A Short Guide to Police Complaints

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The House of Commons Library has produced a research briefing for MPs and their staff to help them to deal with casework involving dissatisfaction with the police including:

  • understanding the police complaints system
  • where to find further information about police complaints
  • how to help constituents make complaints
  • how to help constituents who have already made complaints
  • and much more

You can find it here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9053/

POST Training for Academic Researchers

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POST – the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology – is presenting regional training sessions for researchers to learn how the UK Parliament works and ways to engage with Parliament using research, with a particular focus on framing and communicating your research in a policy context.

What does the training cover?
This training gives an overview of the UK Parliament and covers ways to work with the institution including details on Select Committees, legislative scrutiny, the House of Commons and House of Lords libraries, and POST. It also includes sessions on identifying how your research relates to policy, and communicating your research at Parliament.

How is the training delivered?
Sessions are delivered by officials from POST and Select Committees. The training is interactive and practical. You will leave with an action plan, plenty of resources and the chance to join our alumni network to receive further opportunities and support from Parliament. Refreshments and lunch are included.

Who should attend?
This event is aimed at academic researchers as well as those working in policy brokerage/research impact roles.

What will I learn?
As a result of the training you will:

  • understand Parliament’s role and processes and the difference between Parliament and Government
  • know how research is used in the UK Parliament
  • be able to identify opportunities to feed your research into Parliament’s work
  • know how your research could be relevant to Parliament’s work, and how to frame it in this context
  • learn tips and advice on communicating your research at Parliament including style and tone
  • be aware of where to go for further support

What does it cost?
There is an attendance fee of £40, including VAT. If this fee is a barrier to your attendance, please contact us; we may make exceptions in some circumstances.

More information can be found at www.parliament.uk/academic-training

Have you looked at POST’s publications recently?

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POST provides balanced and accessible overviews of research from across the biological, physical and social sciences, and engineering and technology. It places the findings of this research in a policy context for Parliamentary use.

The best known format for these briefings are ‘POSTnotes’: four page summaries of public policy issues based on reviews of the research literature and interviews with stakeholders from across academia, industry, government and the third sector; they are peer reviewed by external experts. POSTnotes are often produced proactively, so that parliamentarians have advance knowledge of key issues before they reach the top of the political agenda.

Find out more here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/bicameral/post/publications/

Writing a speech

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  1. General tips for writing a speech for your MP 

This is not a guide to rhetoric.  It is not a guide on how to turn your MP into a renowned orator.  This is simply a guide to researching a speech and putting it together in a way that is suitable for your MP.

Your Member will have views on how they want a speech prepared.  Some will want bullet points, some will want statistics and some will want a speech in full.

Preparing the ground

When you are writing a speech for your MP, the first thing to do is to gather together as much information as possible on the subject.  How do you do this?

  • Search the Commons Library website for any relevant research briefings
  • If you can’t find what you need, phone the library (x6767) or email hclibrary@parliament.uk and ask for the research officer who deals with your subject area and ask them for any relevant information they have to hand.
  • Obtain copies of other debates and Questions on the subject are, you can download extracts from Hansard.
  • Use an Internet search to find any useful websites that might give you useful information or point you in the right direction for the speech content.
  • Are there any professional bodies, pressure groups, NGOs etc that have views on the subject and would provide a briefing?
  • Look at the newspaper websites for recent reports on the subject.
  • Try to find an angle that relates to your Member’s constituency.

When you have all this information, sift through it to get only the most relevant parts to include in the finished product.  If there is an interested body prepared to help, don’t be shy about asking them to write the first draft of the speech, but never hand over that draft without adapting it to your Member’s priorities and idiosyncrasies.

The aim of the speech

Then think of the aim of the speech: whom are you trying to persuade?  And what are you trying to persuade them?  Think about your use of the information you have recovered: will you seek to persuade the audience with a fact-based speech?  Or will you try to persuade them through lofty rhetoric?  Other things that you should find out: how should you address the audience (‘My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen’ or ‘Dear friends of Ray Lodge Primary School’)?  How long should the speech be?  Will there be a supplementary speech, responding to another speaker?  Are there multiple audiences?  If it is a speech in Parliament, what is the one line that encapsulates the message that you will send the media as a quotation from the speech?

