Westminster: Does Parliament Work? By John Garrett. Gollancz, 246pp; £16.99. Review by Tim Beaumont. This book claims to be the first examination of Parliament "from a managerial perspective". The author is a management consultant who has been a Labour MP for 15 years. He has already written books on The Management of Government and Managing the Civil Service. Now he has turned his attention to Parliament itself.
John Garrett knows his subject and has command of the necessary methodology. But it is probably asking too much to expect the book to live up to its publisher's claims - that these qualifications result in something startling. Parliament is too much in the public eye, with too many critics writing about it week in, week out, for there to be anything much left to say.
The author adopts "a typical consultancy format", considering the development of the present sources of authority, their practice and procedure, before proposing certain reforms. As he points out, there is a lot to reform. The newly-free countries of Eastern Europe recoil when they look to the Mother of Parliaments as a model, appalled at its lack of democratic control over the executive. How easily it could shift into what they have just escaped from. Indeed, it may be that our ex-colonies' fondness for copying our example had something to do with the freedom it gives, not to "the people" but to the people in power.