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Presentation on theme: "Parliament."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parliament

2 Parliamentary v Presidential government
Parliament is the only source of political authority in the UK Government must be drawn from Parliament No strict separation of powers- fusion of legislature and executive Government must be accountable to Parliament Presidential Legislature and executive have separate sources of authority and are elected separately President is not part of the legislature President is accountable not to legislature but to the people directly Clear separation of powers between executive and legislature

3 Key features of parliamentary sovereignty
Parliament is source of all political power. It is legally sovereign… Parliament may restore powers it has devolved No Parliament can bind its successor

4 Limits to parliamentary sovereignty
Pre sovereignty really with the governing party. At election times it is with the people. Therefore political sovereignty lies elsewhere. EU. In a range of areas trade, environment, employment rights, consumer protection a shift towrds the EU Use of referendums to legitimise major constitutional changes and the introduction of the binding referendum or plebiscite. Devolution- claim of right establishes principle of sovereignty of the people in Scotland a principle accepted by the coalition in proposing the binding referendum on independence Also shared sovereignty with the Republic of Ireland over province of NI. Pooled Sovereignty- an international arrangement by which sovereign states agree to give up some sovereignty- the replacement of the national veto with the system of qualified majority voting in the EU. It is inconceivable that the government would refuse to fast track amending legislation once the Supreme Court had deemed an act of Parliament was incompatible with the HRA. The UK is treaty bound to accept final rulings after appeal of the ECHR.

5 Structure of Parliament
Three parts: The two chambers and the Queen-in-Parliament. Latter refers to role of the royal assent required for all bills. General Committees. In Commons 20-40, are whipped and the purpose is to consider govt bills and propose amendments. Are called public bill committees. An innovation introduced by Labour was the above nomenclature away from standing cttees. Also a further innovation was to allow PBCs to hear outside evidence in order to make them better informed. The guillotine does apply. Committees of the Whole House. Rare in Commons, but where of constitutional significance e.g. structure and powers of government or the budget. In the Lords PBCs are generally considered done this way. In the Commons, the whip applies. Departmental Selection Committees. An innovation established with departmental tracking cttees established, currently there are 19 with between members. Regular attendance required to avoid expulsion. Whip does not apply and members expected to behave in neutral way. Current Parliament introduced election of chairs by back bench MPs thus removing final influence of the whips. Other select Cttees Public Accounts Committee oldest surviving cttee established 1861 traditionally chaired by opposition chairman. There is also allied to this the Estimates Cttee established 1912 to review proposed as opposed to actaul expenditure (PAC). Standards and Privileges Cttee To deal with disciplinary matters. Statutory Instruments Cttee checks on secondary legislation where Parliament has delegated powers to ministers to draw up detailed legislation without recourse to parliamentary debate National Curriculum a prime example. European Scrutiny Cttees- both Houses have these. The H/L is regarded throughout the EU as the m ost prestigious and informative of such parliamentary cttees. Liaison Cttee Chairs of all the select Cttees whose task is to question the PM 2X a year. Modernising Cttee The BackBench Cttee (est 2010) on 35 days each session chooses what back benchers want debated The Political and Constitutional Reform Cttee- est to focus on reform proposals of current deputy PM- long running enquiries into codification constitution with King’s London is working on a draft UK constitution. Also enquiry into codifying relationship between local and central government with De Montfort University. It has issued reports on draft recall MPs, registration lobbyists, improving quality legislation, impact effectiveness ministerial reshuffle, need for constitutional convention for the UK Joint Committee on the Human Rights Act- a cttee of 12 with equal representation from each house

6 Evaluation of select cttees
For The whip does not apply Can call any witness to appear including those not allowed before Parliament such as governor Bank England. A wide remit include consider proposed legislation (whether effective), matters major public concern, serious errors/omissions. Adopt an adversarial style questioning- Treasury Select Cttee on Northern Rock, Culture, Media and Broadcasting on phone hacking, more recently Home Affairs on G47 and failure to provide sufficient stewards for Olympics. Select cttee attract media attention and increasingly so reported partly result increased media outlets available. Also note way in which select committees appear front pages- 5/07/12 House of Commons Treasury Select Committee critical of bankers responses on rate fixing scandal headline on Guardian front page Diamond’s evidence to MPs branded implausible… Gives opportunity for MPs to develop expertise in particular area public policy. All reports over 400 a year are required to be responded to by minister. An opportunity for opposition to have influence as chairs e.g. Margaret Hodge chair of PAC and Keith Vaz of Home Affairs Recent reforms such as 60% attendance requirement and reduce number on cttee from 14 to 11 to cut number multiple tenancies. Election of chairs 2010 given them a greater mandate and are more willing to undertake more enquiries as a result. Cttee overlook expenditure, policy and adminsitration Select cttees in Lords fewer- 4 and have wider remit. Longer and more academic reports Against Cttees reflect party balance in House of Commons If Cttee splits on party lines this will undermine the influence of their reports. Ministers are not obliged to carry out cttee recommendations. Difficult to know how effective- are changes months or years down the line a reflection of the Cttee’s influence?

