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An important function of any representative assembly in a liberal democracy is to scrutinize the
executive. There are several main ways in which the House of Commons does this.

Legislative scrutiny
This has been dealt with already. It takes place during the long, complicated process of debate and

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Questions for written answer
MPs can give any number of questions to ministers for a written answer. The answer is prepared by a
departmental civil servant who is expert in the field. These questions will enable an opposition party
to keep up with detailed matters of government, and also enable…

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The Annual Debate on the Address

This is the five days of debate which follow the Queen's Speech and the 'address' or reply of the
Commons to it. So it can cover the whole range of government proposals for the coming
parliamentary year which have been announced at the State…

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for it when it was created. There are now other ways in which a citizen can obtain redress, under the
Human Rights Act, for example, and through a large number of tribunals. The parliamentary
Ombudsman has quite a small workload.

How effective is parliamentary scrutiny?

Positive points:

1) They are…

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1) It is difficult for Parliament to hold ministers to account, because the government can
dominate Parliament. The presence of ministers in the legislature actually means that the
executive is running things in Parliament. The parliamentary timetable is decided by the
government, and day-to-day management is the responsibility of government…


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