Thursday, June 10, 2010

'The epitome of weakness'

The British Parliament really came about because it demanded control of public finances - the Magna Carta, the English Revolution and so on - and it once played a fairly important role in budgetary decisions, but it no longer does. So the last government defeat on estimates on the spending side of the Budget dates back to 1919 when the Lord Chancellor was denied funding for a second bathroom. So you have a situation where for a very, very long time, Parliament in Britain has not really done anything to the government proposal in terms of the spending side. On the tax side, once in a while it has managed to force some revisions to the government proposal, but even this is very, very rare. So you have a very weak Parliament. In an OECD context, Westminster really is the epitome of weakness.
-- Joachim Werner of the LSE, quoted in Economistocracy Analysis, BBC Radio 4.

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