On MPs attendance and voting records

The Ottawa Citizen published an article looking at the voting records of MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. The main motivation behind this effort was to measure MP attendance in the House. The House of Commons does not keep attendance records of MPs and the reporters, Glen McGregor and Jason Fekete, admit that using MP voting records is a “very rough proxy”. Rough indeed. As the writers admit, the “percentage of votes attended or missed isn’t always indicative of general attendance in Parliament, because many votes are held on a single day.” Also worth noting, it’s not even a complete picture of an MP’s voting record since not all votes are recorded divisions. It is easy to understand why […]

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Rethinking hung parliament outcomes

With a little less than five months to go until the next UK general election in May 2015, the general consensus amongst pundits and pollsters is that there will be another hung parliament. UK Parliamentary Election Forecast has been releasing daily seat projections based on polling trends. The most recent forecasts have predicted either a tie between the Conservatives and Labour, or else one of the two major parties marginally ahead by a handful of seats or less. In every instance, however, each party is well short of the 326 seats needed for a (one-seat) single party majority government. This reality has prompted a number of news articles and opinion pieces speculating on the problem of government formation following the […]

But let’s face it – reading through pages of House of Commons (or other assembly) debates online (or from a printed out PDF) is pretty dry stuff. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that many parliaments have been trying to make their online Debates pages more interesting and informative for the reader.

Innovations in Parliamentary Websites

As someone who regularly visits parliamentary websites — and by regularly, I mean several times a day, even on weekends — I can’t even begin to explain how deeply grateful I am for well-organized sites that allow to me easily navigate the site and quickly find whatever It is that I’m looking for. While many parliaments have put (and continue to put) a lot of effort into modernizing their web presence and trying to find the best ways to present the Parliament’s business, the truth of the matter is that a lot of parliamentary business tends to be rather static and dry. Much of the business of a legislature is debate, and yes, while it is great to be able […]


Party leadership selection: the NZ Labour Party

Readers may recall my four posts looking at various aspects of Canadian MP Michael Chong’s proposed Reform Act (if not, you can catch up: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, and Post 4). Mr. Chong has since significantly amended his bill in order to better its odds of being adopted by the House of Commons. Many political commentators believe he has rendered it rather pointless. As I discussed that final post on the Reform Act, many critics of the bill were concerned with the original provisions allowing a party caucus to trigger a confidence vote in the party leader. I would urge you to read Post 4 in its entirety in order to grasp this issue, but allow me to […]

UK Houses of Parliament

Un-reforming Parliament?

BBC Parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy’s (@DArcyTiP) latest column discusses the possibility that should the May 2015 general election result in a single-party majority government, either Conservative or Labour, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act is likely to be repealed. I fully understand why the major parties in the UK would be inclined to repeal this Act. Unlike similar legislation here in Canada, the UK Act fixed the duration of the parliament at five years, rather than the more usual four year duration of a majority parliament. The five-year term was the subject of much puzzlement and a fair bit of disagreement during the various hearings on the bill. However, some have come to appreciate the five-year fixed-term as it allows politicians and […]

If it is clear that the government has the support of its backbenchers, the Lords will be more willing to give in on certain points. If, however, it is clear that there is dissension in the backbench ranks, it is ministers who will be compromising with the House of Lords.

Meg Russell on “Does Parliament Matter”

Professor Meg Russell of UCL’s The Constitution Unit delivered a talk today on the topic of “Does Parliament Matter?” The event was live-streamed, and the podcast will be available on iTunes U late next week. I was trying to take notes while watching the live-stream, and was rather less successful at that than I might have hoped. However, I did managed to jot down a few key points that she made, and after debating whether to wait until the podcast was available so that I could re-listen to her talk to make sure I didn’t miss something, I’ve decided to go ahead and share some of the points she made. The theme of the talk, “Does Parliament Matter” in part […]