New and Notable Titles

Article 7 / 9 , Vol 46 No. 1 (Spring)

New and Notable Titles

A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (December 2022 – February 2023).

“Comparative Study: Committee powers to assist scrutiny of governments.” The Table – The Journal of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments 90, 2022: 211-48.

  • This year’s comparative study asked, “What powers do committees scrutinising the work of government for your assembly have to compel information or participation from your government? Have there been any challenges to the operation of such powers? What plans, if any, are there to review or change any such powers?”

Armstrong, Emma. “Digital innovation and public engagement at the Scottish parliament.” Australasian Parliamentary Review 37 (2), Spring/Summer 2022: 56-67.

  • This article provides an overview of how the Scottish Parliament’s public engagement strategies and use of digital platforms and tools has evolved over time.

Hazell, Robert. “Reforming the royal prerogative.” The Constitution Unit, December 8, 2022, 5p.

  • The Brexit process raised questions about how – and in what areas – the royal prerogative should operate. Following a lengthy project, which has resulted in a new book on the subject and a Unit report on options for reform, the author explains why the prerogative matters, and how it might be reformed to strike a better balance between parliament and the executive.

LeBlanc, Jeffrey. “Electronic voting in Canada’s House of Commons.” The Table – The Journal of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments 90, 2022: 56-60, .

  • The possibility of electronic voting has been discussed in the House of Commons of Canada for many years. As early as 1959, members made suggestions for
    systems that would allow them to cast votes electronically. In 1985, when many
    reforms were made to House procedure, a special committee recommended that the House adopt computerised electronic voting. This recommendation was not taken up, and in 2003, another special committee made a similar recommendation. Some electronic infrastructure was installed in the summer of 2004, but no further action was taken. Votes continued to be taken in the traditional manner, with members rising in their places and having their names called by a Table Officer. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue to the top of the agenda in 2020.

Price, Peter. “Virtual parliaments in Canada: pandemic responses or permanent solution?” Australasian Parliamentary Review 37 (2), Spring/Summer 2022: 47-55.

  • This article gives a brief survey of the adoption of virtual parliamentary proceedings in Canada, beginning with a summary of its rapid implementation in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While remote participation sometimes featured technical hiccups and procedural predicaments, it also raised serious questions about Executive control of parliamentary business in the early phases of the pandemic. The article then discusses specific institutional complexities in adopting virtual participation, including the challenges of accommodating parliamentarians who live in areas where high-speed internet connection is unavailable or unreliable, maintaining simultaneous interpretation of all proceedings in Canada’s two official languages, and ensuring that technological resources are shared adequately between both chambers of Canada’s parliament. In light of these challenges, parliamentarians in Canada remain divided on whether hybrid parliament is a unique response to a pandemic or the beginning of a new form of parliamentary participation.

Slatter, Daryl and Gabor Hellyer. “Library researchers and select committees.” The Table – The Journal of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments 90, 2022: 151-58.

  • This paper focuses on a collaboration project in the New Zealand House of Representatives between Select Committees and Parliamentary Library researchers to give select committees better access to high-quality and independent research and advisory services.

Wilson, David. “Engaging the public with parliament in Aotearoa New Zealand.” Australasian Parliamentary Review 37 (2), Spring/Summer 2022: 68-76.

  • Since 2016, increasing public awareness of the role of parliament and members, and public participation in the work of parliament has been the major strategic focus for staff of the New Zealand House of Representatives. In the face of declining participation in key democratic processes, low trust of politics and an apparent decrease in the relevance of parliament to the lives of New Zealanders, the Clerk of the House made building engagement with parliament the strategic priority. Despite low levels of corruption and generally well-functioning civic institutions, members of parliament are consistently regarded as one of the least-trusted professions in Aotearoa New Zealand. In a democracy, public feedback and consent to be governed gives legitimacy. This is why building greater levels of trust and participation in parliament was a crucial focus for the Office of the Clerk.