In the second of our blogs from our 2017 conference, Legislatures in Uncertain Times, Ruxandra Serban, UCL, discusses different procedures used to hold Prime Ministers to account in 32 parliamentary democracies.
By Mark Shephard
Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) attracts a high level of interest because it is the one procedure where the Prime Minister is expected to face questioning in the House of Commons by parliamentarians each week that parliament is sitting. However, it is often derided as an ineffective procedure. For example, in a 2015 radio interview Nick Clegg called it a ‘farce’ that should be ‘scrapped’ and research by the Hansard Society has revealed that large proportions of the public do not like the pantomime point-scoring of PMQs which is perceived to undermine the capacity for effective scrutiny and influence of the government. Even the current PM and the current leader of the largest opposition party don’t like the way it operates. When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 he called for an end to point-scoring ‘Punch and Judy’ politics. When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in 2015 he also wanted less theatre and called for more fact during the procedure.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s suggested this week that prime minister’s questions should be abolished. Today we follow up our blogs on BBC Democracy Day by responding to Clegg’s comments. Marc Geddes, Associate Fellow of the Crick Centre disagrees with Clegg, arguing that he misunderstands how the drama of PMQs helps the public understand how politics works. Continue reading