adjournment debate


adjournment debate
   The half-hour debate held at the end of each sitting day in Parliament, so-named because it takes place on the motion to adjourn the house. Adjournment debates give backbench Members of Parliament the opportunity to initiate a debate on a subject of their choice. An all-day adjournment debate is normally held on the final day before each parliamentary recess begins. adversary or adversarial politics ‘Adversarial politics’ are characterised by ideological antagonism and an ongoing electoral battle between the major parties. The term is also used to refer to a period in which there is fundamental disagreement between the parties on the political issues of the day. The opposite end of the spectrum would be the consensus model, by which policies are adopted only if there is widespread agreement as to their desirability. British politics are essentially adversarial in nature. In a two-party system, in which one main party is in office and the other is in opposition, the one defends its policies whilst the other attacks them. The shape of the House of Commons encourages such conflict across the floor of the House, pitting as it does one side versus the other. The term ‘adversary politics’ was coined by an American, ProfessorFiner,todescribetheBritishsituation.Hefeltthat the first past the post electoral system produced a regular swing of the pendulum, resulting in little continuity of policy. One party came in and undid what its predecessor had done, so that policies lurched from left to right. The electoralsystemwasthereforebasedonpolarisingopinion. Defenders of the adversarial approach argue that it serves democracy well, because ministers are forced to justify their performance and their policies in the face of a concerted onslaught. Adversarial politics provide the public with a clear examination of the government’s policies and of the alternatives posed by the opposition parties. However, parliamentary business can sometimes be conducted in a very hostile manner, in which there is much point-scoring and conflict seemingly almost for the sake of it.
   Further reading: S. Finer, Adversary politics and Electoral reform, Wigram, 1975

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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