Writing the speech

Now you are ready to start writing.  What should you do before scribbling away?  First, think of the audience for the speech: you should not adopt the same tone for a speech to parents and teachers in the local primary school as you would for a speech in the House of Commons.  In the Commons there are specific conventions about how certain people and places are described.  The best way to learn these conventions is to attend debates, watch them on television and read them in Hansard.

Some examples of Parliamentary Language

Honourable Member for… To describe a Member
My Honourable friend In reference to an MP from the same Party
Honourable and Learned A Member who is also a Barrister
This Place The House of Commons
The Other Place The House of Lords

So now, start writing.  Try to write in the same style as your MP’s past speeches.  Start off by introducing the subject (although it may be that you can assume some prior knowledge in your audience).  The middle of the speech should explain your point of view, using the information obtained earlier.  When summing up, you should briefly restate your arguments and leave your audience with one lasting image in their minds.  Remember that the conclusion is the one part of the speech that everybody will carry away with them: make it memorable, and make sure that the audience understand the main theme of the speech.

Finalising the speech

After writing the speech, read through again and again.  A first draft always tends to be longer than the finished article, so don’t be afraid to gut the speech . Finally, read it aloud to yourself: what would you think if you heard it?  Would you be persuaded?  If you would be, the chances are that the audience will be.  Check it again against your basic criteria (timing, forms of address etc.).  If it fits, your work is done!

Layout

It needs to be easily read, so be prepared to write in very large text and with a paragraph break between each sentence.  Page breaks should go at the end of each paragraph and always number the pages in case the sheets are dropped at the last minute.  Collate the sheets with a paperclip – not with a stapler.

Final warning

You won’t always have much notice before writing a speech.  I once had three hours to write a 7 minute speech on the Railways and Transport Safety Bill – a subject on which I knew very little.  By the time the speech was finished, my Member was in her seat in the Chamber and a doorkeeper had to deliver it to her.  It is good to get the adrenaline pumping once in a while.

2. Writing a speech for Conference 

Here are some handy hints to writing speeches for your MP if he or she is taking to the rostrum at the Party Conference – or anywhere else for that matter.  A great speech at Conference can have a long lasting impact, as well as being a fantastic boost to your boss’s confidence, especially if it’s their first time.  But of course a bad speech can be plain embarrassing, and will be remembered – and dredged up – for years to come.

Some people can take to the stage with an idea of what they want to say and engineer an eloquent speech on the spot, although few can match the senior politicians who are able to deliver an impressive twenty minute speech with neither notes nor autocue.  For mere mortals, speaker’s notes or a fully drafted script are vital props, and it is up to you to provide.

Writing a speech for a Conference audience of sympathetic party members is very different from writing for the sparring, political atmosphere of the Chamber.  For a start, the speechmaker generally doesn’t have to worry about heckling from the audience as is frequent in the Chamber, so you can be much more liberal with use of rhetorical questions when drafting.  In the same vein, while constructing a watertight case to support your point is paramount in the Chamber, on Conference occasions it’s not unusual to spend a while pondering the profundity of politics before getting down to the nitty gritty of your subject matter.  You can use PowerPoint, video/audio, props and other devices to give the finished product a great deal more innovation, style and flair.

Index:

  1. First things first
  2. Opening the speech
  3. The body of the speech
  4. Closing the speech
  5. Further Reading
  6. Quick links to great speeches
  7. Training

 

1.  First things first

Formulate a clear, specific statement of purpose for the speech.  There are six basic purposes of a speech:

  • to entertain
  • to inform
  • to inspire
  • to motivate
  • to advocate
  • to persuade.

With the exception of pure entertainment, any one of these could be the purpose for a Conference speech.

Do your research and search widely for information, try looking at:

  • policy briefings
  • recent news articles for relevant events
  • debates
  • legislation
  • statistics
  • anecdotes

Think about, and make a note of, what you wish the speech to accomplish, then make a list of your main points and back these up with supporting points.

You might also find it helpful to devise a core statement for the speech.  You can then  ‘signpost’ this core statement throughout the speech, so the audience doesn’t lose track of where you’re going.

Pare the list down to the four or five most important points, discarding the remaining ones or converting them into supporting points.

