Dr Louise Thompson
Lecturer in British Politics
Qualifications: Ba (Hons) British Politics and Legislative Studies (Hull), MA Legislative Studies Online (Hull), PhD (Hull)
Phone: Work: 01483 68 6635
Room no: 17 AC 05
- Mondays 3.00-4.30
- Tuesdays 12.30-2.00
I joined the Department of Politics in September 2013 after completing my PhD in the Centre for Legislative Studies at the University of Hull with an ESRC Scholarship. I have previously worked for a Member of Parliament, for the Smith Institute and for the Labour Party. I am currently Managing Editor of the Political Studies Association’s blog.
My research focuses on the UK Parliament, particularly the legislative process, committees, political parties and public engagement within Parliament. My wider research interests are in legislative studies, British politics and constitutional reform. I have published widely on the impact of parliament on government legislation and continue to research in this area. Projects which I am currently working on include:
• Parliament’s public reading stage pilot
• The SNP in the 2015 and 2017 Parliaments
• Small parties in the House of Commons
I am also interested in pedagogical research and I have published work on the use of parliamentary sources in teaching. I am co-author of a series of guides for lecturers and students published by the Higher Education Academy, including a guide to referencing parliamentary material and a portfolio of teaching case studies. I am the editor of the textbook Exploring Parliament (with Professor Cristina Leston Bandeira, University of Leeds).
I am the Co-Convenor of the PSA’s Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group, a member of the Study of Parliament Group and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Legislative Studies.
- 'Understanding Third Parties at Westminster: The SNP in the 2015 Parliament'.
Politics, Repository URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/842018
Opposition politics in the British House of Commons is dominated by the ‘Official’ Opposition. However, other parties also carry out opposition roles in the chamber. This is particularly true of the third largest party, which is afforded some parliamentary privileges yet is overlooked in studies of Parliament. This article fills this gap, using a case study of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to analyse the challenges facing the third party in the Commons. It additionally contributes to the literature on regional nationalist parties, exploring the micro level variables affecting their agenda-setting capacities within a state level parliament. Drawing primarily on elite interviews with SNP MPs and staff, it finds that third party rights are not as significant as they may appear. Party size alone is not sufficient to guarantee impact in the Commons. Strategies to overcome the inherent procedural constraints of the chamber are also required. In the SNP’s case this included incremental organisational change, a highly collegiate intra-party culture and mentoring from existing MPs during the 2015 Parliament.
- 'Integrating the view of the public into the formal legislative process: public reading stage in the UK House of Commons'.
The Journal of Legislative Studies, 23 (4), pp. 508-528.Repository URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/813604
Recent years have seen increasing calls to integrate the public’s voice into the parliamentary process. This article examines the impact of public reading stage (PRS) on the UK Parliament’s scrutiny of a bill. A new stage of the legislative process piloted by the House of Commons in February 2013, PRS invited the public to comment on a bill undergoing parliamentary scrutiny (the Children and Families Bill). The PRS was designed to encourage members of the public to participate in the scrutiny of legislation through a specially designed forum on Parliament’s website. Over 1000 comments were submitted. Drawing on a content analysis of the comments given by the public to the bill, complemented by interviews with MPs, key officials and PRS participants, we find that although the public reading stage had an impressive response, it failed to make much of a tangible impact on the parliamentary scrutiny of the bill. This was largely due to the choice of bill being used for the pilot and its lack of appropriate integration into the formal legislative process.
- 'Debunking the Myths of Bill Committees in the British House of Commons'.
[ Status: Accepted ]
© 2015 Political Studies Association.Bill committees play a crucial role in the scrutiny of government legislation, yet they have traditionally been overlooked by academics and journalists in favour of the more newsworthy aspects of parliamentary scrutiny on the floor of the House of Commons chamber or by investigative select committees. This lack of interest has perpetuated a series of myths about bill committee work. This article discusses the common depictions of bill committees before demonstrating why these are incorrect. It argues that these incorrect assumptions can damage our perception of the policy influencing power of Parliament and that bill committees deserve a kinder billing in the literature.
- 'Evidence taking under the microscope: How has oral evidence affected the scrutiny of legislation in House of Commons committees?'.
BRITISH POLITICS, 9 (4), pp. 385-400.doi: 10.1057/bp.2014.2
- 'Mind the Gap: Using UK Parliamentary Sources to Enhance Teaching'.
The Journal of Legislative Studies, 19 (3), pp. 410-421.Repository URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/804396/
Online primary parliamentary sources can be of great value in teaching Parliamentrelated courses and a valuable means of promoting the development of students’ research and analytical skills; particularly taking into account the research habits of the modern student population. Through a series of focus groups with politics students and a national survey of politics lecturers, the perceptions and current use of the UK Parliament website in teaching are analysed. It was found that a considerable number of lecturers are making use of the website for teaching purposes, though this is usually at a very basic and often superficial level. Barriers to the use of parliamentary resources include a lack of awareness of the types and variety of parliamentary material, difficulties in finding appropriate material on the Parliament website and a lack of understanding on the part of lecturers as to how to use this material effectively in lectures and seminars
- 'More of the same or a period of change? The impact of bill committees in the twenty-first century House of Commons'.
