Parliament’s Most Important Function Is to Scrutinise and Challenge the Government, Not to Maintain It in Office Until the Next General Election. Discuss.

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Every five years or so, the winning party in the general election, that is, the party with the most seats in the House of Commons, forms the new government, with its party leader being the new Prime Minister. In a sense it could be said that the government is derived from Parliament, or, more precisely, the Commons. It is also the majority of the government in the Commons that facilitates its legislative programmes. Thus Parliament has an indispensable role in maintaining the government in office. In addition to that, Parliament also has the function of scrutinising and challenging the government on its legislative proposals as well as on a broader, more general level. It has been argued that this is Parliament’s most important function, rather than maintaining it in office. With regards to this point of view, an analysis of the present mechanisms of scrutiny and challenge used by Parliament and their effectiveness offers an insight into its validity. To begin with, Parliament, as the state legislature, plays a role in scrutinising government legislative proposals. Each bill has to go through First reading, Second reading, Committee stage, Report stage and Third reading in both the Commons and Lords. Second reading consists of a debate on the principle of the bill which involves shadow minister and backbenchers. During the committee stage a public bill committee established for the bill may take evidence and carry out meticulous scrutiny on each clause of the bill, as well as making amendments. Finally, during the third reading there is a debate on the final bill and a vote may take place. After passing through one House, the bill will have to be passed by the other House before it could become law. The legislative process in Parliament as outlined above shows the role of scrutiny of government proposals played by Parliament. Challenges to the bill, in the form

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