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Ministerial responsiveness in Westminster systems: institutional choices and House of Commons debate, 1832-1915

Eggers, Andrew C. and Spirling, Arthur (2014) Ministerial responsiveness in Westminster systems: institutional choices and House of Commons debate, 1832-1915. American Journal of Political Science, 58 (4). pp. 873-887. ISSN 0092-5853

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Abstract

In Westminster systems, governments enjoy strong agenda-setting powers but are accountable to an inquisitorial opposition. This article provides insights into the origins of this arrangement from the British House of Commons, drawing primarily on a new data set of a half million parliamentary speeches. We show that, according to a novel measure we develop, government ministers became more responsive to opposition members of parliament in the same period that the government's agenda power was most conclusively strengthened—roughly, the two decades culminating in Balfour's “railway timetable” of 1902. We argue that this increase in responsiveness helps to explain why opposition members of parliament acceded to reductions in their procedural power. We thus highlight a link between government strength and opposition scrutiny in the historical development of the Westminster system.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28...
Additional Information: © 2014 Midwest Political Science Association
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Sets: Departments > Government
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Funders: Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS)
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2014 11:44
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/55804/

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