Legislatures matter

WestminsterI was on a panel on Wednesday evening to discuss the subject of legislative strengthening.  Held in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) room in the Palace of Westminster, it was designed to bring together people interested in the subject in order to form a Westminster ‘community of practice’.  Greg Power, of Global Partners Governance, opened with a presentation on best practice in parliamentary strengthening.  Tim Kelsall, of ODI, then offered a sceptical view, challenging the emphasis by aid donors on legislatures, arguing there was not a clear connection between legislative strengthening and economic growth.

I followed and stressed the centrality of legislatures to political stability.  I distinguished the desirability of legislative strengthening and its achievability.  I made the point that you can have parliaments without parliamentarianism.  You can create the structure, but it needs to be core to a vibrant civic culture.  I reiterated points I made in evidence to the International Development Committee earlier this year.  One needs to tailor aid to the needs of each recipient.  There are problems in adopting a tick-box approach and expecting  measurable and quick returns.  In helping encourage a supportive political culture, one has to invest for the future.   There has also been a problem in that different donors have sometimes imposed conditions which conflict.

As I said in my evidence to the committee, there needs to be greater discourse between donors and a targeting of resources where they may have most effect in contributing to a participant political culture.  Parliaments are core to political stability and such stability is to the benefit of the global community.  It is in our interests to help legislatures in developing nations.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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9 Responses to Legislatures matter

  1. The question then arises, what can be done to foster vibrant civic life and culture? I think perhaps it affects the nature and duration of outreach programs of any kind…

    • Janet Seaton says:

      Outreach programmes have limited effects unless political leaders buy in to the principles behind the strengthening of the structures.

      • To the degree that is true one would presume that a premium would then be placed on the full and complete relationships that would connect with the right people in the right ways.

  2. maude elwes says:

    LN, has LOTB shut down? It is no longer a page, just a white screen. Which would mean all has been deleted or there is a problem with the computer.

    If it has been closed, that is sad. It had been such a good means of contact with those who rule our days. And as the immediate future looks to be very exciting, to shut it down now is bad timing. I think.

    • tizres says:

      Maude, the page I get is an ad for a domain name register (names.com) which is quite worrying. I’m waiting for a reply from Hansard…

      • maude elwes says:

        @ Tizres:

        Thank you for that reply. Yes it is a worry. It’s now telling me I am forbidden to see or enter the page, with a comletely white screen. Perhaps it is a virus deliberately placed. Hackers do this frequently. However, my security is not warning me of a dangerous web page!

        Nevertheless, I’m pleased you responded and really appreciate your letting me know you too have experienced a change.


  3. Lord Norton says:

    maude elwes: Thanks for alerting me. I am getting the same screen as you. I must investigate.

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