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

The House of Commons avoids the

Extracts from this document...


The House of Commons avoids the "gridlock" to which the US legislative process is prone, but at the price of inhibiting rigorous scrutiny of the UK executive' - Discuss This essay will examine how two institutions, namely the House of Commons and Congress, which are supposed to serve the same process, differ widely in the way they implement and scrutinise proposed bills. The essay will examine the relationship between the legislature and the executive; the importance of the party; and the constitutional arrangements which give each legislature very different characteristics. The French philosopher Montesquieu said that there could be no democracy unless the three branches of government, legislature, judiciary and executive, were separate bodies, which acted as checks upon each other; preventing concentration of power in one branch. Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the US constitution, shared Montesquieu's opinion and famously said that "[we] must counter ambition with ambition" . As a result the US constitution contains a system of separation of powers, designed, at least in theory, to ensure democracy through equally powerful branches of government. The term 'gridlock' refers to a situation where legislative decisions are effectively halted because there is so much contention and too many interests to satisfy. ...read more.


The SoP is continued within Congress via a division of labour through the CCS, which allows detailed decisions to be made on complex topics, before the bill is returned to Congress for ratification. Based on this it could be argued that Congress acts as an effective legislative body because it ensures good quality bills are passed. For example, Clinton's healthcare reform plan of 1995 was rejected because it was not thoroughly thought out. In this instance, Congress prevented bad and costly legislation affecting the lives of millions. However, the legislative process is clearly a complex and contentious one, with many actors vying for influence and power. At times this can limit the responsiveness of government and the effectiveness of the executive to deliver its policy platform (manifesto), and lead to Congress being gridlocked. This is a major difference between the UK and the US, since the UK government are voted in with a mandate to fulfil their electoral manifesto. The HoC does not suffer from gridlock because the heart of UK politics is very different from US politics. Firstly, the constitutional arrangements in the UK are very different. Unlike the US, which has an entrenched constitution that outlines a separation of powers (SoP), the UK has an uncodified constitution, which does not outline a true SoP. ...read more.


But, the US Congress can appear unresponsiveness at times because of the level of scrutiny. The flexibility of the UK legislative process, combined with the 'organic' nature of the constitution, empowers the government with the ability to make decisive policy choices that can have an immediate effect on the general public. For example, post 9/11 the government was able to pass anti-terrorist legislation very quickly. Other notable examples include the devolution of power to Scotland and Wales. Such fundamental institutional changes would have been much harder to achieve in the US, because so many interests would have to be considered. In conclusion, it can be seen that both institutions have positive and negative aspects with their approaches to the legislative function of government. However, it is unfair to say that the HoC is any less effective at scrutinising the government than the Congress. The real answer is that both institutions place an emphasis on different areas of the legislative process; the Congress placing much emphasis on scrutiny; whilst the HoC places more emphasis on effective delivery of policy. The result is two institutions which go a long way to ensuring democracy, but will only ever be truly effective at all aspects of the legislative process if they synthesise their good qualities together. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United States 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 AS and A Level United States essays

  1. "The conflicting interests of the Great Powers made its failure inevitable." Discuss this verdict ...

    Greeks revolted against their Turkish masters, and Metternich feared that Alexander would break the anti-revolutionary cause in order to help their Orthodox Christian friends. In addition, Metternich and Castlereagh feared that the Russia's would expand into the Turkish Empire. Alexander at first agreed on not breaking the Troppau Protocol, but latter he joined the cause and ignored the protocol.

  2. 'The President faces considerable constraints in domestic policy in comparison to the UK Prime ...

    The appointment of Civil Servants by the Prime Minister used to be restricted by issues such as expertise and outsider status, but now we see Blair moving towards an American style of appointed Advisors and Aides (e.g.

  1. presidential power how far does it go

    Now there should be a distinction into what was authorized by the executive branch, what was actually carried out in the detention centers and what was eventually admitted to and or defended by the administration. These distinctions will be clarified in the following section.

  2. A Trend of Decentralization

    Joseph Cannon soon took over for Reed. However, there was a revolt in 1910 that did not allow Cannon to have all the powers Reed had obtained, except for stalling tactics. The hunger for power began to augment and the strong central leadership and authority over rank and file began to transform.

  1. Federalism essay

    In this case the central government is independent on certain matters, and the state governments are independent on other matters. The citizen, therefore, is subject directly to two governments. These governments, however, are not subordinate, but co-ordinate with each other.

  2. "The conflicting interests of the Great Powers made its failure inevitable." Discuss this veredict ...

    leader had ideas that would benefit their own country, taking advantage of their position and influence. Metternich was totally against the idea of having to cope with a Franco-Russian army, formed with the aim of crushing the Spanish Revolution and used his manipulative skills to persuade the Tsar that Spain was so important and wasn't a critical concern.

  1. American Government Term Paper #1. Discuss the theory of Checks and Balances as outlined ...

    The weapons of those times compare in no way to those of our present times. During the time at which the right to bear arms was established, the weapon of use was a musket. Muskets were very slow to load, highly inaccurate, and frequently unreliable.

  2. How effectively does Congress fulfil its constitutional roles

    In addition, many bills will be ?pigeon holed? by committees which leaves many bills forgotten. However, if is there to be a united government, a more effective legislation would be provided but if Congress is divided, it is more likely to be an ineffective fulfilment of this role due to partisanship in recent years.

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