This chapter provides the context for the book, explaining why the study of legislation at Westminster is important, how the process is currently viewed, and how the book is structured. It emphasizes the centrality of lawmaking to ‘legislatures’, including Westminster, and to how societies take political decisions. But it suggests that Westminster has often been seen as weak in this process, with assumptions that the government (executive) is dominant. Meanwhile, there has been little study of the process for several decades, during which much has changed at Westminster, including the establishment of select committees, declining party cohesion, and reform of the House of Lords which created a chamber where no party has a majority. The chapter briefly considers different conceptions of ‘power’ that might apply to parliaments. It sets out six questions which the book seeks to answer. It summarizes the methods of the study, and provides a chapter-by-chapter summary.
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