AS Politics Unit 2 - Parliament

AQA Govt. & Politics Unit 2 - Parliament

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  • Created on: 07-06-11 12:51
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· Influence of back benchers
· Effectiveness of Parliament: roles, whips...
· Executive dominance?
· Scrutiny/representation
· Expenses scandals
· Roles of parties in Parliament
Parliamentary and Presidential government
Parliamentary Presidential
· There is a clear separation of powers
· The executive and legislative branches
between the executive and legislative
are fused.
· Parliament can dismiss the government;
· The legislature cannot dismiss the
the government can dissolve parliament
president, except in special
by calling a general election.
circumstances, and the executive cannot
· Power is exercised collectively within the
dissolve the legislature.
executive branch - PM is head of cabinet.
· Power in the executive is concentrated in
· PM can command a majority in the
the office of president.
parliament following a general election.
· The president is directly elected by the
· The head of the executive is not the head
of state.
· The president is the head of state.
Head of State - the chief public representative of a country, such as a monarch or president.
Legislature - the branch of government responsible for passing laws.
Parliament - as assembly that has the power to debate and make laws.
The Westminster model: traditional way that describes the British political system, claims/
assumes that the British case is the best example of how a political system should operate.
· Representative government - people do not take decisions on public policy directly, but
elected MPs do so on their behalf.
· Responsible government - the government is accountable to parliament for its actions, and is
ultimately accountable to the people through elections. Collective responsibility means that the
government can be forced to resign by parliament. People can remove the government at a
general election.
Key terms/concepts:
· Parliamentary sovereignty - The doctrine that parliament has absolute legal authority within
the state. Parliament can make law on any matter it chooses, its decisions may not be
overturned by any higher authority and it may not bind its successors. It is a legal theory
concerning the location of law-making authority. But EU membership and devolution raise
questions about how meaningful parliamentary sovereignty is in practice.
· Government mandate - The right of the governing party to pursue the policies sets out in its
manifesto. It gives the government the authority to pursue its stated policies, but it does not
require it to do so or prevent it from drafting proposals not included in its manifesto.
· Elective dictatorship - The excessive concentration of power in the executive branch. The
lack of separation of powers and the control of Parliaments by PM, once elected, the PM
was effectively a dictator until the next general election.

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Executive dominance
· There has been a perception of a growth in executive dominance in the UK.
· The effect of this may be a greater marginalisation of Parliament.
· Party dominates the House, and this stranglehold has been worsen as more and more power
has been concentrated in Downing Street
· E.g. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair
Structure of Parliament: the UK has a bicameral legislature - two chambers in parliament.
Formally, the UK parliament actually has three component institutions...…read more

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The Parliament Act 1949.
Reduced the veto power to 1 year.
The Lords can propose amendments to bills passed by the Commons (except money bills). If the
Commons refuses the accept the wishes of the Lords, the upper house is faced with the choice of
backing down or blocking the bill from becoming law for 1 year. It the latter is chose, the bill can be
passed unchanged in the following session of parliament without the consent of the Lords using the
Parliament Act (1949).…read more

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Similarities and differences between the two houses
· The Commons and the Lords have a similar procedure, spend time passing legislation, the
shape is similar.
· However, the Lords have cross-benchers that are independent from parties and stop a
government from having a majority, even members of parties are more independent than the
· Lords usually have more expertise in certain fields as they are people who have retired from
those fiefs such as lawyers and business men.…read more

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Committees and bills:
· A group of 15-50 MPs and peers
· Considers each bill on a line-by-line basis
· Amendments are made to prospective legislation through vote by
Standing committees majority
(public bill committees) · Once the bill is passed, the committee is disbanded
· Relevant MPs/peers sit on the committee
· PARTY LOYALTY still applies and members are expected to "toe
the party line"
· 19 committees made up of 11-14 members that shadow each
govt. department.…read more

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Captures the essence of adversarial politics
Can be seen as political point scoring
Hold the ministers/PM to account - allow questions to be directly presented to the
ministers/PM in which s/he has to answer
Has brought light to some scandals and large issues in the past that have
attracted huge media attention (e.g.…read more

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MPs in 2010 have worked in politics before entering
parliament (as researchers or advisors).
Conformity - reliable MPs have a better chance of rising through the ranks than
trouble maker, who may be offered junior posts to keep them quiet. For most
backbenchers the legislative routine allows little opportunity for independent
thought or action.…read more


Old Sir

A concise, yet comprehensive overview of the workings of parliament, students looking for a starting-point which (briefly) refers to examples which illustrate points of controversy will find this useful. I would also suggest that students read more about the growing profile of some select committees, whose chairs are now elected with very little whips' offices interference.

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