Parliamentary Affairs: devoted to all aspects of parliamentary democracy, 66 (3), pp. 459-479.doi: 10.1093/pa/gss016Repository URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/804397/
Bill committees have long been a fundamental feature of legislative scrutiny in the British House of Commons. The recent introduction of oral evidence sessions as a standard bill committee procedure has further underlined their importance.1 Yet despite their prominence in parliamentary life, bill committees have been somewhat under-studied. A comparison of bill committee activity in the first decade of the twenty-first century with the last comprehensive examination undertaken in 1974 shows that significant changes have taken place; bill committees appear to be working harder than ever before but this is not reflected in terms of the relative impact they are making on government legislation.
- 'Adding Value to an Arena Legislature: A Preliminary Examination of Topical Debates in the British House of Commons'.
The Journal of Legislative Studies, 15 (4), pp. 535-546.
The introduction of the topical debate mechanism in the autumn of 2007 sought to enhance the contemporary nature of debate in the British House of Commons and to increase opportunities for the participation of backbench MPs. Though experimental in the first instance, these debates have since become an entrenched feature of parliamentary life. This note seeks to assess the impact of topical debates on a legislature which has long been characterised by the strength of its plenary sessions. Analysis of the topical debates held during the 2007–08 parliamentary session demonstrates that topic selection has indeed been broad, examining issues of both national and constituency concerns. Whilst there has been no extraordinary change in the House, the use of topical debates by backbench opposition MPs in particular is significant and has the potential to add considerable value to the House of Commons as an arena legislature.
- 'Parliament and the Constitution: The Coalition in Conflict'. in Beech M, Lee S (eds.) The Conservative-Liberal Coalition Examining the Cameron-Clegg Government
Article number 9 , pp. 129-144.
The provisions of the Coalition agreement covering constitutional issues were embodied in section 24 entitled ‘Political Reform’ (HM Government 2010, pp. 26-7). The 27 bullet points included fixed-term five-year Parliaments, a referendum on the introduction of the Alternative Vote (AV), reform of the House of Lords, legislation to provide for recall of MPs, and implementation of the Wright Committee recommendations for reform of the House of Commons. The section created inherent problems when it came to implementation. In part, these were practical. However, the most substantial problem derived from competing ideologies. There were also problems in carrying out changes not envisaged in the agreement. Governments have mandates that are permissive and not just prescriptive. The Coalition had to deal with the unplanned. Among the changes not included in the agreement was press regulation and strengthening Parliament in waging war. There were also two issues that were essentially designed to be sidelined through the use of commissions – one on English votes for English laws and the other on a British Bill of Rights. However, the referendum in Scotland in 2014 gave fresh impetus to the former and pressure from Conservative MPs, responding to some judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, reawakened demands for the latter.
In 2016-17 I will be teaching the following modules:
- Debates in British Politics (Level 4)
- Public Policy: Theory and Practice (Level 5)
- Electoral Systems and Voting Behaviour (Level 5)
- Perspectives on the UK Parliament (Level 6)
- Dissertation Module (Level 6)
I have previously taught modules in British Government, Electoral and Voting Systems, European Politics, Social Policy and Political Thinkers.
Co-Convenor, PSA Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group
Member, Study of Parliament Group
Editorial Board Member, Journal of Legislative Studies
Other Published Work
- Letting the Public in on The Act: A report of the public reading stage of the Children and Families Bill, with Professor Cristina Leston Bandeira and Will Mace (online here)
- The Referendum Bubble: What can we learn from EU campaign polling?’, in D Jackson, E Thorsen and D Wring (eds), EU Referendum Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign: Early Reflections from leading UK academics, June 2016. (online here)
- Parliament as a Teaching Resource: A Guide for Lecturers and Teaching Staff, June 2013 (with Dr Cristina Leston-Bandeira), Higher Education Academy/UK Parliament
- Using Parliamentary Resurces in Teaching: A Case Study Portfolio, June 2013 (with Dr Cristina Leston-Bandeira, Higher Education Academy/UK Parliament
- Referencing Parliamentary Material: A Guide for Lecturers and Students, June 2013
- Using Parliamentary Websites as an Engagement Tool , May 2013 (with Dr Cristina Leston-Bandeira).
- Organising and Managing Parliamentary Websites: A Guide for Parliaments, May 2013, (with Dr Cristina Leston-Bandeira)
I regularly write short blogs for the The Conversation, Democatic Audit, the LSE British Politics & Policy and the Political Studies Association Blog. A few selected pieces are listed below.
- 'The Brexit Bill has hit Parliament. Here's what to expect', The Independent, 27 January 2017.
- 'Weak Government, Strong Parliament? A Preview of Theresa May's Legislative Challenges', LSE British Politics & Policy Blog, 20 June 2017.
- ‘The New Opposition: How will SNP MPs influence Westminster Politics’, The Constitution Unit, 1 June 2015.
House of Commons Procedure Committee inquiry into the new English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) procedures (EVL 01)
'The challenges of utilising UK parliamentary texts in research', Negotiated Texts Network Seminar, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, 29 June 2017. (summary here)
• ‘Committee Scrutiny’, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, 65th Westminster Seminar, December 2016.
‘The Legislative Process: Amending Legislation’, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Annual Conference (1 December 2015)
Debating the Constitution after the General Election, UK Constitutional Law Association (24 June 2015)
The Scrutiny of Government Bills, Seminar for the Study of Parliament Group, House of Commons, 23 July 2013.
Undergraduate Programme Director (2015 - present)
Deputy Chair, University Ethics Committee
Member, Faculty Ethics Committee