This volume in the series "Policy and Politics in Industrial States" examines British effectiveness in planning and implementing government programs. In the British system, parliamentary supremacy rests on the widely accepted elite consensus that took shape a century or more before the British democracy took over the broad responsibilities associated with the modern welfare state. Modern political parties, mass democracy, even a modern administration, were grafted onto a working system, but the essential principles of cabinet and ministry responsibilities have survived with relatively little modification. The result has been a concentration of power at the top, while demands on government have proliferated. Ashford analyzes six policy areas administrative reform, economic policymaking, industrial relations, local and regional policies, social security (social welfare in Britain), race and immigration to see how political constraints like these operate in a time of immensely complex government. Two cases (administrative reform and economic policy) deal with restructuring government; two deal with important social issues (social security and race relations). Each case analysis is accompanied by selected readings from official government documents and the writings of the critics of official policy. The analysis offers a strong point of view, unusual in a textbook, that is sure to invite scholarly debate. For example, it argues that although power is quite concentrated in the British system, it is exercised most often in the direction of avoiding decisions. More often than not, the grand adversarial politics played out in parliament are ineffective in dealing with the complexities of the modern welfare state. In practice, when major changes in policy are at issue, labour and conservatives may act less like true antagonists and more like two groups sharing a consensus. Douglas E. Ashford is Director, Western Studies Program, Cornell University.