Ministerial responsiveness in westminster systems: Institutional choices and house of commons debate, 1832-1915

Andrew C. Eggers, Arthur Spirling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-887
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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