Parliament and the political process

Joint scrutiny: BHS inquiry shows us how select committees can work together

, 24 May 2016

The collapse of BHS into administration put 11,000 high street jobs at risk and revealed a pensions black hole of nearly £600 million. The sheer scale of the business failure meant it was inevitable that Parliament would wish to ask questions, and it was clear that it raised issues within the remit of more...

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Old faces, new politics? How the three devolved governments were formed

, 20 May 2016

In Scotland and Wales, unlike at Westminster, First Ministers are appointed (by the Queen) only after receiving the explicit backing of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd respectively. This process came to a conclusion this week as the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh Labour’s Carwyn Jones were reconfirmed in office. Events in Edinburgh and...

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Queen’s Speech 2016: triumph of realism?

, 19 May 2016

Every political event is now interpreted through the lens of the European Union (EU) referendum, and yesterday’s speech laid bare the rifts that exist in the Conservative Party over the referendum. Indeed, coverage today is focused less on the substance of the speech, and more on deepening divisions in the Government. But that is...

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Getting their Acts together? Legislation in the 2015-16 Parliament

, 17 May 2016

Last year’s Queen’s Speech contained more bills than any since 2007. There were around 26 bills in last year’s Queen’s Speech, which announces the legislative agenda for the parliamentary session ahead. According to the House of Commons Library, 13 of those bills have become law, and the proposed bill on Northern Ireland eventually became...

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The Prime Minister and the Liaison Committee

, 4 May 2016

The exchange of letters published by the Liaison Committee makes it obvious that the Prime Minister was initially unwilling to appear in advance of the EU referendum. This initial response was entirely consistent with the Government’s unwritten policy of avoiding any unnecessary parliamentary business that might touch on Europe ahead of 23 June. Given...

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Seven challenges for making devolution work

, 3 May 2016

1. Adapting to the new politics of fiscal devolution A central feature of devolution to date is that the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have little control over the size of their budget. Important tax and borrowing powers are now being devolved to all three nations, although the Barnett Formula also survives for...

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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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