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Does the executive dominate the Westminster legislative process?: Six reasons for doubt

Russell, M; Gover, D; Wollter, K; (2016) Does the executive dominate the Westminster legislative process?: Six reasons for doubt. Parliamentary Affairs , 69 (2) pp. 286-308. 10.1093/pa/gsv016. Green open access

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Abstract

The British Westminster parliament is frequently dismissed as a weak policy actor, in the face of dominant executive power. But through analysis of 4361 amendments to 12 government bills, and over 120 interviews, we suggest six reasons for doubting the orthodox view. These fall into three groups: overstating government success in making amendments, overstating non-government failure, and overlooking parliamentary influence before and after the formal passage of bills. We demonstrate that Westminster in fact has substantial influence in the policy process, not readily visible through commonly published data. Uncovering influence requires careful tracking of amendments, but also qualitative analysis of actors’ motivations and the power of ‘anticipated reactions’. Because Westminster is often seen as being at the weak end of a comparative spectrum of parliamentary influence, these results are important for demonstrating both the dynamics of British politics, and of parliamentary systems more broadly.

Type: Article
Title: Does the executive dominate the Westminster legislative process?: Six reasons for doubt
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsv016
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsv016
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society; all rights reserved. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Parliamentary Affairs following peer review. The version of record, Russell, M; Gover, D; Wollter, K; (2016) Does the executive dominate the Westminster legislative process?: Six reasons for doubt. Parliamentary Affairs, 69 (2) pp. 286-308, is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsv016.
Keywords: Amendment analysis, anticipated reactions, legislative process, parliament, policy impact, Westminster
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1467132
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