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Does parliament matter? (9 Oct 2014) Wales Bill 'being rammed through' Parliament, says academic. The Wales Bill is being "rammed through Parliament" with only small changes being conceded, the Wales Governance Centre's director has said.

Wales Bill 'being rammed through' Parliament, says academic

The bill, which will give the Senedd new powers, has been revised amid worries it may reduce assembly powers. But Prof Richard Wyn Jones said it had "serious problems" and he was sure AMs "would consider blocking the bill". On Friday, the Wales Office said discussions with the Welsh Government would continue.

MPs

How effective is Parliament in controlling UK government and representing citizens? In the latest installment of our 2016 Audit of Democracy, Artemis Photiadou and Patrick Dunleavy consider how well the House of Commons functions as a legislature.

How effective is Parliament in controlling UK government and representing citizens?

Is Parliament still an effective focus of national debate and close control of the executive? And how well does the Commons function in scrutinising and passing legislation, or monitoring policy implementation? What does democracy require for the legislature in focusing national debate, and scrutinising and controlling major decisions by the executive? Recent developments. We are increasingly being governed by people with a diminished experience of the world beyond politics. There is a growing trend for people to come into politics more or less straight from university.

We are increasingly being governed by people with a diminished experience of the world beyond politics

They are undoubtedly clever but this does not compensate for a deficiency of experience in other walks of life that might inform their political judgements. Tony Wright argues that as the recruitment agency for politicians – the political party – loses its popular base, finding ways to make the selectorate more diverse becomes more urgent. How effective is Parliament in controlling UK government and representing citizens? Tax credits, disability benefit and nine other U-turns from the first year of a Conservative government. It is a year since the Conservatives won a surprise majority the 2015 general election.

Tax credits, disability benefit and nine other U-turns from the first year of a Conservative government

While many Tories may have looked forward to a bright future freed of the shackles of coalition, it has been anything but plain sailing for the party’s leadership. Since the 2011 the Tories have been forced into climbdowns on a raft of key policies, with their slim majority meaning even minor backbench opposition makes controversial hard to push through. Tax credit cuts In his first Tory-only budget, George Osborne promised sharp cuts to tax credits as a significant chunk of his planned £12 billion welfare cuts. A huge backlash ensued and he cancelled the cuts at the Autumn Statement, though similar reductions will still be quietly enacted in Universal Credit in 2020. Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% George Osborne's u-turn on tax credits Disability benefit cuts The DWP planned to cut payments for specially adapted appliances for disabled people.

Forcing schools to become academies. Beyond the chamber. Image copyright Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Politicians have a range of tools at their disposal to hold the government's feet to the fire.

Beyond the chamber

From the barbed criticisms at Prime Minister's Questions to the humble Early Day Motion, there are hundreds of ways to extract the truth from ministers. This week, BBC Parliament is looking at a written question. Away from the main chamber this week, an interesting conversation took place between MPs and government departments over driverless cars. Two Conservative MPs had separately asked questions addressing the future of vehicle technology, and how a UK with driverless cars might look. Conservative MP Royston Smith asked a series of written questions about the potential for driverless cars to improve road safety, energy efficiency and reduce traffic management.

Image copyright Parliament Driverless cars already exist. Cameron’s defeats to-date in the Commons. Sorry, the role of an MP is to be a representative, not a delegate. “I wonder,” began the comment posted on my Facebook page last Friday.

Sorry, the role of an MP is to be a representative, not a delegate

It was a gentle, almost contemplative start, but it didn’t continue in that vein as ‘David George’ (supposedly of the north pole, Alaska) went on as follows: “I wonder how many of you and your child murdering friends have money invested in arms. Go suck on an exhaust pipe you fucking waste of cum. I hope you die screaming.” It was pretty standard fare. I didn’t get the photos of dead babies (from those against air strikes) or severed heads (from those in favour) but “murderer”, “blood on your hands” and various other terms of abuse flooded into my inbox. Yes, there’s nothing quite as unattractive as an MP moaning about his or her lot in life.

Lords

Select committees. Drone strikes killing UK Citizens. This week the RAF launched drones that killed UK citizens in Syria.

Drone strikes killing UK Citizens

They were apparently jihadists who were planning a series of attacks in the UK. However, this has opened lots of issues that are relevant to students studying UK politics. Firstly, Brown ‘gave’ to Parliament the right to declare war, rather than the PM. However, does a drone strike need to be ratified by Parliament…? …is it a war? It also raises interesting questions about citizens and what governments can and can’t do to keep them in line, especially on foreign soil. I would urge students to be looking to Syria and Libya for their foreign policy examples in UK politics – Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly out of date!!

Rebellions