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Influential, efficient, or both : does committee review of legislation matter in Westminster parliaments? Whelan, Colin


This paper examines the legislative impact of committee review in Canadian provinces. Traditionally, legislation in Westminster systems has been scrutinized by a Committee of the Whole House. Today, four of Canada's ten provinces have moved this committee stage into the separate committee system. The British House of Commons and Canada's Federal Parliament have also made similar reforms. These reforms consistently received cross-party support, as reformers believed that the changes would both increase efficiency and also create more legislative influence for committees. I test for these effects by measuring both the ability of committees to amend legislation and the efficiency of the legislative process in Canada's provinces from 1983 to 2013. Results show that while legislation is amended more frequently when reviewed in the committee system, there are no measurable gains in efficiency. This finding has important implications for questions about legislative-executive balance and the effects of institutional reform in Westminster-style parliaments.

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