RSS feed
Mark D'Arcy, Parliamentary correspondent

Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

This is where you can come for my take on what goes on in the chambers and committee rooms around Westminster

Parliamentarians of the year

29 July 2014

It is quite easy for the backbenchers, the parliamentary rank and file, who're not holders of grand office as ministers or party spokespersons, to fall into thinking of themselves as pondlife, but the last parliamentary year has provided an object lesson on what an individual MP or peer can achieve. So today I thought I'd nominate my most influential backbench MP and Peer of the year.

Step forward, from the Commons, Conservative backbencher John Baron. He's not a household name or a fiery orator, but his fingerprints are all over the two most significant parliamentary events of the last 12 months.

Just over a year ago, shortly before the Commons' 2013 Summer Recess, he moved a backbench motion: "That this House believes no lethal support should be provided to anti-government forces in Syria without the explicit prior consent of Parliament."

That was the motion that forced David Cameron to recall the Commons a few weeks later to seek that prior consent, only to be refused it, prompting his immediate promise: "It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly."

It's hard to overstate how extraordinary a reverse that was - even if the government then picked itself up, dusted itself down and carried on as if nothing had happened - a Prime Minister had been refused authorisation (however tentative and preliminary) for the use of armed force, nothing like that has happened for centuries.

Read full article

Week ahead

28 July 2014

With the Commons long gone, the final three days of parliamentary action before the Lords followed them into the summer holidays looked pretty humdrum - until the controversy over the reshuffle flared up and motion was put down for peers to debate on Monday evening. Peers are clearly pretty miffed about the downgrading of the leadership of the Lords from full cabinet rank and even a soothing letter to the Conservative peers from David Cameron has not mollified them.

Other than that, the week will be dominated by detailed debate on the Government's proposals to reform the system of Judicial Review.

Read full article

Week ahead

18 July 2014

It's the final lazy hazy crazy days before the Commons Summer Recess, always assuming that none of the several international crises under way at the moment force a postponement. But there's still time for two new Cabinet ministers to make their question time debut - with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan taking questions on Monday and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday.

And Their Lordships will be continuing into the following week - and putting in some heavy legislative grind along the way. Watch out for some very interesting issues in Committee on the Criminal justice and Courts Bill.

Read full article

Assisted Dying Bill: Can it become law?

18 July 2014
Dr John Sentamu
The Archbishop of York said coming to terms with one's own death was a "gift"

What happens next?

As I write, the Lords are still debating the Second Reading of Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, and it is one of the best, and most moving, parliamentary debates I've ever reported.

Read full article

An update on the clerks

16 July 2014

No winner has yet emerged from the interview process for a new Clerk of the Commons.

I gather a third round of interviews will now be held on July 30, for the three remaining candidates surviving from the original shortlist of eight.

Read full article

Reshuffle thoughts

15 July 2014

The Tory torch has been passed to a younger generation; or to put it another way, if you're a middle aged, white male Conservative MP, who arrived in Westminster before 2010, and you're not already in the government, your chances of unlocking a red box of government documents now look pretty slim.

History has passed you by.

Read full article

Week ahead

11 July 2014

There is some very interesting legislative action in prospect next week, as DRIP - the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill - is rushed through both Houses, while Peers gear up for a marathon debate on assisted dying.

It is also worth noting that, while the legislative load has been fairly light in the Commons, so far in this new parliamentary session, the "carryover" bills from the last one have been passed on to the Lords, where such measures as the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill have been undergoing detailed scrutiny.

Read full article

Private members bill games

8 July 2014

Ho, ho ho!

Some amusing Private Members Bill japes in prospect when the Commons Friday sittings resume in September.

Read full article

Week ahead

4 July 2014

Next week's edgiest parliamentary event will be the debate on Thursday on the government's approach to opting in and out of an assortment of EU cooperative arrangements on justice and home affairs.

Although this is only a general debate - which means no vote is scheduled - this is a touchy issue for Eurosceptics, and any hint that ministers are trying to push something through could have a toxic effect on confidence in David Cameron's handling of EU policy.

Read full article

The future of committee selection

3 July 2014

More than two years ago, an ugly row shook the Scottish Affairs select committee.

Its SNP member Dr Eilidh Whiteford had a row with the Chair, Labour MP Ian Davidson, claiming he had told her he would give her "a doing" if she leaked information discussed during one of its meetings.

Read full article

More Correspondents

  • Nick Robinson, Political editor Nick Robinson Political editor

    The latest on what’s going on in and around politics


  • James Landale James Landale Deputy political editor

    Who is saying what to whom at Westminster and why it matters


  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick


About Mark

Mark has been a correspondent for Today in Parliament since 2002, and also presents BBC Parliament's political book review show, Book Talk.

His career has included stints at LWT's Weekend World and the Leicester Mercury. He has also produced and occasionally presented Radio 4's The Westminster Hour.

As well as being a politics nerd, he is a cricket fanatic, amateur cook and Bruce Springsteen fan.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.