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Parliament in the United Kingdom

2. Divisions

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In this module, we consider the usefulness of ‘divisions’ in understanding the relationship between government and parliament. In particular, we focus on: (i) what a ‘division’ is; (ii) the rarity of government defeats in divisions, especially when the government commands a majority in the Commons; (iii) some examples of government defeats in the Commons; (iv) the importance of looking beyond the mere result of the vote to understand its significance; (v) the importance of looking at all divisions, not just those that the government lost; (vi) the other ways that parliament can amend legislation beyond a vote in the Commons.


In this course, Dr Louise Thompson (University of Manchester) explores the role of parliament in the United Kingdom, focusing in particular on the relationship the executive and the legislative branches of government. In the first module, we think about when and how conflict occurs between government and parliament, and why it matters. After that, in the second module, we think about divisions in parliament and the ability of parliament to say no to government. In the third module, we explore the importance and role of political parties, before turning in the fourth module to the role of the House of Lords. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about Brexit and what it can tells us about the relationship between government and parliament.


Louise Thompson is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester. Her research focuses on the UK Parliament, particularly the legislative process, committees, political parties and public engagement within Parliament. Her wider research interests are in legislative studies, British politics and constitutional reform. Louise has published widely on the impact of parliament on government legislation and continues to research in this area.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Thompson, L. (2020, February 21). Parliament in the United Kingdom - Divisions [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Thompson, L. "Parliament in the United Kingdom – Divisions." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Feb 2020,

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