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
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
The government began consultation on proposals to transpose the amended directive (Directive 2013/37/European Union that amended Directive 2003/98/EC) on the reuse of public sector information. The consultation asked for views, in particular, on proposals: to introduce the principle that charges for reuse should be set at marginal cost, with exceptions in certain circumstances; and to introduce a means of redress operated by an impartial review body with the power to make binding decisions on public sector bodies. The consultation would close on 7 October 2014.
Source: Consultation on the UK Implementation of Directive 2013/37/EU Amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information, National Archives
Links: Consultation document
A report by a committee of MPs said that many of the Prime Minister's powers were 'prerogative' powers that were not well understood or defined, and that there was scope to improve the checks and balances on the Prime Minister and the mechanisms for accountability. The committee said that consideration should be given to consolidating existing powers in one place, and that the powers should be more codified in statute to increase transparency and accountability to Parliament. The report noted the difficulties associated with a lack of clarity over the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office, and said that the government should consider the creation of a combined Department for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, with a departmental Select Committee specifically to scrutinize that department.
Source: Role and Powers of the Prime Minister, First Report (Session 201415), HC 351, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, TSO
A report by a joint committee of MPs said that the committees had raised concerns with the Home and Justice Secretaries about two issues: parliamentary scrutiny of the decision as to whether European Union measures covered by the '2014 block opt-out decision' should apply to the United Kingdom; and the need for an early debate and vote on the measures the government proposed to rejoin. The report noted the committee's disappointment with the response (that a second vote would be held once 'in principle' agreement had been reached with the European Union institutions and other member states), and said that the committee would now seek a debate on this joint report.
Source: The Government's Response to the Committees' Reports on the 2014 Block Opt-Out Decision, First Joint Report (Session 201314), HC 1177, Joint Select Committee on European Scrutiny, Home Affairs, and Justice, TSO
The government responded to the outcome of a consultation on reforms to the system of judicial review. It said that the government had concluded that reform was necessary. Proposed changes (some of which had already been announced in the National Infrastructure strategy and the 2013 autumn statement) included: a specialist planning court within the High Court to deal with judicial reviews and statutory appeals relating to nationally significant infrastructure projects and other planning matters; a lower threshold test for when a defect in procedure would have made no difference to the original outcome; allowing appeals to 'leapfrog' directly to the Supreme Court in a wider range of circumstances; and restrictions in legal aid for judicial review cases, oral permission hearings, Protective Costs Orders, Wasted Costs Orders, interveners' costs and third party funding. Some of the proposals were included in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, and others would be taken forward by means of secondary legislation.
Source: Judicial Review ï¿½ Proposals for Further Reform: The government response, Cm 8811, Ministry of Justice, TSO
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
An audit report said that its review of 39 whistleblowing policies across government had often found a positive environment for whistleblowing to occur and, in general, the policies aimed to engage with whistleblowers, clearly expressed the importance of whistleblowing, and highlighted the moral obligation to report concerns. The report raised some concerns about the conditions of disclosure and confidentiality, and said that some policies did not highlight the benefits of seeking independent advice. It highlighted areas for improvement.
Source: Government Whistleblowing Policies, National Audit Office