Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Bills in the Queen's Speech

The following Bills were announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech. I have referenced them to the pages in the Government Publication "The Queen's Speech 2021", where further information is available. That document can be downloaded from here.

It might be, that before any bill is introduced (1st Reading) - the name may be altered slightly. When bills are published, a Research Paper from the House of Commons Library is likely to be published. I thoroughly recommend these as useful documents in getting to grips with the proposed legislation.

- Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill (p57)

- Animals Abroad Bill (p132)

- Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill (p131-2)

- Armed Forces Bill (p101)

- Building Safety Bill (p109)

- Charities Bill (p121)

- Counter-State Threats Bill (p96)

- Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill (p147)

- Dormant Assets Bill (p119)

- Electoral Integrity Bill (p141)

- Environment Bill (p128)

- Health and Care Bill (p20)

- Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill (p143)

- High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill (p65)

- Judicial Review Bill (p145)

- Kept Animals Bill (p132)

- Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill (p111)

- National Insurance Contributions Bill (p70)

- Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concerns) Bill (p149)

- Planning Bill (p61)

- Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (p81)

- Procurement Bill (p74)

- Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (p66)

- Professional Qualifications Bill (p77)

- Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill (p123)

- Skills and Post-16 Education Bill (p50)

- Subsidy Control Bill (p72)

- Telecommunications (Security) Bill (p97)

- (Draft) Downstream Oil Resilience Bill (p68)

- (Draft) Online Safety Bill (p94)

- (Draft) Victims Bill (p89)

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Details of the Queen's Speech

Did you watch it? I listened in - but I have to say - the Speeches that a Prime Minister gives to the Monarch are never very exciting. The purpose is to tell Parliament what her Government plans to do - so, by nature they are very dry. (The Queen - who is above politics - isn't expected to be passionate and advocating policies - that's for the professional politicians). However - it's worth listening to speeches made under different Prime Ministers. The contrasts between Queen's Speeches under Major and those under Blair were quite obvious - I'm not talking about content - but the literary style and language. She doesn't write the speech - that is done by and on behalf of the current Prime Minister.

Soon afterwards, and this year it took a little while - hours not minutes - the Prime Minister publishes "The Queen's Speech (and gives the year)". So I dutifully downloaded the 160+ document that gives more detail of the rationale and what bills will follow. It's the first time for me in a while. When I worked in Westminster I downloaded it shortly after the speech was delivered. The last few years, being in retirement, I haven't. It has saved a lot of paper and ink. But now that I'm presenting a programme on Spectrum on Air called "PPS" about the Processes,
eople and relevant Sources for decision and law making (At Westminster, but also around the world), I thought it time to re-establish the habit.

It is easy to download - just click here 

YOU DON'T NEED TO PRINT IT OFF - it is available in PDF format. (My excuse/justification is that I will make annotating the document for use as I prepare pieces for the programme.

The Queen's Speech

 Yes, it's that time again - a new session begins in the British Parliament.

This time, it will be a stripped down affair - because of the Coronavirus pandemic - which though more suppressed than it has been -  hasn't gone away (so please do all you can to protect your own and others' health and life). The Queen won't be taking her usual ride in a carriage - and the number of people (Peers, MPs & staff) will be greatly reduced.

We'll get to hear the Government's legislative plans (though most of the bills to be presented have been fully discussed in the last few days.

You can watch live via 

BBC1 (if you have a UK TV licence) - and afterwards here. Huw Edwards is presenting (by the way - his excellent series on the history of Wales is available on BBC iPlayer). 

Parliament Live - but without the commentary.

In next week's PPS on Spectrum On Air  I'll be discussing how to get the details of the Queen's Speech proposals and the stages necessary to turn a bill into a Law.

(Previous editions of PPS are available at https://www.spreaker.com/show/process-people-sources

Monday, 10 May 2021

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

In today's PPS programme on Spectrum On Air - we did a piece about the Congressional Research Service. 

(If you look through old posts on this Blog you'll see that I am a great fan of the CRS. The good news is that their reports are more easily obtainable now)

If you want to access their reports the address is - https://crsreports.congress.gov. You can either enter a word or a phrase OR click the search button without entering any text to bring up a list of reports, which you can then scroll through.

Specially for listeners in the USA the PPS is broadcast again at 8pm (20.00) Eastern Time on Tuesdays (Insomniacs in Europe can also access it but it is in the middle of the night!)

