Parliament and Government
- Supreme law-making body in the UK.
- Most of the laws Parliament passes are drawn up by government; each political party presents a manifesto, which sets out its proposals for new legislation.
- Parliament is sometimes referred to as the legislature - the law-making body.
Influences on Parliament - Pressure Groups
- Bodies of people with a shared interest in getting the government to change the law in certain areas.
- Sectional or Interest groups try to get the goverment to better things they feel are wrong with their own particular section of society. E.G. Trade Unions
- Cause Groups- Promote a particular idea or belief. E.G. Greenpeace (campaigning for the environment) or Amnesty (campaigning for human rights)
- Sometimes set up as a result of a particular event. E.G. The Snowdrop Campaign, organised after the Dunblane massacre 1996, resulted in parliament banning private ownership of handguns.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Groups
- Give the public and minorities a voice.
- Help MPs keep in touch with what people think.
- Raise public awareness of issues.
- Members often have high level of expertise and can therefore offer detailed and well thought out law changes.
- Some larger pressure groups that represent powerful organisations mean that its hard for smaller pressure groups to match their influence.
- Some methods such as strikes and blockading can cause damage and disruption.
- May only represent a minority view when they are successful in changing the law.
Tip: When talking about advantages and disadvantages, explain why that point is an advantage or disadvantage.
Influence of The Media
- Newspapers promote specific issues or causes, depending on their political leaning.
- An example of media influence was the campaign run by News of The World in 2000. After the murder of Sarah Payne by a **********, it published details of known **********s in order to get the government to take action. The result was a register of sex offenders and the promise of much closer supervision of those released into the community.
- Investigative Television/Journalism can be very influencial. Shows like Panorama have been known to draw attention to scandals and abuses in the past. The Daily Telegraph played a big part in bringing about reform of the expenses rules in 2009.
Advantages and Disadvantages of The Media
- Plays a big role in bringing issues to the attention of Parliament.
- Can raise the public profile of an issue and add weight to public opinion, forcing the government to act in a favourable way.
- The ownership of certain branches of the media such as newspapers is in the hands of a relatively small number of individuals. Newspapers often reflect the views of their owners, showing them to potentially millions of people.
- Concern has been expressed about links between the media and politicians. It could be seen that politicians are influencing the media.
- Panics are often created by the media as they have a tendancy to only report certain sides of the story or exaggerate issues.
The Law Commission
- Established by the Law Commission Act 1965. It is a full time body with 5 commissioners; a High Court Judge as the chair and then the other 4 are from the legal professions and academic lawyers. All members are legally trained.
- Its work involves looking at the reform of the law, codification, consolidation (systematically organising the point of law into one body).
- The Commission may have topics referred to it by the government or it may choose topics itself, which will be considered after it has been approved to do so by the government.
- Basically, its role is to simply recommend changes to the law to Parliament.
Advantages and Disadvantages of The Law Commission
- It's a permanent, full-time, body which can investigate any area of the law it believes to be in need of reform.
- It produces draft bills ready for Parliament to introduce, which reduces the workload for ministers.
- It has been responsible for many sensible changes to the law. E.G. Fraud Act 2006.
- It can undertake extensive research and engage in wide consultation, meaning its recommendations for law reform are well informed and this helps to avoid problems in the application of law.
- Parliament has often ignored the Commission's proposals.
- Up until 1999, only two-thirds of its proposals had been implemented as governments cannot find time in the legislative programme for non-urgent law reform. E.G. the law on non-fatal offences.
- The Law Commission investigates 20-30 areas at a time, meaning that their investigations perhaps arent as thorough.
Parliamentary Law Making - Influences Test
What is the purpose of a party manifesto?
To propose a politial parties' ideas for legislation.
What are Insider Groups?
Pressure groups with direct access to MPs and parliament.
Give an example of a sectional or interest group.
Trade Unions - National Farmers' Union (NFU).
Give an example of the Media bringing an issue to the attention of Parliament.
2009 expenses claims by The Daily Telegraph.
Give an example of unwise legislation due to a media-caused panic.
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
When was the Law Commission set up?