- Most MPs are very active in representing the interests of their constituency.
- Many MPs also represent the interests of large associations and pressure groups.
- 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
- 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.
- 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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- The departmental select committees have proved very effective in scrutinising the policies of government departments and publicising shortcomings or failures.
- 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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- 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.
- The procedures of Parliament in terms of passing legislation are ancient and considered to be inefficient and ritualised.
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- 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.
- 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
- The Commons retains the power to veto legislation and this represents discipline upon governments.
- 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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