Events News

Legislature in Uncertain Times – a huge success!

A report of the 2017 annual conference of the PSA Parliaments Group and the Study of the Scottish Parliament Group.

The PSA Parliaments and Study of the Scottish Parliament Group co-hosted their annual conference Legislatures in Uncertain Times on Friday 17 November at Holyrood.

The conference was a great success, with over 60 academics and practitioners attending to hear and discuss papers on issues ranging from public engagement with parliaments, post-legislative scrutiny, the relationship between the media and parliaments, and innovations inside and outside of parliament. For a full recap of the day, take a look at our Storify

Attendees at Legislatures in Uncertain Times

The day started with a keynote address from the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Ken Macintosh MSP, who welcomed attendees to Holyrood. Mr Macintosh also presented the the winner of our Undergraduate Essay Competition, Tamara McCallum-Escalante with a certificate, and congratulated her on her work.

Tamara McCallum-Escalante receives her certificate from Ken Macintosh MSP

Many attendees took a tour of the Scottish Parliament chamber during the lunchbreak – thank you to the visitor services team for welcoming us to Holyrood.

Attendees at the Legislatures in Uncertain Times conference, 17 November 2017, on a tour of the Scottish Parliament chamber

The full list of papers and panels below. Blogs of each of the papers (apart from the round-table on parliaments and the media) will be published over the next few weeks on our blog.

A huge thank you to the Study of the Scottish Parliament Group for co-hosting the conference, and to the clerks and officials of the Scottish Parliament for organising and welcoming us to Holyrood. Thank you also to all those who presented and contributed to the day.


9.15am-9.45am – Registration and welcome

9.45am-10.30am – Keynote Lecture and Presentation of Essay Prize with Ken Macintosh, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament

 10.30am-11.45am – Panel 1: Communication and Engagement:

  • Cristina Leston-Bandeira (Leeds), ‘The Role of Petitions to Parliament’
  • Anikka Weerasinghe (House of Commons) and Graeme Ramshaw (WFD), ‘Examining effects of parliamentary communications on public trust’
  • Matthew Williams (Oxford), ‘How uncertain times affect the language of legislation: A comparative analysis of legal genres used at Westminster, Holyrood, and Stormont’
  • Anouk Berthier (Scottish Parliament) and Hugh Bochel (Lincoln), ‘Changing Times? The shifting gender balance of Scottish Parliament committee witnesses’
  • Alex Prior (Leeds), ‘“This infinite variety of forms”: exploring storytelling and narrative as a parliamentary means for strengthening political engagement’

11.45am-1.00pm – Panel 2: Scrutiny and Accountability:

  • Ruxandra Serban (UCL), ‘Questioning Prime Ministers: a survey of procedures in 32 parliamentary democracies’
  • Sean Haughey (Liverpool), ‘Scutiny Patterns in the Northern Ireland Assembly: An Analysis of Written Questions’
  • Thomas Caygill (Newcastle), ‘Post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000: A case study’
  • Franklin De Vrieze (WFD), ‘Post-Legislative Scrutiny: how parliaments review the impact of legislation’

1.00pm-2.00pm – Lunch (during lunch, small tours of the Scottish Parliament will be possible, as well as opportunities to engage with a poster exhibition)

2.00pm-3.15pm – Panel 3: Supping with the Devil – the Relationship Between Politicians and the Media, and the Role of the Legislature

  • Chair: Colin Mackay, Holyrood Editor for STV News
  • Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener, Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, and former Deputy Editor of The Herald and Editor of The Sunday TimesScotland
  • Dr Adrian Hadland, Head of Division, Communications, Media & Culture, University of Stirling
  • Angela Haggerty, columnist with The Sunday Herald and editor of CommonSpace

3.15pm-3.45pm – Coffee Break

3.45pm-5.00pm – Panel 4: Institutional Change – Design, Support and Reform:

  • Meg Russell (UCL) and Jack Sheldon (UCL), ‘An English Parliament? Some key questions of institutional design’
  • Andrew Defty (Lincoln), ‘The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee – a committee in decline’
  • Lord Norton of Louth (Hull), ‘The importance of social space in legislatures’
  • Jessica Mulley (House of Commons), ‘Demystifying Parliamentary Practice and Procedure: The House of Commons’ Centre of Excellence in Parliamentary Practice’

5.00pm-6.00pm: Closing remarks and informal drinks reception

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