Integrating the view of the public into the formal legislative process: public reading stage in the UK House of Commons

Cristina Leston-Bandeira, Louise Thompson

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Abstract

Recent years have seen increasing calls to integrate the public's voice into the parliamentary process. This article examines the impact of public reading stage (PRS) on the UK Parliament's scrutiny of a bill. A new stage of the legislative process piloted by the House of Commons in February 2013, PRS invited the public to comment on a bill undergoing parliamentary scrutiny (the Children and Families Bill). The PRS was designed to encourage members of the public to participate in the scrutiny of legislation through a specially designed forum on parliament's website. Over 1000 comments were submitted. Drawing on a content analysis of the comments given by the public to the bill, complemented by interviews with members of parliament, key officials and PRS participants, it was found that although the public reading stage had an impressive response, it failed to make much of a tangible impact on the parliamentary scrutiny of the bill. This was largely due to the choice of bill being used for the pilot and its lack of appropriate integration into the formal legislative process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-528
JournalJournal of Legislative Studies
Volume23
Issue number4
Early online date1 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Legislative process
  • parliament
  • public engagement
  • scrutiny of legislation

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