Arrange your main points in a logical order: this will form the outline of the speech.  For each main point, fill in with appropriate supporting points and evidence from your research to back them up.

2.  Opening the Speech

The opening of the speech is probably the most difficult part.  If the opening doesn’t work it can often be downhill from there!  Here are some ideas; your subject matter should help you to decide which approach (or combination) is the most suitable.

Ways to begin tend to fall into five main categories:

  • Novelty – taking a cue from props, asking the audience to imagine a scenario, telling an anecdote and then revealing it as a dream and so on.  They can be very effective tools, but not everyone can pull it off.
  • Dramatic – a warning about the content of the speech, or straight into shocking statistics – these openings can really grab the audience’s attention.
  • Question – A rhetorical question for the audience to ponder, or one which the speaker might answer themselves.  It’s only safe to use these in Conference speeches, as rhetorical questions in Chamber speeches can often elicit cheeky answers from the opposition!
  • Humorous – if in good taste, and delivered with the right timing, humour can be a very effective way of gaining interest and breaking the ice.  It sets the tone of the speech though, so steer clear of humorous openings if the rest of the speech is about famine or war.  Self-deprecating humour can be a particularly good device, as long as the speaker doesn’t undermine his or her knowledge of the subject matter – the audience might believe them!
  • Reference – this type of opening is certainly the most common.  The speaker uses a reference as a launching pad for the rest of the speech. The reference might be the location, the subject, the Party, a recent event, the speaker themselves, a quotation from another, and so on.

Whichever you choose, or a combination of some of the above, ensure that you have done the following in your introduction:

  • established a common ground between the speaker and the audience
  • set the tone for the speech
  • reinforced or established the speaker’s authority to speak on the subject
  • aroused interest in the subject
  • segued smoothly into the subject.

3.  The Body of the Speech

Go back to your pared-down list of four or five points and ensure that related points follow one another fluently, so that your speech follows a logical progression and is easy for the audience to keep up with.

Don’t try and overwhelm the listener with countless points: making a few and making each more effectively will give the speech a far greater overall impact.  Make sure each point is well supported with statistics, quotations, anecdotes, examples and facts, and check your facts again.

Remember to signpost, just like in an essay!  At the end of each point, try and return to the theme –  this ensures that the audience doesn’t lose sight of where you’re going in your speech.

In 2007, Matthew Parris took a canter through the arid badlands of political language and asked why politicians drape their speeches in the tired glad-rags of stale phrases.  Unfortunately the programmes are not currently available, but keep an eye on the BBC Sounds website, as they might republish them: Not My Words, Mr. Speaker

Remember – tell them what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you’ve said!

4.  Closing the Speech

Some different techniques for closing the speech:

  • Summarising – wrapping up the main points of the speech and bringing everything together.
  • Direct Appeal – asking the audience to take specific action.
  • Reference – like a reference opening, one that refers to the location, date, time, a quotation and so on – anything the speaker can tie into the subject.
  • Inspirational – a moving anecdote, quotation, poem and so on.  This could be humorous.

Don’t let an interesting, intelligent and lively speech fade away towards the end – make sure your ending packs a punch and leaves a lasting impression.

5.  Further reading

  • Richard Dowis, ‘The Lost of Art of the Great Speech – How to Write One, How to Deliver It’
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore – ‘Speeches that Changed the World’ (and audio CD)
  • Richard Heller – ‘High Impact Speeches: How to Write and Deliver Words that Move Minds’

6.  Quick Links to Great Speeches

  1. Martin Luther King, ‘I Have a Dream’
  2. Winston Churchill – ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’
  3. John F. Kennedy – Inaugural Address
  4. Susan B. Anthony ‘On Women’s Right to Vote’
  5. Edward VIII – Abdicates the Throne

7.  Training

There is an excellent training course on speech writing available free of charge from ACT: https://parliament.learningpool.com/mod/facetoface/view.php?id=3424

Guides to Commons Library Services

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The House of Commons Library is a research and information service based in UK Parliament.

We provide politically impartial research, analysis, statistics and information resources. Our work helps MPs scrutinise legislation, prepare for debates, develop policies and support their constituents.

