Flashcards in PARLIMENT AND LEGISLATIVE PROCESS Deck (46):
What are the four types of legislation?
Private members bills
What is a public bill?
Makes up govts annual legislative programme
Normally consist of around 30 bills
Aim to give effect to govt policy objectives
What's a private members bill?
Introduced by MP or peer, who ARENT members of govt
Very little chance of enactment without govt support, and if so are minor or technical
Can raise profile of a topic
What's a private bill?
Promoted by authorities or private companies
Attempt to give themselves powers above or conflicting with current govt law
What did NORTON say on role of Parliament in legislating?
More accurate to describe Parliament not as law making, but as a law-effecting institution
What was NORTON'S reasoning?
Parliament is heavily conditioned by level of govt control in H of C
PAGE on actual law making
The idea that a politician is the author of legislation confuses constitutional formality with empirical reality
GOLDSMITH in agreement with PAGE
A bill is first and foremost the legal expression of a policy developed within a particular govt department
The two fundamental questions asked of parliamentary scrutiny
1. What form does scrutiny take?
2. How well does Parliament discharge this function?
What does The process of P scrutiny mean?
It's structured, transparent and public
What did RIPPON note in 1992?
Widely recognised P is often unable to scrutinise properly
(Govts are able to force legislation through a complacent and submissive parliament)
AMERY in 1953 on P
'An overworked legislation factory'
TONY WRIGHT MP on ineffectiveness of P accountability being most apparent in scrutiny of legislation (2003)
- Whole process is firmly controlled by the govt, serious scrutiny by govt members actively discouraged
- Much legislation is defective > vast quantities of amendments made at H of L stage = unelected
- Govt control of P timetable means these Bills can be voted through commons quickly with little scrutiny
Why is WRIGHT's view a bit of an oversimplification?
Despite party whip system, not all MPs do what they're told all the time
3 reasons for ineffective P scrutiny
1. Adversarial party politics and gov dominance of commons
2. Parliaments limited competence
3. Govt dominance of entire legislative procedure
Describe issues of adversarial party politics/govt dominance in commons
- Overriding assumption MPs support their party = almost always govt bills pass
- Three line whip risks expulsion from party for rebelling
- Even if opposition oppose Bill it will still pass - elected dictatorship?
- Although P can comment and subject Bill to public scrutiny, P effectively reduced to form of constant electoral campaign, with parties trying to score political points off each other
Example of rebellion thwarting govt legislation
Labour govt elected in 1997 face their first defeat in commons in 2005 when backbenchers refused to approve TERRORISM ACT 2006
(Proposal to allow precharge detention of terrorist suspects for up to 90 days)
Describe issues of P's limits competence
- MPs often lack understanding of the legislation itself
- Legislation can be incredibly complex so it's hard to understand anyway
-MPs are generalists and cannot possibly develop expertise in all areas of public policy
- P is relatively small compared to govt
NB appointed HoL allows for expertise and experience in the scrutiny process
JOHN STUART MILL on P's limited competence
'A numerous assembly is little fitted for the direct business of legislation [should be left to those with] requisite skill'
Parliament should be reduced to 'approving or disproving the results'
JOHNSON on P incompetence
'Contemporary shortage in HoC itself of the kind of experience and skill' need to scrutinise legislation
Which empirical study expressed views of MPs themselves on P scrutiny ?
Law in the making by BRAZIER et al 2008
What were BRAZIER's findings in Law in the making
-MPs often do not understand subject matter of Bills they are scrutinising
- A number of parliamentarians explained that anywhere from a quarter to half of legislation they voted on was effectively a mystery to them
Describe issues of govt dominance throughout legislative procedure
- Govt dominates not only whether a law is passed but also the procedure by which this happens
- Allocate how much time is given to discuss, a bill
- It is in public interest to pass a Bill quickly but result is often a bypassing of scrutiny
= reality is lawmaking is more an exercise of brute executive power and political necessity than one of debate and persuasion (ELLIOT AND THOMAS)
What is govt 'programming'?
