The following piece presents the research findings of a final year undergraduate dissertation based at the University of Hull.
By Ben Goldsborough
Speaker John Bercow has repeatedly reaffirmed his belief that increased use of Urgent Questions (UQs) in the chamber of the House of Commons has made ‘ministers…become much more willing to volunteer statements to the House than had become the habit for many years previously’. But until now this statement was based on anecdotal evidence and not solid data. This research aims to understand if UQs are an effective scrutiny tool in order to hold the executive to account. To do so, it has looked at the role of the last three Speakers’ use of UQs (and previously Private Notice Questions). The following analysis is split into three sections: first, how many and what types of question were granted; second, who answered the questions; and third, who asked the questions in the first place.
On 26 March, its final sitting day, the House of Commons rejected government proposals to reform how the Speaker is elected at the start of the new parliament. Here Meg Russell reflects on what this teaches us about parliament, suggesting it holds two lessons. First, that the 2010 House of Commons was more resistant than its predecessors to government dominance; but second, that further reform is still needed to reduce that dominance.
Please note this blog piece was originally published on the Constitution Unit blog.
By Cristina Leston-Bandeira
Today’s launch of the report of the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission (DDC) marks the end of an extraordinarily interesting year for us Commissioners. The DDC was established by the Speaker of the House of Commons to explore the potential of digital technology to support a modern and inclusive parliamentary democracy. Throughout the year we have collated evidence, listened to people and organised workshops across the whole of the country from all walks of life, as well as internationally. The Report reflects this. It shows the diversity of views we have received on many issues from the making of legislation to the language of parliament. Continue reading
By Barry Winetrobe
The recent fiasco over the appointment of a House of Commons Clerk/Chief Executive has led to the appointment of a select committee on House governance chaired by Jack Straw. It is tasked with reviewing this complex topic, especially allocation of the most senior responsibilities currently held by the Clerk/Chief Executive, and reporting to the House by 12 January 2015. Continue reading