Held in contempt

What's wrong with the House of Commons?

By Hannah White

Held in contempt


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5669-3
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: April 2022
  • BIC Category: POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy, Parliamentary & Legislative Practice, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Political Theory, Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European


If MPs do not take responsibility for reforming the House of Commons - the cornerstone of our democracy - it will be held in contempt by the British public. In this timely book, Hannah White offers a perceptive critique of the internal shortcomings of the House of Commons. She argues that parliamentary rules have become too complex for many MPs, let alone the public, to understand. Meanwhile, MPs undermine their own credibility by acting as if the rules they set for others should not apply to them. This reinforces the public's sense that MPs are detached from their own lives, and their awareness that MPs are still not representative of the population they govern from the crumbling Palace of Westminster.

Hannah White argues these internal flaws are undermining the public reputation of the House of Commons. And they have been compounded by government attempts to side-line parliament, particularly during Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. At a time of populist challenge to representative democracy, this book is a much-needed rallying cry - to reform the House of Commons as an institution or see it fade into irrelevance.


1 Arcane
2 Exceptionalist
3 Unrepresentative
4 London-centric
5 Decaying
6 Side-lined


Hannah White is the Deputy Director of the London-based think tank the Institute for Government. She is a regular commentator on Westminster and Whitehall for radio and television in the UK and internationally, and writes for publications including The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and Prospect. She received an OBE in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to the Constitution.

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