The ‘powerless parliament’? Agenda-setting and the role of the UK parliament in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008

Mark Goodwin, Stephen Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article uses a case study of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 to examine the legislative role of the UK Parliament. Parliament is often considered to be a weak legislative actor, although this view has increasingly been challenged by legislative scholars. In this case, Parliament exercised agenda-setting powers at the pre-legislative stage that produced a significant impact on legislative outcomes. The article demonstrates the value for legislative studies of disaggregating the legislative timeframe and thereby examining the power of legislatures beyond the formal decision-making process. It also identifies a set of enabling conditions – for example, extended pre-legislative scrutiny, low political salience, and synchronisation of committee timelines with the legislative process – under which legislatures might exercise agenda-setting power in other areas of policy. The case study finds that those parliamentarians who engaged with policy in the agenda-setting phase exerted greater influence over policy outcomes than those who engaged at the decision-making stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-255
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Politics
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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