Efficiency in the House of Commons 1900–97
in Parliamentary reform at Westminster
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The historical development of the Westminster parliament has bestowed a pre-eminent position on the executive inside the House of Commons. Reforms intended to improve the efficiency of the House of Commons are qualitatively different from those that are intended to improve its effectiveness. The distinction is derived from the historical development of the executive and legislature at Westminster, and has a direct bearing both upon the content of reform and the likelihood of its success. This chapter explores the notion of parliamentary efficiency in Britain. It discusses two strands of efficiency reform — streamlining and expediting — and looks at how government business was expedited during 1900–1930. It also focuses on the Balfour reforms introduced in 1902 to enhance parliamentary procedure with respect to legislation, the 1906 Procedure Committee, increased use of standing committees for the purposes of legislative scrutiny, the 1931 Procedure Committee, the post-war Procedure Committee, parliamentary reform during the 1950s, streamlining of the work of the House of Commons during 1961–1997, and controversy over House of Commons sitting hours.

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