Statistical Profile of Government Bills

  • Ivor Burton
  • Gavin Drewry


A government’s legislative programme for a session is always a mixed bag comprising measures both big and small, innovatory and routine, controversial and agreed, urgent and dispensable. It is constructed so as to make the maximum use of parliamentary time throughout the session, for the House of Lords as well as for the House of Commons, and for the work of standing committees as well as for that done on the floor of the house. Only two of the four sessions of the 1970–74 parliament can be reckoned typical even in respect of their length. 1970/71 lasted some 15 months and 1973/74 less than four. The 1970/71 programme was also unusual in that it incorporated several measures carried over from the previous government’s 1969/70 programme which had been lost because of the early end to the session brought about by the dissolution of parliament in June 1970. The 1973/74 programme on the other hand was conspicuous for the bills that failed (and for some that were never introduced). The session-by-session figures for this parliament therefore need to be analysed with some caution and, for what it is worth, the picture is outlined in Table 4.1. Subject to these reservations, there appear to be three significant features.


Statistical Profile Standing Committee English Bill Policy Bill Statutory Instrument 
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  1. 2.
    Gavin Drewry, ‘The Process of Legislation: Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Procedure’, Modern Law Review 35 (1972) 289–94, at 291–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 5.
    Cf. Peter G. Richards, Parliament and Foreign Affairs (London: Allen & Unwin, 1967) p. 79: ‘Foreign affairs is a matter for negotiation rather than legislation, and in negotiations international law is of greater import than the domestic law of the homeland.’Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See for example R. Titmuss, ‘Welfare “Rights”, Law and Discretion’, Political Quarterly, 42 (1971) 113–32; J. Jowell, ‘The Legal Control of Administrative Discretion’, Public Law (1973) 178–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Ivor Burton and Gavin Drewry 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor Burton
    • 1
  • Gavin Drewry
    • 1
  1. 1.Bedford CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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