Mark and Ruth look at the growing fashion for re-writing Bills mid-air as they pass through Parliament, adding on all sorts of policy bells and whistles at the last minute.
This 2002 report lays bare the operation of one of the most distinctive, mysterious and critical features of the Westminster Parliament: the 'usual channels' - that is, the relationships between the government and opposition parties through which Parliament's business is organised.
Although the initiative in arranging the parliamentary agenda at Westminster lies largely with the government of the day, in practice the government negotiates with the opposition parties - particularly the official Opposition - to arrange parliamentary business through what are euphemistically known as the 'usual channels'.
The 'usual channels' operate differently in certain respects in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, but across both Houses few records are kept of what has been agreed, and the system operates entirely informally and privately.
The operation of the 'usual channels' in the Westminster Parliament contrasts with the practice in many other legislatures, including the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly, where parliamentary business is arranged through a Business Committee.
The report explains what the 'usual channels' are, how they came into existence, how they work, and who the key figures are in the 'usual channels' system. The report also asks how effective the 'usual channels' are, and whether Parliament should have greater control over its own agenda.
What are the Usual Channels?
Who are the Usual Channels?
What do the Usual Channels Do?
A History of the Usual Channels
A Week in the Life of the Usual Channels - the House of Commons
The Usual Channels in the House of Lords
Government Domination of Parliament
The Importance of Personality in the Usual Channels
The Usual Channels Outside the Usual Channels
A Critique of the Usual Channels
A Westminster Business Committee?
Opening up the Usual Channels
Rush, M. & Ettinghausen, C. with Campbell, I & George, A. (2002) Opening up the Usual Channels (London: Hansard Society)
Delegated legislation is the most common form of legislation in the United Kingdom. It is the legislation of everyday life, impacting millions of citizens daily. But the terminology and procedures that surround it are complex and often confusing. This explainer unpacks delegated legislation - the terminology and Parliament's role in scrutinising it - to reveal more about how delegated legislation really works.
What a week! Suella Braverman's sacking from Government was immediately eclipsed by the appointment of former Prime Minister David Cameron as the new Foreign Secretary. Mark and Ruth explore the many questions this raises, not least for scrutiny of foreign affairs by MPs.
The Prime Minister’s decision to cancel the next stage of HS2 has given rise to criticism that once again the Government has ridden roughshod over Parliament. Just over 1,300 hours of legislative time have been spent on four HS2-related Bills over nine Sessions in the last decade. Why has it taken so long and what now happens to that legislation?
When parliamentarians reassemble at Westminster on 7 November for the start of the new Session, all eyes will be on the legislative programme to be announced in the King’s Speech. Speculation about the likely date of the next general election is rife at Westminster, but until the date is settled there are a lot of parliamentary issues still to be tackled. We’ve picked out a few things to look out for on the political horizon.