The Scottish Parliament’s Commission on Parliamentary Reform, established by the Presiding Officer last year, reported in June. Its recommendations include that committee conveners should be elected by the whole Parliament, changes to First Minister’s Questions, the extension of the legislative process from three stages to five and the establishment of a new backbench committee. In a post originally posted on the Constitution Unit blog, Ruxandra Serban summarises the report and notes that several of the most substantive recommendations would bring the Scottish Parliament’s procedures closer to those of the House of Commons.
By Paul Cairney and Phil Cowley
There is an interesting set of stories, by David Leask and colleagues in the Herald, about the background of MSPs. We take an interest as part of a team of scholars comparing backgrounds in Westminster and devolved assemblies and examining how parties decide between many sources of representation, from sex and race to employment and locality.
In this post we examine the latest data on education as a proxy for class. It suggests that there would be little difference between Holyrood and Westminster if they had the same balance between parties.
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.
Please note that this piece was originally posted on the UCL Constitution Unit blog, and is available here.
By Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny
Yesterday MPs defeated the government by 317 votes to 286 on its proposals to relax Sunday trading rules. But although the policy would have applied only in England and Wales, the votes of Scottish MPs proved decisive. In this post Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny discuss the territorial dimensions to this episode, and why the recent ‘English Votes for English Laws’ reform did not help the government to pass its legislation.