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Parliament Matters

Weekly insights into the institution at the heart of our democracy – Parliament • Produced by the Hansard Sociey.


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  • 29. William Wragg's honeytrap crisis and is Speaker Hoyle under threat?

    45:52
    This week we are joined by former House of Commons Clerk, Paul Evans, to discuss William Wragg’s fall from grace following a ‘honeytrap sting’. What does it tell us about the vulnerabilities public officials face in the digital age, and the complex interplay between personal conduct and public service?Numerous press reports suggest the Government may support another cross-party attempt to refer the conduct of the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP and the Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer MP, to the Privileges Committee over claims of improper coercion before the Opposition Day debate on Gaza last month. Could the Speaker survive an investigation into his conduct and how would the process work?Fresh evidence has come to light suggesting Paula Vennells, former Chief Executive of the Post Office, may have knowingly misled MPs when she appeared before Select Committees looking into events at the company. Liam Byrne MP, Chair of the Business and Trade Select Committee, says he’s exploring all the options available to investigate and if necessary sanction her. But what are the options available?Northern Ireland has experienced a political earthquake with the news that DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson MP has been charged with historical sexual offences. But what does the news mean for Westminster where the debate about how to manage such situations – balancing the rights of the accused with the safety of the parliamentary community – remains unresolved.And we ask 'where have all the All Party Parliamentary Groups gone'? New research by MySociety shows that in the last month there has been a 39% reduction in the number of APPGs following changes in the registration rules designed to enhance transparency and accountability. Have the APPGs really stopped working or have they, as investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan suggests, just been rebadged as informal parliamentary liaison groups?🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website.❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using our online form.📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society:Make a donation today to support the Hansard Society. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence.Parliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend

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  • 28. Defending free speech from SLAPPs

    16:40
    Wayne David's groundbreaking Private Member's Bill aimed at thwarting Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) may be the most significant Private Member’s Bill to emerge from this final year of the current Parliament. But is there enough time to get this measure into law before the general election? We talk to Wayne David about the genesis of this crucial legislation, from exposing the abuse of legal systems by affluent individuals to building bipartisan support in Parliament. From government whips’ suggestions to committee negotiations, Wayne sheds light on the intricate parliamentary journey behind this legislative change. We delve into the intricacies of SLAPP tactics and the threat they pose to freedom of speech and our democratic values. We discuss how the Bill would empower judges to tackle abusive litigation, protecting individuals – from journalists to tenants - from financial ruin in the face of baseless legal threats. But challenges await the Bill at Committee stage and the looming spectre of a general election may yet disrupt its progress. Despite this Wayne David remains optimistic about the Bill’s prospects given the cross-party alliance behind the Bill and the support of both frontbenches in the House of Commons. 🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website. ❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using our online form.📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society:Make a donation today to support the Hansard Society. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence. Parliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend
  • 27. Another Rwanda roadblock

    50:46
    The Lords have dug in their heels and inflicted seven defeats on the Government over the Rwanda Bill this week. The Government claims the Bill is emergency legislation but it will not go back to the House of Commons until after the Easter recess. We discuss why, and what will happen next.Senior Conservative backbencher William Wragg MP tells us why he has lost confidence in the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, and why he has therefore resigned from the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission. As Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, he also discusses the Committee’s work scrutinising the centre of government and tells us what advice he would give to new MPs at the start of the next Parliament.And we explore why a spanner has been thrown into the local election works in the West Midlands after the Home Office failed to keep track of its statutory obligations under the Government’s new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act. Consequently, a judge this week quashed a decision by the Home Secretary to transfer the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands to the Mayor. With the local elections just weeks away it’s thrown the electoral process into some chaos: will a vote for a Police and Crime Commissioner be back on the ballot on 2 May?It’s a cautionary tale of legislative confusion, flawed Whitehall communications, and the problems that can arise when public consultation is so rushed it is deemed insincere and when the Government insists on pushing through its agenda without heeding genuine concerns raised by Parliament.🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website here: hansardsociety.org.uk/news/parliament-matters-podcast-e27❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using the form here: hansardsociety.org.uk/pmuq📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society: hansardsociety.org.uk/nlSupport the Hansard Society by making a donation. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence: hansardsociety.org.uk/donateParliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend
  • 26. Unheard: the parliamentary snubbing of Diane Abbott

    55:02
    Why did the Speaker fail to call Diane Abbott during Prime Minister’s Questions? The image of Britain’s first black female MP being talked about at the Despatch Box while not being allowed to say anything herself, once again left the House of Commons looking out of touch.Do Henry VIII powers threaten parliamentary democracy? Former MP and law professor, David Howarth, warns that Ministers are dodging scrutiny by MPs because they have powers to make significant changes to the law without proper oversight by Parliament.And the loneliness of the one-person party. George Galloway, winner of the Rochdale by-election, and Lee Anderson, the new Reform Party recruit from the Conservatives, sat together on the backbenches this week. But how do MPs who are their party's only parliamentarian operate at Westminster?🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website here: hansardsociety.org.uk/news/parliament-matters-podcast-e26❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using the form here: hansardsociety.org.uk/pmuq📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society: hansardsociety.org.uk/nlSupport the Hansard Society by making a donation. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence: hansardsociety.org.uk/donateParliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend
  • 25. The Budget: is the democratic deficit as bad as the financial deficit?

