Parliament and the political process

Devolved elections 2016: politics and parliaments

, 29 April 2016

Coalition and minority rule – not majority government – are the general rule in Scotland and Wales. Since 1918, most governments in Westminster have been majority ones (although nearly 30 years have been spent under minority or coalition government). In Scotland and Wales however, the electoral system is designed to make majority governments rare....

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Making minority government work in Ireland: international lessons

, 22 April 2016

Governments without a parliamentary majority can sustain themselves in different ways, as discussed in past reports by the Institute for Government. One option is a pure or unsupported minority government, where the government has no formal relationship with any other party and must build a majority on an issue-by-issue basis. Despite the apparent fragility...

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In contempt? Witnesses before select committees

, 18 April 2016

Select committees rely heavily on the questions MPs ask of witnesses during oral evidence sessions. Departmental committees have a power to call witnesses (to ‘send for persons, papers and records’) which is delegated to them from the House of Commons. This means that they can compel witnesses within the UK (other than the Crown...

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Parliamentary scrutiny of the EU: lessons from the Norwegian Storting

, 22 March 2016

Norway shows us that even the parliaments of nations who are not members of the European Union need to think carefully about how they engage with EU issues, in order to promote their country’s interests and scrutinise the way their government pursues those interests. As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and...

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The paradox of Scottish devolution

, 29 February 2016

The Scottish Parliament and Government control most major public services and around 60% of public spending north of the border. The health service, schools and universities, local government, criminal justice, housing and more has been devolved to Holyrood since 1999. Unlike in many federal systems, the block grant Scotland receives from the Treasury has...

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The Big Short? The Government’s consultation on Short money

, 19 February 2016

It is right for the taxpayer to pay to support opposition parties. As we have said previously, the development of policy, knowledge and skills helps opposition parties hold the government to account. This is an important part of the Westminster system, and has a positive impact on the effectiveness of government. It also increases...

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Government and the EU Referendum

, 19 February 2016

Handling this unusual, and limited, breach of the usual convention of collective ministerial responsibility will require not only skilful political leadership from David Cameron but also understanding about what is, and is not, permitted between now and the referendum. The long-established principle of British government is that once a policy is agreed, the principle...

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A new normal for Northern Ireland?

, 4 February 2016

Huge progress has been made, but visiting Belfast and the grand old buildings of Stormont Estate, as I did last week, one is struck by the unique combination of “normal” politics and issues distinct to Northern Ireland’s troubled past that continues to shape how government works. Having again teetered on the edge of collapse...

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The BIS Committee on the Government’s Productivity Plan: strengths and limitations

, 2 February 2016

The BIS Committee set out to investigate whether the Government’s Productivity Plan, which spans 15 different policy areas − from transport, energy, and planning to science, finance, and infrastructure − addresses the main causes of low productivity in the UK, and whether it is likely to achieve its desired results. The Committee’s report contains...

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UK scrutiny of the European Union – in five charts

, 14 January 2016

The main focus of most national parliaments – including the UK’s – is not on influencing the EU, but on holding their national government to account for its interactions with it. David Cameron would now like to give national parliaments the power to work together to raise a ‘red card’ vetoing EU legislative proposals...

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