The Recall of MPs Bill was published. The Bill was designed to set out a process by which a Member of Parliament might lose their seat in the House of Commons as a result of a successful recall petition, which would trigger a by-election (at which the recalled MP could stand). There would be two alternative conditions for the opening of a recall petition: if an MP was convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and received a custodial sentence; or if the House of Commons ordered the suspension of an MP for a period of at least 21 sitting days (or, if not expressed as sitting days, for a period of at least 28 days).
Source: Recall of MPs Bill, The Deputy Prime Minister's Office, TSO
A think-tank paper examined the contemporary role of United Kingdom local government, in the context of austerity and the coalition government's policy towards local government services. It said that councils were responding creatively to local challenges and that they had an ongoing role in addressing issues such as poverty and inequality, and in enhancing social solidarity. It made recommendations for increased powers and resourcing, and for local authorities to be permitted to use procurement practices to secure improvements in low pay.
Source: James Murray, The Role of Local Government in a Modern State, Centre for Labour and Social Studies
A new book examined parliamentary scrutiny of the British intelligence and security agencies.
Source: Hugh Bochel, Andrew Defty, and Jane Kirkpatrick, Watching the Watchers: Parliament and the intelligence services, Palgrave Macmillan
The government began consultation on proposals to complete the statutory framework needed to implement the statutory register of consultant lobbyists, as provided in the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. The draft regulations were said to: increase transparency by requiring lobbyists to disclose the names of their clients on a publicly available register; require lobbyists to declare whether or not they subscribed to a publicly available code of conduct; and improve standards by enhancing the scrutiny of the ethical principles for lobbyists. The consultation would close on 17 October 2014.
Source: The Statutory Register of Lobbyists: Draft regulations, Cabinet Office
A think-tank paper examined the prospects for regional devolution, taking the Greater Manchester area in the north of England as a case study, and arguing that a new Greater Manchester assembly should be given fiscal powers and complete financial devolution within five years.
Source: Phillip Blond and Mark Morrin, Devo Max – Devo Manc: Place-based public services, ResPublica
A think-tank report said that a centralized state in England might no longer be fit for purpose in three respects: economically; in the delivery and improvement of public services; and politically. The report called for a phased programme of decentralization over ten years, built on cross-party support, with economic development and public service delivery passed to combined authorities, local authorities, and other public bodies as they were ready to assume them, and with fiscal devolution.
Source: Ed Cox, Graeme Henderson, and Luke Raikes, Decentralisation Decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England, Institute for Public Policy Research North
A special issue of a journal examined the co-ordination and control mechanisms used in European Union countries in reaction to shifts in competences (upwards, sideways, and downwards) away from national governments. Articles examined related definitions and concepts, links between the mechanisms and broader political systems, how central governments coped with power dispersion, and the implications for the functioning of democracy in Europe.
Source: Journal of European Public Policy, Volume 21 Issue 9
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen and Ayca Uygur Wessel, 'On the path to differentiation: upward transfer, logic of variation and sub-optimality in EU social policy'
Christel Koop and Martin Lodge, 'Exploring the co-ordination of economic regulation'
Michael Tatham and Michael Bauer, 'Competence ring-fencing from below? The drivers of regional demands for control over upwards dispersion'
A report by a committee of MPs said that the committee supported the principle of fiscal devolution in England, as the 'logical next step' on the path to genuine localism. The report discussed a range of associated issues and called on the government to work with local government to devise a fiscal devolution framework for local authorities.
Source: Devolution in England: The case for local government, First Report (Session 201415), HC 503, House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee, TSO
A report by a committee of MPs outlined the arguments for and against the codification of the United Kingdom constitution. It presented three options: a constitutional code; a Constitutional Consolidation Act; and a written constitution. The committee invited feedback on the three options, to be received before 1 January 2015.
Source: A New Magna Carta?, Second Report (Session 201415), HC 463, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, TSO
A report discussed the prospects for further devolution of powers to local authorities in England, and outlined proposals for Labour Party policy in this area.
Source: Final Report: People-powered public services, Local Government Innovation Taskforce
A private member's Bill was published that was designed to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and to enable the Secretary of State to repeal any enactment which had been a consequence of the European Communities Act 1972.
Source: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, TSO
A private member's Bill was published that was designed to empower the House of Lords to expel or suspend members.
Source: House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Bill, Baroness Hayman, TSO
The Scottish Government began consultation on the Scottish Independence Bill, which (subject to the outcome of the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence) would provide for Scotland to become an independent state in March 2016, and which set out a draft interim constitution. The consultation would close on 20 October 2014.
Source: The Scottish Independence Bill: A consultation on an interim constitution for Scotland, Scottish Government
An article examined the prospect of a constituent part of a European Union member state attaining independence. Making reference to the forthcoming independence referendum in Scotland, as well as a new sub-state nationalism arising in other European states, it said that the EU must find a way to proceed with issues raised by internal enlargement, without resorting to the expulsion of emerging new states.
