Web links: Chapter 29
Perceptions of Parliament
Regular surveys are carried out to measure the public’s perceptions towards our political system. The Eurobarometer is a regular survey done twice a year across all EU countries and includes a question about trust in the national Parliament. Its website gives access to its extensive reports and this interactive tool is very simple to use. It is useful to obtain data over a period of time, but also for comparative purposes with other parliaments.
The Hansard Society produces annually an Audit of Political engagement, which has a very strong focus on Parliament. The Audit uses similar questions year on year, enabling also an overview of people’s perceptions of Parliament over time. It started in 2004 and all of the Audits, and respective data are available online form the Audit’s general page (just scroll down the page).
Public engagement in Parliament
The 2004 report of the Modernisation Committee on Connecting Parliament with the Public was an important step in the development of public engagement in Parliament. See also the House of Lords Information Committee 2009 report Are the Lords listening? Creating connections between people and Parliament. Since then public engagement has witnessed considerable expansion and investment, illustrated by the rise in activity reported in the House of Commons Commission’s annual reports. It now includes a wide range of types of activities from visits to the Palace of Westminster, to the use of social media to collate the public’s views on issues being discussed in parliament.
Parliament now has a well-established Education website with a wide range of resources for teachers and pupils. The Centre for Education has been in place to support this work with schools since 2015. The outreach service coordinates activities within the Palace of Westminster and across the country. Committees now regularly use social media and other tools to collate evidence from the public; see for instance, this web forum where the public made contributions based on their experience to the inquiry about PIP and ESA assessments led by the Work and Pensions Select Committee. The public is now also able to present e-petitions and regular digital debates take place. Read about the baby loss digital debate and watch its respective debate in parliament.