A fascinating bit of history concerning ministerial statements in Canada

I have previously written about how, in my opinion, the UK House of Commons format for statements by ministers, or ministerial statements as they are also called, is superior to the procedure followed in the Canadian House of Commons. In that post, I explain how ministerial statements unfold in both Houses. The key differences between the two are: In the UK, ministers deliver statements to keep the House informed of on-going developments and government policy while in Canada, they are used primarily to mark commemorative events or to pay tribute to certain individuals; and In the UK, MPs have the opportunity to comment on the statement, and more importantly, ask questions of the minister to seek further information and better […]

Contrasts in Question Periods

Today during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the UK House of Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron was asked a question by a Labour MP about his government’s plans to combat rising child poverty figures. Rather than explain his government’s policies, Cameron launched an attack on the previous Labour government’s financial record. This prompted the Speaker to cut Cameron off in mid-sentence and move on to another question. You can watch the incident in this clip: This is not the first time that Speaker Bercow has intervened in such a way, and while he is sometimes criticised in the British press for such actions, it was the right thing to do. The point of PMQs, and the daily questions to ministries, […]

Sittings, sessions and parliaments

This post will explain what is meant by the terms “a parliament”, “a session” and “a sitting”. A parliament can refer to an institution, e.g. the Parliament of Canada, but it also refers to the period of time during which the institution of Parliament exercises its powers. A parliament, at least in the UK and Canada, does not exceed five years. A parliament begins with the proclamation of the Sovereign (UK) or Governor General (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) calling for the formation of a new Parliament and setting the dates for a new election and the day the new Parliament will first meet. A Parliament ends with the proclamation announcing its dissolution. As stated, traditionally and constitutionally, a Parliament […]

Update on the House Business Committee

In a recent appearance before the UK House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Leader of the House, the Rt. Hon. Andrew Lansley admitted that: the Coalition programme commitment to the establishment of the House Business Committee in the third year of Parliament will not be met. From my point of view it is not the abrogation of the commitment to pursue the principle of a House Business Committee, but what I am saying is we are now exercising a reality check and recognising that we are not in a place to do this yet. Establishing a House Business Committee was one of the reforms proposed by the Reform of the House of Commons Committee (more commonly referred to […]

Some interesting links and websites

Apologies for the lack of blogging, but real life has been rather busy of late. However, in the interim, here are some links to interesting reports, sites, etc. UK LINKS and SITES Communicating statistics – Not just true, but also fair The UK House of Commons Public Administration Committee has released a report recommending that departmental press officers and government statistics staff should work together much more closely to ensure that press releases give an accurate and meaningful picture of the truth behind the figures. As the Committee Chair, Bernard Jenkins, MP, explained: “Politicians tend to promote the statistics that best present their case. Finding the whole truth about government statistics is not always easy, and it should be. The […]

The Queen’s Speech – brevity wins the day

I have previously written about the opening of a new parliament, or session of parliament, which begins with the Speech from the Throne, or the Queen’s Speech, as it is called in the United Kingdom. A new session of Parliament opened 8 May 2013 in the UK, and HRH Queen Elizabeth delivered the Speech in the House of Lords. You can watch that event here, if interested. One of the most striking differences between the Queen’s Speech and a Speech from the Throne here in Canada is the length of the speech. The Queen’s Speeches are remarkably brief compared to the Speeches delivered by Canadian Governors General. Today’s speech totalled 845 words. The two previous speeches were of comparable length: […]