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Beyond Committees: Parliamentary Oversight of Coalition Government in Britain

Martin, Shane and Whitaker, Richard (2019) 'Beyond Committees: Parliamentary Oversight of Coalition Government in Britain.' West European Politics, 42 (7). 1464 - 1486. ISSN 0140-2382

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A legislature's ability to engage in oversight of the executive is believed to derive largely from its committee system. For example, powerful parliamentary committees are considered a necessary condition for the legislature to help police policy compromises between parties in multiparty government. But can other parliamentary instruments perform this role? This paper suggests parliamentary questions as an alternative parliamentary vehicle for coalition parties to monitor their partners. Questions force ministers to reveal information concerning their legislative and extra-legislative activities, providing coalition members unique insights into their partners’ behaviour. To test our argument, we build and analyse a new dataset of parliamentary questions in the British House of Commons covering the 2010-15 coalition. As expected, government MPs ask more questions as the divisiveness of a policy area increases. Legislatures conventionally considered weak due to the lack of strong committees may nevertheless play an important oversight role through other parliamentary devices, including helping to police the implementation of coalition agreements.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Parliaments, Legislatures, Coalitions, Oversight, Parliamentary Questions, Committees
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2019 14:44
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2020 02:00

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