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Methods of scrutinizing the government

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The House of Commons has the important role of checking the actions of government and all state employees and ensuring these people remain accountable for their mistakes. Parliament forces the Government to justify bills, explain their motives, defend their actions and policies. In this essay I will discuss the different methods used by Parliament in scrutinising the executive and summarise how successful these methods are. Firstly I will look at the use of departmental questions and Prime minister's question time in scrutinising the executive. Then I shall look at the effectiveness of debates in scrutinising the government. I will then go on to have a look at both select and standing committees and this will be the final method before I conclude on how successful the methods. As previously stated I will now go on to look at the method of departmental questioning and the Prime minister. Ministers are entered in a rota to decide who is to answer questions on any particular day. There are typically two ministers every main Parliamentary day. All of the main Parliamentary days begin with questions to these ministers. These questions are written down in advance and then given to the minister who will have prepared a statement in response. ...read more.


Like in departmental questions the PM has a chance to write out a generic answer. MPs of the majority party also can ask questions which don't scrutinise the government or PM but simply to show support; for example an MP could ask a question of whether the PM is visiting a hospital within that MPs constituency already knowing that he is. However like in departmental questioning it does give MPs a chance to question the certain policies and justify them not only to the opposition but to the general public as the questioning is televised. So to a certain extent both departmental questions and PMQs are a good method of scrutinising the government as the government (no matter how generic the answers maybe) has to justify policy making and defend their actions. The House of Commons itself was designed to be a debating chamber. There are also many opportunities for debates. Usually debates are opened or closed by a government minister or member of the opposition's front bench. Frontbenchers are always given more time to speak than the backbenchers. Each bill is debated in its second reading and further debates take place when the opposition uses its time to debate an aspect of government policy. ...read more.


They can scrutinise public institutions and uphold public interest. The select committee are now often televised which means the general public can get a good idea of any faults made by government. However there are flaws in select committees scrutinising the government. As previously stated there is always a government majority who are expected support and not criticise the government. They only have the power to point put problems and therefore cannot enforce decisions. Also known critics of the party are excluded from membership. In this essay I have discussed the main methods by which the executive is scrutinised by Parliament followed by how successful I feel these methods are. As I have shown above there are flaws in all of these methods. I feel the least successful method is the use of standing committees as they have a different role to play and do very little actual scrutinising. I feel that departmental questions are a more effective than PMQs as due to the ability to ask follow up questions and the fact that in departmental question an MP can ask the relevant minister a question referring to his or her department. I feel that debates have been key method of scrutinising government for a long time and still are, however I feel select committee are the most successful method as they can scrutinize the individual in much more detail. ...read more.

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