NAO Report on the Rail System in England

In a few minutes time I will be talking about the National Audit Office's very readable and useful guide to the financing of the Rail System in England as part of my weekly programme on Spectrum on Air (the live link can be accessed at this address.

If you can't get there in time - it will be available later in the week (and available for some length of time) here.

If you've come to this blog as a result of the programme - the address which will link you directly to the report (which can be downloaded) the address is -


House of Commons Library

There is a quality research facility within the House of Commons Library. It has to be impartial. I've long been a user of its publications - whilst working at Westminster - but also in my roles as a lecturer - and I always used to encourage students to use their publication.

They are freely available at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk

Recent 'Research Briefings (the detailed research papers) can be accessed directly at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/

Material relevant to the current week's business in the House of Commons can be accessed directly at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/this-week/

Research by General Topic areas can be directly accessed at https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research/

They are worth bookmarking!!!!

In my programme PPS on the new internet radio station 'Spectrum on Air' I will be talking about the various publications - and why they can be of great use. My programme airs at Noon (UK time) on Mondays and 8pm (ET in the USA) on Tuesdays. Do listen in.

The station can be heard via https://spectrumonair.com

Monday, 3 May 2021


 On my Spectrum On Air Show - "PPS" I played a song by Tecwyn Ifan called 'Y Dref Wen', and told the story of how I stumbled upon a Youtube video which introduced to me to the song, helped me on my path towards learning Welsh and to researching "Cyndyllan", whose death in the the White Town (Y Dref Wen - in Welsh) inspired the song.

Click here to see the  video with the words - in Welsh and English, - and to hear the song.

There are two ancient pieces of Welsh poetry which tell the story of Cynddylan - though they are difficult to reconcile. We don't know exactly when Cyndyllan lived or died - there are a number of theories. It is believed that he was a Prince or King in the Welsh area kingdom of Pengwern (modern area now solidly within England (Shropshire, possibly extending as far as into Staffordshire), but was at the time and beyond within the Welsh kingdom of Powys. 

The two poems are the 'Marwnad Cyndyllan' and the 'Canu Heledd'.

The Encyclopedia of Celtic Culture states -

Cynddylan fab Cyndrwyn (? †15 November 655) was a Welsh chieftain who is known to us primarily from two substantial pieces of early poetry: (1) Marwnad Cynddylan, a 71-line awdl on his death addressed to an unnamed king of Gwynedd at Aberffraw, whose attitude is that of a contemporary court poem and is widely accepted as authentic; (2) the 113 englynion of Canu Heledd (Poetry of Heledd), whose attitude is also contemporary, but the dramatic persona is not that of a court poet, but rather Cynddylan’s bereaved sister Heledd, wandering alone through the deserted ruins of the war-ravaged kingdom.This englyn cycle is usually assigned to the 9th or 10th century.

Some details of the historical context can be gleaned from these poems. Both Marwnad Cynddylan and Canu Heledd refer to a place called Tren, probably the river Tern in central Shropshire (Welsh swydd Amwythig). A stray englyn from Canu Heledd states that Cynddylan was part of the coalition headed by Penda at the battle of Cogwy or Maserfelth, where Oswald of Northum-bria was slain on 5 August 642 (Beda, Historia Ecclesiastica 3.9).The site of this battle was most probably near Oswestry in Shropshire, where Oswald was killed and crucified on ‘Oswald’s tree’ (Welsh Croesoswallt). According to Marwnad Cynddylan, the hero answered the call to arms of mab Pyd, which refers to Panna son of Pyd, the latter being the Welsh name for Penda of Mercia, who is known to have had Welsh allies when he fought against the Northumbrians in the mid-7th century. Marwnad Cynddylan mentions a ‘fight for the cattle (or the spoils) of Pennawg’, which may refer to an attack known to have been made by Penda of Mercia and Welsh allies on the Northumbrian court at Bam- burgh c. 650. The Marwnad describes a major, otherwise unknown, battle at Caerlwytgoed, the Roman fortified town of L{toc{tum at Lichfield, Staffordshire. Canu Heledd describes desolation in several places for which probable locations can be found in Shropshire: including Pengwern (probably in Shrewsbury), Eglwysseu Bassa (Baschurch), Dinlleu Vreconn (the hill-fort of theWrekin nearWroxeter), Romano-British Vriconium, and Ercal (High Ercall or Child’s Ercall). There is some question as to whether these places represent a continuous recollection of the old pre- Anglo-Saxon landscape of what became western Mercia, or a later Brythonicizing of an already English countryside, in effect creative historical fiction. For example, Baschurch seems to be a purely English name and Eglwysseu Bassa a Welsh translation. Of course, it is possible that Cynddylan had ruled a linguistically mixed country in the 7th-century, including a com- munity of Anglo-Saxon Christians.

