Washminster

Washminster
Washminster

Saturday, 1 August 2015

JDM's History Explorer

 
When not researching Parliament or Congress, I enjoy reading about - or visiting places associated with - history. Recently I started another blog dedicated to that passion.

http://jdmhistory.blogspot.co.uk/

The photograph today was taken in Milton Keynes Shopping Centre - it is a mosaic found in the Roman villa discovered in (what is now) Bancroft within the city. I have lots of information about the history of Britain's "New City". A friend from America told me that she was pleased that I loved the place to which I had moved - but "unlike many of ancient towns in England, Milton Keynes has no history". That was like a red rag to a bull - and I've been researching the great history of Milton Keynes ever since.

Do take a look at the new blog - which covers not just Milton Keynes - but wherever I indulge my passion for history.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Scrutiny


The paper I presented at Wroxton was called, ""Battles on Many Fronts: Education Scrutiny and Debate in the Twenty-First Century House of Commons". It was presented during a panel on "Westminster in Context" which also discussed papers by Meg Russell & Ruxandra Serban; Mark Shephard;  and Louise Thompson & Cristina Leston-Bandeira.

The paper describes the various opportunities open for parliamentary scrutiny of Education - and includes a table listing and giving examples of these. It looked in more detail at the scrutiny in the Education Select Committee and at the Public Bill Committee which undertook the committee stage of the Education and Adoption Bill. A further table was produced showing who had participated in Education Questions (which are held at 2.30pm on the Monday of every 5th Parliamentary week.

I'm happy to supply a copy of the paper, just email me.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Wroxton Conference


Last weekend I attended the Twelfth Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians. These are biennial conferences which have been held since the 1990s, and have settled in the Oxfordshire home of the North family. Lord North was the Prime Minister at the time of the American Declaration & War of Independence. Even the British Government website describe him as  "the man who lost Britain’s American colonies". It is now the home to an American University, Fairleigh Dickinson.

The workshop brought together parliamentarians from across the world, mainly from the countries who use the "Westminster Model" of legislatures, (Professor Meg Russell and Ruxandra Serban of the Constitution Unit put forward an excellent argument in a paper arguing that that term was in fact not useful, and should be retired.) and "parliamentary scholars". The workshops are organised by Lord Norton, whose textbooks and other writings have informed students of the British Parliament and UK politics for, dare I say it, generations.

I've attended a number of these conferences - and each time have returned home invigorated and inspired. There is some really good research going on, which is being put to practical use. The conference concluded with a discussion based with the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) report on "Common Principles for Support to Parliaments". The Parliaments of Bahrain, Bangladesh, Flanders (Belgium), Greece, Kenya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, The Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and of course the United Kingdom were all represented. Academics and practitioners of  Parliamentary development were also there in number.

I enjoyed reading some of the papers and attending the presentations and discussions. I have an extended reading list now to fill up the summer!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Westminster has closed for the hols!

... but Washminster will continue through the summer. I've spent the last weekend at the Wroxton Workshop for Parliamentarians and Parliamentary Scholars - then headed off to Bristol.

I will return to blogging very shortly!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

APPGs and Select Committees

Sometimes a media report on Westminster will mention reports "by MPs", or by "committees of MPs". Such phrases don't highlight the nature of the group involved.
 

Select Committees are set up by the House of Commons. (There are also Select Committees in the House of Lords and Joint Committees). The most well known are the Departmental Select Committees, which are covered by Standing Order 152. Further related Standing Orders are 121-152K (2015 Standing Orders as amended by the Addendum of June 2015). One of the most well known, and influential select committees is the Public Accounts Committee - which I attended on Tuesday.

There is a video on committees - accessible here.


APPGs (All Party Parliamentary Groups) are set up by MPs and Peers themselves. They are wholly unofficial. They can range from APPGs promoting serious policy issues, to ones celebrating a particular leisure or cultural interest of its members (such as the Jazz Appreciation APPG). A register of APPGs is regularly published (the latest - March 2015 - is available here)

The range can be seen from the last 20 entries -

Weight Watchers
Wellbeing Economics
West Coast Main Line
West Midlands
Wine and Spirit
Women and Enterprise
Women in Parliament
Women in the Penal System
Women, Peace and Security
Women’s Sport and Fitness
Wood Panel Industry
World Governance
Writers
Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire
Young Disabled People
Youth Affairs
Youth Hostelling
Youth Unemployment
Zoos and Aquariums
Zoroastrian

A guide to the rules governing APPGs can be found here.