What are the functions of parliament?
Parliament is the highest legislative authority in the UK. It has responsibility for checking the work of government and examining, debating and approving new laws. It is also known as the legislature. The key features of the parliament are the legislation, representation, scrutiny and oversight, recruitment and legitimacy.
Parliament makes laws; this is why it is classified as a legislature. Parliament is the supreme legislature in the UK, in that it can make and unmake any law it wishes. Parliament is not restricted by codified constitution, and no other law making body can challenge parliament’s authority. However parliaments effectiveness as a legislature has also been questioned, parliaments time is spent considering the governments legislative programme. Only a small number of bills, private members bills, are initiated by backbenchers and these are only successful if they have government support. Party control of the House of Commons means that government bills are rarely defeated and most amendments affect the details of legislation, not its major principles. The lords play a subordinate role in the legislature process. It is essentially a ‘revising chamber’; most of its time is spent ‘clearing up’ bills not adequately scrutinized in the commons.
Parliament is the key link between government and the people, reflected in the fact that UK has a system of parliamentary democracy. This representative function of parliament is carried out by the elected House of Commons. Although there are debates about how this representation happens in practise. The traditional, Burkean view of representation suggests that MP’s use their own judgement in acting on behalf of their constituents. However, the effectiveness of parliamentary representation has also been criticized as the house of lords is unelected; it carries out no representative role and undermines the democratic responsiveness of parliament. Also the first...
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