• Research Briefing

    Regulation of standards of conduct in the House of Lords

    This Note sets out the new procedures to be used in the House of Lords to investigate allegations of misconduct against peers, which replace the system in operation since 2002. The changes are based on the report of the (Eames) Leader's Group which recommended reforms to the Code of Conduct and the appointment of an independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.

  • Research Briefing

    The Hillsborough Agreement

    This note outlines the background to, content of, and moves to implement the agreement reached at Hillsborough Castle between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein on 4 February 2010. The full text of the Agreement is included as an appendix to the note.

  • Research Briefing

    Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill: Committee stage report

    There were some significant amendments during the Committee Stage of this Bill. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was given control over setting Members' pay and pensions by amendments to the Parliamentary Standard Act 2009. There is to be a new Compliance Officer to investigate alleged misuse of Members' allowances; amendments would ensure that all MPs and peers would be liable to UK taxes; there would be a referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote by 31 October 2011; and a new requirement on Returning Officers to begin election counts four hours after a general election poll closes.

  • Research Briefing

    Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill [Bill 21 of 2009-10]

    The Bill seeks to amend the 2007 Act by setting a deadline for the Secretary of State to initiate the next round of proposals for enhancing the sustainability of local communities from local authorities under the Act. It provides for regulations to be made specifying the rules for this process. These are also to cover parish council involvement and the role of local petitioning. There is also provision for greater flexibility in decision-making on proposals.

  • Research Briefing

    Parliamentary privilege and individual Members

    This Note reviews the operation of parliamentary privilege with respect to individual Members. It refers to the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which reported in 1999. Library Standard Note 2024 Parliamentary Privilege and Qualified Privilege covers the question of the treatment in law of Members' constituency correspondence.

  • Research Briefing

    Responsibilities of Returning Officers

    This Note sets out the general responsibilities of Returning Officers and Acting Returning Officers in Great Britain. They are appointed under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and are responsible for the conduct of elections.

  • Research Briefing

    Donations to Members of Parliament

    From 1 July 2009 Members no longer have to report certain donations to both the Electoral Commission and Registrar of Members' Interests. The Note examines the history behind this dual requirement enacted in the Political Parties, Election and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). Section 59 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 provided for dual registration to end, but implementation of this provision was delayed until July 2009. The Note also sets out the new limits on donations which have to be declared by Members, enacted in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009.

  • Research Briefing

    Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Bill 142 2008-09.

    This Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 20 July 2009. It followed the publication in July 2007 of the Governance of Britain Green Paper which set out a broad programme of constitutional reform. In March 2008 the Government published the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill and Constitutional Renewal White Paper. The draft Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Committee, with other committees reporting on aspects of the proposals. The content of the Bill is different from that of the draft Bill in some significant ways. As well as clauses on the civil service, the ratification of treaties, judicial appointments and protest around Parliament which were contained in the draft Bill, the Bill includes new provisions on the House of Lords, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the National Audit Office, Human Rights claims against the devolved administrations and the transparency of financial reporting to Parliament. Clauses on the Attorney General, which had been in the draft Bill, are not in the Bill as introduced.

  • Research Briefing

    Bill of Rights 1689

    This Note sets out the historical background to the Bill of Rights 1688-89 and examines how its provisions have altered in the intervening centuries. Its role as part of the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom is also discussed.

  • Research Briefing

    Candidate selection-Primaries

    This Note looks at the possibility of introducing primaries into the candidate selection processes of UK political parties, following the experiment of an open primary in Totnes, Devon, by the Conservative Party. It also examines experience of primaries in the United States, where the procedure is well established.

  • Research Briefing

    Progress of the Political Parties and Elections Bill 2008-09

    The Political Parties and Elections Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 17 July 2008 and was carried over from the 2007-08 session. The Bill received Royal Assent on 21 July 2009. This Note summarises the debates and changes made to the Bill in the House of Commons and the House of Lords after Committee stage in the Commons

  • Research Briefing

    Parliamentary Standards Bill. Bill 121 2008-09

    The Bill introduces a statutory Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) and Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations. The IPSA will be responsible for devising a scheme for Members' allowances and for determining claims. The Commissioner will investigate allegations of misuse of allowances and breaches of the financial interest rules. See also Research Paper 09/60, which covers the background to the Government's decision to implement major changes, pending the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life expected in autumn 2009.