Devolved government in Northern Ireland collapsed in early 2017 and remains suspended, with no resolution in sight. Clare Rice, Queen’s University Belfast, discusses the impact of this institutional hiatus on the Public Accounts Committee in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the scrutiny of public spending.
By Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny
It is now just over a year since the House of Commons adopted a new set of procedural rules known as ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (or EVEL). Put simply, EVEL provides MPs representing constituencies in England (or England and Wales) with the opportunity to veto certain legislative provisions that apply only in that part of the UK. (For a reminder of how the process works, see here.) Introduced with some fanfare by the Conservative government following the 2015 election – and criticised heavily by its political opponents – these procedures have quickly faded from public view. But, one year on, what lessons can be drawn from how EVEL has operated so far?
By Stephen Herbert
The process of parliamentary scrutiny of the recommendations of the Smith Commission and the subsequent Scotland Bill has provided insights into the challenges that implementing the now Scotland Act 2016 present. The Scotland Act 2016 provides for the devolution of a range of new competencies to Holyrood. However, the passage of the Act is significant not only for the powers it confers upon the Scottish Parliament and Government but also the shift in the structure of Scottish devolution that will be a consequence of the Act’s provisions. The 2016 Act will result in a shift from a system of largely separate and clearly demarcated boundaries in terms of the distribution of powers between Holyrood and Westminster to an increasingly shared distribution of powers in a range of policy areas, notably with regard to taxation and social security powers. This will result in a greater degree of inter-governmental working than has been the case to date and will also present challenges to legislatures in examining these relationships. The issues raised, in this regard, by this shift in the structure of devolution are considered here.