Source: Daniel Kenealy, 'How do you solve a problem like Scotland? A proposal regarding "internal enlargement"', Journal of European Economic Integration, Volume 36 Issue 6
A paper examined the United Kingdom government's review of the competences of the European Union. The paper focused on the second set of reviews published by the government, which covered the single market for goods, external trade, transport policy, environment, climate change, research, asylum, non-European Union immigration, civil judicial co-operation, tourism, culture and sport. It said that the European Union had shown the United Kingdom flexibility in agreeing special arrangements in some areas, while in others there was a good fit between United Kingdom priorities and European Union policies, and said there was little or no case for repatriation of European Union competences at the level they were defined in the treaties.
Source: Michael Emerson, Steven Blockmans, Steve Peers, and Michael Wriglesworth, British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part II: Again, a huge contradiction between the evidence and Eurosceptic populism, European Policy Institutes Network
A special issue of a journal examined the relationship between the widening and deepening of the European Union.
Source: Journal of European Public Policy, Volume 21 Issue 5
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
R. Daniel Kelemen, Anand Menon, and Jonathan Slapin, 'Wider and deeper? Enlargement and integration in the European Union'
Sara Hobolt, 'Ever closer or ever wider? Public attitudes towards further enlargement and integration in the European Union'
Eva Heidbreder, 'Why widening makes deepening: unintended policy extension through polity expansion'
A think-tank report said that the common view that voter apathy about the European Union was largely due to a lack of awareness or public ignorance was simplistic, and that there was no correlation between voter turnout and public interest in, or knowledge of, EU issues. The report said that boosting the role of national parliaments in European Union decision-making would move democratic accountability closer to voters, and made a range of proposals, including: for new powers for national parliaments to block European measures; for the limiting of 'co-decision'; and for reform of members' expenses.
Source: Stephen Booth and Christopher Howarth, The European Parliament: A failed experiment in pan-European democracy?, Open Europe
A report by a committee of MPs said that the role of the judiciary would change should the United Kingdom decide to adopt a codified constitution, but the precise nature would remain difficult to assess until there was an agreed definition of their existing constitutional role. The report discussed how the judiciary would declare legislation unconstitutional, and said that there would be no need for a separate constitutional court, since the Supreme Court would be able to fulfil the function.
Source: Constitutional Role of the Judiciary If there Were a Codified Constitution, Fourteenth Report (Session 201314), HC 802, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, TSO
A report by a committee of MPs said that, with the date of the next United Kingdom general election fixed for the first time by statute for 7 May 2015, there was now a unique opportunity to consider how best to use the final year, and to prepare for the next Parliament. The committee recommended: that all parties should now consider the long-term issues that would need to be addressed during the next Parliament; that arrangements for pre-election contacts between the civil service and Opposition should be formalized; that meetings should in future be authorized automatically in the final year of a Parliament; and that parties should develop a consensus on how party policy could most effectively be costed ahead of future general elections.
Source: Fixed-term Parliaments: The final year of a Parliament, Thirteenth Report (Session 201314), HC 976, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, TSO
Two reports examined issues related to the contact between the civil service and United Kingdom political parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Such contact traditionally gave an opportunity to consider potential change ahead of the election, to assist in the handover process. The first report looked at how the civil service should work with the two coalition parties, and the challenges likely to arise, in the final year of the existing term. It argued that there was a need for greater clarity on how this contact should operate, in order to avoid variation in practice, tension between the coalition parties, and confusion among officials. The second report examined pre-election contacts between the civil service and the Opposition, drawing on experiences from the post-election handover in 2010 to consider how useful such discussions were, how they operated, and whether the process might be improved.
Source: Akash Paun and Robyn Munro, Year Five: Whitehall and the parties in the final year of coalition, Institute for Government
Source: Catherine Haddon and Siddharth Varma, Pre-election Contact between the Civil Service and the Parties: Lessons from 2010, Institute for Government
A new book examined the use of referendums on European integration, arguing that the European Union was now faced with a 'direct democratic dilemma', compounded by constitutional and political contexts.
Source: Fernando Mendez, Mario Mendez, and Vasiliki Triga, Referendums and the European Union: A comparative inquiry, Cambridge University Press
A study examined how senior civil servants related to academic research and expertise, drawing on an online survey that asked about how they accessed and used such information and what impact this had on policymaking. The report said that the majority of senior civil servants actively engaged with academic outputs, although many did so in limited ways and a significant minority did not engage at all. They reported turning to briefings or reports (79 per cent), or media reports of academic outputs in newspapers and weeklies (61 per cent), or professional journals (55 per cent), in disciplines such as public policy (63 per cent), economics (60 per cent), public administration (54 per cent) and business and management (49 per cent). Senior civil servants also welcomed general expertise and were positive about academics' roles in the policy process.
