Modernising parliamentary democracy

The House of Commons and the Brexit deal: A veto player or a driver of policy?

The House of Commons and the Brexit deal: A veto player or a driver of policy?

If, as expected, the House of Commons rejects Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, could it step in to determine what happens next? The House of Commons has not had to run anything directly since the Civil War in the 17th century, writes Andrew Kennon, and so could not long term: our political system depends on a government taking responsibility.

Confidence motions, humble addresses and amendments: Brexit’s procedural dilemmas

Confidence motions, humble addresses and amendments: Brexit’s procedural dilemmas

Brexit has revealed some of the tools that govern the legislative process and how these interact with party politics. Louise Thompson summarises the key procedural dilemmas faced in the Commons so far, and explains why things could get even more complicated in 2019.

How and when constitutional conventions change in Westminster democracies

How and when constitutional conventions change in Westminster democracies

Westminster democracies incorporate numerous constitutional conventions – the uncodified, informal rules and practices by which political institutions operate. Nicholas Barry, Narelle Miragliotta and Zim Nwokora identify some key patterns for when and how different types of conventions are modified, and suggest further research is needed to develop a fuller understanding of the dynamics of change for political conventions. 

How to change the government without causing a general election

How to change the government without causing a general election

David Howarth explains how the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 has altered the options for no confidence motions in Parliament, and how an opposition party might form a government without there being a general election.

Does changing electoral rules affect legislators’ productivity?

Does changing electoral rules affect legislators’ productivity?

There have been numerous reforms to the electoral rules and candidate selection processes for the Israel parliament (Knesset) in recent years, making it an interesting case study for testing the hypothesis that such changes affect legislators’ productivity. Using a model that acknowledges there are many facets to legislators’ roles Osnat Akirav demonstrates that legislators’ productivity is affected changes to these rules – but that this does not in turn make it more likely that they will be re-elected.

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Since payments for MPs were introduced in the early 20th century, the rhetoric used to justify them has changed markedly. Initially, writes Nicholas Dickinson, any remuneration was almost always construed in terms of broadening democratic representation. Related to a landmark 1971 report, however, MPs increasingly began to be depicted as political professionals. This change in framing allowed salaries to increase, but at the cost of lasting public ambivalence.

The government’s handling of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s detainee reports reveals worrying tensions between them

The government’s handling of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s detainee reports reveals worrying tensions between them

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is due to publish two reports on the UK’s treatment of detainees. Andrew Defty explains how leaks ahead of their publication are part of a concerning breakdown in the relationship between government and the committee, which has implications for the proper democratic oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies.

How the Treasury Committee has developed since 1997

How the Treasury Committee has developed since 1997

A close analysis of the Treasury Committee’s recent history shows how it has become a successful example of a House of Commons select committee. It has developed a broad remit for scrutinising high-profile figures and institutions in the financial sector beyond the Treasury department, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, writes Saskia Rombach.

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

On Wednesday, 20 June, the House of Commons will consider again amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill intended to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the Brexit negotiations, particularly in the case of no deal being agreed. Ben Margulies considers the constitutional implications of these highly contentious proposals.

Reproducing the political class: how socialisation makes MPs more loyal to their parties

Reproducing the political class: how socialisation makes MPs more loyal to their parties

What are the drivers of party discipline in the House of Commons? Evidence from survey data suggests that the socialisation process of new MPs as they learn from colleagues is a key factor in their subsequent loyalty, writes Nicholas Dickinson.