Functions of Parliament

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  • Functions of Parliament
    • Legislaton
      • Theoretically,Parliament can make, amend or repeal any law it likes
      • Not the case in practice
        • May not get re elected etc.
      • 3 types of legislature
        • Policy making- can amend or reject proposals put forward by the government
        • Policy influencing- can modify or reject policies, but can't develop its own bill
          • We have this in the UK.
        • Those with little or no influence over  policy- undemocratic
      • Policy- influencing legislature
        • The executive (PM/Cabinet) is therefore dominant in law making
        • Parliament reacts to government proposals, rather than taking the lead in formulating policies
        • Law making takes place through,not by Parliament (Cabinet/Private Members' Bills)
    • Scrutiny and Accountability
      • Scrunity
        • Debates
        • The opposition- if does not criticise government, not doing its job
        • Select committees
        • Prime Minister's Questions
      • Accountability
        • Individual ministerial responsbility
        • MPs accountable to the people
    • Representation
      • MPs represent their constituents
      • They hold surgeries in their constituencies where their constituents can go to discuss their problems
      • Descriptive representation- to what extent does the composition of Parliament reflect the social characteristics of  the electorate
        • Ethnic diversity= 4% of the commons, 8% of the population
        • Age, average age 50 as of 2010
        • Sexuality- 20 MPs openly gay
        • Private education- 1/3 attended private school, fewer than 10% of voters do so
    • Recruitment of ministers
      • Government ministers must come from the House, usually Commons.
      • Number of paid ministerial jobs is fixed by law at 109
      • In the last year of the Brown government, there was more than 140 government posts, with the extra ones being unpaid.
    • Legitimacy
      • Parliament helps to maintain the legitimacy of the British Political System
      • Government policies are scrutinised and discussed by elected MPs who represent the people
      • MPs also hold the executive accountable
      • MPs represent the interests of the constituents
      • Parliamentarydebate assures the electorate that major issues are being carefully considered
      • However, the electorate's trust in Parliament has been rocked in recent years with accusations of sleaze and scandal, and the scandal over minister's expenses

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