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Back from Westminster: British Members of Parliament and Their Constituents

by Phillip Norton and David M. Wood

Availableweb pdf$45.00x 978-0-8131-4946-2
Availablecloth$45.00x 978-0-8131-1834-5
Comparative Legislative Studies
192 pages  Pubdate: 07/11/2014  6 x 9  

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The British House of Commons has entered a period of substantial change, moving from a state of party cohesion and party leadership toward a more individualistic and active policy-making role. In the dynamic look at the British Parliament and its members, Philip Norton and David M. Wood highlight that change to more intensive constituency response and service on the part of individual members.

Like members of the U.S. Congress, British Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected to represent geographical districts. The relationship between the MP and the constituency in Britain has become more important in recent years, but the major changes that have occurred in the relationship since the late 1960s have not been matched by extensive scholarly study. Some pathbreaking work has been done on the subject, but it remains overshadowed by the wealth of material focusing on MPs' activities within the legislative chambers at Westminster. This volume seeks to fill the gap by sketching and assessing the electoral significance of the MPs' constituency work and the broader political ramifications for the workings of the British Parliament. Its findings allow the MP to be seen in full.

Norton and Wood argue that the constituency role has gained in importance in recent decades as MPs have become more career-oriented than their forerunners in mid-century. But a by-product of greater professionalism and careerism has been an expanded job description that may take MPs' time and energies away from playing a more effective role in helping to shape the broader policy alternatives for the United Kingdom.

Philip Norton, (Lord Norton of Louth) is professor of government and director of the Center for Legislative Studies at the University of Hull. He also serves in the House of Lords and is the author of The British Polity.

David M. Wood, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, is the coauthor of The Emerging European Union.

A major contribution to the empirical study of parliamentary behavior and the changing nature of political representation in the United Kingdom . . . theoretically, methodologically and empirically impressive. -- Political Studies