Category Archives: Executive

Urgent Questions and Emergency Debates – What are they and how important are they as a mechanism of parliamentary scrutiny?

John Bercow is a major reason for the growth of Urgent Questions.

Until relatively recently Urgent Questions and Emergency Debates were rarely used parliamentary devices. However, in recent years, their use has grown dramatically, largely as the former Speaker John Bercow was keen to consider ways in which he could “champion the rights of backbenchers”. This article seeks to explain what Urgent Questions and Emergency Debates are, when they are granted and how big an impact they have on the ability of parliament to scrutinise the executive.

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Has the use of E-Petitions enhanced democracy in the UK?

Petitions are not actively encouraged by Parliament and the Government.

Petitions have a long history in Britain. For over a thousand years they have been a tool for citizens to try to address their grievances to the monarch or to the government. In 1689 the right to petition the King was even enshrined in the Bill of Rights:

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Why do Cabinet Reshuffles take place and why is the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ so famous?

Harold Macmillan oversaw the Night of the Long Knives.

Cabinet reshuffles happen fairly regularly in the UK and take place for a number of reasons. But there has been no reshuffle anything like that which happened on 13th July 1962 when Harold Macmillan oversaw a change in his government that was so brutal that it became known as the ‘Night of the Long Knives, after the infamous event of 30th June 1934 when Hitler’s SS purged the SA.

Why might a Prime Minister wish to reshuffle their cabinet?

There are a number of reasons that a Prime Minister might want to reshuffle their cabinet:

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