The multi-billion-pound refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster presents an opportunity that comes once in a century-and-a-half to reform the leading institution of our democracy and its environs. What principles should shape reform of its culture and practices? How can innovation blend better with tradition? And how might public engagement be enhanced?
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.
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?
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.
The House of Commons’ last business before it was controversially prorogued on 9 September was the announcement of Royal Assent to the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019. Just as the UK’s parliamentary democracy was being questioned, a significant step forward was taken to safeguard the building that both houses and symbolises it.
The long-delayed rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster has taken two large steps forward with the publication of key legislation and a public consultation on plans for the House of Commons’ temporary accommodation. However, concerns and confusion remain around the roles of both the government and the public in the R&R programme.