Parliament

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
C7: PARLIAMENT
Introduction:
o Often referred to as being the 'debating chamber of the nation.'
o A place where laws are made and where the government also known as the executive
confronts the opposition.
o Parliament is the UK's supreme law-making body
o Government does not operate separately from Parliament, rather it governs through
Parliament
Role of Parliament:
Parliament is bicameralwhich means it has two chambers with distinctive memberships &
functions.
1) House of Commons:All Members of Parliament (MPs) win their seats in the same way.
Composition:
o HOC consists of 650 MPs (varies in accordance to changes in parliamentary constituencies
o Each MP is elected by a single-member parliamentary constituency using FPTP voting
system
o MPs are representatives of a party and are subject to part discipline
o Some MPs are categorized as backbenchers, while a majority are categorized as
frontbenchers
Powers:
The HOC is politically and legally the dominant chamber of Parliament and there are two key
powers of the HOC which are:
o HOC has supreme legislative power: they have the power to create, amend and change
any laws they wish to, the Lords (peers) can only delay the laws. The legal sovereignty of
Parliament is therefore exercised in practice by the Commons.
o HOC alone can remove the government of the day: this power is based on the convention
of collective ministerial responsibility. The existing government that's defeated is obliged
to resign or to call a general election.
2) House of Lords:
Composition:
o Life peers: Life Peerages Act 1958 Peers are entitled to sit in the Lords for their own
lifetimes. Life peers are appointed by the PM, recommendations are also made by
opposition leaders.
Iram Rafique

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
o Hereditary peers: inherit their titles, have the right to sit in the HOL. In descending order;
dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons, and female equivalents. Since 1999 only a
maximum of 92 peers are permitted to sit.
o 'Lords Spiritual':these are bishops and archbishops of the Church of England, collectively,
they are referred to as the 'Lord Spirituals' there's a total of 26 of them.…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
Functions of Parliament:
Parliamentis sometimes often classified as an 'assembly', a 'legislature' or a 'deliberative body.'
Legislation:
The branch of government that has the power to make laws through the formal enactment of
legislation.Parliament makes laws as it is the supreme legislature in the UK. It can create and
unmake any laws, this is expressed in the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty. No other law
making body can challenge Parliament's authority.…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
The committee reports back to the HOC on any changes made during the committee
stage, the Commons may amend/ reverse changes at this stage
6) Third reading:
Replicating the second reading. It is a debate of the full chamber, enabling the HOC to take
an overview of the bill in its amended state.…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
o MPs are predominantly middle-ages 70% are between 40 & 59, average age in 2015 is 51
Education:
o MPs are better educated than most UK citizens, 2/3 are graduates. 32% have attended
private schools
Sexual orientation:
o 32 openly gay MPs
Scrutiny and oversight:
Parliament does not govern rather it checks or constrains the government of the day.…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
Government policy can be examined through legislative debates& throughemergency
debates that are held at the discretion of the Speaker
Adjournment debates enable backbenchers to initiate debates at the end of the
parliamentary day
Ministers are required to make formal statements to Parliament on major policy issues
THE OPPOSITION/ SUPPLY DAYS:
Second largest party in the HOC is appointed as 'Her Majesty's loyal opposition'
Given privileges in debates, at Question Time & in the management of parliamentary
business to help it carry out its…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
o Respect for Parliament has been undermined by scandals such as 'cash for questions' and
'cash for peerages'
Select committees: Often seen as more effective than Question Time
However some of its limitations are:
o The government has a majority on each of these committees who reflect the composition
of the HOC
o Individual committee appointments are influenced by the whips who ensure that loyal
backbenchers sit on key committees
o Select committees have no executive power, at best, they can only criticize…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
It suggests that political and constitutional power have shifted firmly from Parliament to the
executive. Parliament is executive- dominated & acts as little more than a 'rubber stamp' for
government policy. Therefore it can be argued that Parliament has no meaningful policy influence,
this model was widely accepted until the 1980s
The Transformative model:
Provides an alternative to 'Westminster' and the 'Whitehall' models of parliamentary power.
Accepts that Parliament is no longer a policy-making body nor is it irrelevant.…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
Labour governments under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (2001-10) During Blair's second and
third terms, Labour backbenchers rebelled against the government on over 20% of all divisions, for
example, there were major rebellions on high profile issues such as university 'top up' fees (72)
whilst the Iraq War (139)
Short term signs that party unity is in decline:
Public standing of the government and the likelihood of it winning re-election
The personal authority of the PM
The radicalism of the government's legislative programme…read more

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AS Edexcel-Parliament
is not due to voting patterns but rather, due to the tendency of FPTP voting system to
over-represent large parties.
However, the size of a government's majority has also been crucial. The larger the government's
majority, the weaker the backbenchers will usually be.
A minority government is one which does not have overall majority support in the assembly or
parliament, minority governments are usually formed by single parties that are unable or unwilling
to form coalitions.…read more

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