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To What Extent Is Parliament an Effective Constraint on the Executive?

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To What Extent Is Parliament an Effective Constraint on the Executive?

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  • October 25, 2009
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It is important to understand the structure of the parliamentary system within which the machinery of government operates. Parliament is known as a bi-cameral legislature where by decision making autonomy resides with the lower house. The House of Commons and the House of Lords exists as a check upon the powers exerted by respective governments thou right it’s debating and ratification functions. In theory, the bi-cameral legislature in British political system exists to ensure that policy and legislation is created democratically and secondly to protect the country from autocracy or the emergence of dictatorships. Although it could be argued that both of these functions of parliament have been apparent in recent history. In this essay I aim to answer the question to what extent is parliament an effective constraint on the executive.

The first means available to parliament in scrutinizing the government is the debating and ratification functions of the House of Lords. After a bill has been proposed by the House of Commons, it is sent to the House of Lords for intense debate and discussion. After this has happened the House of Lords can pass the bill reject the bill absolutely or send the bill back to the House of Commons for amendment in its current state. However since the passing of the of the Parliament Act in 1997 the House of Lords has the powers only to delay the passing of legislation for 1 year until which point the legislation must be passed. Therefore it could be argued that the House of Lords does not act as a successful check on legislation initiated by government, as it has only the power to suggest amendments to bills and lacks the legal jurisdiction to enforce amendments to bills. One of the clearest and most commonly used examples of a way in which parliament acts as a limiting factor to the powers exerted by government exists as the size of the government’s parliamentary majority. Strong governments with large majorities such as those of...