There are several important functions that Parliament must perform. The word Parliament derived from the Latin ‘parliamentum’ and the French word ‘parler’ which originally meant a talk- which is what Parliament does most of the time. Parliament consists of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarchy. Parliament is the highest judicial, legislative and executive body in Britain. A parliamentary form of government acknowledges that it derives its power directly from the consent of the people. This sort of system ensures democracy and an active interaction between the people and their representatives. The three functions that I am going to focus on are Scrutiny, Representation and Law Making.
Scrutiny is carried out in four main ways- Prime Ministers Questions, Select Committees, The Back Benches and The House of Lords. Prime Ministers Questions is a weekly opportunity for backbenchers to scrutinise the Prime Minister. This happens every Wednesday and is an opportunity for the leader of the opposition as well as other MPs to highlight government failings or ask the Prime Minister a question. This is a good way to scrutinise the Prime Minister as it puts them under pressure to justify their actions and normally with potentially no pre-warning of what topics will have to be defended. The element of surprise allows opposition MP’s as well as backbenchers and sometimes members of the cabinet to catch the prime minister out with an awkward question. The relative performance of each of the main party leaders is closely watched and each is under great pressure to get the better of their opponent. The main weakness of this form of scrutiny is that it is often accused of being more like ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ as many believe the questions are “planted” and therefore the Prime Minister and Opposition can prepare their answers beforehand.
Select Committees in both the House of Commons and the... [continues]
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