AS Politics Unit 2: Parliament and the Core Executive Summary Notes

These are a condensed version of notes from various sources of revision material I have gathered over the past year. They are a summary of two units from the AQA AS syllabus - Unit 2: Parlament and Unit 3: The Core Executive which have multiple up to date examples and the figures are correct as of May 2013. 

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Unit 2 Politics exam ­ Summary of revision

Key Concepts ­ The role of Parliament in the political system
1) Representation
o The process by which an individual or individuals act on behalf of a larger group. An MP is
elected to represent a constituency of around…

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2) Roles and functions of Parliament
Parliament performs a number of functions in the British political system; legislation, scrutiny and
accountability, representation, recruitment of ministers and legitimacy.

1) Legislation ­ making law
o Legislative process ­ Bill, a legislative proposal, starts in HoC.
o First reading ­ name of bill…

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Are select committees effective in scrutinizing the executive?
Yes No
High degree of expertise Membership reflects that of HoC ­ majority
Decide which issues to examine Membership influenced by whips
Can question ministers, request access to papers Access may be denied
Government is required to issue a formal response No…

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The Salisbury Doctrine of 1945
o This established the convention that the Lords should not oppose government bills at second
Is the Lords really that weak?
The Parliament Acts and Salisbury Doctrine provide checks on the power of the Lords. It is
definitely a serious obstacle to government as…

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2) Elective dictatorship
o Lord Hailsham coined the term in 1976 ­ the meaning is the concentration of power in the
executive branch.
o It implies that the only check on the power of government is the need to hold and win
general elections at regular intervals. Beyond this, the…

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Key concepts ­ Relations within the core executive, Prime Minister and cabinet system
1) Prime ministerial and cabinet government
o Prime minister and the cabinet are the main institutions within the executive
Cabinet ­ the committee of senior ministers that is the main collective decision…

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o Managing the executive ­ responsible for overall organization of government and is head of
the civil service
o Managing relations in parliament ­ makes statements to, answers questions in, House of
Commons. Shapes the legislative programme.
o Representing the UK in international affairs ­ in the EU, international organisations…

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o Committees are generally chaired by the PM or other senior cabinet colleagues determined
by PM.
o The remaining members are drawn from the cabinet as appropriate.
o Full cabinet has increasingly become a body for airing and rubber-stamping decisions taken
at committee.
o Crucially, the principle of collective responsibility…

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does not decide policy. ­ More apparent since 20th century as cabinet weakened and powers of
prime minister expanded.

Different models of executive control
Cabinet government
o PM is merely first among equals.
o Cabinet is a decision making body operating under collective responsibility.
o Reasons for decline;
o Increase…

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4) Permanence
o Civil servants stay in their posts through changes in government ­ link to neutrality.

5) Individual ministerial responsibility
o The convention that ministers are accountable to parliament for their personal conduct, the
general conduct of their department, and their own personal conduct.
o Governments have redefined the…


Cat Stott


Really helpful for my AS revision thanks a lot - everything summarised briefly but well 

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