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Discuss whether ministerial accountability is adequately addressed under the UK constitution

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Introduction

Katie O'Hara Word Count: 698 "The prerogative has allowed powers to move from Monarch to Ministers without Parliament having a say in how they are exercised. This should no longer be acceptable to Parliament or the people." Discuss whether ministerial accountability is adequately addressed under the UK constitution The Royal Prerogative has allowed a wide array of discretionary powers to be delegated from the Monarch to ministers without a need to seek parliamentary approval. This system is both unjust and undemocratic as it leaves a number of largely unchecked powers in the hands of a privileged few. These powers, including the ability to ratify treaties, declare war, regulate the civil service and appoint ministers, have a profound effect on the lives of the citizens of the United Kingdom and therefore it is necessary for them to be regulated by Parliament, the democratically elected body of the British people. ...read more.

Middle

It could, therefore, be surmised that Parliament has sufficient constitutional authority over how ministers exercise their powers. While the existence of the convention of ministerial responsibility does heighten the accountability of the government to Parliament, it is largely ineffective. There are no strict rules over when a minister should resign or not and, therefore, as Barnett states "... existence and acceptance of responsibility does not necessarily lead to resignation."2 Whether a minister decides to resign or not largely depends on the ministers own sense of guilt and responsibility and the pressure put on him by his party. Estelle Morris, for example, took responsibility for the A-level fiasco in 2002, where as Byers did not resign until an outbreak of public and media criticism made his position untenable. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is only those which gravely affect the lives of the public that Parliament should review. As Jack Straw stated, "the royal prerogative has no place in a modern Western democracy... only part of our constitutional arrangement has been endorsed by Parliament. The rest derives from royal prerogative... Accountability of the executive is fundamental to any democracy... where power is not based on statue but on the royal prerogative, it is accountability that suffers."4 In order to make ministers accountable to Parliament it is necessary to define their powers and the circumstances in which they can exercise them under statue. As well as, giving greater parliamentary scrutiny over the use of powers which greatly affect the lives of the British people. However, with the British constitution not being codified and the wide scope of the royal prerogative powers it may improve impossible to do so. ...read more.

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