Christ Church academic awarded House of Commons Fellowship

18 November 2016

The UK Parliament has announced Dr Mark Bennister, Reader in Politics, as one of the first academics to receive an academic fellowship in the new House of Commons Fellowship Scheme.

The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme enables academics to propose a project of their choice to help to build public understanding of, and enhance, Parliament’s work. The chosen fellows, including Dr Bennister, are given the opportunity to conduct primary research in Parliament and given access to Parliament’s significant library and archive collections. 


Dr Mark Bennister at the launch of the House of Commons Scheme launch. 

Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Dr Bennister, who is a Reader in the School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, was chosen after an open competition to be in the first wave of House of Commons Academic Fellows. Dr Bennister will continue his recently published work on Questioning the Prime Minister: How Effective is the Liaison Committee, which explores how the Liaison Committee holds the Prime Minister to account and the effectiveness of its methods. The report was launched on the same day as the Fellowships were announced in Parliament. The report has made a series of recommendations including that the Prime Minister Theresa May appears before the Liaison Committee as soon as possible.

Dr Bennister said:“This is a fantastic opportunity for academics like myself to get under the skin of Parliament and conduct research from inside the institution. It will give me access and insight into the real life workings of Westminster, and I can use that to build bridges between the public and Parliament as well as reflect it back to those who run the institution.”

Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, said: “On the journey to make Parliament more accessible and better understood, these Academic Fellowship Schemes are a major step in the right direction. Not only will these intellectual heavyweights be able to use their time in Parliament to study us and share their findings with their students, colleagues and the public, but importantly, they will provide us policy-makers with a rich new evidence-base from which to draw upon in order to improve our institutions."

The House of Commons Scheme was launched at a lunchtime reception hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, and the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler on Wednesday 16 November in the Speaker’s House.

Notes to Editor

Further details of Dr Bennister’s research:

Dr Mark Bennister, Canterbury Christ Church University: Questioning the Prime Minister: How Effective is the Liaison Committee? 

Since 2002, the prime minister has appeared at regular hearings before the Liaison Committee. The Committee performs an important function in scrutinising not only the whole of government strategy, directed through the prime minister, but also engaging with salient issues of the day. This research project is primarily interested in how the Liaison Committee holds the prime minister to account; a function not performed by any other Committee. The sessions have questioned three prime ministers since 2002 (and will question a fourth); they provide a rich source of material from which we can develop our understanding of the relationship between the prime minister and parliament, aside from appearances on the floor of the House. The central research questions ask how effective the Liaison Committee is in scrutinising the prime minister? How are the sessions utilised by parliamentarians, the prime minister and others? What constitutes ‘effective’ questioning by Members?

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:53:00