Backbench specialization in the House of Commons : a study of organization and representative theories
In view of the general lack of theoretical works on Parliament one of the major objectives of the thesis is to contribute to the understanding of legislative activity through an examination of organization and representative theories. In Part One the mutual interaction of these two diverse strands of theory is examined. In Chapter 2 the concept of specialization is studied through an analysis of theories concerned with societal and organizational division of labour. However, unlike most formal organizations studied by organization theorists legislatures are exceptional by virtue of their representative functions. The second strand of theory, examined in Chapter 3, therefore is representative theory. In the light of the examination of these theories a model of legislative specialization is developed and outlined in Part One. Part Two of the thesis represents the first systematic attempt to establish the extent of backbench specialization in the House of Commons and to identify the key independent variables influencing the level of specialization. Chapter 5 looks at the informal dimension of specialization through an analysis of backbench activity in Debates, Questions and Early Day Motions. Chapter 6 supplements this quantitative analysis by considering the perceptions of M.P.s of their individual patterns of specialization and the general division of labour on the backbenches. The pattern of specialization at the mezzo-level of parliamentary organization in the 'unofficial' committees of the House is examined in Chapter 7. Finally, the pattern of formal specialization in committee is analyzed in Chapter 8. The profile of specialization, wlilst pronouced, is yet still closely circumscribed in the House of Commons, with the linkage between informal and formal subject specialisms being loose and fragmented. The contention of the thesis is that this pattern of specialization is a product of the specific mix of representative and political elements in the proximate environment of the House.