chapter  9
20 Pages

Parliament

Those seeking to fully understand the system of public administration in Britain cannot ignore Parliament. Lying at the very heart of the system, in strict constitutional terms, the Westminster Parliament consists of the directly elected House of Commons, the House of Lords (which has traditionally been unelected, but is subject to a process of reform that could lead to at least one of its elements being elected) and the monarch. Although there is a developing perception among some observers that legislatures are becoming increasingly marginal within modern systems of government and public administration, Philip Norton, one of the foremost analysts of the UK Parliament, has no doubts about this institution’s significance. ‘It is a multifunctional body. The consequences it has for the political system are several and significant’ (Norton, 1993, pp. 202-3). From a slightly different perspective, Judge (1993, p. 2) has deplored the tendency on the part of some schools of political thought to downplay the significance of Parliament, or indeed to ignore it altogether. He argues that it is impossible to make proper sense of the British state, its system of politics and public administration, without giving this central feature of the polity proper attention: ‘It is time to take parliament seriously.’