Govt imposition of a timetable for passage of a Bill after its second reading
What are the 2 opposing perspectives to assess legislative process?
Governmental vs antithetical
Govt assessment of legislative process?
- A tool to get policy enacted
- Once elected they must implement manifesto > often requires legislation
- In govt interest to pass legislation as easily and efficiently as possible
- P scrutiny shouldn't stand in their way
= current system works to govt interest
Antithetical view of legislative process
- Functions poorly
- Entire process is executive driven, P acting as a rubber stamp
- MPs lack time/resources/expertise to properly scrutinise
- Urgent reform necessary
Who wrote 'Parliaments role and the modernisation agenda' 2005
OLIVER EVANS et al
OLIVER EVANS' 3 main agendas of a P scrutiny
1. As an inhibitor of govt > if govt has to justify their proposals it stops them being able to advance controversial bills to save political embarrassment
2. As a collaborator with govt > helps enact better legislation
3. (Cynically)Mere theoretical function of vital public affirmation of govt policy decisions
3 stages of legislative process itself
2. Legislative scrutiny
3. Post-legislative scrutiny
Describe pre legislative process
- Pre 2007 govt legislation programme only known after list of bills published in queens speech
- Labour introduced DRAFT LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME, but govts have since returned to previous idea
- Bill published to P committee for scrutiny before it enters P itself
- Improves law by giving P more input before Ministers minds are set
Limitations of pre-legislative process
- Few Bills are actually submitted, it's at govt discretion
- 18 in 2012-13, only 5 in 2013-14
- Constrained by resources, time and whether govt will listen to findings
- Is not widespread enough to be truly effective
Advantages of pre-legislative scrutiny
- Improves quality of law
- Smooths passage through legislative process
- Gives better party consensus
Commons PCRC (political constitutional reform committee) view on pre-legislative scrutiny
'One of the best ways of improving legislation and ensuring it meets the quality standards that parliament and public are entitled to expect'
Stages of legislative scrutiny
> other house where it's repeated, amended, sent back (ping pong stage)
Once agreement reached sent to queen for royal assent then = law
Key concept of legislative process
The tension reflecting different perspectives of it
WALKLAND on govt perspective of legislative scrutiny
A political instrument supporting govt legislation
GRAHAM ALLEN MP on committee stage
Unacceptable that govt bills we scrutinised by committees of govt appointees. Legislative scrutiny process is so unchallenging and so irredeemable that some of us actually helped to invent pre-legislative scrutiny to try and bring some order and some sense
Two competing pressures of scrutiny procedure
Govt desire to get legislation passed
P desire to scrutinise legislation
Which house do bills start in?
High profile = commons
Non-controversial = lords (make best use of P time)
Mere formality to introduce bill to P
Debate on general policy of Bill
Vote, if govt introduced almost always passes
Supposed purpose is scrutiny via debate
Real purpose is for parties to state their position on the Bill
Bill is discussed in detail by smaller group of MPs 'reflecting composition of parliament'
Do improve P scrutiny but constrained by govt influence over composition of committee (often filled with bb MPs who will vote with govt) - LEVY
Biggest issue with P scrutiny
Why did TONY WRIGHT describe committee stage as 'dead letter stage?'
Govt whips ensure that govt MPs on a committee say nothing except to agree with govt policy
If govt MP genuinely scrutinises the Bill they risk their career
Govt Whips also try to ensure anyone with knowledge/concerns are NOT on the committee
Example of govt control over committee stage
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE BILL 2011
(most significant change ever of NHS)
- Dr Sarah Wallaston, govt Tory MP, wanted a place on the committee
- Due to her expertise on the content, party whip ensured she wasn't allowed
- MPs that were chosen were ignorant of NHS specifics and blindly voted with govt