Introduction to the UK Parliament: People, Processes and Public Participation – Free course

From the 18th September Future Learn is offering  a 3 week course which will cover

• the difference between Parliament and Government including differing roles and responsibilities
• the three parts of Parliament and the role Parliament plays in scrutinising the work of the Government
• an introduction to the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords
• how Parliamentary Questions are used by MPs and members of the House of Lords to hold the Government to account
• the difference between oral and written questions, and how questions can be used to seek immediate answers on urgent or important matters
• what happens during Prime Minister’s Questions and public perceptions of PMQs
• debates in Parliament, including some of the rules and conventions
• the role and work of select committees
• the different types of Bill, and the process of how a Bill becomes a law
• the effect that changes in the law can have on individuals and on society, with reference to specific case studies
• the different ways the public can input in the work of the UK Parliament.

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The public and Parliament: more engaged, less satisfied – Hansard Society audit

One of the most positive findings for Parliament is that a clear majority believes that it is essential “to our democracy” (73% – equaling 2016’s record score).

However, people do not think that parliament is doing a good job for them. Fewer than a third of people were satisfied with the way that parliament works, and not many more think parliament is doing a good job of representing their interests (38%).

Knowledge of parliament fell in the latest study; 45% claimed to know a great deal or a fair amount about parliament, down from 52% last year. This is similar to the level of knowledge about politics in general (49%) and the European Union (43%).

Increasing engagement with parliament
There were positive indicators around engagement with Parliament: overall just over half the public say they have engaged with Parliament in some way in the last year – a ten point increase from 2015. Also:

  • The proportion of the public who report watching or listening to a parliamentary debate or committee meeting (online, on TV or on radio) has increased from 31% to 39%
  • The number saying they have signed an e-petition is up from 15% to 22%
  • 12% contacted an MP or Peer with their views.

Some if this could be down to the seismic political events of the past year – public interest in Brexit and high-profile e-petitions on topics like Donald Trump’s proposed state visit will have increased people’s appetite to engage.

Arguably the most positive indicator in the study is the score on certainty to vote. 59% of respondents said that they would be certain to vote in an immediate general election. This is the highest recorded score in the 14 years of the Audit (joint with 2016). We won’t have to wait long to see if this is borne out.

Engagement by age
The overall message of this year’s report could be “increasingly engaged, but not satisfied”. However, looking at the data for younger people, the picture is bleaker. Variables on engagement, knowledge and effectiveness all show lower scores for younger age groups.

Other data used within chapter 2 of our briefing on political engagement shows a similar pattern – in December 2015, 67% of 20-24 year olds were registered to vote, compared with 93% of 55-64 year olds. IPSOS-Mori estimate that turnout of 18-24 year olds was 43% at the 2015 General Election, compared with 77% for 55-64 year olds.

The test
Arguably, the key indicator for engagement with politics and parliament is turnout at a general election. In 2015, turnout across the UK was 66%, slightly up on 2010, but still well below levels seen in the 20th Century.

The Audit provides some grounds for optimism; a record percentage were certain to vote. But again, this score varies significantly by age, from around two in five for 18-24 year olds, to four in five for over 65s. There are also large variations by social grade (ABs are most certain to vote), by qualification level and by income.

There will be many groups working to encourage participation in June’s general election; the challenge for them is not just whether they can increase overall turnout, but also whether they can increase participation among the young and other less politically engaged groups. If we accept that politics and Parliament are more effective when they represent the views of all constituents, Parliament too has a job to do encouraging everyone to register to vote. It is likely that if you are reading a Commons Library blog post you’re probably already going to vote in June, but perhaps someone you know isn’t. The deadline to register is 22nd May – please motivate someone you know to register and use their vote.

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  • Founded in 1944, the Hansard Society is a non-partisan research and education charity working in the UK and around the world to promote democracy and strengthen parliaments.
  • The information in this year’s Audit of Political Engagement is based on a Political Engagement Poll undertaken by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Hansard Society. The findings are based on a total of 1,771 face-to-face interviews with adults aged 18+ conducted between 2 December 2016 and 15 January 2017, which have then been weighted to the national population profile of Great Britain. This is the 14th year of the Audit, which began in 2004.
  • During the general election campaign, the Commons Library will not be publishing new briefings; Parliament’s Participation team will be encouraging people to register, to cast their vote on the 8 June and to continue to engage with Parliament following the election.

Picture credit: The British Parliament and Big Ben by MauriceCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)

 

Introduction to the UK Parliament: People, Processes and Public Participation – Free online course

Starting on the 14th November…

Learn about the UK Parliament with this free online course from FutureLearn – explore the work of Parliament and find out how it’s evolving.

The course will introduce you to the work and role of the UK Parliament. From setting the age at which we start school to deciding pension policy, the UK Parliament makes laws that impact our lives, our work and our wider society.

Learn what Parliament is and does

You will begin by looking at what Parliament is, how it is different from government and how it has changed and evolved over hundreds of years. You will find out about the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and discover how things work in the Chambers and beyond on a day-to-day basis.

UK Parliament and The Law – Gary Hart

Many congratulations to the Scottish Law Librarians Group who hosted their AGM on 12 May 2015 at the Quaker Meeting House.  At this meeting there was a very interesting talk given by Gary Hart  Senior Community Outreach and Engagement Officer, House of Parliament. During the talk Mr Hart outlined the process a bill takes through the House of Commons and the House of Lords in order to become an Act of Parliament. You can read more about Bills v Acts on the Houses of Parliament Web Pages.

If you would like to read more on this presentation and also the SLLG AGM please take a look at their excellent blog.

 

 

Budget 2012

Budget boxThe Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, presented his Budget to Parliament today, 21 March 2012. This is the third Budget of the Coalition Government. In his Budget speech the Chancellor outlined how the Government plans to raise and spend money in the coming year. Some key points of the Budget include:-

  • From April 2013, the 50p top rate of tax will be cut to 45p
  • Automatic review of state pension age to ensure it keeps pace with increasing lifespans
  • Personal income tax allowance raised to £9,205 from April 2013

You can find all of the Budget documents online on the HM Treasury website.

The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper on the Background to the 2012 Budget, and a Research Paper on economic indicators.

The full text of the Chancellor’s statement is available from the HM Treasury website.