Using research to effectively engage with Parliament

Using research to effectively engage with Parliament

Using research to effectively engage with Parliament Gary Hart Parliamentary Outreach @UKParlOutreach Session objectives By the end of this session...

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Using research to effectively engage with Parliament Gary Hart Parliamentary Outreach


Session objectives By the end of this session, you will have a greater understanding of:

Parliament's core activities and functions

The work of MPs and Members of the Lords

Parliamentary Select Committees, Debates and Questions The work of the House of Commons Library and Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Submitting effective research

What is Parliament? House of Commons

House of Lords

The Monarch





• • •

• •

Commons, Lords, Monarch Holds Government to account Passes laws Enables taxation Represents public Raises key issues

• • •

Chosen by the Prime Minister Runs Government departments and public Accountable to Parliament Some MPs and some Lords

Research at Parliament 

Select Committees



Their researchers

All Party Parliamentary Groups


Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

Balancing the Brief 

Library and Committee staff work for backbench and opposition MPs. Ministers have hundreds of civil servants behind them. Front-bench spokespeople do not serve on Committees (by convention)


Commons select committees 


Departmental select committees: Examine spending, policies and administration in each Government department Cross-departmental committees: e.g. Public Accounts or Environmental Audit Domestic committees: concerned with internal matters e.g. administration of the House itself or allegations about the conduct of individual MPs Liaison Committee: oversight role – made up of all 33 Chairs of select committees

House of Lords select committees 

Examine issues rather than the work of specific departments Investigate specialist subjects which take advantage of the experience of members of the Lords Five main Lords select committees:  European Union Select Committee  Science and Technology Select Committee  Communications Select Committee  Constitution Select Committee  Economic Affairs Select Committees

Support for Select Committee Inquiries  

Clerk – procedure expert, manages committee Second clerk – “clerk in training”, manages inquiries 2 x Committee specialists – subject experts, manages and advises on inquiries, brief Members (suggests questions!) Admin staff, media officer




The Committee inquiry process 1. Inquiry initiation

2. Evidence gathering

3. Report preparation

4. Report publication 5. Government reply

Committee inquiries:

Open calls for evidence

All Party Parliamentary Groups 

Informal cross-party groups on many different subjects, e.g. International Development, Energy Can do good work and carry influence (eg food waste, treatment of asylum seekers) Must have a mix of parties amongst membership and members of both Houses

 APPGs are a useful way to identify MPs/Lords with an interest in a certain issue

HoC / HoL Library 

Provide specialist impartial information and briefing service for MPs, Peers, their staff, committees and staff of the Houses ◦ Scrutinising legislation ◦ Debates (debate packs) ◦ Media appearances ◦ Constituents, surgeries ◦ Specialist interests

Confidential briefings for MPs: 250 a month

Publish 100+ ‘standard notes’ on internet each year

Daily ‘current awareness’ email to over 100 subscribers

Personal briefings – e.g. new Opposition spokespersons

Library Research Papers

How else can MPs use research whilst raising issues? Parliamentary Questions Written or oral questions - asked by MPs and Lords, directed at the Government Debates  Government / Opposition Day / Backbench Business  Adjournment debates  Westminster Hall debates  Questions for Short Debate

Exercise Look at the evidence submission. • What is good about it? • How do you think it could be improved? • How have those who submitted it considered their audience?

Exercise The better evidence submissions:

The less good evidence submissions:

 directly address the questions asked by the Committee,

 give over-complicated information,

 explain any complicated findings in a simple but intelligent way,

 give irrelevant information,

 tailor which bits of research they present to be relevant to the inquiry,  gives sources of further information,  only gives information relevant to the inquiry

 do not answer the question,  present information in a way incomprehensible for nonacademics.

Submitting research 

  

   

Use the terms of reference: you need to tailor your research to the specific inquiry Answer the questions posed in the Call for Evidence Write for an intelligent non-specialist: be relevant and concise State clearly who the submission is from - “Written evidence submitted by xxxxxxx” Begin with a short summary in bullet form No more than 3000 words (or 8 sides of A4) Have numbered paragraphs Any factual information you have to offer from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses for their reactions Any recommendations for action by the Government or others which you would like the committee to consider

Where can I get information? • • Twitter @UKParliament @UKParlOutreach • Commons Information Office 020 7219 4272 [email protected] • Lords Information Office 020 7219 3107 [email protected] • Parliament’s Outreach Service 020 7219 1650 [email protected]

Research Impact and Parliament 26 November 2015 Dr Caroline Kenny

29 September 2010

Background Aiming to build stronger links between Parliament and academic community. Activities include: – Outreach’s Universities Programme – Internal workshop with Parliamentary staff

– Series of regional events with academic researchers – Studying the use of research in parliamentary processes

– CPD for MPs – Other activities such as research methods course for internal staff, academics giving invited talks.

Who uses research at Parliament? Internal offices


• • • •

• • • •

Library Select Committees Scrutiny Unit Public Information services • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

MPs Peers Their researchers All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) • Political parties

How do we use research? • Developing background knowledge and checking accuracy of materials produced

• Briefing Members and developing research papers or reports • Identifying specific researchers with which to work • Assisting with forward planning • Supporting the improvement of services • Informing wider activities and projects

How do we identify relevant research/researchers? • Existing personal contacts/networks • Recommendations from Members and colleagues • Contact from proactive researchers • Signing up for alerts/newsfeeds/Twitter • Internet search engines • Specialist search engines e.g. bibliographic databases • Networking at events

Parliament in the REF 2014 impact case studies • 20% of impact case studies referring to engagement with Parliament. • 23 different ways that academics are engaging. • 22 areas of Parliament being engaged with.

• References to Parliament found in all 36 subject areas. • 88% of higher education universities submitting case studies that referred to Parliament.

Areas of Parliament being engaged

The ways academics are engaging with Parliament Cited or mentioned (26%) On hand expert (3%)

Indirect citation (6%) Location (5%) Oral or written evidence (16%)

Event (5%) Speaker or Presenter (6%) Specialist Adviser (4%) Via third party (12%) Meeting (3%) Other (14%)

Which select committees are mentioned?

Universities engaging with Parliament

Subject areas engaging with Parliament

Specific examples from REF: University of Sheffield Alcohol Policy Oral brief DoH, DEFRA, DECC Ministers

Commons Health Committe e

Written briefings: DoH, CMO

Fed into draft Alcohol Strategy

Cited in Impact Assessmen t of Alcohol Strategy


Cited in Alcohol Strategy Bespoke work for Govt on equality

Cited by BMA, Alcohol Concern


Want to find out more? 8 ways to get your research into parliament


Contact @POST_UK #POSTRIAP [email protected]