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Government & Politics - Functions of Parliament

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Matthew Rimmington

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of Government & Politics - Functions of Parliament

The Functions of Parliament Legislation It gives formal approval to proposed laws. Most laws (unwritten common law is an exception) will be enforced by the authorities and courts only if they have been passed by Parliament Both houses Scrutiny It scrutinises proposed laws to ensure they will be clear, effective, and fair to different sections of society Both houses Opposition Parties that are not part of the government (opposing parties) challenge the proposal. This then allows the government to justify their proposal. House of Commons Accountability It calls the government to account, forcing ministers and other officials to explain policies, justify them and listen to criticisms Both Houses Financial Control Governments depend on their ability to collect taxes and spend money on key functions. Any changes to taxes or to spending must be approved and given consent by Parliament. House of Commons Representation It tries to ensure that all parliamentary constituencies and various sections of the whole community are properly represented, seeking to make sure that their interests are taken into account in government decisions. House of Commons Redress of grievances MPs as individuals take up the grievances of individual citizens who feel that they have been unfairly treated by the public body. This is known as the redress of grievances. House of Commons Private members' legislation A few lucky MPs and peers, who win an annual ballot, are allowed to represent their own private legislation. However, although almost all proposals are blocked by the government, occasionally some do find its way through to law. Both houses Deliberation It may debate and deliberate on the great issues of the day, such as the conduct of military action by British forces, the direction of Britain foreign policy or moral and religious matters House of Lords Limitations: The House of Lords is not elected
The Commons is seen to be dominated by the executive and therefore not independent
The electoral system means that the Commons is not politically representative of the electorate
Little time is devoted to private members' legislation
Government is easily able to 'kill' any bill it opposes
It is difficult for MPs and peers to gather enough support to force bills through Limitations: Both Houses lack enough time to consider bills thoroughly
Standing committees are whipped so fall under government control Limitations: Collective government responsibility makes it difficult to examine government decisions
The opposition lacks administrative back-up of the government
Skilful ministers and civil servants can evade questioning by MPs and peers
MPs and peers may lack expertise and knowledge
The power of patronage prevents governing MPs and peers being hostile or too inquisitive
There remains a good deal of government secrecy, especially in the fields of defence, security, and foreign policy Limitations: Parliament is traditionally not expected to challenge government seriously in this area
House of Lords has no jurisdiction at all Limitations: The electoral system makes the Commons highly unrepresentative
The House of Lords is not elected
Both Houses are socially unrepresentative, especially in terms of women or social and ethnic background Limitations: MPs lack time to deal with many constituents' grievances Limitations: Legislative committees are whipped and rarely defy the government
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