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 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.
By Thomas Caygill
All too often, once legislation has entered the statute book, Parliament assumes that is the end of the matter and the end of its role. However it has been noted by the House of Lords Constitution Committee that Parliament’s responsibility for legislation should not end once legislation has entered the statute book. This is where post-legislative scrutiny enters the picture. Continue reading
By Paul Cairney
The Scottish Parliament is an important focus for academic study, not least because most of the early work has produced broad brush strokes. There is still an important role for in-depth, case study based, research on particular bills, time periods, and periods of minority/ majority or single-party/ coalition rule. There is much work to be done to compare the Scottish Parliament with others, from the current focus on comparisons with Westminster and, at times, Nordic parliaments, to the well-established broader work on classifying legislatures. In each case, the new Scottish experience has something to add to ‘Westminster family’ discussions, comparisons based on similar size or functions, and studies of non-majority rule. There are also important but small literatures on the role of the Scottish Parliament as a hub for deliberative and participative democracies, and on microcosmic representation and its effect on parliamentary practices. Continue reading