The Analysis of Scottish Parliament Committees: Beyond Capacity and Structure in Comparing West European Legislatures

Paul Alexander Cairney

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The Scottish Parliament was set up in the hope that strong committees would foster consensus, with an emphasis on reducing partisanship and adopting a pragmatic approach to the detailed study of draft legislation. However, few empirical studies exist that assess the value of the committee process. This flaw is common within the West European literature. The comparative literature on legislative influence is lacking in detailed empirical studies (in part because of the dominant assumption within the literature that parliaments are peripheral to the policy process). Most studies provide impressionistic discussions of the capacities of committees and the constraints to their effectiveness. They do not follow this through with an analysis of committee 'outputs'. This study of the amendments process in the Scottish Parliament addresses the gap. It uses data from a four-year study of legislative amendments to develop indicators of parliamentary outputs. While the results confirm that the committee system operates at the heart of the 'new politics' in Scotland, further such individual country studies are necessary to supplement much broader comparative analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-208
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006



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