To What Extent Does the Parliament Hold the Executive to Account?

Topics: House of Lords, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Westminster system Pages: 3 (1004 words) Published: October 2, 2011
To what extent does the parliament hold the executive to account?

Parliament does not govern, but its role is to check or constrain the government of the day. Many therefore argue that parliament’s most important function is to ‘call the government to account’’, there by forcing the members to explain their actions and justify their policies. There are three groups within the UK parliament, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Monarchy. The HoC consists of 646 MP’s and each MP is elected in a local constituency to gain a seat in parliament. The House of Lords consists of 721 peers, there are approximately 600 life peers where as there are only 92 hereditary peers. The Lords spiritual are the second smallest group of the Lords. They are bishops and archbishops of the Church of England, and now only 26 remain. Law lords are the final group to make up the House of Lords. There are only 12 of these, and they focus on judicial work, which is carried out through the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. The final group that can hold the government to account is the monarchy. The monarch is often ignored as part of parliament, which is understandable as the Queen is normally entirely ceremonial and symbolic. As a non-executive head of state, the monarchy symbolizes the authority of the crown. Parliament holds the government to account by scrutinising and overseeing what the government does, and this is the key to ensure a responsible government.

There are many ways that the parliament can hold government to account and the best known is Question Time. The main aspect is Prime ministers Question Time, which is a weekly slot where MPs can ask one notified question of the Prime Minister and one unscripted supplementary question. These are also usually dominated by the PM and the leader of the opposition who can ask four or five supplementary questions. Question Time also extends to other ministers, forcing them to answer oral questions from MPs....
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