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

Political accountability -Parliament and the courts

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Parliament has shown that it is both able and willing to resist attempts by the government to weaken political accountability, and to resist such attempts so successfully that the result is actually to strengthen political accountability.' Discuss the extent to which you agree with this statement. Do you think the courts have any residual role in holding the government to account? Before discussing political accountability it is perhaps paramount to define what is meant by the expression. Political accountability refers to when 'MPs and peers call the government to account for its actions and inactions through a variety of formal parliamentary procedures.'1 Accountability rests largely on the effectiveness of the sanctions and the capacity of Parliament to monitor the actions, decisions, and private interests of Government Ministers. The accountability mechanisms in the United Kingdom enable Parliament to gain information about and control those with authority. Parliament performs an irreplaceable role in any representative democracy. It is the principle means for holding Government to account between general elections on behalf of the public. The House of Commons is the representative chamber of Parliament and together with the House of Lords it passes Acts and scrutinises the activities of Government. The Parliamentary system contains many checks to ensure that the government remains accountable and does not abuse its powers. Among the opportunities for the investigation of government policy by both the Opposition and the Government's own backbenchers are parliamentary questions and government statements. In both Houses the select committee system gives MP's and Peers the power to summon government ministers for questioning and to scrutinise the actions of their officials. ...read more.

Middle

Again, this shows that the government interferes with procedures that check abuse of power and can ultimately make the procedure ineffective. The Committee published a unanimous report critical of the government's union ban decision and an adjournment debate took place. The contribution of the select committee's investigation and report had a significant effect on the quality of scrutiny by MPs of the government's decision. One of the strengths of the select committee system is that it improves debate as their criticisms and recommendations are addressed. Britain's constitutional arrangements are unusual in respect that the job of holding the government to account is carried out by Parliament. Few other European states bestow their parliamentary assemblies with the power available to Westminster. In most European states parliament has only one task, that task being to enact legislation. In Britain, this is not the case. While prime minister's question time is given attention by the media, Parliament is a far more effective scrutiniser of government than question time would imply. Parliament's best work is undertaken away from the media and away from the floor of the House of Commons. The House of Commons select committees could be seen as one of the best methods Parliament has for holding the government to account. The House of Commons select committees have considerable power. The Standing Orders of the Commons provide that committees may examine any aspect of government 'expenditure, administration or policy.' The committees decide what issues they should investigate and in support of their work they have the power to call for any persons, papers or records and ministers may be compelled to appear before them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Judicial review gives the court a residual role and power to review, and possibly nullify, laws and governmental acts that violate the constitution and higher norms. It is a way to assure that governmental bodies respect the constitution and do not use powers granted to them by the constitution to seize illegitimate power. Judicial review is generally the final word by a governmental institution on a law's validity. The Government may have attempted to weaken political accountability but in reality it has had the effect of strengthening Parliament's position. There has been an increase in the mechanisms that are used in the UK to scrutinise the actions of government and ministers. The government must realise that freedom is not an alternative to accountability. Even the most effective ministers need to be challenged to improve their performance and held to account effectively. If outcomes and targets are not achieved, then there must be mechanisms for intervention. 1 Le Sueur, A. & Sunkin, M. (1997) Public Law, Addison Wesley Longman p.365 2 September 14th 2001 and repeated in the Lords. 3 The Guardian, Wednesday October 23, 2002 4Oliver, D 'The Challenge for Parliament' (2001) Public Law Journal PL Winter Pages 666-674 5 Loveland, I (2003) Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights, 3rd edition, Lexis Nexis, Butterworths p.137 6 Bradley, A.W. & Ewing, K.D. (2003) Constitutional and Administrative Law, 13th edition, Pearson Education Ltd, p.695 7 [1983] 2 AC 237 (HL) 8 [1992] 1 All ER 705 (HL) 9 [1984] 3 All ER 976 (HL) 10 [1967] 2 QB 864 11 [1987] 1 All ER 564 (CA) ?? ?? ?? ?? 83990 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 GCSE Politics 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 GCSE Politics essays

  1. "The British Parliament is weak whereas the US Congress is powerful." Discuss.

    Studies done over a twenty year period (from 1954 to 1974), Congress passed only 44% of legislation that the president requested. From 1956 to 1969, Parliament approved 96% of all executive-sponsored legislation. Moreover, legislation passed by Parliament was far more likely to be in its original form.17 Today, several factors that reduce Parliament's significance can be identified.

  2. For my creative piece I have written a short story set in the future, ...

    It is since then that I have worn this robe and attempted to talk normal." Jim sat in anticipation and baited breath, "You mean you're..." "William Hague. Tory party leader. Judo green belt." "Sorry, got a bit carried away there; haven't spoken to many people over the years."

  1. How effective is Parliament? The effectiveness of Parliament can only be ascertained by evaluating ...

    The opposition government gets 20 opposition days every year in which they get to choose what is to be debated in Parliament.

  2. What means are available to parliament and how effective is its scrutiny of the ...

    to bills, and lacks the legal jurisdiction to enforce amendments to bills. One of the clearest and most commonly used examples of a way in which parliament acts as a limiting factor to the powers exerted by government exists as the size of the government's parliamentary majority.

  1. How much influence does the media have on the political process

    Since its creation the BBC is seen as a moral bastion that is independent and its purpose is to have positive impact on the society. According to the Crawford Report only the state could license the BBC to be "a public corporation acting as trustee for the national interest" (as cited in Curran 2003: 367).

  2. "Critically evaluate the relationship between Members of Parliament, political parties and pressure groups in ...

    House of Lords Stages and Amendments (public bills) Once it has passed its third reading in the House of Commons, the bill is sent to the House of Lords. They proceedings are very similar except that after the second reading, bills are usually committed to a committee of the whole

  1. The Uk policy making process.

    While this means that it should be relatively easy for lobbyists, academics and interest groups to gain access to the parties' internal policy making structures, the reality is that many lobbyists make little or no effort to do so. One difficulty here is that the public affairs professional should be

  2. Public Law

    any decisions they want to be made, ensuring that they pass without trouble. This, coupled with the Parliamentary whipping system ensures that MP's act in the way that their party (and PM) want them to. This has also led to the slow demise of the House of Lords as a

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