Legislatures have one core defining function: that of giving assent to measures that, by virtue of that assent, are to be binding on society. In practice, they have usually performed other roles as well, such as debating measures or the conduct of public affairs. They have existed for centuries. They span the globe. Most countries have one; federal states have several. Commentators throughout the 20th century have bemoaned the decline of legislatures, yet the number shows no sign of declining; if anything, the reverse and their prominence has increased in the 1990s because of developments in central and eastern Europe. The volumes in this series seek to advance our understanding of those parliaments; they do so by examining the relationship between parliaments and the three principal actors in a liberal democracy: governments, pressure groups and citizens. Governments are not particular to a liberal democracy but the relationship between parliaments and governments in such a system is qualitatively and quantitatively different to that in a non-democratic state. This second volume explores the relationship between parliaments and pressure groups. Pressure groups - or interest groups, to use a more neutral term - are intrinsic to a liberal democracy. Little is known about the relationship between parliaments and pressure groups in western Europe. This may be because such activity is hidden, non-existent, or deemed to be of no importance, but it is important to know which it is in order to understand fully the workings of a political system.