This paper, presented at the Parliaments and Legislatures Group Conference in 2007, emphasised the difference between the public perception of parliament debating and voting in divisions with a full chamber and the reality of a minority of members passing legislation ‘on the nod’.
The image most often seen of the chamber is Prime Minister’s Questions when there is a full chamber and, as I have argued elsewhere, the most unproductive event in the whole parliamentary timetable. The reality is that much will be passed on the Speaker’s call of “all those in favour say aye”. This happens when there is not a quorum present – a mere forty out of 365. There are many reasons, explained in the paper, why there are not more present.
There is also emphasis on the way that enabling powers and subsequent statutory instruments enable regulation to reach the statute book without the house ever voting on it. Case studies are compulsory motorcycle helmets and car seat belts.
Minority Decision Making, Political Studies Association, Parliaments and Legislatures Group Conference, University of Southampton, 11 July 2007Download the paper