The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Thomas Caygill

Project title: A critical analysis of the extent and effectiveness of post-legislative scrutiny in the UK Parliament

Supervisors: Dr. Nick Randall and Dr Alistair Clark

Post-legislative scrutiny is defined by the Law Commission as: 'a broad form of review, which addresses the effects of legislation in terms of whether intended policy objectives have been met and, if so, how effectively'.

It has been a core task of departmental select committees in the House of Commons since 2002. Since 2012 a more systematic approach has been taken by both government and parliament, with the House of Lords Liaison Committee promising to appoint at least one ad hoc committee per session (House of Lords Liaison Committee, 2012) and government departments being required to prepare and publish memoranda, assessing whether an Act of Parliament has met its key objectives, within three to five years of the Act entering the statue books (Cabinet Office, 2012; Kelly, 2014; Kelly & Everett, 2013). These memoranda are then presented to departmental select committees for additional scrutiny.

However due to a lack of systematic study, we do not know how the process operates in practice. We do not know; the ways in which it can be undertaken; how the formal processes have been carried out and with what frequency; what the experience has been of parliamentary committees undertaking post-legislative scrutiny; what recommendations have arisen from post-legislative scrutiny; how many recommendations have been accepted by the Government and with what consequence; what factors impact upon these choices and finally the extent to which recommendations are being followed up by committees. This research fills an important gap in our knowledge of how this particular core function of departmental select committees is undertaken. As Parliament has been undertaking such scrutiny for over ten years now, this is a timely study to assess how the UK Parliament is performing on this specific task.

This study has the potential to contribute to the existing literature on the impact of oversight co! mmittees (Benton & Russell, 2013; MacMahon, 1943; Rockman, 1984), and the comparative study of post-legislative scrutiny. In addition, the focus of post-legislative scrutiny on the evaluation of policy means that this thesis also has the opportunity to contribute to the existing literature on policy evaluation (Dolbeare, 1975; Rist, 1995). Finally there is also scope for this thesis to contribute to debates on, the legislative process, parliamentary scrutiny and in particular the work of parliamentary committees.

Publications:

Blog posts:

'Post-legislative scrutiny: what recommendations are committees making, and are they being accepted?' LSE British Politics and Policy Blog. 6th July 2017. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/post-legislative-scrutiny-strength-of-recommendations/

‘Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament: Developing a Research Agenda’. PSA Parliaments and Legislatures Blog. 17th June 2015. https://parliamentsandlegislatures.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/post-legislative-scrutiny-in-the-uk-parliament-identifying-a-research-agenda/

'Reflections from the PSA/House of Commons Placement at the Petitions Committee'. PSA Parliaments and Legislatures Blog. 5th August 2016. https://parliamentsandlegislatures.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/reflections-from-the-psahouse-of-commons-placement-at-the-petitions-committee/

Book chapters:

[Forthcoming] (2017) ‘Petitions’, in C. Leston-Bandeira and L. Thompson (eds.) Exploring Parliament, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Co-author: Anne Marie Griffiths.

Presentations:

Workshops/Seminars:

  • Centre for Legislative Studies Workshop on Post-Legislative Scrutiny. ’A critical analysis of the extent and effectiveness of post-legislative scrutiny in the UK Parliament: An Overview’. University of Hull (May 2015).
  • Politics PGR Workshop. 'Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament: A reflection'. Newcastle University. (May 2016).
  • Politics PGR Workshop. 'Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament: What the descriptive data tells us'. Newcastle University. (March 2017).
  • Politics Seminar Series. 'Post-Legislative Scrutiny recommendations - their strength, acceptance and the factors that impact'. Newcastle University. (May 2017).
  • HaSS Research Showcase. 'Accounting for post-legislative scrutiny recommendations and their acceptance'. Newcastle University. (June 2017).

Conferences:

  • First Year Postgraduate Research Conference. ‘Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament: How, When and What Impact?’. Newcastle University (June 2015).
  • PSA Annual Conference: Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group. 'Into the Unknown: Accounting for the Recommendations and Government Acceptance of Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament'. Glasgow. (April 2017).
  • [Forthcoming] ECPR Specialist Group on Parliaments Summer School. 'Into the Unknown: Accounting for the Recommendations and Government Acceptance of Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament. Berlin, Germany. (August 2017).

Public Engagement:

Scottish Parliament. Public Audit Committee: Business Planning Session - Oral and written evidence. 'Post-Legislative Scrutiny'. (September 2016).

 

Teaching:

  • POL1047: Power, Participation and Democracy: Comparative Perspectives (2017-18) Module leader: Dr Alistair Clark
  • POL1047: Power, Participation and Democracy: Comparative Perspectives (2015-16) Module leader: Dr Alistair Clark
  • POL1047: Power, Participation and Democracy: Comparative Perspectives (2016-17) Module leader: Dr Alistair Clark

Qualifications:

  • 2014: MA Politics (Research): Distinction. Newcastle University. 
  • 2013: BA (Hons) British Politics and Legislative Studies: Upper Second Class. University of Hull.

Achievements:

  • 2017: ECPR Specialist Group on Parliaments Summer School
  • 2015: PSA/House of Commons Committee Office Placement
  • 2014: ESRC PhD Studentship (Newcastle University)
  • 2013: Parliamentary Outreach/Higher Education Academy Bursary (University of Hull) 
  • 2009: Scholarship (University of Hull)

Positions held elsewhere:

  • 2016: Intern. House of Commons Petitions Committee. UK Parliament.
  • 2014: Research Assistant. Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira. University of Hull.
  • 2011: Intern. Parliamentary Office of an MP. UK Parliament.

Links to other personal web profiles:

https://twitter.com/thomascaygill

Research Cluster:

Governance and Political Organisations (Politics)