Parliament

Not all scrutiny is equal: how parliaments vary in scrutinising the implementation of legislation

Not all scrutiny is equal: how parliaments vary in scrutinising the implementation of legislation

Parliaments can contribute to more accountable governance, not just by questioning government ministers in the chamber, but also by monitoring the implementation and impact of the laws they pass. This post-legislative scrutiny can be divided into four categories: passive, informal, formal and independent forms. Comparatively, parliaments vary according to the extent to which they carry out post-legislative scrutiny. Franklin De Vrieze discusses these variations and argues that to be effective parliaments should both look at the implementation of legislation, its impact and at unintended consequences of some laws. At the time of the Covid-19 crisis, good-quality scrutiny of policies and legislation in all areas, including legislation on public health and government’s response to Covid-19, has become all the more important.

Female parliamentarians still face a motherhood penalty, but the evidence globally suggests it can be ended

Female parliamentarians still face a motherhood penalty, but the evidence globally suggests it can be ended

It has long been assumed that female politicians face a trade-off between having a family life and a successful parliamentary career, while their male colleagues do not. Devin Joshi and Ryan Goehrung find that, while female MPs are still more likely to be unmarried and have fewer children, the gap in parental and marital status of members of parliament varies considerably internationally. They argue that by implementing social reforms to reduce gender inequality, and introducing specific reforms to create more inclusive parliaments, this gap could be closed worldwide.

Gender diversity among Committee witnesses: the large variations in the Commons and why Holyrood is doing better

Gender diversity among Committee witnesses: the large variations in the Commons and why Holyrood is doing better

Hugh Bochel draws on 2017–19 data to discuss gender diversity among witnesses to select and public bill committees in the Commons, and compare these to figures from the Scottish Parliament.

A Conservative majority means parliamentary scrutiny is in danger of being weakened

A Conservative majority means parliamentary scrutiny is in danger of being weakened

Marc Geddes considers the potential impact the recent Conservative victory may have upon parliamentary scrutiny. The size of the majority, the current government’s agenda for legislative reform and the changes to select committee membership may all have a detrimental effect on parliament’s ability to scrutinise government effectively.

What impact has the general election had on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee?

What impact has the general election had on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee?

Following the failure of the government to publish the Intelligence Security Committee’s report into Russian interference ahead of the election, Andrew Defty examines the impact of the general election on the ISC, outlines the process for the establishment of a new committee and assesses the likely priorities of the reconstituted committee.

The government’s refusal to release the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian activities against the UK is part of a worrying pattern of obstruction and delay

The government’s refusal to release the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian activities against the UK is part of a worrying pattern of obstruction and delay

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has produced a report into Russian interference in UK politics, but it cannot be published without government approval. Andrew Defty explains that Number 10’s failure to release the report before Parliament was dissolved is the latest in a series of government actions that have hindered effective parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence and security services. Reform to ensure the committee has greater independence from executive obstruction should be considered in the next Parliament.

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

The UK government’s latest attempt to push a deal through Parliament failed when the DUP withdrew support. Mary C. Murphy explains the DUP’s thinking and options. She writes that, while they can continue to pursue a strategy which is focused on revising the deal to their satisfaction, it is also possible that they could change tack completely and re-align their position in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

Whatever happened to the Westminster Model? The ‘Italianisation’ of British politics

Whatever happened to the Westminster Model? The ‘Italianisation’ of British politics

The UK was once viewed by political scientists as embodying a distinct majoritarian form of politics – the ‘Westminster Model’ – that stood in contrast to the ‘consensus’ democracies found elsewhere in Europe. Several of the countries in the latter group, such as Italy, were often assumed to be inherently prone to instability in comparison to the UK. Yet as Martin J. Bull explains, politics in Westminster now has some striking similarities with the Italian approach that once invited scorn from British observers.

When select committees speak, do newspapers listen?

When select committees speak, do newspapers listen?

It is frequently claimed that the House of Commons’ select committees have grown in prominence since key reforms were implemented in 2010. Brian J. Gaines, Mark Goodwin, Stephen Holden Bates and Gisela Sin test this claim specifically in relation to press coverage. They find a pattern of increased newspaper attention after the reforms, but caution that these results show no consistent sustained increase, and also vary considerably depending on committee.

The rule of law, not the rule of politics

The rule of law, not the rule of politics

Joelle Grogan comments on the UK Supreme Court’s Cherry/Miller No 2 judgment on the government’s attempt to prorogue Parliament. She argues that criticisms of the court as ‘too political’ are misguided, and its ruling defended the rule of law, and upheld the principle that Parliament is at the core of the British constitution.