The Nature and Function of Pressure Groups
- Seek to influence government policy and decision making
- Do not aspire to be government or make decisions themselves
- Trying to influence decisions
- Not make them themselves
- Want to influence decisions and their details
- So how they're implemented and the finer details of them
- E.g. = Health and Social Care Act, from 2011-2012, British medical society couldn't stop it being passed, but campaigned for amendments to Bill, to ensure it maintained principles of free NHS.
- Focus on small range of issues (most)
- Some are single issued
- e.g. 'Plane stupid' emerged in 2005, campaign against airport expansion
- E.g. 'Justice for Gurkhas' in 2010, natives of Nepal who have fought for British army. Wanted right to settle in Britain after retirement.
- Multi-issue groups, look at a range of policies. E.g trade unions-campaign for workers for, conditions, pension, wages and health & safety.
4. Pressure groups work at different levels of government :
- They need to identify where decisions are being made and then Apply pressure there:
- Level of policy bodies, ministers and civil servants.
- This is done at early stages of policy development (many govt. policies take years to develop)
- As they begin to shape ministers and civil servants get involved
- Once details are published, MP's, peers and media give their opinions to debate
- Public opinion also considered
- All this happens before any legislation appears at Westminster
2. The Westminster parliament
- This is when national policy is being passed at Parliament, as legislation
- Pressure groups operate in both Houses of Parliament (and their legislative committees)
3. The Welsh, Scottish, Northern Ireland, or London governments
- When the issue is regional
4. Local government
- When issues are local
5. Issues that are resolved at European Union level
- Eg, agriculture, fisheries and trade, force pressure groups to work with European institutions
- Such as: European Commission, European Parliament, Council Of Ministers
Some examples of pressure group activity in courts:
- November 2009 in Supreme Court, 'Office of fair trading versus Barclay Banks and others'
- Seven banks, backed by British bankers association , successfully overturned ruling that Office of Fair Trading could investigate their systems of charging customers for unauthorised overdrafts.
- Office of Fair Trading were representing interests of customers
- This was example of pressure groups against each other in courts.
March 2010 in the High Court. 'Hillingdon versus Secretary of State for transport'
- A coalition of environmental groups (including green leave and the campaign to protect rural England) successfully forced the govt. to review its decision to build a third runway at Heathrow
- Saying plans conflicted with official carbon-emissions control targets
- They were successful
February 2012 in Supreme Court. 'Ravat versus Haliburton'
- Various trade unions wanted British workers employed abroad to be protected from unfair dismissal
- They were successful
FUNCTIONS OF PRESSURE GROUPS:
- They play a key part in government process, they're involved at all stages of policy and decision making…