advocacy rule

   The rule which prevents Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers from raising a subject in Parliament in which they have a material interest. It was formulated following the publication of a report in 1995 from Lord Nolan’s Committee on Standards in Public Life. It builds on resolutions of the House of Commons that have been in place since the late nineteenth century. The House – not without some opposition – agreed that all paid advocacy should be banned (that is, MPs cannot advocate a cause in Parliament for payment). MPs are, nonetheless, still allowed to act as paid consultants offering advice to outside bodies (for example, as to how to best present their case to Government). They have to disclose any income from outside agencies given in return for such assistance. agenda-setting theory The ability to structure political debate by directing people’s attention to particular issues for their consideration, thereby determining the topics that are discussed and establishing a priority amongst them. Whereas until the 1970s discussion of the effects of the media was much influenced by reinforcement theory, Cohen and others wrote of the media ‘manufacturing news’ and ‘setting the agenda’. According to this view, the media influence people by subtle means. They cannot directly tell people what to think, but they can tell them what to think about. They influence the public by determining what is shown or read. Many of the viewers/readers come to accept what is offered as a representation of the main events. Issues may be discussed in the morning newspapers or on the Today programme on Radio 4 and later picked up by the television news bulletins. Journalists (or more particularly their programme editors and producers) decide on what they consider to be the key issues which are worthy of investigation and follow-up reporting and commentary. If they choose to highlight the character of a political leader, sleaze (in the 1992 election) or the problems of the Conservatives over policy towards the European Union (in the 1997 election), then these may well become influential factors in shaping the image which people have of personalities or events. The agenda-setting effect refers to the extent to which the level of media coverage of an issue impacts upon the public’s interest in and reaction and attention to the issue.
   Further reading: S. Cohen and J. Young, The Manufacture of News, Constable, 1973

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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