Marwnad Cynddylan and Canu Heledd agree in portraying a military disaster in which Cynddylan fell, along with numerous noble kinsmen and comrades. The event itself is most plausibly identified with the battle of Winwæd, where Penda and all his many allies—called duces regii (royal generals) by Beda (Historia Ecclesiastica 3.27) and reges Brittonum (kings of the Britons) in Historia Brittonum (§§64–5)— fell in battle against Oswydd of Northumbria on 15 November 655. In the englynion, Cynddylan is once identified as ruler of Powys. The royal lineage known as the Cyndrwynyn (progeny of Cynddylan’s father, Cyndrwyn) do not seem to have survived into the 9th century, at which time Historia Brittonum (§§32–5) identified the kings of Powys as Cadelling, and Eliseg’s Pillar traces the same group back to Gwrtheyrn. Marwnad Cynddylan mentions the Cadelling twice, viewing them with hostility, as if they were rivals.

further reading
Aberffraw; awdl; Beda; Britons; Cadelling; Eliseg’s Pillar; englyn; englynion; Gwrtheyrn; Gwynedd; Heledd; Historia Brittonum; Marwnad Cynddylan; Oswald; Oswydd; Penda; Powys
; Bartrum, Welsh Classical Dictionary 169–71; Wendy Davies, Wales in the Early Middle Ages; Rowland, Early Welsh Saga Poetry; Stancliffe, Oswald 84–96; Ifor Williams, Canu Llywarch Hen.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Police and Crime Commissioners

 On Thursday, elections will be held for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales. 

On my programme, PPS on Spectrum-on-Air I will be interviewing Willy Bach - the retiring Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire. He'll be talking about the job and its responsibilities.

Do tune in - it is on air at Noon (UK time) - just head here and click the Listen Live button!

If you aren't able to tune in then (for US listeners - the programme re-airs at 8pm ET on Tuesdays) - a copy of the programme should be available from lunchtime on Wednesdays on Spreaker

Monday, 26 April 2021

Parish Councils

What is a Parish Council? What does it do?

Perhaps the most important thing to say is - what it ISN'T

Parish Councils are not part of the Church of England - though the areas they represent may be based on the historic parishes that the local Anglican (and prior to that the Roman Catholic) churches served. I blame (rather unfairly, this is a common and well established confusion) the Vicar of Dibley. The Council that she is often seen attending - isn't the 'parish council', but the church "Parochial Church Council". Some Parish Councils have changed their name to Town or Community Councils. They retain the same functions, but are less likely to put some people off.

Parish councils are the most local (I got ticked off at a parish council meeting, that I am a member of, for saying that Parish Councils were the lowest form of government in England - I didn't mean it in a derogatory sense!). They cover a much smaller area (and population) than district or unitary authorities). They are not obligatory - in fact if you live in England, you have less than a one in two chance of having your own parish council - but they are currently concentrated in certain parts of England.

The House of Commons Library has an excellent, short but very informative piece, on Parish Councils which you can access by clicking on the link below.

I'll be talking about Council Structures on my PPS Programme which airs on (INSERT WEB ADDRESS)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Spectrum on Air

 I'm very excited about what is going to happen in the next few hours....

At midnight (UK time), a new online radio station will start broadcasting - and my first broadcast will be at noon - just 12 hours later. The programme will be called "PPS" - and it will deal with the process and the people who make decisions and laws which affect all of us. 

But it won't be anything like your usual "politics" or "current affairs" affairs 

- so I won't be gossiping about Dom & Boris, 

(or Biden, Pelosi, AOC, Drakeford, Macron, Merkel, Xi Jinping, Putin - YES I WILL COVER THE WORLD!) 

or attacking (or defending) policies - just giving you the information about who is making and how they are making decisions and law which can impact upon your life.

The final letter of the programme's name is "Sources" - I won't be reading long reports on air (how boring!) or giving lectures on process and procedure - but I will be highlighting and giving links key information.

....oh, and playing lots of music between pieces.

Do give the station, and myself a listen.