Our publications are available to everyone at commonslibrary.parliament.uk

The easiest way to learn about the Commons Library is to book or arrange a ‘Make the most of the Library’ session.

In this one-hour course, you will:

  • Learn about the ready-made research available to you
  • Find out how to use our data-dashboards to access relevant statistics
  • Find out how the Library’s request service works
  • Discover the range of online resources available for both casework and policy research

 

1. Services for Members’ Staff

commonslibrary.parliament.uk/about-us/services/

The Commons Library provides a range of services for MPs and their staff, including impartial research and access to resources and training.

Publications: Our publications offer politically impartial analysis and statistics. We cover legislation, topical issues, policy and constituency issues. Our briefings and data tools are written by our expert staff and are available online. Read about the different types of research: https://w4mp.org/w4mp/w4mp-guides/the-library/research-briefings-standard-notes-and-debate-packs/

Confidential Request Service: We answer MPs’ questions and requests for bespoke briefings. These tailored and timely responses help MPs fulfil their parliamentary duties and represent their constituents. Our confidential service includes fact-checking, policy development and analysis, and help to answer constituents’ questions.

Information Resources: MPs, their staff and parliamentary staff can access our curated collection of books, journals, databases, news subscriptions and parliamentary material.

Training and events: We offer training, support and talks on topical issues from our subject specialists. Our training and events help MPs, their staff and parliamentary staff get the most from the Library.

Workspace: Members’ Library is a quiet workspace for MPs, and a place to access our books and newspapers, make research requests and pick up printed copies of our publications. MPs’ staff can go into the Members’ Library to submit a research request or take out books on loan.

 

2.  Online resources from the Library

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/resources/

The Commons Library provides books, journals and online resources for MPs, MPs’ staff and parliamentary staff. On this page you can:

  • Browse the Commons Library catalogue
  • Search ejournal articles
  • Find online resources and databases, including Parliament and Government databases
  • Browse news and media subscriptions
  • Find help and guidance

 

3. Training and events

commonslibrary.parliament.uk/about-us/services/training-and-events/

The Commons Library arranges inductions, training and events for MPs, MPs’ staff and parliamentary staff to help you get the best out of the Library:

Make the most of the Library sessions: The easiest way to learn about Library services is to sign up for one of our Introduction to the Library sessions. The course provides you with the tools to:

  • Find the ready-made research available to you
  • Use our data-dashboards to access relevant statistics
  • Make use of the Library’s request service
  • Discover the range of online resources available for both casework and policy research

Events and guest speakers: House of Commons Library subject specialists give occasional talks on topics of interest to Members and their staff and other @parliament.uk users.  They also invite guest speakers from organisations such as the National Audit Office.

Regular training courses: The Library provides regular training courses on parliamentary search, Nexis News, books, journals and more.

Guidance and training on resources and guidance: The Library has prepared guides to the range of online resources and databases available to Parliament, such as news subscriptions, NewsBank, Grantfinder and more. The guides cover:

  • What the resource is
  • Some examples of queries the resource can be used to answer
  • Some key tips on searching
  • What training is available
  • Links to further guidance such as online help, user guides and video tutorials

 

4. Library Loans Service

The Commons Library catalogue contains records of the Library’s collection of hard copy and electronic books, pamphlets, reports, official publications, periodicals (journals), corporate subscriptions and online reference sources. Each record gives details of author, title, publisher, publication date and Library location.

It also provides an inter-library loans service for items not held by the Library (including periodical articles).

You can reserve a book or other stored material using the online catalogue. You can also view the status of your loans, reserve items, and request the loan of an item that you cannot find on the catalogue.

Explore the Commons Library’s extensive collection of online and hardcopy materials: https://commonslibrary.koha-ptfs.co.uk/.

 

5. Request Service

You can contact our team of subject specialists for help with research or information about any area relevant to you.

Whether you’re reviewing or developing policy, preparing for a speech or media appearance, helping a constituent or trying to understand an issue affecting your local area, Library staff can answer your questions in confidence.

It’s helpful to the Library staff to know exactly what you need and when. For example, you may be looking for statistics about your constituency, analysis of government policy, an overview of the law in a particular area or information on the support individuals can expect from public sector organisations. Sharing relevant correspondence or documents will help them understand your request and how we can help.

