Despatch Box Blog

Comment and analysis from the Hansard Society research team and more.

Rt Hon Keir Starmer MP, House of Commons, 24 February 2022. © UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

Analysis, insight and commentary on the Westminster Parliament and other legislatures in the UK and around the world, from the Hansard Society research team and leading experts, politicians and parliamentary officials.

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 / Ping-pong and packaging

13 Feb 2021

Blog / Debating 'meaningful votes'

12 Jun 2018

Blog / Whose House Is It Anyway?

12 Oct 2017

Blog / Labour: the 35% solution?

18 Nov 2014