Spectrum On Air can be accessed - from anywhere in the world (as long as there is access to the internet) at -


....and you miss a programme it will be made available at


A fantastic range of programmes and presenters has been lined up - so listen live on https://spectrumonair.com 

or scroll through all our programmes at https://www.spreaker.com/user/spectrumonair 

for more see https://www.spreaker.com/user/spectrumonair

Wednesday, 21 April 2021


A new streaming "Radio" station begins broadcasting at 00.01 on Monday 26th April. The new station is called "Spectrum On Air"

I will be contributing to the output of Spectrum on Air with a programme called "PPS" - which is about the Process(es), People and Sources in law and decision making. This won't be confined to the United Kingdom - as we can be listened to across the world - I will be looking at other nations and regions - so if you are interested in the US, France, India, China, the European Union, developments in South America - PPS will deal with them. Even within the UK we will be explaining and following practice and developments in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England - as well as the United Kingdom as a whole. [And the future of the UK is going to be a live issue in the coming days and week]

But it won't be all talk - I'm seeking to balance intelligent talk and interviews with some great music.

So how can you listen in?

From 00.01 (British Summer Time) Spectrum on Air will be available at http://www.spectrumonair.com . You can tune in any time day or night (wherever you are listening from), once we launch.

My "PPS" Programme airs at

12.00 - 13.00 (BST) Monday

(07.00 am on the US East Coast : 13.00 Central Europe Summer Time - Paris, Brussels & Berlin)

It will be re-broadcast (unless we go live - which I can do from home (or wherever I can get wifi) - which I may do occasionally if there is a major story breaking) at the following times

01.00 - 02.00 (BST) Wednesday -

(USA & Canada 5pm Pacific Daylight Time : 6pm Mountain Daylight Time : 7pm Central Daylight Time : 8pm Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday Evening)

(Australian Eastern Standard Time - 10.00am : China - 9am : India 05.30am)

10.00 - 11.00 (BST) Wednesdays and Fridays

(11.00 Central European Daylight Time and 12.00 Noon in Eastern European Summer Time - Greece : Beirut & Bucharest)

(13.00 Gulf Standard Time - Dubai, Oman, UAE : Moscow : Georgia : Armenia : Azerbaijan)

I'll be posting pieces relating or relevant to pieces on the programmes on this blog.

So, Washminster will be back - on a more frequent basis - and you have the "two for one offer" of Washminster and PPS!

Monday, 15 March 2021

The Welsh Senedd - Illustrative Example of a Committee Meeting

The Welsh Senedd gets little coverage in the British media. So how does it work? In future blogs I'll be posting about the Senedd. But as a taster, here is a short meeting - with links to all the papers -  

Monday, 22 February 2021

Protecting Public Money

One of the oldest Committees in the House of Commons is the Public Accounts Committee. 

The PAC scrutinises the value for money - the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of public spending. It does this by holding short enquiries - often calling witnesses - of those who spend taxpayers - YOUR money. Now there are Select Committees which oversee the work of Government Departments - and they may deal with the question of whether a particular policy, or institution is an effective user of public money - but the PAC is perhaps the best equipped to scrutinise the use of that money. It’s an all party committee, by tradition, chaired by an experienced member of the main Opposition Party. Lord Hennessy - now a member of the House of Lords - but who made his mark as a professor specialising in the workings of Government has described it as "the queen of the select committees...[which] by its very existence exert[s] a cleansing effect in all government departments.”

The process begins with the National Audit Office. This is an independent body. It’s staff are not civil servants and they don’t answer to Minister - or Special advisers. The Head of the NAO goes by the glorious title of “The Comptroller and Auditor General.” He is an officer of the House of Commons. He answers only to the House. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively and with economy. The Reports of the NAO can be very valuable for background reading. It does regular “Departmental Overviews”, as well as consider specific projects and working practices. It’s website is nao.gov.uk

The Public Accounts Committee is charged by the House of Commons Standing Order number  148 -  to examine "the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may think fit”. At the moment there are 53 inquiries in progress - It’s already published 44 reports in this session. It takes written evidence and holds hearings. 

That hearing resulted in a report, published in July 2019 - and that report is available on the PAC’s website 
That report, like all PAC Reports - has a summary of findings and recommendations. The full report itself and information about witnesses and copies of the written evidence. 

These reports can be valuable sources of information - about specific projects, Departments and publicly funded bodies; lessons that can have a wider application; and can give you an idea of the approach of the committee - should you ever want to, or have to - give evidence to the PAC"

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

What was said in the Trial?

