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To what extent does parliament control the executive power?

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To what extent does parliament control the executive power? The government (or the Executive) runs the country. It is responsible for developing and implementing policy and drafting laws. Parliament (or the Legislature), on the other hand, is the highest legislative/political authority in the UK. It is responsible for scrutinizing the work of the government and examining, debating and approving new laws. In no sense in the UK does parliament CONTROL the executive, since we a have coalition government in the House of Commons, which with the use of the party whipping system can normally ensure the passage of government legislation, simply because the government has the most majority of seats. For the last century Parliament has become increasingly dominated by the executive due to the governing party's inbuilt majority in the House of Commons as, thanks to the first-past-the-post electoral system, combined with a strong partisan whip. But has this really allowed the government to completely dominate the work of parliament or does parliament retain the final say? Firstly, Parliament has a Scrutiny function(s), where the executive explains and justifies its policies and actions to parliament. Ministers must answer questions by backbenchers during the daily 'Question Time' (both orally and in writing), while the prime minister must answer questions every Wednesday. The trouble is; Parliament often lacks the information and perhaps even the funding, which in contrast; is available to the government. ...read more.


Moreover, the Lords neither have the power to amend (change) or delay financial bills. Then again, the Lords have a key role in examining the Commons legislations, spending around 700 hours each year to the task, and offering some 8500 amendments. Most are accepted by the government, though this is becoming less true as the relationship between the two houses has disintegrated due to the House of Lords Act of 1999; which has left the two chambers unable to agree. The Lords have, for example, defied the government on the Constitutional Reform Bill (abolishing the office of the Lord Chancellor and creating a new Supreme Court, 2004) and the Terrorism Bills of 2005 and 2006. In most other cases, the Lords have eventually accepted legislations, but usually after having forced the government to (think again and) amend it. In a recent debate (led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the 9th December 2011) the Lords discussed the issue of the position of Christians in the Middle-East as to being more 'vulnerable' than they had been for centuries. The debate still continues and is being looked into by the Government. Nonetheless, the Lords have been obstructive in two areas - criminal justice and foxhunting. The government was defeated on five separate occasions on the Criminal Justice Bill until they finally abandoned proposals to limit rights to a jury trial back in December 2003. ...read more.


The cabinet ministers, which the prime minister hand picks; co-ordinate the government business, including the legislative programme and constitutional issues. They must give formal approval to policy decisions, and bring authority and legitimacy to the business of government, not the Legislature. As a national leader, it is the prime minister's job to represent the country in international relations and enjoy extensive prerogative power in international negotiations and crises, not the Legislature. As we have seen above, executive power has grown considerably over the recent years, victories for Parliament are relatively rare but the government always has its way in the end. Overall, I believe to a certain extent that Parliament doesn't control the executive power. Our current government has a comfortable majority and so can dominate MPs through control and discipline in general. The party whips control the standing legislative committees to a large extent, so the 'amending' function of the Commons is weak. MPs also have insufficient time and support to be able to blame the government effectively. Not to mention that ministers are also free to avoid intrusive questioning. I say that power lies with those who have the ability to set the agenda. Therefore the executive is acting like the legislature in that it controls what is / is not discussed in Parliament, and ultimately the outcome. Therefore, I propose that decisions are made by decision-makers, i.e. those with the authority to say yay or nay. In this case, power would lie with the Executive, not the Parliament. ...read more.

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