Category Archives: Parliament

Are the Government losing control of Committees?

Juliun Lewis was last week appointed as the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Last week saw a drama play out in Parliament as Julian Lewis sensationally became Chair of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee over Government choice Chris Grayling. He subsequently had the Conservative Whip Withdrawn. These events are a useful of the changing balance of power when it comes to Select Committees in Parliament.

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Urgent Questions – 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 were a rarely used parliamentary device. However, in recent years, their use has grown dramatically, largely as the 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 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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PMQs – Is it just parliamentary theatre?

Prime Minister’s Questions is a divisive topic. On the face of it, it shows Parliament at its worst: raised voices, orchestrated heckling and debatable focus on answering the questions posed. However, it is the only time that the Prime Minister can ordinarily be held directly accountable to the elected representatives of the people.

Other major democracies such as the US, France and Germany have no equivalent. There is a constitutional reason why this is. The Head of their executive branch is directly elected. Britain, however, is a parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister is indirectly elected and only hold their position by retaining the confidence of the House of Commons.

The spectacle of the House of Commons at PMQs is not to everyone’s taste. The two sides of the house jeer and shout with the Speaker having to plead for order on numerous occasions. Polls have consistently suggested that watching PMQs puts people off of politics. So, what is the purpose of PMQs and is it worth the ire that it brings from some quarters?

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