This data project enhances the provision of information and analysis about the scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation by the Westminster Parliament. It draws on our unique Statutory Instrument Tracker as well as Parliament’s own legislative data.
Why we are doing it
This project, based on new legislative data collected since the start of the 2015-16 parliamentary session, seeks to plug the statistical hole in our understanding of both the primary and secondary legislative processes.
It builds on our earlier work in this area, most notably Making Better Law, which analyses the political, procedural and cultural factors that together help determine the quality of the UK statute book, and The Devil is in the Detail: Parliament and Delegated Legislation, which laid bare the complexity, weaknesses, and contradictions in the scrutiny of delegated legislation in the first comprehensive study of this process in decades.
Successive governments over the last decade have resisted the case for significant reform of the legislative process, particularly in relation to delegated legislation. By augmenting our qualitative case studies with quantitative analysis of the process and procedures we hope to drive a new evidence-based debate about how government produces and Parliament scrutinises legislation. Over time, as the data reveals trends or changes, the research will bring problems or new developments in the process into sharper focus, and shed new light on the adequacy and effectiveness of the legislative scrutiny process.
What we are doing
Since the beginning of the 2015-16 parliamentary session we have produced a subscription-based Statutory Instrument Tracker, responding to a need identified in our research for improved knowledge and access to the delegated legislation process by people outside Parliament. This monitoring provides the Society with a rich seam of data touching upon key aspects of the process – such as the number of Henry VIII powers, the use of parliamentary time, and breaches of procedural rules – that is not currently available elsewhere.
In addition to our own data, we have sought to add value to existing data provided in the House of Commons Sessional Returns, the House of Lords Sessional Statistics and the reports of the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. These provide statistical evidence but rarely set it in context, provide comparison with other sessions, or analyse it in the context of the procedural and political arguments being made about the legislative process.
The first Westminster Lens report focuses on the delegated legislation process. We will be updating and publishing the statistics after the end of each parliamentary session, and over time we will expand the research also to cover key areas of the primary legislative process.
Enjoy reading this? Please consider sharing it
Whilst the *Miller* case may be seen as a victory for Parliament, it simultaneously highlights significant constitutional weaknesses on issues such as devolution and the role of referendums. Is it time to consider whether the UK constitution needs more legal as opposed to political regulation?
In Canada, the ‘professional politician’ remains the exception rather than the rule, and MPs with prior political experience don’t have an advantage in the development of their parliamentary careers.
If the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published regular 'Metrics for Global Britain' it could attach clear indicators to an otherwise politicised term, enhancing the committee's scrutiny work and providing hooks for boosting its public and media profile. In evidence to the committee published in July, we explained how.
MPs are setting up the new sifting committee for delegated legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Act, but the new procedure simply bolts a toothless sift onto the front of existing inadequate procedures.
At a time of political upheaval – with questions being asked about the leadership, policies and competence of both main UK parties – our Audit of Political Engagement reveals some interesting findings about the ways in which Conservative and Labour supporters view these factors differently and how their importance has changed over time.
As the EU (Withdrawal) Bill arrives back in the House of Commons for consideration of House of Lords amendments, this briefing paper for MPs sets out our concerns about three amendments - 110, 10 and 4 - concerning scrutiny of delegated powers and Statutory Instruments.