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Author: Alexandra Kelso

The Labour Party government elected in 1997 pledged to reform the Westminster parliament by modernising the House of Commons and removing the hereditary peers from the House of Lords. Events have consequently demonstrated the deep controversy that accompanies such attempts at institutional reconfiguration, and have highlighted the shifting fault-lines in executive-legislative relations in the UK, as well as the deep complexities surrounding British constitutional politics. The story of parliamentary reform is about the nature of the British political system, about how the government seeks to expand its control over parliament, and about how parliament discharges its duty to scrutinise the executive and hold it to account. This book charts the course of Westminster reform since 1997, but does so by placing it in the context of parliamentary reform pursued in the past, and thus adopts a historical perspective that lends it analytical value. It examines parliamentary reform through the lens of institutional theory, in order not only to describe reform but also to interpret and explain it. The book also draws on extensive interviews conducted with MPs and peers involved in the reform of parliament since 1997, thus offering an insight into how these political actors perceived the reform process in which they played a part. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the trajectory and outcome of the reform of parliament, along with an original interpretation of that reform and its implications.

Alexandra Kelso

1 Parliament and parliamentary reform For some time, there has been a sense that something is wrong with politics. Declining electoral turnout across many liberal democracies in recent decades has prompted concerns that the public has become disaffected about, and disengaged from, political processes and political institutions. As Stoker (2006: 7) notes,‘there appears to be a considerable amount of discontent and disenchantment about the operation of democracy both in those countries that have practiced democracy for decades and those that are more recent

in Parliamentary reform at Westminster
Alexandra Kelso

9 Understanding parliamentary reform Parliamentary reform in perspective There have been several different arguments pursued in this book, but one in particular has served to link all the others together, which is that institutions are characterised both by persistence and by change, and we must have devices in our conceptual toolkit that are capable of analysing, and perhaps even explaining, both. Historical institutionalism has been used here because it not only forces us to take the long-term view of an institution’s development, but also gives us insights

in Parliamentary reform at Westminster
Abstract only
A study in obsolete patriotism
Author: W.J. Reader

The Victorian private solider was a despised figure. Yet in the first sixteen months of the Great War two and a half million men from the UK and many more from the empire, flocked to the colours without any form of legal compulsion. This book is the result of reflection on one of the most extraordinary mass movements in history: the surge of volunteers into the British army during the first sixteen months of the Great War. The notion that compulsory service in arms was repugnant to British tradition was mistaken. The nation's general state of mind, system of values and set of attitudes derived largely from the upper middle class, which had emerged and become dominant during the nineteenth century. The book examines the phenomenon of 1914 and the views held by people of that class, since it was under their leadership that the country went to war. It discusses the general theoretical notions of the nature of war of two nineteenth-century thinkers: Karl von Clausewitz and Charles Darwin. By 1914 patriotism and imperialism were interdependent. The early Victorians directed their abundant political energies chiefly towards free trade and parliamentary reform. It was the Germans' own policy which jolted the British into unity, for the Cabinet and the nation were far from unanimously in favour of war until the Germans attacked Belgium. Upper-class intellectual culture was founded on the tradition of 'liberal education' at the greater public schools and at Oxford and Cambridge.

Alexandra Kelso

2 Historical institutionalism and parliament Introduction To understand why parliamentary reform does or does not take place requires a prior understanding of the context in which it does or does not occur. The characteristics of the institution of parliament are a product of its historical development, and that development has fostered the emergence of particular norms and values that continue to shape its functioning and capabilities. Crucially, parliament cannot be understood in isolation from government and, consequently, parliamentary reform cannot be

in Parliamentary reform at Westminster
Miles Taylor

map of Britain and Ireland became a central part of the Ultra-Tory case against the Whig measure.31 In many ways, parliamentary reform completed the process of emasculation of colonial MPs already begun by the collapsing prosperity of the old empire in India and the Caribbean. The numbers of East India and West Indies MPs plummeted: from a combined total of ninety-eight after the 1830 election to sixty-four after 1832, with the bulk of the decrease affecting the West Indies interest. However, for the next thirty years or so the call for colonial representation was

in Parliaments, nations and identities in Britain and Ireland, 1660–1850
Mervyn Busteed

new challenges. The movement for parliamentary reform and the French revolution of 1789 had inspired the foundation of a number of radical groups in Manchester, including the largely middleclass Manchester Constitutional Society in October 1790 and the Patriotic Society and Reformation Society in 1792, both of which included a more working-class element than their predecessors. Joint meetings were held, and in March 1792 a radical newspaper, the Manchester Herald, was launched. But there was also a decidedly loyalist element in the city MUP

in The Irish in Manchester c. 1750–1921
Dominic Bryan, S. J. Connolly, and John Nagle

nevertheless considerable. This became evident during the political upheavals inspired by the revolt in 1776 of the American colonists. In 1783, against the background of a nationwide campaign for parliamentary reform, a petition called on the earl to return the wealthy merchant Waddell Cunningham for one of the town’s two seats, while reserving the other for his own candidate. When Donegall refused, Cunningham turned instead to neighbouring Carrickfergus, also Donegall’s borough but with a larger electorate, where he was returned, but unseated following a petition. But

in Civic identity and public space
Alexandra Kelso

must be met before effective parliamentary reform may proceed, and these conditions are worth restating in detail. The first necessary condition is a window of opportunity in which reform can take place. Second, there has to be a coherent reform agenda in place that provides a package behind which MPs might organise. Third, leadership must exist to exploit the window of opportunity and promote the reform agenda. Central to all three conditions, there must be political will for successful reform to take place.These reform conditions only apply to efforts to secure

in Parliamentary reform at Westminster
Alexandra Kelso

historical development of Westminster – which has been predicated on executive sovereignty, ministerial responsibility and strong party government – has made it remarkably difficult to realign executive-legislative relations in a meaningful way. Government enjoys pre-eminence inside parliament and the norms and values that maintain that pre-eminence are embedded in the very fabric of the structured institutional context that parliamentary reformers seek to overhaul. From a historical institutionalist perspective, the structured institutional context at Westminster has

in Parliamentary reform at Westminster