Parliamentary Monitor 2021

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Various Authors

September 9, 2021

This report from UK think tank Institute for Government looks at the effectiveness of government scrutiny by parliament. 

The government must drop its dismissive approach to scrutiny as parliament returns to in-person sittings. Parliamentary Monitor 2021 finds that the efforts of MPs and peers to hold ministers to account during the 2019–21 parliamentary session were impeded by ministers’ frequent use of emergency powers and side-lining of parliament. While the need to legislate rapidly was understandable at the start of the Covid pandemic, the new government – emboldened by the largest majority in 20 years – sought to avoid scrutiny and rush through legislation on issues beyond the pandemic too, including giving MPs just a single day to debate its Brexit trade deal in December 2020. Parliament itself adapted rapidly to the practical difficulties of the pandemic. It experimented with new ways of working, including virtual sittings and proxy voting, some of which it should consider making permanent. Implemented at impressive speed, these changes are calculated to have cost parliament a net £20m in day-to-day running costs.