MPs and scholars

BtfQIudCcAEfNs7I spent the weekend at Wroxton College – pictured right – in Oxfordshire, for the Eleventh Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians.  I organised it under the auspices of the Centre for Legislative Studies, as I have done for the previous ten Workshops.  The first – in 1994 – was held in Berlin, but the rest have been held in the ideal setting of Wroxton College, housed as it is in a Jacobean mansion – ancestral home of Lord North, Prime Minister under George III – in over fifty acres of wooded grounds.  Held on a biennial basis, it provides an opportunity for scholars to present findings likely to be of interest to parliamentarians.  It is co-sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), who inform their member branches of the event and hence facilitate the attendance of parliamentarians.

Each Workshop has been successful, but this was probably the most successful.  It attracted a record number of papers – you can see the list here – and the quantity was matched by quality.  Panels covered such topics as legislatures in developing nations, specific legislatures such as the Chinese NPC, engaging with citizens and the press, the Westminster system in context, and legislatures in Europe, and concluded with a plenary session addressing what constitutes an effective legislature.

Those attending were drawn from all five continents, with  MPs, officials or scholars from a range of Commonwealth nations (such as the UK, Australia, Kenya, and the West Indies), but also from nations as diverse as Jordan, Malta, Brazil, Bahrain, Burundi and Tonga.  It made for a fruitful exchange of views and experience, including in the final session.

The final announcement I made in closing the Workshop was that the Twelfth will be held in 2015, instead of 2016, in order to avoid clashing with the biennial International Political Science Association (IPSA) conference.  That means getting under way pretty soon in organising it….

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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4 Responses to MPs and scholars

  1. maude elwes says:

    This building is so beautiful, the sort of place I’ve dreamed for many years of waking up in of a morning. What a wonderful place for study.

  2. Lord Norton says:

    maude elwes: It’s a wonderful building, replete with various original features. Some of the rooms, such as the Regency Room, are stunning. The views from some of the bedrooms, looking out over the grounds, are amazing.

  3. maude elwes says:


    This Abbey sounds as if the surroundings match the objective. The first question being, is legislation in the UK, Europe and the US effective for the citizens of those nations to be able to play a part in leading their own destiny? I would have to ask the students who take part in such deep and reflective study to tell me if ‘Direct Democracy’ ever led the way in their basic thinking? Such as, the Swiss form of ‘Direct Democracy’ being the aim of us all?

    And then reflect on how bizarre it is that the odd man out of UK politics is the person calling for such a democratic move, not only for Brits to be ‘prêt à manger’ this wonderful privilege, but, the entire European continent.

  4. maud elwes says:

    Lord Norton:

    Here is another video those with extraordinary minds should contemplate viewing in full. It is a talk by a US professor of economics who explains the mind set we had when our system was going well and how it got messed up. But more importantly, or, as important, he gives food for thought on how to bring us out of the mess. It is around a two time frame.

    To my utter astonishment, LN, I realise I’m a political animal. It’s addictive, and once overtaken by it, it consumes the thinking process 24/7. I can’t seem to be able to get enough of it

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