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

Andrew C. Eggers, Arthur Spirling

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    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
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

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