To What Extent Is Parliament an Effective Constraint on the Executive?

1598 Words Oct 31st, 2009 7 Pages
It is important to understand the structure of the parliamentary system within which the machinery of government operates. Parliament is known as a bi-cameral legislature where by decision making autonomy resides with the lower house. The House of Commons and the House of Lords exists as a check upon the powers exerted by respective governments thou right it’s debating and ratification functions. In theory, the bi-cameral legislature in British political system exists to ensure that policy and legislation is created democratically and secondly to protect the country from autocracy or the emergence of dictatorships. Although it could be argued that both of these functions of parliament have been apparent in recent history. In this essay I …show more content…
Thus because of this time lag between the submission of the proposed questions to the Prime Minister and the Prime Ministers question time itself, it would be nave to suggest that this method of scrutiny is fully effective in bringing the activities of the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues to account. Furthermore it is clear that members of the Prime Ministers government may be able to use Prime Ministers question time as a means of strengthening the perception of the government in the mass media by simply asking questions which highlight the successfulness and not failures of the government’s policies and initiatives.

Arguably one of the most successful ways in which the powers exerted by government can be monitored and constrained through parliament exists through the use of both standing and select committees. The composition of standing committees is directly proportional to the distribution of seats in the House of Commons; therefore provided that the government has a positive parliamentary majority, they can expect to have majorities in each of the House of Commons standing committees. Therefore similarly to debate and discussion in the House of Commons standing committees provide a medium by which opposition MPs are able to scrutinize the legislative function of the government in parliament by actively partaking in the

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