March 2018 newsletter

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter, which is packed full. It includes:

  1. PSA Annual Conference 2018 – reminder
  2. Statistical Analysis of Parliaments for Dabblers – 25 May
  3. Essay Competition
  4. Book announcements
  5. Inquiry by the House of Lords Constitution Committee
  6. Call for Papers: From Old Corruption to New Corruption
  7. Recently on our blog

If you have any notices / messages you would like us to circulate to the group, please let us know (including events, new research projects, grants, publications, etc.). Or other ideas for the group and feedback for us, they’re welcome too!

Best wishes,
Marc (@marcgeddes), Louise (@LouiseVThompson) and Alexandra (@A_Meakin)

1. PSA Annual Conference 2018 – reminder

A quick note to say that we are excited and looking forward to our six panels and 24+ papers covering everything from enhancing parliamentary democracy to organising and managing parliaments. There will also be an exciting panel with four of the current House of Commons academic fellows (a great opportunity to find out about their research, but also to discuss the practicalities of being a fellow) and a joint panel with several other specialist groups exploring populism in political systems.

See our website for the full list of papers and panels.

Tues 27 March panels

Weds 28 March panels

2. Statistical Analysis of Parliaments and Legislatures for Dabblers – 25 May

Time: 11.00-15.00 (with lunch provided)
Date: Friday, 25 May 2018
Venue: University of Birmingham (Room TBC)

This workshop is open to all, but is aimed at those with little or no previous experience of quantitative statistics but who believe it may be useful for them in their current or future research.

The workshop will be based around the conveners’ British Academy-funded research project on select committees. Each stage of the project – from initial inspiration through data collection and analysis to finished article – will be outlined and discussed in terms of both methodological and practical considerations so that participants have an idea of what the research process entails and what hazards and opportunities to look out for along the way. It will cover such things as finding out about available data, the different software that may be useful, and working with external stakeholders and experts.

The workshop will be run by Stephen Bates (who remains a relative novice when it comes to quantitative statistics) and Steve McKay (who is an old-hand at this kind of thing).

Attendance and lunch are free but participants will have to cover their travel costs. The PSA Parliaments group are able to offer a limited number of travel bursaries of up to £50 to PhD students who sign up to the event (4 available in total).

To register for the workshop, please email Stephen Bates (s.r.bates[at]bham[dot]ac[dot]uk).

3. Essay Competition 2018

We are pleased to announce the launch of our Essay Competition 2018! The winner will be presented with a prize of £100 and a runner-up prize of £50. Last year’s winners were presented the award by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament at our annual one-day conference.

The essay competition is open to all undergraduate students, who should complete an essay with a focus on parliament(s), with a word limit of up to 3,500 words (excluding bibliography and references). In order to enter, lecturers must submit an essay on their students’ behalf by the closing date of Friday 01 June 2018. Please note that only one submission can be made per lecturer (teaching assistant), who must be a member of the PSA and of Parliaments Group.

Entries should be anonymised and sent to Marc Geddes ( and Louise Thompson ( with key information as requested on our website. The winner will be announced in July 2018.

Full entry information and judging criteria.

4. Two new books!

Parliament and the Law
Edited by Alexander Horne and Gavin Drewry

Parliament and the Law (Second Edition) is an edited collection of essays, supported by the UK’s Study of Parliament Group, including contributions by leading constitutional lawyers, political scientists and parliamentary officials. It provides a wide-ranging overview of the ways in which the law applies to, and impacts upon, the UK Parliament, and it considers how recent changes to the UK’s constitutional arrangements have affected Parliament as an institution. It includes authoritative discussion of a number of issues of topical concern, such as: the operation of parliamentary privilege, the powers of Parliament’s select committees, parliamentary scrutiny, devolution, English Votes for English Laws, Members’ conduct and the governance of both Houses. It also contains chapters on financial scrutiny, parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament and human rights, and the administration of justice. Aimed mainly at legal academics, practitioners, and political scientists, it will also be of interest to anyone who is curious about the many fascinating ways in which the law interacts with and influences the work, the constitutional status and the procedural arrangements of the Westminster Parliament.

RSP: £55  Discount Price: £44

Order online at – use discount code CV7 at the checkout to get 20% off!

Parliament’s Secret War
Veronika Fikfak and Hayley J Hooper

The invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the Coalition Government’s failure to win parliamentary approval for armed intervention in Syria in 2013, mark a period of increased scrutiny of the process by which the UK engages in armed conflict. For much of the media and civil society there now exists a constitutional convention which mandates that the Government consults Parliament before commencing hostilities. This is celebrated as representing a redistribution of power from the executive towards a more legitimate, democratic institution. This book offers a critical inquiry into Parliament’s role in the war prerogative since the beginning of the twentieth century, evaluating whether the UK’s decisions to engage in conflict meet the recognised standards of good governance: accountability, transparency and participation. The analysis reveals a number of persistent problems in the decision-making process, including Parliament’s lack of access to relevant information, government ‘legalisation’ of parliamentary debates which frustrates broader discussions of political legitimacy, and the skewing of debates via the partial public disclosure of information based upon secret intelligence. The book offers solutions to these problems to reinvigorate parliamentary discourse and to address government withholding of classified information. It is essential reading for anyone interested in war powers, the relationship between international law and domestic politics, and the role of the Westminster Parliament in questions of national security.

RSP: £70  Discount Price: £56

Order online at – use discount code CV7 at the checkout to get 20% off!

5. New inquiry by the House of Lords Constitution Committee

The House of Lords Constitution Committee launches a new Call for Evidence as part of its inquiry on the Legislative Process. The Committee is taking evidence on improving Parliament’s scrutiny of Bills, and are interested in how Bills are prepared by Government and scrutinised in Parliament; whether and how outside organisations and the public are involved in the process; and how the legislative process is, or could be, affected by new technology and by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Committee would like to encourage PSA Parliaments Group members to consider sending a written submission to the Committee.

Find out more: Improving Parliament’s scrutiny of Bills

6. Call for Papers: From Old Corruption to New Corruption?

The problem of “corruption” has proved decidedly more tenacious than post-war theorists of modernization had once predicted. This much is evident globally, where corruption constitutes one of the most pressing problems facing emerging democratic states; but it is also evident in established, Western-style democracies, which remain gripped by recurrent scandals regarding the abuse of public office and widespread concerns about the decay of public life. Scholarship on corruption has flourished; and although much of this has focused on the present, historians have begun to grapple afresh with its multiple manifestations and meanings in the past, reaching back to the early modern period and beyond.

This conference seeks to revisit the wide-ranging struggles against corruption in Britain during the period c. 1780 to 1940, ranging from the conduct of ministerial office and central administration to parliamentary, electoral and local government reform.

For more information, please see the full Call for Papers [opens PDF].

7. Recently on the blog


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