Guides

Reference

Parliamentary questions (Lords)

Parliamentary questions take the form of either starred questions or written questions in the House of Lords. Starred questions are oral questions that tended to be based on topical issues. Written questions are tabled and answered usually within 14 days and published in Hansard. To find out more on this issue click through our guide...Read More

Privy Council

The Privy Council, as body of government, predates the Cabinet and the existence of the Prime Minister by many centuries. Originally the private council of trusted advisers surrounding the sovereign, it has evolved to become a somewhat hidden instrument of government. It also has judicial powers (as the appeal court for some Commonwealth nations and...Read More

Parliament Acts

Where a Bill has fallen because it has been endorsed by the Commons but opposed repeatedly by the Lords, the Parliament Acts may be used. The Acts – the first in 1911 and the second in 1949 – allow for a Bill to become law without the agreement of the Lords when certain conditions have...Read More

Policy-making

Political parties become governments by winning elections having put a manifesto containing policy proposals to voters. But not all policies that a government makes while in power can be found in these documents and regardless of where an idea originated, most go through some development within government prior to implementation. Policy-making can take a number...Read More

Policies of the EU

The Treaty of Rome set the EU the task of promoting the harmonious development of economic activities, balanced and continuous expansion, increased stability, rising living standards and closer relations between member states "by establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of member states". Ensuring that the benefits of economic policy are evenly...Read More

Parliamentary Branch

All Whitehall departments have a Parliamentary Branch that is charged with managing the department's relations with the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is the Parliamentary Branch that drafts answers to Written Questions tabled by MPs and peers before they are sent to Ministers' Private Offices for approval. The Parliamentary Branch also...Read More

Parliamentary questions (Commons)

There are different types of parliamentary questions with various question sessions held in Parliament every week. These include oral questions, written questions, cross-cutting questions, and Prime Minister questions. To find out more on this issue click through our guide to parliamentary questions.Read More

Private Office

All Ministers, of whatever rank, have a Private Office of four or more civil servants assigned to him or her on appointment. The lead figure in the Private Office is the Private Secretary who works closely with the Minister in discharging all his or her functions. The Private Office is responsible for the Minister's diary...Read More

Parties (Lords)

All the major political parties have representation in the Lords. Until the removal of the hereditary peers, the Conservatives had a substantial in-built majority, which continues to remain to an extent. In practice, the Conservatives and Labour are now reasonably in terms of working peers, with the Liberal Democrats having sufficient numbers to swing key...Read More

Parliamentary Private Secretaries

The first rung on the ministerial ladder for a government back-bencher comes when an MP is asked by a Secretary of State or Minister of State to become his or her Parliamentary Private Secretary or PPS. Often referred to as a Minister's 'eyes and ears in Parliament' or 'bag carrier', the PPS undertakes to aid...Read More

Private Bills (Lords)

While the procedure for Private Bills mirrors that for Public Bills, additional weight is given to those individuals and organisations 'directly or specially' affected by proposals, given that the legislation would favour an individual or organisation over a comparable individual or organisation. An application requesting a Private Bill must be lodged with the House authorities...Read More

Prime Minister’s Official Statement

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman or PMOS is a civil servant charged with presenting the Prime Minister and the Government to the media in the best light possible, whilst maintaining the independence and objectivity of the Civil Service. The PMOS briefs press and broadcast journalists most weekdays when Parliament is sitting, giving the Prime Minister's...Read More

Parliament Acts (Lords)

Where a Bill has fallen because it has been endorsed by the Commons but opposed repeatedly by the Lords, the Parliament Acts may be used. The Acts – the first in 1911 and the second in 1949 – allow for a Bill to become law without the agreement of the Lords when certain conditions have...Read More

Prime Minister

The head of the British Government is the Prime Minister. The leader of the largest party in the House of Commons is by convention asked by the monarch to be Prime Minister and to form a government. This can only take place after the loser of the election has conceded defeat and tendered his or...Read More

Programming

All Government Bills are programmed (also known as timetabling). After Second Reading, a programme motion is put to the House. A programme motion specifies the amount of time allocated to each of the following stages of the Bill in the Commons. It normally gives the date on which the Bill should leave Standing Committee as...Read More

Plenary Sessions (Scotland)

In our guide to plenary sessions in the Scottish Parliament you will find useful information regarding the business agenda of Parliament decided by the Parliamentary Bureau, how debates and motions are tabled in Parliament, the rules of weekly question sessions, voting in the Parliament and the passing of legislation including which areas the Scottish Parliament...Read More

Pre-legislative Scrutiny (Lords)

Increasingly new pieces of government legislation are published in draft about one Session ahead of their intended introduction and passage. Draft Bills are normally subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny at the hands of a joint-committee of MPs and peers formed for that purpose. Such a committee will take evidence from individuals and organisations who express an...Read More

Pillar Three (Europe)

Pillar three relates to justice and home affairs (JHA), another highly sensitive political area. As such, decision-making under pillar three continues to be primarily intergovernmental. This is probably the least developed area of EU common policy, because of the cultural and legal barriers to harmonisation and the implications it has for national sovereignty. Indeed, the...Read More

Private Members’ Bills (Commons)

Private Members' Bills are Public Bills that are introduced by back-benchers. Any MP can introduce a Bill on any day by informing the Speaker that he or she wishes to do so but there are a number of formal ways in which this can be arranged, some of which increase the chances of the Bill...Read More