Functions of Parliament

Some notes outlining the functions of Parliament. Just so you know, I haven't included in here an evaluation of how well it performs these functions, or the effectiveness. But I am in the middle of making some notes which do some evaluation, so watch this space ;) 

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Functions of Parliament
Legislative function ­ for a bill to become law, it has to pass various stages in
both the Commons and Lords. Not all government proposals make it through these
stages, e.g. Labour's 90 day detention plan was defeated by MPs in 2005.
Holding government to account ­ making sure the government are answerable
for their actions and making ministers justify what they do. For example, Prime
Minister's questions every Wednesday afternoon.
Scrutiny ­ legislation proposed by the government is scrutinised by departmental
select committees, where criticisms, advice and suggestions can be made.
Representation ­ Parliament's role in articulating constituency and public interest,
ensuring the government addresses constituents' grievances and making sure that
government ministers listen to them.
Legitimation ­ granting authority to government and allowing it to govern
Recruitment of government ministers ­ all ministers are drawn up from the
House of Commons or Lords.
In what ways is parliament representative?
Choice of constituency representatives in free and fair elections. Thus, the House
of Commons is seen to be geographically representative.
Range of political parties from which to choose, so reflective of political view of
Some pressure groups sponsor and support elected representatives, e.g. many
Labour MPs sponsored by trade unions.
Parliament is responsive to public opinion in that MPs and parties can be removed
in subsequent elections.
MPs representative in that they think for themselves instead of simply conveying
voters' opinions. (Burkean representation). But this is done in the context of party
Parliament broadly represents the nation, without just being a microcosm of it.
The House of Lords is representative of different fields, for many peers are
appointed on the basis of being an expert in their field.
How does Parliament hold government to account?
Ministerial statements to the Commons, followed by debates on these statements.
Questions to Ministers and Prime Minister
Select committees enable detailed scrutiny of the work of different governmental
Debates on legislation and scrutiny of proposed bills through Public Bills
Opposition days where different topics are chosen for debate by the opposition
House of Lords' ability to delay legislation and to send bills back to the Commons
to be amended/rethought.


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