Parliamentary questions are a feature of almost all national legislatures. Despite this, we know very little about how questions are used by MPs and what impact questions have on controlling the government. This volume advances our theoretical and empirical knowledge of the use of questioning in a number of different parliamentary settings. The propensity of parliamentarians to ask questions indicates that the interrogatories are an important tool for measuring an individual legislator’s job. Ultimately, how a parliamentarian chooses to use the questioning tool provides a unique insight into legislator behaviour and role orientation. Many of the chapters in this volume provide new empirical measures of legislator activity and use this data to provide new tests of leading theories of legislator behaviour.
At an institutional level, questions provide an important source of information for the chamber and are a critical tool of government oversight – as many of the chapters in the volume indicate. Evidence of the impact of questions on executive and bureaucratic oversight challenges conventional views of parliaments as weak and ineffective parts of the political process.
This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Legislative Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Parliamentary Questions, the Behaviour of Legislators, and the Function of Legislatures: An Introduction Shane Martin 2. Parliamentary Questions as Instruments of Substantive Representation: Visible Minorities in the UK House of Commons, 2005–10 Thomas Saalfeld 3. The Constituency as a Focus of Representation: Studying the Italian Case through the Analysis of Parliamentary Questions Federico Russo 4. People’s Voice or Information Pool? The Role of, and Reasons for, Parliamentary Questions in the Swiss Parliament Stefanie Bailer 5. Parliamentary Questions in Belgium: Testing for Party Discipline Régis Dandoy 6. Constituency Influence on ‘Constituency Members’: The Adaptability of Roles to Electoral Realities in the Canadian Case Kelly Blidook and Matthew Kerby 7. Not Only a Battleground: Parliamentary Oral Questions Concerning Defence Policies in Four Western Democracies Olivier Rozenberg, Olivier Chopin, Catherine Hoeffler, Bastien Irondelle and Jean Joana 8. Questioning in European Parliaments Manuel Sánchez de Dios and Matti Wiberg 9. Bureaucrats in the Headlights: Question Times and Delegation to Bureaucrats Rob Salmond 10. Behavioural Consequences of Restrictions on Plenary Access: Parliamentary Questions in the Norwegian Storting Bjørn Erik Rasch 11. Conclusion: Questioning Parliamentary Questions Olivier Rozenberg and Shane Martin
Shane Martin is Director of the Centre for International Studies at Dublin City University where he also lectures in comparative politics. His research focuses on the political economy of legislative organization and in particular on how electoral incentives shape representatives’ preferences, the internal structures of parliaments, executive oversight and the production of public policy. He have taught at the University of California, San Diego and the Pennsylvania State University. He is founding Co-Convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on Parliaments and was founding Co-Director of the European Summer School on Parliaments.
Olivier Rozenberg is Associate Research Professor at Sciences Po, in Paris. He is a member of the Centre for European Studies. His research focuses on the study of political institutions and particularly of legislatures in Europe (national parliaments and the European Parliament). Within this framework, he studies both the sociology of legislators and the policy analysis of parliamentary activities. He is also interested in the Europeanisation of national political systems and the politicisation of European affairs.