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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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Procedural Basics

Procedural Basics

(p.147) 5 Procedural Basics
Parliament and Congress: Representation and Scrutiny in the Twenty-First Century

William McKay

Charles W. Johnson

Oxford University Press

Both Westminster Houses sit more frequently than many legislatures. Time in the Commons is government controlled, but a proportion is allocated to Opposition parties and private Members. Governments frequently move to vary rules to secure their own business. The Lords is not government controlled: business proceeds by agreement. The conventions of debate are intended to foster an exchange of views rather than oratory. The Speaker calls Members, enforces discipline, rules on orderliness, and selects amendments for debate. Empowering the majority party to adopt privileged special orders from the Rules Committee controlled by the Speaker impacts on information availability, debate, and amendment spontaneity otherwise guaranteed by standing rules. Preoccupation toward certainty of time and issue, facilitated by clustered and postponed votes, together with minimalization of minority amendment prerogatives have restricted open debate and provoked extraordinary minority responses. By contrast, the supermajority votes needed in the Senate to limit debate (cloture) greatly advantages the minority party.

Keywords:   amendments, cloture, debating conventions, legislative time, special orders, unanimous consent

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