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What Problems does Parliament encounter in performing its various function?

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Introduction

What Problems does Parliament encounter in performing its various function? In the 'parliamentary government' currently in place in Britain, it should be the case that the executive is subordinate to the legislature due to the fact that the members of the executive are drawn form the majority party in Parliament. However, in reality, due to the 'first past the post' electoral system utilised in Britain producing strong majority governments, the executive tends to dominate the legislature in what has been called an 'electoral dictatorship'. The legislature's role is therefore limited to the scrutiny of government and encounters many problems performing its functions. In performing the act of scrutiny, it could be said that the appearance of ministers in Parliament and the independent actions of select committees were helping in keeping the government in check. However, Parliament also encounters numerous problems in its role of scrutiniser. The general culture of British government involves a considerable amount of secrecy and the concealing of information. The convention of individual ministerial responsibility has caused further problems for the government. The convention of individual ministerial responsibility would once have meant that, if a particular department came under considerable criticism by Parliament, the minister in charge of said department would resign. ...read more.

Middle

It can also be seen that, whilst big improvements have been made in the past few years, women and ethnic minorities are still seriously under represented in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The strict discipline within all political parties also means that MP's independence is inhibited. For example, homosexuality within the main parties is seen as an issue that should be kept secret from the public when it would, in fact, make the parties more representative of the population. Parliament also has an important function in legislating. As Parliament is legally sovereign, it can give legitimate authority to laws with The Commons giving legitimacy to legislation and the Lords being able to suggest useful amendments. However, because of party discipline, scrutiny of legislation is weak. This brings in the issue of party patronage. The appointment of all ministers and peers is in the hands of the Prime Minister. It is therefore understandable that those who aspire to such positions are likely to remain loyal and obey the whips. And, once appointed, they will remain loyal to show gratitude. Any MP's who disagree with the party line may find their careers severely damaged. ...read more.

Conclusion

An element of theatrics has also prevented the process of deliberation from taking place, members from different parties resorting to humour to better the opposition, rather than discussing the issue at hand. However, I believe the Commons' weakness in deliberation is counter-balanced by the great deal of time spent debating issues in the House of Lords, free form the pressure of the party whips. Overall, I believe that the system of bicameralism within the UK means that, any weaknesses (of which there are many) within the House of Commons are counterbalanced by the time and effort given to debating issues within the House of Lords. Whilst I believe that, short of totally changing our voting system or undermining Parliamentary sovereignty, in reality little can be done to change the way the House of Commons is operated, I also believe that changes can be made to the House of Lords. Building on the improvements made to the legitimacy of the House of Lords by eradicating hereditary peers, the new life peers should be chosen from a wide variety of backgrounds and occupations, helping to increase representation within Parliament. I also believe that the House of Lords should be equal in legislative power as the House of Commons, thus overriding the Parliament Acts that would limit the Lords capability to defeat legislation. ...read more.

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