1.1.1 Introduced in 1997, this shift halved the number of
occasions that the PM stood before the commons, even
though the total time remained the same (30 minutes).
1.1.2 Critics have seen this as an
attempt to reduce the PM's
exposure to Parliament.
1.2 Liaison Committee
1.2.1 Introduced in 2002, this allowed for twice-yearly appearances of the prime
ministers before the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, which
mainly composed of the chair of the departmental select committees.
1.2.2 The PM is thus subject to scrutiny bysome
of the most senior, experienced and expert
backbenchers in the House of Commons.
1.2.3 On the other hand, most of these
chairs are form the majority party.
1.3 Freedom of information act 2000
1.3.1 Freedom of information was not a parliamentary reform as such. Rather, it
was an attempt to widen the public's access to information that is held by a
wide range of public bodies, helping in particular to ensure open government.
1.3.2 The act came in to full in 2005, it has strengthened
parliamentary scrutiny by giving MP's and peers
easier access to government information.
1.3.3 The act was also used to bring to light details of the expenses of
MP's and peers, helping to precipitate the 2009 expenses scandal
that did so much to undermine the reputation of parliament.
1.4 Wider Constitutional reform
126.96.36.199 Devolution has meant that responsible for domestic
legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is now
in the hands of devolved bodies, as opposed to Parliament
1.4.2 Human Right Act
188.8.131.52 The HRA has helped to transfer responsibility for
protecting individual rights from Parliament to the courts,
as these rights now, in a sense, "belong' to citizens"
184.108.40.206 Referendums have given the people, rather than Parliament, final control over a
range of constitutional reforms. The net impact of wider constitutional changed
under Blair was therefore to marginalize Parliament, rather than strengthen it.
2 Reforming under Brown
2.1 On taking over as PM, Gordon Brown moved quickly
to give up or modify a number of power that used to
belong exclusively to the PM or the executive. In the
main, this involved strengthening Parliament by
improving the government's need to consult with, or
gain approval from, the House of Commons.
2.2 The Commons, must now be
consulted on the exercise of a variety
of powers. These include the power to:
2.2.1 Declare war
2.2.2 Dissolve Parliament
2.2.3 Recall of Parliament
2.2.4 Ratify treaties
2.2.5 Choose bishops and
2.3 The select committees were neutered by the intrusion of the party
system into their work. This occurred through the influence of the
whips on select-committee appointments, a matter that was made
worse by Brown's decision in 2007 to allow parliamentary private
secretaries to sit on these on these committees
2.3.1 These concerns led to the establishment of the House of Commons Reform
Committee. The chair, Tony Wright, the committee proposed in November
2009 that chairs of departmental and other select committees should in future
be directly elected by secret ballot of MPs, using the AV voting system.
220.127.116.11 These proposals would go a long way from free
the select committee's from the whips control.
3 Reforms under
Cameron and Clegg
3.1 Fixed-term Parliaments
3.1.1 By preventing PMs form calling general elections at a time most favourable
to their party, fixed-term parliaments should generally both reduce the size
of government majorities and make changes in government more frequent.
Both tendencies are likely to enhance the influence of Parliament.
3.2 Referendum on AV
3.2.1 Although rejected in 2011, AV was likely to have boosted representation for "Third"
parties such as the Liberal Democrats, and could have been expected to lead to more
"hung" Parliaments. It is widely belived that the greater likelihood of minority or coalition
government would have forced the executive to be more accountable to Parlaiment
3.3 Recall of MPs
3.3.1 MPs are to be subject to the power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election
where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a
petition calling for a by -election signed by 10% of his or her constituents. This is
intended to strengthen the representative function of the House of Commons
3.4 Public initiated bills
3.4.1 The public is to be given the ability to suggest topics for debate in Parliament
through petitions that secure at least 100,000 signatures, the petitions with
the most signatures being eligible to eb voted on in Parliament.
3.5 Public reading stage
3.5.1 A "public reading stage" is to be introduced for bills, giving the public an
opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online. A dedicated "public
reading day" within a bills committee stage, where public comments can
be debated by the committee scrutinizing the bill, has also been proposed
3.6 Housing business Committee
3.6.1 The coalition proposes to establish a House of
Commons business committee by 2013, which give
backbenchers greater influence over the management of
their affairs, although it is unclear what this will involve.