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Select committees and the quest for accountability
Author: Marc Geddes

Based on unprecedented access to the UK Parliament, this book challenges how we understand and think about accountability between government and Parliament. Using data from a three-month research placement, over 45 interviews and more, this book focuses on the everyday practices of MPs and officials to reveal how parliamentarians perform their scrutiny roles. Some MPs adopt the role of a specialist, while others the role of a lone wolf; some are there to try to defend their party while others want to learn about policy. Among these different styles, chairs of committees have to try to reconcile these interpretations and either act as committee-orientated catalysts or attempt to impose order as leadership-orientated chieftains. All of this pushes and pulls scrutiny in lots of competing directions, and tells us that accountability depends on individual beliefs, everyday practices, and the negotiation of dilemmas. In this way, MPs and officials create a drama or spectacle of accountability and use their performance on the parliamentary stage to hold government to account. This book offers the most up-to-date and detailed research on committee practices in the House of Commons, following a range of reforms since 2010. The findings add new dimensions to how we study and understand accountability through the book’s path-breaking empirical focus, theoretical lens, and methodological tools. It is an ideal book for anyone interested in how Parliament works.

Marc Geddes

. This alternative approach is developed by drawing on Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes’ ( 2003 , 2016 ) interpretive political science, among others. The broad thrust of their approach has given us novel ways to study political issues, and made a significant impact across a range of subfields in political science. The chapter concludes with an interpretive framework for analysis and a brief methodological outline. This will form

in Dramas at Westminster