Source: Colin Talbot and Carole Talbot, Sir Humphrey and the Professors: What does Whitehall want from academics?, Policy@Manchester, University of Manchester
A new book examined austerity policy and questioned the lack of public protest and the role of left politics. It suggested that austerity was part of a wider elite plan to change society for the benefit of profit, consumerism and speculative finance. The book also considered the way forward, including the possibilities for a 'new collective resistance'.
Source: Richard Seymour, Against Austerity: How we can fix the crisis they made, Pluto Press
A report examined diversity within local government in Wales, based on a survey of candidates from the 2012 local elections. The report made recommendations for the Welsh government, local authorities, the Welsh Local Government Association, political parties, and councillors, to help improve the numbers of young people, women, people from ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay or bisexual people, and people with disabilities standing for election to local government.
Source: On Balance: Diversifying democracy in local government in Wales, Expert Group on Diversity in Local Government
A new book examined how citizens assigned blame to the European Union, whether and how politicians and the media attempted to shift blame, and the implications for electoral democracy.
Source: Sara Hobolt and James Tilley, Blaming Europe? Responsibility without accountability in the European Union, Oxford University Press
The government began consultation on proposals to amend the existing legislation governing the setting up of new town and parish councils. It said that the proposed changes to the legislation would make it easier for local communities to initiate the process (known as a community governance review) for setting up a new council. The consultation would close on 22 May 2014.
Source: Consultation on a Proposal to Use a Legislative Reform Order for Making it Easier to Set Up a Town and Parish Council, Department for Communities and Local Government
Links: Consultation document
A report by a committee of peers said that national parliaments could and should contribute actively to the functioning of the European Union. The report highlighted five areas where effectiveness could be improved: in their scrutiny of their own activities on European Union matters; in dialogue between the national and EU level; in scrutinizing EU legislation (the 'reasoned opinion' procedure); in inter-parliamentary co-operation; and in economic and financial governance.
Source: The Role of National Parliaments in the European Union, Ninth Report (Session 201314), HL 151, House of Lords European Union Select Committee, TSO
A report by a committee of MPs said that although the United Kingdom government had acted earlier than some other governments on opening access to data, it was now at risk of being overtaken, with consequent economic risk. The report noted the value of public data for the economy and said that the sale of the Postcode Address File had been a mistake. The report called for greater clarity on the public's right to data, for early publication of data, and for open data to become a major government work programme in its own right, in order to overcome possible departmental apathy or resistance.
Source: Statistics and Open Data: Harvesting unused knowledge, empowering citizens and improving public services, Tenth Report (Session 201314), HC 564, House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, TSO
An article examined the relationship between evidence and policy, drawing on a study of the development of anti-social behaviour policy in England and Scotland to examine: the classification of different types of evidence; whether there were systematic linkages between policy context and evidence type; and whether different forms of evidence were more influential at different points of the policy cycle. The paper considered the policy implications.
Source: Jon Bannister and Anthony O'Sullivan, 'Evidence and the antisocial behaviour policy cycle', Evidence & Policy, Volume 10 Number 1
A new book examined the performance of democracy and the physical public space in which it took place, arguing that some of the most valuable spaces were being lost within developed democracies, and the nature of public involvement was moving away from organized, active citizens. It suggested an alternative vision for democratic public space, and evaluated 11 cities against that vision.
Source: John Parkinson, Democracy and Public Space: The physical sites of democratic performance, Oxford University Press
A report examined the range of people who participated in evidence sessions for parliamentary select committees. It said that the decision about participation was not always a free choice, but noted that trade associations were regularly called to give evidence, many witnesses for House of Lords committees were parliamentarians, and the range of expert and academic witnesses was disproportionately drawn from London. The report said that the gender imbalance was of particular concern, and called for further research in this area.
Source: Richard Berry and Sean Kippin, Parliamentary Select Committees: Who gives evidence?, Democratic Audit UK
The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 was given Royal assent. The Act provided for establishing and maintaining a register of consultant lobbyists; regulation of expenditure and donations for political purposes; the Electoral Commissionï¿½s functions with respect to compliance with requirements imposed by or by virtue of enactments; and a trade unionï¿½s duty to maintain a register of members.
Source: Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration, Cabinet Office/Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, TSO
A report by a committee of peers said that the existing proposal in the European Union (Referendum) Bill for the rules for the conduct of a referendum on whether to leave the European Union to be made by the Secretary of State and not in primary legislation should be reconsidered, as they might otherwise be challenged in court. It also suggested that the House might reconsider the wording of any referendum question, in line with the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.
Source: European Union (Referendum) Bill, 4th Report (Session 201314), HL 109, House of Lords Constitution Select Committee, TSO