(13) Reforming the House of Commons

Marcus  Danvers
Mind Map by , created almost 6 years ago

A level Governing the UK - 2C ( Parliament) Mind Map on (13) Reforming the House of Commons, created by Marcus Danvers on 12/11/2013.

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Marcus  Danvers
Created by Marcus Danvers almost 6 years ago
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(13) Reforming the House of Commons
1 Reforms under Blair
1.1 Once a week Prime Minister Question
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
1.4.1 Devolution
1.4.1.1 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
1.4.2.1 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"
1.4.3 Referendums
1.4.3.1 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 appoint judges
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.
2.3.1.1 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.

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