Government Policies Hand-out 1. Parliament: The role of parliament is a necessary part of UK politics. Parliament has to scrutinise the work of government, they do this by questioning the government ministers and having debates to view the proposed laws and amendments to legislation. Decisions are often made via a vote. Smaller groups will look at specific policy issues and legislation in detail.
It is through laws that policies of government are laid down for implementation. It does however have many constitutional roles to fulfil such as the power of the purse, oversight, foreign policy and legislation. It can be argues that Congress does fulfil its constitutional roles as it may deliver effective over sighting, legislation, money bills, representation and foreign policy that may provide good checks and balances. However, most would argue that Congress may not carry its roles effectively thus leading to poor scrutiny (sometimes over scrutinising) which leads to ineffective fulfilment of constitutional roles. The principle organ of the US state is to legislate, represent and scrutinise the other, safely separated, branches of the government.
SELECT COMMITTEES This is a committee which has been established by a resolution in either house for a special purpose and is usually for a limited time. It is a committee of members of Parliament which investigate and report on a particular matter. Select Committees exist in the British Parliament, as well as in other parliaments which are based on the Westminster model, such as those in Australia and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom, committees can be appointed from the House of Commons, like the Foreign Affairs Committee, from the House of Lords, like the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, or as a "Joint Committee" drawn from both, such as the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform. The Commons Select Committees are generally responsible for overseeing the work of government departments and agencies, whereas those of the Lords look at general issues, such as the constitution or the economy.
To answer this question one has to first describe and provide reasons for the rules which govern the legislative powers of the House of Lords in comparison to those of the House of Commons. To properly appreciate the rules one should determine the composition of the people who are subject to the rules first. Each member of the House of Commons represents a constituent of the UK and is voted for by that constituent, voting takes place once every term of parliament. Members of the House of Lords are selected not on a voting basis and are chosen from one of the two following methods. Hereditary members are those who inherit their status as from their family, non-hereditary members are chosen by the prime minister in recognition to their expertise to become life peers.
How effective is Parliament? The House of Parliament is made up of both the House of Commons and The House of Lords, Parliament has six main functions that they must carry out. The main functions are; Legislative, Scrutiny, Recruitment, Legitimation and Representation .This essay will discuss what these functions entail and whether they are performed effectively. Firstly, Parliament must fulfil its legislative function. This is the means by with parliament passes the government’s legislation.
Parliament is Britain's Legislature, where legislation, the process of passing new laws, takes place. It is mainly carried out in the House of Commons and there are many different types of it, with the two most important being; government bills and private members bills. For a bill to become law is must pass through a number of parliamentary stages, which involves a lot of close reading, amending and debating in both the parliamentary chambers, however the House of Commons has far more legislative power, as the Lords can only suggest amendments or delay bills from becoming law (which the House of Commons can actually override anyway). It can be said the Commons fulfil the function of legislation effectively for various reasons, one being; because its large majorities makes it very efficient. Party's can rely on their loyal MPs to vote in favour of their bills, for example; from 1997-2005 Blair's government didn't lose a single vote in the House of Commons because he had such a high majority.
Efficiency, like I said a matter of perspective. This will be further illustrated and explained, later in the essay. As for now, a brief background on the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the history and relationship between them is required to understand the significance of the proposed 2 stage reforms which are as follows: a) The first stage , to remove the right of hereditary peers to vote in parliament (not fully accomplished), and the second stage; b) To decide whether the lower house should remain fully elected or partially elected and nominated. The term “parliament”, was coined in the 13th century. Its origins traced to the King’s council which essentially was an assembly of advisers to the King which also decided on appeal cases.
Scrutiny of the Executive: As governments tend to enjoy large parliamentary majorities, Parliamentary approval is rarely withheld. However, the House of Commons plays an important role in scrutinising the policies and actions of the government, in debates, parliamentary questions and within the influential cross-party select committees. In this particular respect, Parliament is representing interests of different groups of public, ensuring therefore that there is no unnecessary discrimination during legislative process. Both primary and secondary sources of legislation are subject to scrutiny, including international and EU legislation as well. Parliament is not expected to make substantial changes to such legislation but it is able to issue some warning or advise government about such legislation to be implemented.
One can create an e-petition about anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. Referenda and other forms of direct democracy could be argued to be more democratic than the opportunity to vote in elections because of the fact that general turnout for referenda exceeds the turnout for a general election. Direct democracy also allows citizens to contribute actively to decisions on how they are governed and important issues such as tax. An example of this could be the Croydon council poll in 2001. Direct democracy also overcomes flaws in the mandate theory.
‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.’ Discuss with reference to the electoral systems used for national elections in the UK and USA. The first past the post systems used in both the USA and the UK unquestionably have the potential to produce election results that are not representative of the break down of total votes in an election, providing results that don’t reflect voter wishes. One may argue that the electoral systems used in both the USA and UK marginalize minorities, causes wasted, insignificant votes and promote voter apathy. However despite the numerous criticisms of first past the post it has continued to be the system in place to decide the President in the USA and dictate which party forms government, and thus which party leader becomes Prime Minister in the UK, suggesting the system has its advantages. Proponents of the UK and US voting methods also often cite the lack of a credible alternative as a reason for the retention of the current systems.