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 […]


Champion of the House

The new UK Parliament met on 18 May to deal with the first business of any new parliament: electing the Speaker. In the UK, if the Speaker seeks re-election in the general election, it is the tradition that he or she will continue as Speaker in the new parliament. Thus the day began with the Father of the House (the longest serving MP – which we call the Dean of the House in Canada) ascertaining whether Mr John Bercow was willing to be chosen as Speaker. Bercow replied: It has been an honour to serve as Speaker for nearly six years, and I should be honoured to do so for a little longer if colleagues kindly agree. I shall strive […]


Reflections on the 2015 UK General Election

First of all, I must say I am deeply disappointed with the results. Not because the Conservatives managed to win a majority of the seats, but because any party was able to do that! I was truly looking forward to a very messy hung parliament; days, if not weeks, of talks and negotiations between the various parties; and a chance to see the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act come into play. Alas, that is not to be. I — like most viewers I would imagine — was incredibly surprised by the exit poll results announced as soon as the polls closed. Not so much by the forecast that the Tories would be the largest party — that I had […]

I know the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was far from perfect (as is the case for all governments), but for this politically despondent Canadian, it was inspiring. In fact, it was so inspiring, I started this blog. The new UK Parliament sat for the first time on 18 May to elect the Speaker. I started this blog that day and my first post appeared on May 21 2010.

Five years ago this month

Around this time five years ago, I was quite despondent about the state of politics here in Canada. I was finding it increasingly difficult to pay any attention to the news, simply because it would only further anger and frustrate me. Part my job requires that I follow parliamentary events in other jurisdictions, and so I was paying  nominal attention to the 2010 UK election campaign. I wasn’t on Twitter at the time, so relied on UK online media. My interest grew as talk of a “hung parliament” — words never heard here in Canada —  came to dominate. I was startled by the number of studies and opinion pieces in the press by Constitutional and political experts explaining government […]

This is also the main reason why I really don't like the use of the term "minority parliament". I would much prefer it if Canadian reporters used "hung parliament" or "balanced parliament"; that way, much of this sort of confusion could be avoided.

Erroneous things written by political commentators

It’s become painfully clear to me that a number of reporters and columnists who cover politics don’t fully understand how a Westminster parliamentary democracy works. I’ve written a number of posts dissecting really, really bad articles, but even in mostly good pieces, you often find one or two glaring howlers. Here are a few recent examples. The general election on May 5 in the Canadian province of Alberta is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in decades and could possibly result in the end of 44 years of Progressive Conservative (PC) Party governance. However, political polling being rather hit and miss these days — and it was certainly a miss in the 2012 Alberta general election — […]