7 Election of the speakers
Commons Following resignation Michael Martin (first to do so since 1694) direct election introduced. Each candidate requires 12 nominations, three from other parties Each candidate requires outright majority. If no one elected outright first ballot then those with fewest votes eliminated and voting continues. System first used and again 2010. Lords Following Constitutional Reform Act 2005 Lord Chancellor no longer speaker of Lords. Lord Speaker is elected by Alternative vote. First used to elect first Lord speaker Baroness Hayman in and then in 2011 for Baroness D’Souza 2011. Lord Speaker may serve two five year terms maximum.

8 Functions of Parliament
Legitimation Scrutiny Opposition Accountability Individual Ministerial Responsibility Debates (legislative proposals) Financial control Redress of grievances (constituents the right to lobby their MPs and MPs hold surgeries) Private Members’ legislation Above can be done in following ways… Annual ballot… Then MPs have to persuade a majority of MPs to support it. Deliberation- debates Iraq War 2003, 9/11 Reserve Powers ( veto legislation Commons reject plans to extend detention terror suspects for 90 days Gurkha vote (retiring Gurkhas right to settle) Another reserve power is ability to dismiss a government by a vote of no confidence. Lords’ powers. They may delay a non financial bill for a year, although the Salisbury Convention by which the Lords will not delay a bill which is part of the manifesto on which the government was elected. This does not apply to the current Parliament. The threat that the Lords may seek to deploy delaying power may be enough to secure amendments. Every Lords amendment must be confirmed by Commons. If there is disagreement between the two houses then ping pong

9 Why the Lords is more significant from 1980s
Large Government majorities in Commons meant opposition there was weak and so Lords try to compensate for this. Lords develop a new professionalism- the notion of the working peer with lords making themselves specialists in certain fields of policy. Removal of all but 92 hereditary peers gave the House greater legitimacy and authority Labour faced 528 defeats in Lords. The present coalition A stronger rights culture in the UK since HRA and Lords contain many lawyers and human rights experts.

10 Assessing House of Commons
Strengths Ultimate power to remove a govt MPs can threaten to veto legislation and force compromises- note 2012 Govt withdraw Lords reform bill. MPs can call ministers to account, select ctttees are effective at this. Liasion cttee twice yearly interview PM. Each department QT 1X a month and different dept subject to oral questions each day. Last 15 minutes QT for open ended questions Constituents are represented by an MP who can raise questions on their behalf. In addition a constituent can come to lobby and fill in green card request to see MP In a coalition Govt small groups MPs can thwart will of Govt. Weaknesses Govts normally have a majority and can dominate MPs. Legislative cttees controlled by whips. Ministers adept at avoid intrusive questioning Govt control of the parliamentary TT. MPs limited role in developing legislation. Commons not socially representative Govts increasingly ignore Parliament, consulting groups and public directly Belief the Govt can fall can promote obedience MPs. Effect of devolution has been a loss of power to Westminster. Westminster only controls the NHS in England. In key policy areas Westminster lost control over university fees and ability to promote nuclear power. Decisions by the courts retain power to frustrate governments. Growing importance of EU- few government departments can do much without reference back to Brussels. The Coalition has a majority in both Houses and so can generally whether opposition and rebellions- the fixed term Parliament Act has made it less likely for the coalition to dissolve prior to May an early dissolution is dependent on a defeat in confidence motion and then a failure to forma new government within 14 days or a 2/3 support in Commons for an early dissolution

11 Evaluation of the Lords
For Many Lords are independent party control Peers represent wide variety interests and largely prominent citizens with considerable specialised experience- lord Winston fertility expert. Lords has more effective time to conduct debates and review legislation Against It lacks democratic legitimacy Powers are limited by law- no financial power and can only delay for a year. Commons can overturn Lords’ amendments. Limited role developing legislation.

12 An increasingly restive House
Thatcher 4 ( ) Major 7 (1990-7) Blair 4 ( ) Brown 3 ( ) Cameron 1 ( ) 2010 over 1/3 MPs elected were new, almost half of the Conservatives, 1/5 LibDems and ¼ Labour. The governemnt has a majority in both houses- its control in the Lords was increased by creation 117 new peers A Coalition with Two Wobbly Wings: Backbench Dissent in the House of Commons « Political Insight Magazine Concerning the above- government back bench dissent divided- Cons revolt over constitutional issues whereas LibDems over social issues and so the government tends to get its way Thus far 150 coalition MPs have voted against Government. 91 Tory rebellion over Lords reform July was the largest Tory rebellion thus far. Previous was 2011 when 81 defied the whip over voting for a referendum on continued UK membership EU A total of 43% of coalition MPs have voted against government. Parliament 2005 was the most rebellious ever since 1945 preceded by that of 2001. Why are MPs more rebellious? Historic tends towards greater restiveness and defiance of whips pre 2010 Impact of compromises on policy as result of the coalition- explains Conservative opposition to elements constitutional reform- and LibDems over tuition fees. Many Conservative MPs resent tight timetable for the AV referendum bill which was tightly whipped and increased their opposition to further constitutional reform bills proposed by LibDem side. Wright reforms- direct election select cttee chairs making select cttees more assertive and creation backbench business cttee. Coalition Agreement has meant many disgruntled backbench Conservative MPs who kept out of office as consequence.

