Parliament

Parliament

Parliament

Parliament

Excerpt

The first edition of this book, which was published in 1939, was to have been the second of three books surveying the British Constitution as it operated in practice. The first book, Cabinet Government, regarded the Constitution from the angle of the Government. It was published in 1936 and reprinted in 1937 and 1947; a second edition, much revised, was published in 1951. Parliament sought to analyse the parliamentary institutions of the United Kingdom as pieces of constitutional machinery. Notes for a new edition were prepared in 1949, but it was impossible to complete the revision until after my return to England in the summer of 1954. The ambition to write the third book, Party Politics, persists. It soon became apparent that a different technique was required. An analysis of the functioning of parties and the conduct of elections would not in itself be adequate. Each of the parties represents layers of tradition which influence current political emotions. Those traditions have developed continuously since the seventeenth century and there was no great change (as there was in respect of Cabinet Government) in the period of the first Reform Act. Nor is it as easy to deal with political emotions as it was to deal with constitutional machinery. For these reasons, and because of other preoccupations, Party Politics remains an ambition, though some tentative conclusions arising out of my study were published in The British Constitution (published 1941; third edition 1950).

The revision of Parliament after eighteen exciting years has presented many difficulties. The framework of the book remains unaltered. The latter part of Chapter II has been rewritten because of the material to be found in the election studies of Nuffield College, Oxford, and the work of Dr Ross and Mr R. T. McKenzie, and because of the increasingly unrepresentative character of the House of Commons through high taxation and low salaries. The problem of the accountability of the nationalised industries did not fit easily into the framework of the book and has therefore been dealt with in a new Chapter X. An additional section has been inserted into the chapter on 'Delegated Legislation'.

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