The Roles of the House of Commons

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The main roles of the House of Commons

The House of Commons is part of the legislature. At a quick glance it might be assumed that passing laws is the Common’s main function. Most of the debates and arguments in the House of Commons are over legislation, proposed or already passed. Nearly all legislative proposals are formed by the Executive. The House does not normally overturn governmental proposals, therefore the government majority normally see its programme through, nine times out of ten it will be intact.

Public bills change the general law of the land, these type of bill concern the whole community. Other types of bills include; Private Members’ bills (introduced by Mps) and Private Members’ Bills (by members of the Upper House). Private bills only affect a small part of the community as they are promoted by organisations outside the house. They should not be confused with private members bills which are a type of public bill. The procedure for private bills differs from that for public bills.

A bill must pass through several stages in both chambers before becoming a law. These stages are; first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage and the third stage. Once the bill has passed through both chambers it is returned to the one in which it starts, in most cases this will be the House of Commons. If the House of Lords continues to reject the bill, the government may resort to using the Parliament Act 1949 to get the bill passed. Finally, the bill receives the Royal Accent, no bill has been rejected by the Monarch since 1707.

Parliaments’ permission is needed to raise and spend money, key decisions are made by the government and although the House has the power to reject proposals this rarely happens in practise. The Commons also plays a scrutinising role which is mainly carried out in Departmental Select Committees and via the Public Accounts Committee.

The work of scrutiny and influence goes on all the time and finds expression...
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