What we have today is a grubby piece of schoolboy intrigue that Michael Dobbs would have been ashamed to have dreamt up for one of his novels. These are matters for the House to deliberate on properly and initiate, not the Executive. These are matters of due process and due thought.

Mr Gordon Marsden, MP

Procedural Passion

In a 2010 speech to the Oxford Union Society, UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow stated: “I appreciate that the words “parliamentary procedure” are not necessarily the most exciting in the English language. Yet, as I have indicated, parliamentary procedure matters.” Speaker Bercow is not the only Member of the House of Commons who feels that way; two of the most passionate debates in the UK Commons in recent months occurred over proposed changes to the House’s Standing Orders. Contrary to what one British journalist believes, the Standing Orders are not “an obscure parliamentary procedure“, rather, the Standing Orders are the rules which guide procedure in parliament. And on two occasions recently, the first on the very last sitting day […]

RrankedBallot

Ranked ballots won’t elect “grey” candidates

I have written a large number of posts about preferential voting (aka ranked ballots or the Alternative Vote) over the course of this blog’s existence. During the UK campaign leading up to the referendum on AV back in 2011, I tried my best to clarify some of the misconceptions surrounding AV. One of the most common objections to AV (other than the fact that it’s not a proportional system) is that it results in the election of bland, middle-of-the-road, “grey” candidates. The argument is that first preference votes will be split between two more polarizing candidates, for example, a right-wing candidate and left-wing candidate, and so voters’ second and third preferences would go to more moderate (i.e. bland) candidates since […]

CanadianHouseCommons

Baby steps on parliamentary reform

The Liberal Party of Canada released a plan for political and parliamentary reform this week and many, if not most political commentators seemed quite enthusiastic about much of what the party proposed. I must admit that I was somewhat underwhelmed. The proposals for parliamentary reform were at best minor tinkering. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry provides a much more comprehensive overview of parliamentary and political reforms that have been, or could be, proposed. It’s much more interesting. The Liberals’ proposals for parliamentary reform address Question Period, Committees, prorogation and omnibus bills, free votes and changes to financial procedures. I’m going to focus on only on the first four. Question Period The Liberals propose to restore relevance to Question Period by establishing a […]

ApplaudingLeader

On clapping in the Chamber

During an address to the UK House of Commons, parliamentary leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) Angus Robertson, in reply to an intervention by a Labour MP, stated: Obviously, the hon. Gentleman has difficulty reconciling the conscience of him and his colleagues who trooped through the Lobbies shamefully unaware that support for the austerity agenda. This pronouncement was applauded by his fellow SNP members. Speaker Bercow immediately called the House to order and reminded the SNP that clapping was not part of the House of Commons’ traditions: Order. May I say at the start of the Parliament that the convention that we do not clap in this Chamber is very, very long established and widely respected, and it would […]

In our proceedings every Member should be heard courteously, whatever views he or she is expressing. Members of this House have a duty to behave with civility and fairness in all their dealings.

Speaker Bercow

The duties and responsibilities of honourable Members

The UK House of Commons directs the Speaker to make a statement at the beginning of each Session about the duties and responsibilities of honourable Members. This is what Speaker Bercow said: I begin by reminding Members of their duty to observe the code of conduct agreed by the House and to uphold the seven principles of public life that underpin it: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. The House asserts its privilege of freedom of speech. It is there to ensure that our constituents can be represented by us without fear or favour. It is an obligation on us all to exercise that privilege responsibly. It is enjoyed by Members of Parliament only in their work in […]

I was fortunate enough to work closely with the PCRC, (...) during the 2010-15 Parliament. It carried out groundbreaking investigations into previously neglected areas, including a consideration of the possibility of a code for independent local government. Its inquiry into the idea of a written constitution for the United Kingdom was the first ever to be conducted.

Andrew Blick

On the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

It is without exaggeration that I write that I was quite saddened to learn today that my favourite UK House of Commons Select Committee, The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) has been abolished. Yes, I am that much of a parliament geek that I had a favourite select committee. The PCRC was created at the start of the previous Parliament, in 2010, to scrutinize the work of the Deputy Minister Nick Clegg who was responsible for the coalition government’s rather ambitious constitutional reform agenda. The Committee did just that, and much more, as Andrew Blick reports, and there would have been a lot more good work to be done in this new Parliament. I thought that the decision to […]