• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How effective is Parliament as a check on the executive?

Extracts from this document...


How effective is Parliament as a check on the executive? One of the main functions of Parliament is to hold the Government to account. This is done by forcing the Government to justify their policies and bills in the form of structured debate within the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Parliament also forces the Government to defend their actions, such as the decision to cut �81bn from public spending in the recent spending review. This Government decision will no doubt be debated in Parliament throughout the next few years. One of the reasons why Parliament is so weak in relation to Government is party domination. In virtually every general election, one party will win over 50% of the seats and therefore have a majority. This means the governing party will get its way all the time. In recent times two parties have dominated - Labour and the Conservatives. The other parties, including the Liberal Democrats, are all weak by comparison. This is the most important factor for Parliament being weak in relation to Government. The British electoral system of first past the post benefits Labour and the Conservatives who win lots of seats, for the Liberal Democrats and the small parties FPTP does not benefit them at all, this is why the Lib Dems have campaigned for alternative vote (AV) which was a key part of the 2010 coalition agreement. The main problem the Lib Dems have is that they keep finishing second in constituencies. So despite a large share of the vote, they do not win many seats. ...read more.


The issues debated in Parliament are often very complicated and a minister will have it all explained to them, your average MP won't. Government ministers deliberately withhold information as a lot of Government work is highly secretive. As ministers are reluctant to release information which could be politically embarrassing, Parliament has a lack of access to information which should be available for them to get hold of. Obviously there is some limit here - top secret information e.g. threats to national security should remain private, but the Government withholding information purely on the basis that it is damaging to them is wrong. How is Parliament supposed to effectively hold the executive to account if it doesn't know what it is doing? The Government can delay the release of information until nobody is paying attention, and often does. An alternative is to ''sex up'' a document to boost support, e.g. Iraq Dossier. It contained allegations such as the hording of weapons of mass destruction which all proved to be untrue. Parliament is also weakened because MP's have far too many commitments. MP's are very busy people with too many demands on their time. They not only have constituency work to deal with, which has become more important in recent times, but the full Parliamentary week is ever increasing. PMQ's, Ministerial question time, general debates, opposition debates, select committees, there is too much to do and they have no support. Ministers have lots of help, MP's have nothing remotely similar. Parliament is weak in relation to the executive because the electoral system invariably provides the Government with a majority, a hung Parliament (as in 2010) ...read more.


A long standing problem was that the Prime Minister never had to face a select committee, because a select committee is for a department. So the most powerful MP got away because there was no Prime Ministerial department. This was changed under Blair and the Commons Liaison Committee was introduced to hold the Prime Minister to account. The CLC consists of the chairperson of each select committee who cross examine any aspect of policy in depth. Finally, an Early Day Motion can be put forward by a group of MP's. This calls for a debate on a particular subject, so MP's can let the Government know how they feel without actually voting against them. Others are invited to add their support. This has been used by backbenchers to criticise various aspects of Government policy from ID Cards to Iraq. Parliament is weak in relation to the executive because the electoral system invariably provides the Government with a majority. The governing party will usually support the Government on anything even if it goes against their own beliefs. In addition, MP's lack the time, expertise, information and resources needed in order to make life difficult for the Government. However, the Government cannot run without the support of Parliament. Parliament also limits the Governments legislation so it does not always get its own way - Labour wanted ID Cards, but Parliament did not, so they were never implemented. Parliament can also openly scrutinise the executive by questioning ministers, and openly debating policy. Despite some flaws, I believe that Parliament is still an effective body in relation to the executive. Despite the best efforts of the Government to make MP's jobs harder, Parliament can effectively hold the executive to account. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. How effective is parliament at holding the executive to account?

    The House of Lords scrutinises proposed legislation. This is usually carried out by standing committees of both Houses. It is effective as amendments can be proposed, and the piece of legislation closely inspected. However, it could be seen as ineffective because legislation can not be blocked, only important changes can be stated and maybe accepted.

  2. Unit 1 - Example of Evaluations

    Poster Evaluation The purpose of this document was to produce a promotional poster advertising one of the record labels artists new album, it must include the price of the album, the name of the album and information about the launch event for the album.

  1. adult education

    The British researcher also found that the education system is formally structured with every labelled and with less flexibility. The syllabus, textbooks and examinations are control by the State Education Commission or its regional counterparts. On the other hand institutions of adult education do have more freedom in making a

  2. How effective is Parliament in Calling the Executive to Account?

    Minsters are not obligated to answer questions posed by the committees and often refuse, for example Keith Vaz. Lack of co-operation by the departments limits parliament's effectiveness. The Howard principle may also occur, where the minsters refuse to resign after the select committee deem them to be unfit for their role.

  1. The Vampires Attack As he walked up the rickety ...

    He realised it was the blood of a vampire! He was invited to sit down by the Minister's assistant who advised that the Minister would be right out. The line of blood led down the plain hallway to a closed door. The Prime Minister wondered what the room could contain.

  2. Reform of the judiciary has made it a powerful check on the executive. How ...

    It is argued that these have increased the autonomy of the judiciary and have significantly enhanced its power to act as a check on the executive. The dramatic increase in the number of judicial reviews suggests an increased faith in the mechanism on the part of the public.

  1. How Red Is Ed Miliband?

    ?I would keep the 50p rate permanently. It?s not just about reducing the deficit, it?s about fairness in our society and that?s why I?d keep the 50p tax rate, not just for a parliament.? On the higher tax rate, Ed Miliband is clearly to the left of his main rival,

  2. Why is Parliament so weak in relation to the executive?

    The huge numbers of seats in Parliament that were given to Labour meant that fair representation of political opinion was undermined hugely. Additionally, the majorities necessary for new laws would be a given if the party were behind their leader which in the case of Tony Blair was almost always the case.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work