Evaluation of House of Commons

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  • Created by: Tasc24
  • Created on: 10-01-16 20:29

Representation

Positive:

  • Most MPs are very active in representing the interests of their constituency.
  • Many MPs also represent the interests of large associations and pressure groups.

Negative:

  • The Commons is not socially representative.
  • Party loyalty means they tend to toe the party line rather than always represent national or group interests.
  • The party make-up of the Commons does not accurately represent support for parties among the electorate with smaller parties under-represented.
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Calling government to account

Positive: 

  • MPs regularly question ministers at question time sessions.
  • The Liason Committee questions the PM twice a year.
  • The departmental select committees are extremely active and independent - they examine government business closely and are often critical to good effect.

Negative:

  • PMQs has become a media sideshow with little relevance to real policy examination.
  • Many MPs are reluctant to be critical of ministers in their own party for fear of being seen as disloyal.
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Scrutiny

Positive:

  • The departmental select committees have proved very effective in scrutinising the policies of government departments and publicising shortcomings or failures.

Negative:

  • MPs are given relatively little time to scrutinise proposed legislation so laws are often poorly drafted.
  • Because legislative committees are whipped into party loyalty, MPs are not independent-minded in their scrutiny function.
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Legislating

Positive:

  • It is a key role of the Commons to make legislation legitimate (granting consent) and on the whole this operates well with laws generally respected as they have been legitimised in Parliament.
  • The Commons retains the power to block legislation that is against the public interest or represents an abuse of power.

Negative: 

  • The procedures of Parliament in terms of passing legislation are ancient and considered to be inefficient and ritualised.
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Deliberation

Positive:

  • From time to time the Commons is seen at its best in debates on the great issues of the day e.g. Iraq War, terrorism, education.

Negative:

  • The Commons is given relatively little time for debate on legislation itself.
  • Debates on legislative proposals tend to divide along party lines and so lose their authority.
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Checking government power

Positive:

  • The Commons retains the power to veto legislation and this represents discipline upon governments.

Negative:

  • Party loyalty and discipline means that many MPs are reluctant to challenge the government. 
  • The government very rarely loses a major vote in the Commons.
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