament and the executive.
There will be gaps in a new House of Commons’ scrutiny of the government and engagement with the public until the events required at the start of a Parliament have taken place and all the necessary institutions and processes have been re-established. The length of time taken over procedures at the start of a Parliament therefore matters.
There have been many calls for Parliament to become ‘virtual’ during the Coronavirus pandemic, using remote working to ensure proper scrutiny of government during the crisis. But how should a ‘virtual’ Parliament operate?
The national effort to tackle the Coronavirus health emergency has resulted in UK ministers being granted some of the broadest legislative powers ever seen in peacetime. This Dashboard highlights key facts and figures about the Statutory Instruments (SIs) being produced using these powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 and other Acts of Parliament.
The 2017-19 Parliament was, famously, ‘not normal’. Following the 2019 general election, some around Westminster welcome, and want to encourage, a return to normality. But what’s ‘normal’? And will the demands of Brexit, plus a constitutional and procedural reaction against the 2017-19 experience, mean the new parliamentary normal is different from the old?
At the start of a new Parliament a series of ceremonies and procedures must take place before the Members of the two Houses can get down to business. Our special collection of procedural guides takes you through them, in the order they take place.
On 15 October 2019, all nine original candidates to be the new Speaker of the House of Commons participated in a hustings event in Westminster, hosted jointly by the Hansard Society and The House magazine, and chaired by the BBC’s Carolyn Quinn.
On 20 March, Professor Sir John Curtice and a panel of leading commentators outlined their findings at the launch of the first major study of the 2017 general election, ‘Britain Votes 2017’.
Join us for the launch of our new Global Research Network on Parliaments and People, with a keynote speech on ‘Deepening Democracy’ by Baroness Amos.
In a speech to the Hansard Society on 11 October, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP proposed three key reforms for the House: the establishment of the House Business Committee approved in 2010; reform of Private Members’ Bills; and the creation of a mechanism for Members to request a recall of the House.
On 12 September, the day after the EU (Withdrawal) Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons, this major one-day public event brought together leading parliamentarians and legal and constitutional specialists from across the UK to discuss the critical issues raised by the Bill and its prospects in the UK’s parliaments and assemblies.
Join the authors of the 2017 Audit of Political Engagement as they present their findings alongside a panel of leading commentators, and explore how one of the most consequential acts of democratic decision-making ever seen in this country has shaped levels of political engagement across the UK.