A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (February 2021 – July 2021).
Daly, Paul. “A critical analysis of the Case of Prorogations.” Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law 7 (1): 256-92, 2021.
R (Miller) v Prime Minister is a landmark case about the scope of prerogative power and judicial review in common law systems. In this article, the author critically analyzes the seminal decision of the UK Supreme Court in what will no doubt come to be known as the Case of Prorogations, focusing on its likely importance, its reasoning, its doctrinal and historical coherence…
Geddes, Alexander G. “How to change laws without changing the law: Problems with the presumption of substantive change for plain language reforms.” Ottawa Law Review/Revue de droit d’Ottawa 51 (1): 109-55, 2019-2020.
Statutory interpretation is standing in the way of improving the clarity of Canadian legislation. Although legislators use plain language principles when they write new statutes, revising or amending existing statutes has been more difficult because one principle of statutory interpretation, the presumption of substantive change, creates problems for plain language law reform. This paper examines the presumption of substantive change and concludes that Canadian judges should reduce their reliance on it and legislators should supply more evidence to rebut it…
Hazell, Robert, Russell, Meg. “Fixed-term Parliaments Act: Joint Committee lays down marker for the future.” Constitution Unit: 6p, April 12, 2021.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 placed a legal obligation on the Prime Minister to make arrangements for a committee to review the legislation before the end of 2020. That committee was duly created, and published its report last month. The authors offer a summary of the committee’s work and argue that the committee ‘ignored’ the weight of the evidence on several key areas.
Keyes, John Mark. “Parliamentary scrutiny of the quality of legislation in Canada.” The Theory and Practice of Legislation 9 (2): 203-26, 2021.
This paper looks at how legislative quality is addressed in Canada by private (non-Executive) members of the two legislative chambers forming part of the federal Parliament (the Senate and the House of Commons)…the paper concludes that, while there is some potential for considerable parliamentary contribution to legislative quality, it is in fact relatively limited. This largely results from the dominant role the Executive plays in the development and enactment of legislation. The paper suggests the current pandemic crisis might provide an opportunity to re-evaluate this dominance and approaches to addressing legislative quality in Canada.
Neal, Andrew W. “The parliamentarisation of security in the UK and Australia.” Parliamentary Affairs 74 (2): 464–82, April 2021.
This article examines the parliamentarisation of security through four decades of committee activity in the UK and Australia. Security governance has expanded since the Cold War from defence and secret intelligence to an array of problematisations that could arise in almost any policy area. This has driven parliamentary activity, with the effect that a much wider range of committees have done substantive work on security issues. The UK and Australia display similar levels of security parliamentarisation but of a different character due to differences in executive/legislative relations, party discipline, parliamentary rules and geopolitical circumstance
Pullinger, John. “Updating campaign regulation for the digital era.” Constitution Unit: 5p, July 9, 2021.
The chair of the Electoral Commission, argues digital campaign regulations need an ‘overhaul’ to make the electoral process more transparent and accessible to voters, thereby increasing confidence in the system in a manner that doesn’t discourage parties, candidates and campaigners to take in part in elections. He also calls on the UK’s parliaments to show that they do not tolerate the use of online activities that undermine democracy.
Vasta, Ross (Chair). “A window on the House: practices and procedures relating to Question Time.” Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia – House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure: 149p, March 2021.
The inquiry heard that public perception of Question Time is by and large not positive and there is significant scope for improvement. The Committee makes a range of recommendations in this report, and while many of these relate to specific changes to standing orders it is hoped that, if adopted, the net effect of the changes would be to improve the conduct of Question Time overall. The Committee considers a reformed Question Time would improve how the House, and indeed the Parliament, is viewed.
“Politics – House of Zoom” Economist 439 (9248): 26, June 5, 2021.
Remote working has weakened parliament. Now MPs want “revenge.”