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Parliament and Congress: Representation and Scrutiny in the Twenty-First Century$
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William McKay and Charles W. Johnson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273621

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273621.001.0001

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The Four Houses

The Four Houses

(p.31) 3 The Four Houses
Parliament and Congress: Representation and Scrutiny in the Twenty-First Century

William McKay

Charles W. Johnson

Oxford University Press

Impartiality of the presiding officers is characteristic at Westminster, and in the Commons is the lynch‐pin of many procedures. The Commons Chamber does not seat all Members since debate is intended to be conversational. No Member has an assigned place. Westminster Hall, the parallel Chamber, has significantly added to available debating time. Future composition and powers of the Lords are not settled, but the statutory and historic predominance of the Commons is likely to remain. The modern partisan role of the US Speaker as party leader presents a significant contrast to Westminster. The fixed term of Congress and established election dates every two years, coupled with absence of direct confidence votes in support of the government, suggest some stability in US governance. The existence of only two parties and the political and procedural value of majority status demonstrate the reduced likelihood of coalitions. Unique institutional prerogatives conferred on the House and Senate reflect a balancing by the framers of the Constitution.

Keywords:   Commons Chamber, fixed US terms, Lords, presiding officers, two parties

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