Adversary Parliament and Consensus Legislation
Laws are a unique resource of government. Whereas many institutions in society are able to raise money, hire personnel and organize on a large scale, only government has the power to enact laws determining what people can do. The party governing Britain does not determine every statute on the books. The laws of the land are an accretion of legislation passed by generations of government, and the great bulk of existing legislation is the subject of consensus between the parties. In the five-year life of a Parliament, however, the governing party can enact several hundred laws that will remain on the statute books long after it leaves office because of electoral defeat. It is the record of legislation that can make an enduring difference to society, whether passed by a Consensus or Adversary process.
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- 1.On the complexity of relations between these interest groups and government, see, e.g., Gerald A. Dorfman, Government versus Trade Unionism in British Politics since 1968 (London: Macmillan, 1979); andGoogle Scholar
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- 2.For a discussion of the free votes analyzed here, see Peter G. Richards, Parliament and Conscience (London: Allen & Unwin, 1970);Google Scholar
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