Monday, 27 February 2017

Committee Stage of the EU (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill - TODAY

If you wish to follow the Lords Committee Stage of the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill today - it will be online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/…/20b31f64-725c-435a-8c43-587b… - The House will have prayers first (not broadcast) then there will be four questions taking about 30 minutes.

The "order paper" for the day's business in the House of Lords can be found at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/minutes/170227/ldorderpaper.pdf

Documents relating to the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill can be accessed on http://services.parliament.uk/…/europeanunionnotificationof…

The key to use are

* the Bill itself, https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/201…/0103/17103.pdf 

* the explanatory notes https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/2…/0103/17103en.pdf  and

* the Marshalled list of amendments (Amendments will be referred to by the number on that list) https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/0…/17103-I(Rev).pdf

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Lords Amendments

A full list of amendments for the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill will be available on Monday - but this is the most up-to-date list at the time of writing.


If you want Peers to support particular amendments you can get contact details (including email addresses) by visiting this site.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Old Hansards

Hansard is the record of what is said in Parliament. There are separate editions for the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Editions since 2010 can be searched for at https://hansard.parliament.uk.

The House of Commons Hansard can be searched for by date from November 1988 to March 2016 via http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/by-date/ and the Lords via http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/lords/

If you want to go back further (and I've enjoyed some interesting reading through this site) then visit http://hansard.millbanksystems.com. This covers the period 1803 to 2005.

Friday, 17 February 2017

How the EU ACTUALLY works

I've been a lecturer on EU Law for the last quarter of a century (I've also taught European Politics, been an assistant to a Member of the European Parliament,  and dealt with EU institutions as an assistant in the UK Parliament and in my own political work). There are a lot of misconceptions about what the EU does - and how it does it. It is that widespread lack of knowledge amongst British citizens that was the necessary foundation for the Brexit result. Much misinformation has been spread - and I'm glad to hear that Wikipedia has evaluated thre Daily Mail - and found it to be a wholly unreliable source.

So where does one go to find out accurate information?.

At an academic level - there are some excellent textbooks - these two are my personal favourites.

These can be expensive - and are, by nature, complex. There is a lot of FREE information available.

A free booklet from the European Parliament is well set out & VERY informative. It was produced in 2013, so information about the results of the 2014 election (which led to the current party makeup in the EP) are not included. It is available here.

There is a useful website at https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu_en

Key knowledge about the EU involves

- membership (currently 28 members) - in the media the EU (and its institutions, especially the Court) is often confused with the European Convention on Human Rights. That is part of the Council of Europe - a wholly distinct organisation with almost double the number of members.

- the key institutions. Each have their own role - and personnel. The European Commission is the Executive. Despite false assertions in certain parts of the media - it is not an all-powerful body. It may propose legislation - but the Council of Ministers and European Parliament must pass that legislation. Its members are nominated by the (elected) governments of the member states. Before appointment the European Parliament holds hearings, and individual commissioners regularly appear the Parliament. The Council of Ministers is made of government ministers from each member state.  (When Heads of Government/State meet - it is called the European Council, and together the democratically elected leaders of the 28 states set the agenda for the EU). The European Parliament is directly elected every five years. The Court of Justice of the EU is responsible for upholding the legal rules of the EU (interpreting and applying EU Law - and providing legal review of the acts of the institutions).

I subscribe to daily emails from 'Politico' (an American political-journalism company based in Arlington County, Virginia, that covers politics and policy in the United States and internationally.)
Politico, European Edition

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Following Westminster

If your interest lies in following what is done in the UK Parliament - this is my guide to useful resources -

As with Congress, original resources from Parliament are the best way to follow activities, without the filters that the media put on. [I am NOT criticising the Media - their job is to take the raw material to present it to the public in a manageable form, and to explain what is happening - and I am a BIG user of the media myself!]

The Parliamentary website is http://www.parliament.uk

A snapshot of forthcoming business can be found here. We are currently on a short recess.

As I suggested in my previous post on Congress, the best way to discover the vast amount of available information is to explore the website tab by tab. Parliamentary Business is subdivided into sections on each House (Commons : Lords) ; What's On; Bills & Legislation (from this and previous Parliaments); Committees, Publications and Records and ParliamentTV - which provides live feeds (and recordings) of proceedings in the Chambers and committees.

The Links that I find most useful to use are -

1 To see what is coming up.

Commons Business Papers - If you click on 'Summary Agenda and Order of Business' (I have not linked - as it changes for each specific sitting day) - you can select 'Order Paper' [as a PDF, my preferred option - or you can choose a webpage with links to the various parts]. The PDF gives a summary of business and approximate timings. On subsequent pages there is much more detail - such as the questions set down for Question Time; subjects and relevant motions for the main part of the day; and the subject of the daily adjournment debate. If Westminster Hall is being used - details of the debates there are listed. Committee meetings - their location and subject (and witnesses) are listed. Future business is also listed.

Lords Business Papers - Click on 'House of Lords Business'. Again there is a choice of a webpage or a PDF. The style is very different - and the key things to read are the text of the 4 oral questions; and Business of the House (for that date). Future business is also set out. Many a Washminster post has been planned as a result of reading through this document (green in the printed edition). This is followed by a list of motions - which may or not be taken (most will be balloted for). There are also notice of Questions for Written Answer - the answers will eventually appear in the Lords Hansard. (I also like the practice of shaming Government Departments who have failed to give a response within 10 working days - the list follows the Written Questions). Bills in Progress (and their type) are listed on a subsequent page. Secondary legislation in the pipeline is also listed. Details of upcoming committee meetings are set out - and 'Minutes of Proceedings' of the previous meeting of the House are recorded. Finally papers and secondary legislation published since the last edition of the Business papers are listed. Peers can collect them from an office near the chamber, but they are generally available to the rest of us on other websites. I will post about accessing these in a future post.

2 To read what has been said

Hansard is the record of what is said in the Chambers (and also Westminster Hall [Commons] and the Moses Room [Committee stages of bills held out of the Lords Chamber]).

A useful gateway to Hansard is available at https://hansard.parliament.uk

3 To watch the Chamber or committees

ParliamentTV  or view BBC Parliament - on TV or via the  website

4 To follow the work of the Select Committees

Each committee has its own website - access through http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/

The BBC gives excellent coverage of Parliament - particularly through 'Today in Parliament' - and also through The Week in Westminster and the Westminster Hour on the radio. BBC Parliament is a mini-C-SPAN for the UK.