It may be that the information you’re looking for is already published on the Library’s website. Before submitting a request for information and research from the Library’s team of subject specialists, please do look at the material already published on the Library website: commonslibrary.parliament.uk

Specialist research can also be requested: see ParliNet for details.

Our Subject Specialist Directory provides contact details of specialists in each section and includes information on how to submit a request:

6. Commons Library email subscriptions

Get the latest Commons Library research and curated newsletters delivered to your inbox. This includes:

  • Research alerts: Subscribe to receive email alerts every time we publish new research about the topics you’re interested in.
  • In brief: Get business related research from the Commons Library at the start of every week.
  • Current awareness bulletins: Receive topical updates from Library researchers. Bulletins cover a range of topics and include news articles, parliamentary material, Library research, statistics, talks and more.
  • Economic updates: Get weekly economic updates with the latest economic indicators, data releases and briefings.

Sign up to the subscriptions in the link above.

Follow the Library on X: @CommonsLibrary

Research Briefings, Standard Notes and Debate Packs

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Research briefings, Insights, Debate Packs and more

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research/

The Commons Library provides an impartial research and information service for MPs and their staff. It publishes politically-impartial policy analysis and statistical research, free for all to read. Explore quick-read articles, in-depth research, and interactive data visualisations.

The Library also provides research of the weekly business of the House of Commons: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/this-week/.

 

Types of Research

Research briefings: In-depth analysis of bills, legislation, policy and topical issues. Read quick summaries online and download the corresponding PDF documents to access the full analysis.

Insights: Quick-read articles on current issues. These are published in line with topical events and provide need-to-know information on local and global topics.

Debate Packs: Research that is produced in relation to debates taking place in the Commons Chamber and Westminster Hall. They contain background information, parliamentary and press material, and suggested further reading.

Data tools and resources: Browse datasets and interactive dashboard on a range of topics. View our Constituency Dashboard for headline statistics about your constituency, explore parliamentary and elections data, and get the latest data on the economy.

Constituency casework articles: FAQs and quick explainers to help caseworkers with a range of constituent queries.

 

Research by Topic

The Commons Library research can be viewed by topic and sub-topic. The links to these listings can be saved as bookmarks so you can go straight to the subjects you are interested in.

 

Research from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is a bicameral body within Parliament which produces impartial, timely and peer-reviewed research, on topics such as biology, health, energy, environment and physical and social sciences.

Find out more about POST: https://post.parliament.uk/about-us/.

 

Types of Research

POSTNotes: Four-page research briefings reviewing emerging areas of research.

POSTBriefs: Dynamic and strategic syntheses, produced rapidly in response to current affairs or the work of select committees.

Rapid responses: Rapid response content published within weeks of important research developments, produced to brief parliamentarians.

 

Research by Topic

Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology – POST notes

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST, for short) has been producing impartial, non-partisan, and peer-reviewed briefing notes for over thirty years on various subjects which may be of interest to Members and staffers.

POST is the UK Parliament’s in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology.  Their aim is to inform parliamentary debate.

More information and the full list of POSTnotes can be found on the main POST site here: https://post.parliament.uk/

Their work programme covers:

    • Biology and health
    • Energy and Environment
    • Physical and digital science
    • Social Sciences

Their analysis covers:

    • COVID-19
    • Energy
    • Environment
    • Food Security
    • Transport and Infrastructure
    • Digital Tech
    • Security and Defence
    • Education
    • Crime and Justice
    • Health and Social Care
    • Science Policy

All publications (since 1995) are available in PDF format.  To sign up for their mailing list, please click here: https://mailchi.mp/email.parliament.uk/post

POST also hosts seminars and training events, details of which can be found here:  https://post.parliament.uk/events/

Support in Your Job

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Guides

When you begin working for an MP, you will receive a Members’ Staff Induction Pack, including a letter from the Clerk of the House of Commons that provides links to relevant resources on the Parliamentary Intranet and elsewhere.

Here, you will find a collection of guides to good practice that will offer you advice in carrying out the main activities expected of you in your job.  They are constantly being revised and updated, so if you do print a guide out, please remember to check back from time to time.

Casework

Your Office

Research

Parliament

Others