Did you watch the first day of the Impeachment trial of Donald Trump? It was compelling viewing - and was interesting on so many levels. The contrast in style and substance of argument between the two legal teams was stark. 

I was busily taking notes - but I don't (can't, to be honest) do shorthand. As both a semi-retired academic and about to return to radio on my new programme "PPS" on Elite Live Radio - the conduct of the Trial is of direct interest to me and my work. Thankfully, I don't need to rely on my notes or memory - a transcript is available - and it is available to everyone - for free.

The Congressional Record is the equivalent of the British "Hansard" (there are some significant differences, but I'll tackle those in a future post). If you want to review, or just read, what was said - you can download that one or more sections of that day's Congressional Record.

The pdf of the Congressional Record for Day 1 of the Trial of Donald Trump can be found here.

Monday, 8 February 2021

The (Second) Trial of Donald Trump

 We are hours away - as this is published - from the start of the Trump trial in the Senate. There are links to a number of useful resources in my post of Wednesday 3rd February

It was reported in the Washington Post that the proceedings are likely to begin with debate over whether the Constitution permits the trial of a former President. The Congressional Research Servic discuss the various arguments here. This document has also inbuilt links to a number of documents relevant to the trial.

There are a number of ways to follow the trial - directly and indirectly


Senate Floor Proceedings


Live Coverage is also expected on many TV websites (and on your TV) but these will cover proceedings at their editor's discretion.


Reports on the trial will also be posted on News websites -  these may require subscriptions! My main sources will be

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Watch it Live!


I still remember as a youngster (in the 1970s) reading the report of debates in the House of Commons in the Times newspaper. "Today in Parliament" had reports about debates - but in those days you couldn't listen to the speakers themselves. Much has changed. The Times reports ended in 1990s, Radio and then TV became available from the Chamber  - and whereas reading Hansard once required a subscription or a visit to a HMSO office - today we can get our information direct from legislatures from a tablet or desktop - FOR FREE! 

My most used sites include (and please free to Bookmark these sites for your own use - and do explore them! - it isn't just live feeds from the main chamber - but also from committees - and the more you get used to the sites, the easier it is to navigate.

UK Parliament : both chambers (Commons & Lords) plus committees - https://parliamentlive.tv/

US House of Representatives - https://live.house.gov (Chamber) - most committees have their own channels (often on Youtube - visit your preferred committee website on the House Website for more details. I like to watch the Rules Committee (I'll explain why in a future post).

US Senate - Floor - similarly individual committees have their own channels.

European Parliament

Assemblée Nationale (France) - Plenary - Live Recordings of Plenary, Committees, Events 

Bundesrat (Germany)

National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China - see Special Reports

Canada's House of Commons 

Welsh Senedd

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Trump's Trial

The Trial Memorandum of the House of Representatives is available here. It sets out the case against the former President.

Trump's defence Memorandum can be accessed here.

There are a number of Congressional Research Papers about the Impeachment of a President - these include -

Impeachment and the Constitution

The Impeachment & Trial of a Former President

The Impeachment Process in the Senate

Obtaining Witnesses in an Impeachment Trial

Click on the relevant name of the paper - and this will give you access to the CRS Papers.

When the trial is in progress, I'm sure that the major news channels such as CNN and BBC News, and of course C-SPAN will give lots of live coverage. Again, just click on the relevant link to take you there. Or if you want the live feed from the Senate itself press here.

As a former lecturer in Constitutional Law, with a deep and specific interest in what happens in the US Congress (scroll through previous posts on Washminster - I can't guarantee that the law and practice remain the same (the blog covered 2007 to 2017 - and much has happened since)) - I'm sure that the next couple of weeks will be filled with reading and watching.

There's a new impetus for me to keep abreast of the news - I start broadcasting on a new internet radio station which launches a fortnight on Friday. It's called Elite Live Radio. My programme is to be called PPS (I'll explain why on air - and later write a post for Washminster) - and is due to air for the first time on Monday February 22nd at Noon, GMT. I hope you'll listen in - the web address is https://www.eliteliveradio.com. We are currently broadcasting a trial service for the next couple of weeks. Do listen in - and let me know what you think.

Monday, 25 January 2021


I'm hoping SOON to be posting some exciting news about the return of the Washminster Blog - and how the mission of the original blog will be coming to other media!