Parliamentary Scandals are not new. Parliament has been beset by a number of scandals that have damaged the trust in Parliament and politicians. For example:
Cash for Questions – In the mid 1990s a number of Conservative MPs were accused of accepting cash to ask questions in the House of Commons. The most famous of those accused was Neil Hamilton. He subsequently started a defamation action against the Guardian newspaper before dropping it prior to it reaching court. Hamilton lost his Conservative safe-seat in the 1997 election to Martin Bell, who ran as an Independent.
When the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was passed in 2011 it was sold as a significant constitutional reform that would modernise the UK constitution and give more democratic legitimacy to the House of Commons. Prior to this, the calling of General Elections was governed by both statute and convention:
Septennial Act 1716 – This Act mandated that a General Election had to be called at least every seven years. In 1911, the Parliament Act reduced the maximum length of each Parliament to five years.
Few days in Parliament have had the drama of the 28th March 1979. On this day, the government of Labour leader James Callaghan fell after it lost a motion of no confidence in the House of Commons. Consequently, the 1979 General Election was held which ushered in 18 years of Conservative Government.
Tonight the House of Commons held the Second Reading of the controversial Internal Markets Bill. It passed by 340-263but this is by no means the end of the line for the bill and it faces many challenges ahead.
Parliament in the UK is dominated by the Executive. A combination of the fusion of powers and the First Past The Post electoral system mean that the government is able to control the agenda. In fact, this is written into the Standing Orders of Parliament. Standing Order 14 says:
“Save as provided in this order, government business shall have precedence at every sitting”