Parliament unit 2 aqa

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Government and Politics unit 2- Parliament
Parliamentary government- key features
Executive and Legislature are fused; members of govt. are found in the legislature
The government is accountable to Parliament, which can remove government through a vote
of confidence (aka motion of no confidence)- and thus dissolve parliament
Parliamentary elections decide government person who has majority, leader of the largest
party becomes Prime Minister
Collective government, executive is led by Prime Minister (David Cameron) who is the `first
among equals'. (`Primus inter pares')
Queen is head of state
The Westminster model- describes the British political system and claims that it is ideal. Key
features include parliamentary sovereignty, uncodified constitution, cabinet government, FPTP, 2
party system and a unitary state. Two main virtues are said to be:
Representative government- MP's are elected to represent the genera; public by the public.
Responsible government- the govt. is accountable to parliament and the people through
elections. Collective responsibility (govt. can be forced to resign by parliament); individual
ministerial responsibility (ministers must be accountable to their actions in parliament. The
public can remove govt. at a general election.
But this is not always the case in practice as the executive dominates parliament which undermines
representative government.
Structure of parliament (parliament is bicameral)
House of Commons pg181
This is the LOWER HOUSE of the UK Parliament, the DOMINANT chamber. TWO key powers of
parliament that are exercised by the Commons are:
Parliamentary sovereignty ­ a central principle, this gives parliament legislative supremacy.
Parliament has ultimate law-making authority within the UK; in theory it means that
parliament can legislate on any matter of its choosing and these laws cannot be overturned
by any higher authority.
Motion of no confidence ­ the HoC can remove the govt by a motion of no confidence (vote
of confidence). The convention of collective ministerial responsibility states that the entire
government must resign if this happens and parliament is dissolved. This has only happened
on four occasions since 1895. The most recent was in 1979 when James Callaghan's Labour

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The HoC is a democratically elected chamber consisting of 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). Each
MP is elected in a single member constituency by the first-past-the-post electoral system. The
number of MPs is not fixed, but can change following geographical reviews of constituencies. In the
chamber, the governing party sits on the benches to the RIGHT of the Speaker's chair, and members
of the opposition parties sit on the benches to its LEFT.…read more

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The Salisbury Convention states that the HoL should not reject or wreak bills that are in the manifesto
of the governing party. It does not have the force of law as it is a convention; it arose in the 1940's as
an acceptance that the unelected HoL should not interfere in the will of the elected HoC. This
convention came under strain when Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers voted against an
identity cards bill, even though it featured on the Labour's 2005 manifesto.…read more

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Parliament is the legislative branch, this term reflects parliament's primary function ­ law making.
The legislative process
A bill is draft legislative proposal that is debated in parliament. When a bill has completed the
legislative process and becomes a statute, it is known as an Act of Parliament. The most significant
bills are public bills; these are promoted by a government minister and concern general issues of
public policy. Public bills are the most common because the executive exercises significant control
over the parliamentary timetable.…read more

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Royal Assent ­ when a bill has completed all its stages in both houses, it must have Royal
Assent before it becomes an Act of Parliament. This is when the monarch agrees and signs
the bill to become an Act.
Other bills
In addition to public bills, two other types of legislative proposal are: private members' bill and
secondary legislation.
Legislative proposals initiated by backbench MPs are known as private members' bills.…read more

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Ministers who mislead parliament may be required to resign. Scrutiny
of the executive is done through:
Question Time- MP's question government ministers on the floor of the house. Leader of the
opposition, leader of the thirds largest party and backbenchers (most questions they ask are
provided by whips) selected by the speaker can question PM on any matter. MP's will
generally try to embarrass the PM by highlighting policy failures. Thus Q.T. provides
parliamentary theatre rather than effective scrutiny.…read more

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Ethnic minorities- 2010; only 26 black and minority ethnic groups elected, only 4% of the
house compared to 8% of the population.
Age- MP's usually 35-55 (averaged at 50 in 2010). Younger and older underrepresented
Sexual orientation- 20 openly gay MP's in 2010 parliament (positive, more representative)
Education- 1 in 10 MP's have gone to university with over a quarter having gone to Oxford
or Cambridge.…read more

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The size, or absence, of a majority for the governing party in the HoC is an important factor in the
relationship between the legislature and executive. The first-past-the-post electoral system often
delivers a working majority for the party that wins most votes in a general election. A government
with a large majority is able to push its legislation through parliament by utilising the whip system and
controlling the parliamentary timetable.…read more

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The 1999 reform of the HoL strengthened the upper house and helped it become more assertive in
the legislative process. In the first decade since the removal of all but 92 hereditary peers, the HoL
inflicted more than 400 defeats on the government ­ compared to seven defeats in the HoC. Many
of these defeats occurred on judicial and constitutional matters, which are of particular interest to
the lords. Liberal Democrat, Conservative and crossbench peers worked together to defeat Labour's
proposals.…read more

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An independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was created in response to the
expenses scandal
Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition pg205
The 2010 coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats included provisions
for reform of the HoC. The key proposals were:
Fixed term parliaments ­ parliament will have a fixed 5 year term. The PM will no longer
decide the date of the general election.…read more


Old Sir

This is a very useful set of notes which exemplifies one of the most effective methods of revising. The addition of typical past questions on the topic suggests that the next stage of exam preparation is to plan and answer each of these types.


Absolute Golddust

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