Essay on Controlling the Parliament and the House of Commons

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Controlling the Parliament and the House of Commons

'The government controls parliament but it cannot always rely on getting its own way.'

A tendency to ignore the protestations and activities of parliament in issuing central, top-down directives and 'memos' is a criticism often levied at Tony Blair's Labour administration. It is seen to signify a consolidation of executive power, often represented in the media as control-freakery on the part of the Prime Minister. Although any apparent increase in the power of the executive would be accentuated by the immense size of the 179 seat Labour majority, the present government is widely seen to have taken up a continuing trend towards
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Given this climate of reform in the House of Commons, the extent of the government's power over it is a particularly relevant topic for consideration. Any explanation of this issue, based on the statement contained in the title of this essay, should first seek to establish its two main presumptions: the government's power over the executive and rebellions against it. These analysed, it will be possible to draw a conclusion on the government's ability to 'rely on getting its own way,' that is, on the extent of its control.

Studies of British parliamentary government have identified four main factors upon a combination of which governments must rely for their power over the House of Commons. The first of these, and the most basic, is a working majority. It is one of the very most basic principles of the British parliamentary system that the majority party in the House of Commons forms a government. A majority provides the means by which a government may govern in parliament, assuring it of at least a basic level of support upon which it may count to secure the passing of legislation. It is a reflection on its centrality to British politics that no election since 1945 has

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