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Week 6.1 The Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament: Evidence for the centrality of committees.

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Presentation on theme: "Week 6.1 The Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament: Evidence for the centrality of committees."— Presentation transcript:

1 Week 6.1 The Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament: Evidence for the centrality of committees

2 Lecture Plan: 1.Brief discussion of the CSG proposals. 2.A comparison of the legislative processes of old (Westminster ) and new (Scottish Parliament). 3.A discussion of inputs or the formal structures/ powers of committees 4.A discussion of withinputs, or those factors – such as the role of parties, committee size, legislative load, etc. - which qualify committee power. 5.An initial discussion of outputs (inquiries, bills, amendments, etc.),. 6.Discussion powers in relation to: (a) other legislatures (b) the executive (for me the most crucial point) 7.Brief analysis of amendments process.

3 (1) The CSG Proposals on Parliamentary Business The CSG approach as a whole used Westminster as a point of departure, but aims for executive-legislative relations are not new Point 6.1 recognises the need for the Executive to govern – legislation and use of budget No new relationship, just improved role

4 Committee Power The difference is improved scrutiny based on a strong committee role: All-purpose committees with combined Standing and Select Committee functions Ability to call witnesses and oblige ministers (and civil servants) to attend Ability to hold Inquiries Ability to initiate legislation Committees as the revising Chamber? Pre-legislative monitoring role to avoid draft-Act problems (see Richardson and Jordan, 1979) But NB – no (power sharing) direct Scottish Parliament role in formulation

5 Comparing Legislative Processes Westminster (of old? ie NB convergence): No formal involvement at pre-legislative stage Plenary debate first Then standing committees consider amendments Committees report to House and more amendments made Third reading debate Passed to House of Lords – if amended, passed back to Commons

6 Comparing Legislative Processes Holyrood: Hands-off monitoring role at pre-legislative stage Procedure to introduce bill (PO statement, finance, policy explanation) Bill referred to committee before House Lead committee takes evidence and reports to House House considers general principles Back to committee for stage 2 consideration of amendments Stage 3 amendments (then assessed for competence)

7 Differences: Scottish Parliament Committees are charged with the scrutiny of the initial consultation process. They consider the principles of the bill before it is presented to the House. They take evidence on the nature and effects of the bill before considering general principles and before making detailed amendments. More committee experience given select committee role Non-Executive Bill process was more straightforward – 12 names and the bill goes to stage 1 Now 19 names, with restrictions on use of NEBU (NB Committee role crucial to members bill progress)

8 (3) Inputs or the capacity/ powers of Scottish Parliament committees Relatively powerful compared to functions of other West European legislatures

9 The Scottish Parliament has: (1) Permanent and specialised committees with relatively small numbers of members; (2) A proportional (by party) number of chairs selected by a committee; (3) Committee deliberation both before the initial and final plenary stages; (4) The ability to initiate and redraft bills; and, (5) The ability to invite witnesses and demand government documents. (6) Unique supervisory role

10 (4) Withinputs Party influence – voting majority most committees,, informal whip (meetings before meetings) Turnover of members (high) Resource constraints (including committee size) Legislative overload – bills and amendments

11 Effect of input/ withinput discussion 2 hypotheses on committees (Arter 2004a): EFFECTIVE 1.Small size will foster an effective collective identity and hence committee autonomy. 2.The combined roles of standing and select committees will foster policy expertise. 3.Committees will foster an agenda-setting role though inquiries which are not in the control of party managers. 4.Working practices will be consensual rather than partisan. 5.The openness of proceedings will discourage adversarialism. INEFFECTIVE 1.The committees will be too small to make scrutiny effective (especially if there are attendance problems). 2.High turnover undermines a committee ethos and the combined roles leads to overload. 3.The legislative load means that committees have no time for agenda setting through inquiry work. 4.The open process will lead to party posturing (extending to witness examination which is often ritualistic). 5.Committee specialization will also fragment the House

12 (5) Outputs Healthy number of Public Petitions Inquiries shaping agendas – water, mobile phone masts, free care for elderly, poindings 11 of 61 Bills were non- executive High proportion compared to other West European Legislatures Amendments

13 (6) Powers in relation to the Scottish Executive NB traditional Westminster relationship- the government governs. Scottish Executive has more resources to consult, research, initiate If we include SSIs, then most legislation receives no scrutiny Non-executive bills are restricted in scope and can be reversed Scottish Executive still the main source of legislation Committees have traditional scrutiny role

14 Outputs revisited? There are many petitions, but their practical effect is limited. Inquiry work is constrained by legislative load. Inquiries are too slow to be produced. The examples of influence are exceptions to the rule. The emphasis on legislation is misplaced. Examples:

15 Non-executive legislation Limited scope (e.g. dog fouling, St Andrews, national galleries, TRADING) Reliance on committees to consult after bill proposed Wild Mammals took 2 years Poindings replaced before enacted? Committee Bill on children reliant on SPICE and Welsh

16 Conclusion? Unusual powers compared to other West European legislatures But not in comparison with the Scottish Executive which has a much larger staff equipped for research and consultation Limited policy initiation Fairly traditional hands-off relationship with scrutiny at bill stage

17 Effect of bill scrutiny? Analysis of amendments Did these change the substance of the bill? How much change comes from the Scottish Parliament and its committees? In other words, is the Scottish Parliament an actor involved in legislative change or just an arena for policy change?

18 Initial point The Scottish Executive appears dominant since it proposes the majority of the successful amendments and MSPs propose most of the failed ones

19 Qualification of Scottish Executive success Amendments vary in value, from consequential to detail to substantive Most successful Scottish Executive amendments are consequential The detail is devolved from SP to Scottish Executive Most go through on the nod without voting There are very few substantive amendments

20 Qualification of MSP failure Most failed amendments are really withdrawn (56%) They are often introduced to stimulate debate or ask questions, not to be won Many are withdrawn after assurances that the Scottish Executive ill address the issue As a result, there is considerable Scottish Parliament influence over the production of and inspiration for the most important amendments. Committees are particularly influential.

21 Inspired/ Original Authorship Some backbench Labour MSPs are successful with substantive amendments Others (LD and opposition) tend to rely on indirect influence through withdrawal- reassurance Latter should not be underestimated (little difference between 2 styles?) Aggregate figures – 37.2% of all substantive amendments relate to direct and indirect non-executive influence Of the 62 inspired amendments, two-thirds attributed to committees, while there is no coalition bias to the remainder

22 See table in next slide Over half – 59% of all substantive amendments presented at stage 3 can be attributed to non-executive actors The committees are central to this process Stage 2 is less significant, but the 16.9% inspired element is testament to a stage 1 process envisaged by CSG

23 Stage 3 – 58.9% non-executive

24 Qualification to committee influence The Scottish Executive still produces and amends the majority of bills Evidence of bill change throughout the process? Note the rules on wrecking amendments Alternative explanations for figures: Voting on Scottish Executive amendments – few object because few understand? Withdrawal makes no difference? Amendment would be lost anyway?

25 Conclusion Evidence of traditional Westminster relationship No wholesale changes in relationships Scottish Parliament has unusual range of powers compared to other legislatures, not the Scottish Executive Some evidence of influence in inquiries and scrutiny

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