Parliament

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  • Parliament
    • Function
      • represent
        • geographic constituecies
        • single member constituencies
      • legislation
        • bills must pass through both houses
      • scrutiny
        • parliamentary committees
        • Prime Ministers Questions
      • legitimise
        • government is not directly elected
        • confidence of the commons
          • vote of no confidence
            • 1979 - Labour under James Callaghan
      • recruitment
        • some ministers may be brought into the Lords as a mean of bringing them into Parliament
          • 2005 - Andrew Adonis
    • Legislative Process
      • public bills
        • government bills
          • fulfill manifesto commitments
          • most likely to succeed
            • government controls the parliamentary timetable
        • private member bills
          • introduced by an MP on any issue
          • rarely succeed without government support
            • time pressures
          • legitimise issues of conscience
            • Abortion Act 1967
      • private bills
        • specific areas of policy or organisations
        • may only affect 1/2 people
          • e.g. granting dispensation from existing law
      • normal passage
        • 1st/2nd reading > standing committee > 3rd reading > house of lords > royal assent
      • short cutting
        • whip the standing committee
        • formally guillotine committee action
        • limit time for commons debate
        • make concessions for backbenchers and lords
        • use of the parliament act
    • Relative Powers
      • parliaments act
        • 1911
          • Lords attempted to block the budget in 1909
          • replaced the lords power to veto legislation with the power to delay bills for up to 2 years
            • prevented them from vetoing, amending or delaying money bills
        • 1949
          • reduced powers of delay to 1 parliamentary session
          • gives commons ulitimate power over the lords
            • only happened on 4 occasions
              • War Crimes Act 1991
              • European Parliamentary Election Act 1999
              • Sexual Offences Act 2000 (amendment)
              • Hunting Act 2004
      • salisbury doctrine
        • established the convention that the lords should not oppose government bills at 2nd readings
          • especially where they had established a clear electoral mandate to act
      • is the lords weak?
        • Yes
          • parliaments act and salisbury doctrine provide real checks on the lords
        • No
          • experience
          • security of tenure
          • weak party ties
    • Lord Reforms
      • first stage
        • prior to house of lords act 1999
          • 759 hereditary peers among its 1330 membrs
            • 471 conservative
            • 179 labour
          • 1997 labour manifesto commitment
            • to remove these hereditary peers
        • Weatherill Amendment
          • 92 hereditery peers were allowed
      • second stage
        • Wakeham Commission Report 2000
          • labours 2001 white paper proposal
            • proposed a 2nd chamber of 600 members
              • 20% elected
              • 80% appointed
                • under the auspices of an independent appointments commission
        • the commons was presented with 8 different models
          • ranging for abolition to fully elected
            • 4 Feburary 2003 - all 8 models were rejected
        • 2005 manifesto
          • predominantly elected 2nd chamber
            • 2007 white paper
              • commons retain its primacy
              • split 50:50
                • single fixed term (12 years?)
              • elections held under open regional list system
              • statutory appointment commission
                • 20% non-political appointments
              • no single party would have a majority
          • deadlocked once more
            • commons rejected all but fully elected
            • lords rejected all but fully appointed
    • Parliamentary Sovereignty
      • A.V.Dicey
        • rule of law
        • english constitution
      • 3 principles
        • parliament can make or unmake law
        • only parliament can make UK law
        • no parliament can bind its successors
      • question its extent
        • EU law superiority
        • new labours devolution programme
        • increased use of referendum
    • Scrutiny and Accountability
      • committees
        • standing
          • consider specific pieces of legislation
          • 15-25 members
            • party members are proportional to the house itself
            • appointed by committee of selection
        • select
          • scrutinise the work of specific gov departments
          • Norton Report 2000
          • Newton Report 2001
          • 2010 - Wright Committee
      • prime minsters questions
        • may be seen as theater rather than real politics
        • allow backbench MPs and opposition leaders opportunity to raise issues
        • a chance for frontbenches to make a name for themselves
          • 2007 - Vince Crabe
            • observed that Brown had turned from "Stalin to Mr Bean"
      • vote of no confidence
        • 1979 - Labour under James Callaghan
      • early day motions & topical debates
        • MPs can add their names to motions and thereby raising their concerns with government
          • often little time for debate
          • can vent constituents' grievances
      • commons liaison committee
        • do not have the power to subpoena witnesses to appear before them
          • however, Tony Blair did agree to appear twice a year
        • compromises of the chairs of various departmental select committees
          • meet at Portcullis House in the Boothroyd Committee Room
    • Backbenchers
      • role
        • loyal party drone
        • Watchdog
          • through debates, committees, PMQ's and ministers questions
          • Tony Benn & Dennis Skinner
      • private members bill
        • rarely find their way to the statute books
        • Abortion Act 1967
      • career politicians
    • Party Whips
      • carrot & stick approach
        • offer promotion
          • John Major
        • threat of life on the backbench
      • removing the whip
        • makes MP vulnerable to deselection
        • 1994 - 8 conservatives were known as the "whipless wonders"
          • disloyalty over the provisions of the Maastrict Treaty

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