13 Reform of the Lords 1998- All but 92 hereditary peers removed. Irony is these represent only elected element in the lords as they are elected by their peers. Also set up Royal Commission House of Lords to suggest reform. The Wakeham Commission suggested a number of proposals for fundamental reform which were not implemented apart from creation independent appointments commission to vet nominations. 2000- Independent Appointments Commission to review nominations from political parties and people’s peers- public nominations. lack of consensus within the major parties over long term future of composition of Lords. 2010 election all main parties in favour of substantial / fully elected chamber. The coalition agreement was for a fully elected chamber but bill eventually introduced was for 80% elected on non renewable terms with gradual phasing in 2015, 2020, 2025. Prospects- Continued disagreement over long term future of the Lords and faced with significant commons opposition the bill was withdrawn July Government has dropped reform of the Lords owing to intense Conservative opposition. Different types of Lords - UK Parliament People’s peers BBC News | In Depth | UK Politics | Open Politics Unlike the Commons there is no guillotine in Lords

14 Fully elected chamber For
More democratic and will eliminate corruption involved in appointments- cash for peerages. Might increase its legitimacy to challenge the government esp if elected by PR so that no party gains overall majority. A PR elected chamber will allow for smaller parties to be represented. It is only one of two wholly unelected second chambers in a democracy and only one where the hereditary principle still applies (Lesotho). According to ESRC survey, since removal of the hereditary members actual membership has increased from (expense) Against If mirrored commons would create deadlock or no balancing effect Too many elections might lead to voter fatigue. It might undermine decisive government Could be dominated by party hacks. Even prior to expenses scandal 2007, an Ipsos Mori poll found that public felt their concerns were listened to more than in the Commons. Impact of House of Lords defeat of Government bills is significant % policy changes demanded were accepted including crucial ones such as repeal of government attempt to block jury trial and extension of detention without trial for terror suspects from days.

15 Fully appointed For Could bring people into the political process who would not stand for election Membership can be controlled to ensure wide variety of groups and interests represented Bring more independents into political process Against Could put too much power into hands those responsible appointing members leading to corruption Undemocratic Lacks legitimacy and public support

16 Joint Cttee on reform of the House of Lords
Must not rival Commons Elected differently Elections different times Non renewable terms and finally 80% elected 1/3 2015, 1/3 2020, 1/3 2025 Ex members banned from standing as MPs Govt bill for 300 whereas cttee wanted a 450 chamber Larger constituencies means members will have to appeal to a broader cross section

17 Why reform? Of 800 members in current chamber 14 over 90 and 2 under 40 Just to enter House each day gets a peer £300 daily allowance no tax A lot of the so called experts are out of touch- ex experts House of Lords is whipped just better disguised It will increase its legitimacy

18 Reform of the Commons… Reforms under Labour : Modernisation cttee established- longer PM QT, new offices (portcullis House) increased secretarial and research backing for MPs, twice yearly questioning PM by Liaison cttee. Conservative suggestions Increasingly Conservatives in favour Commons reforms. The Norton Ctttee (Lord Norton) restoration 2 PM QT, longer QT, more opportunities MPs raise issues, debates shorter speeches so more can contribute, more facs for select cttees, MPs to control Select Cttees not whips, Standing Cttees to call outside witnesses Payment select cttee chairs. Reforms pre Standing cttees were renamed as public bill cttees and gathered outside evidence like select cttees. Also in wake of expenses scandal, IPSA created to oversee MPs pays and expenses. 2009 first election of speaker of the House of Commons who requires 50% of the vote Creation of the Joint Cttee on the Human Rights Act considers each bill introduced to parliament and decides whether it is compatible with the HRA, holding enquiries in a select cttee fashion and monitors govt record compliance with international treaties on human rights Coalition: Political and constitutional Reform select cttee set up to suggest reforms in this area. For commons this was right of recall, reducing number MPs by 10% and equal electoral districts all of which became government policy. Also election of select cttee chairs removing the influence of the whips Public Bill Cttees-For first 6-8 sessions act like select cttees- use of E forums, social media, oral evidence, public meetings across UK. Back Bench Cttee- 35 days a year to raise issues for debate of back bench concern. 2011 the government introduced e petitioning- if petitioners it will be debated but requires back bench to identify. Greater use of technology- E petition, plasma screens in both houses and in Portcullis House (ANUNCIATORS), social media. Education Select cttee invited people to comment on evidence by education sec Gove via twitter

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