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How effectively can the legislatures and the executive control each other's actions in the UK and the USA?

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Eddie Poole Politics essay 23 November 2001 How effectively can the legislatures and the executive control each other's actions in the UK and the USA? This question is asking me to analysis the relationship between the legislative and the executive in both America and Great Britain, and draw comparisons and conclusions as to their operations. Both the American and British constitutions have three branches, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary. These three branches work together in passing bills, making amendments and carrying out all other political tasks, however this does not mean that in both countries they work in exactly the same way. In terms of legislation, both parliament and congress have the power to pass bills. However parliament is not actually the origin of much legislation in Britain, as in it is mostly controlled through the executive. In fact the executive is so powerful when it comes to legislation that it has not failed to pass a bill since the Sunday trading bill 1986, and even in this case it was only held off for a year. ...read more.


Parliament is remarkably powerless in its consideration of public finance, even though it takes a lot of time considering annual finance bill. The executive in Britain has all the power when it comes to finance and taxations, it is even able to push controversial finance bills through parliament such as the poll tax (1988). In parliament expenditure is very rarly questioned. The public accounts committee, does scrutinise the spending programmes but only after they have been done. In terms of representation of interests, congress is hands down the more effective of the 2 houses. Congress is extremely open to lobbyists. Members rely heavily on interest groups for finance of election campaigns and Political support. The weakness of the Party system in congress, frees members from party commitment, allowing them to support external groups more easily. The fact that election comes once every two years for those in the House of representatives means that they are much more liable to take care of constituent interests rather than party interests. In parliament Lobbyist action is possible although it is a very uncommon occurrence. ...read more.


In America such a notion does not exist so consequently members of the government can be more frank about what is happening in their apartment. In general parliament, and in particular the government has always been known for its secretive nature. Select committees have fewer powers to see government documents, as the official secrets act often inhibits their actions. Committees in parliament are much lower profile then those in congress and are often led by members of the executive. Question time what was once seen as a direct scrutinisation of the government has now become largely government controlled. In looking at both congress and parliament it is blaintently obvious that the American legislative is much more effective in controlling the executive, than in Britain. Congress has many checks and balances between the legislative and the executive, and in comparison to Parliament is much more open to debate. In my opinion the executive alone controls Parliament. It is the executive that sets the agenda for the legislative and this must be abided by. Harsh whip systems and secrecy shadow the UK executive and in my opinion make it less effective than America. ...read more.

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