The Parliamentary Party and Party Committees
This chapter investigates the role and organization of the parliamentary party. It argues that, although the independence of the private Member was largely destroyed by the growth of party government in the nineteenth century, a measure of power and influence has been restored to the back-benchers by the development of party infrastructures within Parliament during the twentieth century. The chapter delineates three periods: the lack of organization before 1922, the growth and consolidation of the structure from then until 1979, and the system under stress since 1980. It also evaluates the development and influence of important parliamentary elements – Finance Committee, European Committee, Whips' office, and ‘attitude’ groups – which have provided an outlet for dissent. The chapter explains that with the exception of the first and final periods of the century, the Conservatives in the undemocratic House of Lords have exercised little influence.
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