The Constitution Unit


The Policy Impact of Parliament 

15 March 2016, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Event Information

Open to



The Constitution Unit


Committee room 10, Palace of Westminster

Read the event summary blogpost

Speakers: Prof Meg Russell, Prof Philip Cowley & Sarah Champion MP

The Westminster parliament is classically presented as a rather weak institution with respect to the all-powerful UK executive. But is this really the case? A major work stream at the Constitution Unit in recent years has focused on the policy impact of parliament - including both the Commons and the Lords. Various publications have argued that Westminster is far more influential than commonly assumed, in part due to changes such as reform of the Lords in 1999 and growth in select committees, and in part because common assumptions about how parliamentary power is exercised are too simplistic. This seminar will draw on extensive research by two of the leading academic experts on the Westminster parliament, with practitioner input from a parliamentarian whose work featured in last year's BBC series 'Inside the Commons'. The event is organised in collaboration with the Hansard Society and the Parliament and Constitution Centre of the House of Commons Library

About the Speakers

Professor Meg Russell is Professor of British and Comparative Politics at UCL, and Director of the Constitution Unit. She leads the Unit's work on parliament, and is author of numerous articles and reports on parliament and parliamentary reform, as well as two books on the House of Lords. She has formerly acted as an adviser to the Leader of the House of Commons, and to the Select Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (the 'Wright committee'), among others. Much of her recent work - funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the ESRC - has focused on the policy impact of parliament, including through Lords defeats, Commons select committees and the legislative process.

Professor Philip Cowley is Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, and is one of the best-known academic experts on the UK parliament. He is particularly known for his work on parliamentary rebellions, on which he has authored two books, but he has also published on other diverse topics including representation, public attitudes to parliament and conscience voting. He is co-editor of the journal Parliamentary Affairs, and his most recent books include Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box (co-edited with Robert Ford) and The British General Election of 2015 (co-written with Dennis Kavanagh).

Sarah Champion MP is the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah set up her own Parliamentary inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation and then managed to change the law on grooming - something that is almost unheard of for a back-bencher. At the end of the last Parliament, Sarah's ten-minute rule bill on Gender pay transparency was passed and the Government has since adopted it. Sarah is Chair of APPG Victims and Witnesses of Crime and Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence. She has recently launched her new campaign, Dare2Care, an initiative that aims to prevent child abuse and challenge the normalisation of violence in young people's relationships.

The event in sponsored by The Constitution UnitParliament and Constitution Centre of the House of Commons Library and the Hansard Society.
#____mail {position:relative;top:-2px;font-size:1.5em;}