‘I spoke at the Hull Politics Sixth-Form Conference last September on ‘What’s right with Parliament?’ Parliament gets a great deal of criticism, some of it justified, but there are also developments which have strengthened it, not least in terms of scrutinising and influencing the executive. This past Parliament has been more effective than its predecessors. In my talk, I addressed the criticisms, but also drew out what was happening that was enhancing Parliament in fulfilling its functions.
This theme is one that I have developed in a forthcoming publication. I have written the chapter on Parliament for the 8th edition of The Changing Constitution, edited by Jeffery Jowell, Dawn Oliver and Colm O’Cinneide, and being published by Oxford University Press in June. The chapter is entitled ‘Parliament: A New Assertiveness?’ Here is the summary:
Parliament fulfils functions that are longstanding, but its relationship to government has changed over time. It has been criticised for weakness in scrutinising legislation, holding government to account and voicing the concerns of the people. Despite changes in both Houses in the 20th Century, the criticisms have persisted and in some areas Parliament has seen a constriction in its scope for decision-making. The 21st Century has seen significant steps that have strengthened both Houses in carrying out its functions, the House of Commons in particular acquiring new powers. Members of both Houses have proved willing to challenge government. Parliament has seen a greater openness in contact with citizens. Its remains a policy-influencing legislature, but a stronger one than in the preceding century.
To see the analysis, you will need to get hold of the book. Get your orders in….