Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the House of Commons Petitions Committee, sets out how the Covid-19 crisis has significantly increased the public's use of e-petitions while limiting the House's ability to debate them. This has prompted the Committee to innovate, to ensure that petitioners' voices are heard during the crisis.
What do the public think about the state of British democracy? How interested and knowledgeable are people about politics and Parliament? Are they satisfied with MPs and the political parties? Public participation is the lifeblood of representative democracy, but are people politically active, and do they feel that getting involved in politics is worthwhile?
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?
Schools making up an ‘electorate’ of over 46,000 young people returned their results to the Hansard Society's 2019 Mock Elections, which were held to coincide with the December general election and continued a series extending back over 50 years. Labour emerged as the clear 'winner' of the 2019 mock poll.
Select committee reform over the last 40 years has been a stop-go process. Here, the Clerk of the Liaison Committee during its recent 40th anniversary inquiry traces the phases in the story and identifies the set of factors that seem to work for or against reform each time.
In its recent landmark report, the House of Commons Liaison Committee recommended a widening of the circle of those that select committees should hold to account, and a turn towards the public in all committee activity, but also tighter links between select committees and the House of Commons Chamber.