As part of the Hansard Society’s ‘A Year in the Life’ study of newly-elected legislators, this 2013 paper by Dr Mary C. Murphy (University College Cork) presented findings from research into the experiences of Members of Ireland’s Lower House (Dáil Éireann) after the 2011 election, when nearly half the Members (Teachtaí Dála, TDs) were new to the role.
‘At Home in the New House’ looked at the make-up of the new intake of TDs, their motivations for seeking election, their first impressions of the Dáil, the parliamentary and constituency aspects of their new role, their understanding of the legislative process, their relationship with the media, and the induction, orientation and long-term support available to them.
The report made a series of recommendations for supporting new TDs in future, to enable them to be effective public representatives. It emphasised the importance of mentoring, policy briefings and practical support to help new TDs get up and running.
These findings and recommendations were used by parliamentary staff to inform their approach to the provision of induction for the new intake of TDs following the 2016 election.
The report evidenced some striking similarities with the experiences of new MPs at Westminster, such as the ongoing need for help around aspects of procedure, the loneliness some experience in the role (despite their general love for it), and a conscious desire to avoid the national media.
A notable similarity with the experience of new Assembly Members in Wales was that many new TDs similarly found themselves sitting on two or three committees, with all the attendant consequences for their time and workloads.
The study was launched at the Dáil in 2013, with the Speaker (Ceann Comhairle), Sean Barrett, and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe both speaking at the event.
Enjoy reading this? Please consider sharing it
The recent rearrangement of responsibilities for the government’s handling of EU-related affairs raises questions about future parliamentary scrutiny of these issues. In some respects pre-2016 institutional arrangements are restored, but the post-Brexit landscape presents new scrutiny challenges which thus far MPs have not confronted.
What information and evidence does Parliament need to enable it to oversee government law-making? Is Parliament currently provided with sufficient information and, if not, how can this be improved?
A recent House of Lords debate on a ‘made negative’ Statutory Instrument highlights Peers’ greater appetite and ability to secure such debates compared to MPs. Data on debate lengths suggests parliamentarians are more likely to give more meaningful scrutiny to SIs they wish to debate than those on which they are obliged to spend time by current procedures.
What Covid Regulations will the House of Commons debate on 14 December, and how? Amid backbench unrest, the occasion will be shaped by the interplay between delegated legislation scrutiny, parliamentary procedures, and raw politics. The outcome could have profound consequences for both public health policy and the Prime Minister’s position.
Statutory Instruments (SIs) have been a key tool in the government’s response to shortages of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers. These SIs showcase the usefulness of this type of law-making but also highlight again some of the longstanding problems with its parliamentary scrutiny.
Delegated legislation may not be glamorous but it is essential to how our democracy works. Time to treat it accordingly.