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The Policy Impact of Parliament

October 2008 -

House of Commons

This programme initially formed one strand of Meg Russell's 3-year Economic and Social Research Council Fellowship RES-063-27-0163.

It is often assumed that the British parliament has little impact on policy, and instead that the executive is dominant. But parliamentary impact can be subtle and difficult to assess. For example, government may amend legislation in order to avoid confrontation with its own backbenchers in the Commons, or with opposition and Crossbench forces in the Lords. Both peers and Labour MPs have become more assertive in recent years in challenging the executive, but little research has been done to evaluate the impact of their interventions, particularly when policy changes by consensus (e.g. through government amendments) rather than through confrontation (e.g. through rebellions and government defeats). Similar problems arise when trying to assess the impact of non-legislative scrutiny committees (such as the select committees in the House of Commons). It is widely appreciated that these committees are important, but few attempts have been made to evaluate their actual impact on policy.

The Nuffield Foundation has funded two separate research projects which will build into this broader workstream on the policy impact of parliament. These are:

The programme also connects with Meg Russell's work on the policy impact of the House of Lords, and her collaboration with Phil Larkin on Legislative Committees at Westminster.

One publication listed below was written before the Fellowship began. This work is also connected to another project on the Fellowship, focusing on The Changing Role of the House of Lords Post-1999, which has produced numerous papers.


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“A good place to work?” What Commons staff think of House governance

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:46 +0000

Barry K Winetrobe examines one aspect of the current committee inquiry into House of Commons governance following the Clerk appointment fiasco. Evidence submitted by House staff reveals much which may be unsettling for House managers and MPs, but is ultimately good for the House itself. ‘We seek to ensure that the House of Commons is […]

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“The precious centre of our Parliamentary democracy”: Commons governance after the Clerk appointment affair

Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:00:52 +0000

Barry K Winetrobe examines the current controversy over the appointment of a new Clerk of the House of Commons, and the lessons it has for the better management and governance of the House. It is exactly a year since I posted a piece on this blog on how the Commons could use the Government defeat […]

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Lords appointments urgently need reforming: but how?

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 10:00:37 +0000

The appointment of new peers last week has pushed the size of the Lords to its greatest since it was last reformed in 1999. Meg Russell highlights the issues behind having such a large and ‘unruly’ Upper House and argues the situation has now reached crisis point. Reform to both allow existing peers to depart […]

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Meg Russell's new book, The Contemporary House of Lords:
Lords book cover - png file

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Page last modified on 08 aug 14 11:26

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