To What Extent Is the Uk Parliament Effective in Controlling the Powers of the Prime Minister?

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Due to the increasing presidential style of recent prime ministers and the party loyalty of the executive one can consider Parliament’s control of executive power minimal. However, due to the development of independent bodies surrounding Select Committees and the delaying of legislation by the House of Lords it can still be argued to be effective. The government usually has an overall majority. This is due to our voting system of FPTP which gives preference to the two main parties, normally giving them majorities (and increasingly large ones) as opposed to coalitions and minority governments which are produced through other voting systems such as AV in Scotland and Wales. Although we are currently in a coalition the government still has a majority through the combination of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. This therefore often renders opposition as a form of scrutiny meaningless and also means that it is difficult for the executive to be held to account. Party loyalty is also very strong. The power of prime ministerial patronage renders many MPs excessively docile and loyal, hence the term ‘lobby fodder’. With the rise in the professional politician many prefer to remain loyal in order to gain power and move up in the hierarchy as opposed to become a rebel who remains in the back benchers. This can be seen after the vote on tuition fees and the liberal democrats. Despite the fact that they had campaigned for this cause endlessly only 26 (including a few Conservatives) chose to vote against the bill. Whips play an important part in removing efficiency from Parliament. By having whips who ensure that MPs behave in accordance to the decisions of the executive both Parliaments ability to scrutinise and hold the executive to account is diminished, but also their role as representatives of their individual constituency is also compromised. For example with

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