    58:18
    It’s Budget week and the Chancellor has announced his plans for taxation and provided a fresh economic forecast. But how does Parliament get to grips – indeed does it get to grips - with the nation’s finances? We talk to Baroness Morgan of Cotes, a Conservative Peer who has been both a Treasury Minister and a scrutineer on the Treasury Committee. Henry Midgley of Durham University – who has worked at both the House of Commons and the National Audit Office – also joins us to discuss how MPs could improve scrutiny of taxation and public spending.There have been more dreadful polls for the Conservatives, some of them projecting a catastrophic result for the party. So, what would the House of Commons look like if the Conservatives got just 20% of the vote at the next general election? Mark and Ruth have some fun speculating on the implications of a lopsided House of Commons in which the opposition parties muster barely 100 seats between them.Paul Scully MP has joined the band of senior Conservative MPs planning to leave at the election. He directed some choice words about the future of his party towards his colleagues and reflected on the brutality of politics and the toll it takes on politicians and their families.The Government lost 10 votes on amendments to the Rwanda Bill at Report Stage in the House of Lords this week. What does the scale of the votes tell us about the future of this Bill? And why are Labour’s tactics on the Bill now in the spotlight?🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website here: hansardsociety.org.uk/news/parliament-matters-podcast-e20❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using the form here: hansardsociety.org.uk/pmuq📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society: hansardsociety.org.uk/nlSupport the Hansard Society by making a donation. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence: hansardsociety.org.uk/donateParliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend
  • 24. The Foreign Affairs Committee: commentator or influencer?

    22:09
    In this revealing conversation with Alicia Kearns MP, Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, we explore the critical role of parliamentary scrutiny in shaping foreign policy and addressing global challenges.We discover how recent Committee hearings have garnered global attention and influenced diplomatic discourse in overseas capitals and on the streets, particularly when critical information, such as the bombing of Medical Aid for Palestine, has been revealed.Alicia reflects on the Committee’s priorities and ongoing inquiries, and the need to respond dynamically to pressing global issues such as Ukraine, Russia, the Balkans, China and Taiwan.She sheds light on how the Committee can help change the tone of diplomatic engagement and how it plays a critical information disclosure role. And she updates us on her discussions with the Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, regarding the frequency of his appearances before the Committee.We explore her role as the Chair of the Committee including her regular interactions with ambassadors, the challenges faced during sensitive inquiries, and why the Foreign Office would rather she and fellow members of the Committee did not travel anywhere! 🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website here: hansardsociety.org.uk/news/parliament-matters-podcast-e20❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using the form here: hansardsociety.org.uk/pmuq📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society: hansardsociety.org.uk/nlSupport the Hansard Society by making a donation. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence: hansardsociety.org.uk/donateParliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustProducer: Richard Townsend
  • 23. The Commons Speaker survives (for now), Liz Truss takes on the ‘Deep State’, plus how do we detoxify politics?

    56:31
    There was no let up for Mr Speaker as the fall-out continues from last week’s Commons chaos over the Opposition Day debate on Gaza. But is his position now safe? And why has the government pulled a vote on a scheme to exclude MPs accused of sexual harassment or assault from Parliament?Liz Truss MP was interviewed at the Conservative Political Action Conference in America by a man convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection in Washington. What is a British parliamentarian – and former Prime Minister – doing consorting with people associated with the overthrow of the American legislature?It is widely recognised that the range and scale of threats facing MPs has escalated in recent years. But what can be done to stop abuse and intimidation in our politics? We talk to Baroness Bertin and Lord Coaker, the co-chairs of the cross-party Jo Cox Civility Commission, about their call to action. 🎓 Access resources about issues mentioned in this episode via our website here: hansardsociety.org.uk/news/parliament-matters-podcast-e20❓ Submit your questions to us on all things Parliament using the form here: hansardsociety.org.uk/pmuq📱 Follow us across social media @HansardSociety✅ Subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest updates related to the Parliament Matters podcast and the wider work of the Hansard Society: hansardsociety.org.uk/nlSupport the Hansard Society by making a donation. We don't have a wealthy founder or an endowment. That's why donations are so important – they help to support our work AND our independence: hansardsociety.org.uk/donateParliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable TrustClips from the House of Commons via parliamentlive.tvProducer: Richard Townsend