Testing the decline of parliament thesis: The parliamentary activity of the head of government in Ireland, 1923-2002
Elgie, Robert and Quinn, Donal and Stapleton, John (2006) Testing the decline of parliament thesis: The parliamentary activity of the head of government in Ireland, 1923-2002. Politcal Studies, 54 (3). pp. 465-485. ISSN 0032-3217
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There is a long-standing, though contested, argument that in Westminster-style systems parliaments are in decline. The frequency with which the head of government intervenes in parliament is one indicator of this supposed decline. Studies conducted in Britain and Canada show that the frequency of prime ministerial interventions has declined over time, suggesting that the decline of parliament thesis holds true in this regard at least. This article examines the Irish case and shows that the situation is different. As in Britain and Canada, there has been a decline in particular forms of activity (giving speeches and making minor interventions). However, the overall level of prime ministerial activity in Ireland has increased over time. These findings suggest that in the Irish case at least and on the basis of this one indicator the decline of parliament thesis does not hold true. Moreover, when we contextualise the findings, particularly on the basis of a qualitative analysis of the changing nature of the presentation of the Order of Business over the last 30 years, we find that the decline of parliament thesis is weakened further. Thus, this paper suggests that the decline of parliament thesis is not applicable to all examples of Westminster-like parliamentary systems. It also indicates that further research on this topic needs to contextualise the changing nature of the relationship between the head of government and the legislature very carefully.
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On 13 May 2012, India’s Parliament turns 60. The Government has drawn up a grand plan to commemorate the occasion. In a joint session of Parliament, MPs will sit and discuss the journey so far. Statistics provided by PRS Legislative Research, however, reveal a steady decline in Parliamentary functioning
The highest number of bills passed in a single year was 118 in 1976, during the Emergency. The lowest number of bills passed was 18 in 2004—the year UPA came to power.
Till 1974, the number of sittings of the Lok Sabha never dropped below the 100 mark in any single year. Since 1989, the figure has never crossed the 100 mark. Year 2004 was particularly bad, with the Lok Sabha meeting for just 48 sittings and Rajya Sabha for 46.
In 2001, the Railway Budget was passed after a discussion that lasted barely one hour, while in 1999, the Union Budget was passed after being discussed for just 11 hours