Unit 2 - Parliament

Government and Politics, everything there is to know about Unit 2: Parliament for Edexcel. Taken from personal notes and Andy Heywood's most recent textbook.

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Key Concepts:
Parliament ­ Lies at the heart of the democratic process. The debating chamber of the
nation. There are 3 strands of Parliament: the Monarchy, the House of Lords and the
House of Commons. Parliament represents, legislates, scrutinises, recruits and trains
ministers and ensures legitimacy. 650 members
Westminster Model ­ a form of government in which there is a `fusion' of power
between the executive and legislature. Concentrates government decision-making within
a single body (Parliament or, in practice, the House of Commons). Parliament is based in
Westminster ­ the centre of UK politics.
Representative Government - People chosen by the citizens of the land to make decisions
on their behalf & to represent them in the legislative assembly.
Responsible Government ­ a government that is answerable or accountable to an
elected assembly and, through it, to the people.
Parliamentary Government ­ when government governs in and through Parliament. It
is based on a `fusion' between legislative and executive branches of government.
Parliament and government are therefore overlapping and interlocking institutions.
Presidential Government ­ a separation of powers where governments are separately
elected from Parliament. Therefore the legislature cannot remove government.
Preidentialism: both head of government and head of state.
Fusion of Powers ­ parliament and government work together in running the country:
parliamentary government.
Separation of Powers ­ The government and parliament are completely separate.
Presidential government.
Bicameralism ­ the theory or practice of breaking up legislative power through the
creation of two chambers. The UK Parliament is partial bicameralism; when the legislature
has two chambers but these are clearly unequal as the second chamber has restricted
Accountability ­
The Work of Parliament:
The government works in and through Parliament
There are 3 strands of Parliament:
House of Lords
House of Commons

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What does Parliament do?
Represent through debating
Legislate through looking at Bills and Laws
Scrutinise by monitoring the government
Recruit and train ministers
Summary/Overview of Parliament:
There are 650 members of parliament:
Labour: 258 MPs
Conservative: 306 MPs
Liberal Democrats: 57 MPs
Other: 29 MPs ­ divided between SNP, Green Party, UKIP, SDLP...…read more

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E: Report Stage: this is when the committee reports back to the full House of
Commons on any changes made during the committee stage. The Commons may
amend or reverse changes at the report stage.
F: The Third Reading: this replicates the second reading in that it is a debate of the full
chamber, enabling the House to take an overview of the bill in its amended state. No
amendments may be made at this stage.…read more

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MPs and Peers are socially unrepresentative of the larger society.
Party Discipline: makes MPs a party delegate rather than a party representative on most
pieces of legislation. BUT it is necessary as most vote for the party instead of an
individual ­ expect more to follow the party line.
Does party discipline compromise the representative function of Parliament?
YES: MPs act as party delegates rather than listening to their constituents.
BUT: Party discipline is necessary. Most people vote for parties rather than individuals.…read more

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They carry out enquiries and write reports, carry out
question-and-answer sessions with ministers, civil servants etc and ask to see
government papers.
EG: The Education Select Committee: examines the expenditure,
administration and policy of the Department for Education.
Debates and Ministerial statements: government policy can be examined through
legislative debates and emergency debates that are held at the disgression of the
speaker. Ministers are also required to make formal statements to Parliament on
major policy issues.…read more

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Fewer and fewer ministers have experience of careers outside politics.
Promote legitimacy
When government governs through Parliament, their actions are more likely to be seen
as `rightful' and therefore to be obeyed.
This occurs for two reasons:
Parliament, in a sense, `stands for' the public, being a representative assembly. When it
approves a measure, this makes it feel as though the public has approved it.…read more

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The Whitehall Model: this suggests that all power has shifted from Parliament to the
executive. It is executive dominated. Parliament has no meaningful policy influence.
The Transformative Model: it accepts that Parliament is no longer a policy-making body,
but neither is it a simple irrelevance. Parliament can transform policy but only by reacting
to executive initiatives.
Parliament and Government:
There is no fixed relationship between Parliament and government.
Parliament has huge potential power but limited actual power.…read more

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Due to FPTP system to over-present large parties
EG: Only 1 general election since 1945 has failed to produce a single
party majority government.
The larger the government majority, the weaker the back-benchers.
Contrast between small and large majorities can be stark.
Advent of Coalition Government:
The coalition government led to a majority despite the election of `hung'
Coalition's `official' majority of 77 seats led, in practice, to a majority of 83.…read more

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It is the politically and legally dominant chamber of Parliament.
The House of Commons has supreme legislative power: in theory, the commons can
make, unmake and amend any law it wishes with the Lords only being able to delay these
laws. The legal sovereignty of Parliament is exercised in practice by the Commons.
The House of Commons alone can remove the government of the day: this power us
based on the collective ministerial responsibility.…read more

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Parliament more representative of the public's needs but could
also cause trivia (waste of time?)
Referendum on AV: although rejected in 2011, AV was likely to have boosted
representation for third parties such as the LibDems and could be expected to lead
to more `hung' parliaments.…read more


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