Parliament carries out none of its functions adequately

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The UK Parliament consists of the monarchy, the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. It has a rich history and remains unchanged, demonstrating its continuous existence. However, concerns arise about its effectiveness in fulfilling responsibilities and influencing voters.

In this essay, I will assess the effectiveness of Parliament’s functioning. One of its roles is legislation, which involves creating laws. Parliament, being the highest governing body in the UK, has the authority to enact, modify, and repeal any statute law, a concept known as parliamentary sovereignty.

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In the UK, power can be delegated to other entities such as devolved assemblies and local governments, thanks to the presence of a majority government. This efficiency in law passage is possible due to the First Past the Post electoral system that favors larger parties. The approval of government policies is swift as most government MPs vote in alignment with the government. In contrast, the US system requires years for passing a single Bill, while in the UK it can be accomplished within days.

Nevertheless, there are apprehensions regarding this matter. The fact that there is a majority government might result in Parliament being perceived as merely approving the decisions made by the government instead of actively participating in the creation of laws. Such a scenario could give rise to an elective dictatorship, wherein the current ruling party possesses unrestricted authority and can enact any legislation upon winning the upcoming general election. Furthermore, another issue arises from Parliament dedicating considerable time to deliberating over the governing party’s political agenda or manifesto.

Is Parliament effective at passing legislation if all policies come from the government? However, there are 13 Fridays set aside for Private Member Bills as a counter to this. For example, the Bill on Bedroom Tax proposed by Andrew George is currently in the second stage of being passed. In the past, Parliament has not carried out this process well, but with a coalition in power now, there is a larger degree of debate around Bills. Two parties are in control, not just one. Another function of Parliament is representation, linking the people to the government.

The task of representing the electorate is carried out by the Commons, with each MP representing a specific constituency. This means that if any member of the public has a complaint or suggestion, they have someone in power who can bring it forth in Parliament. The trustee model of representation, created by Edmund Burke, and the doctrine of the mandate both highlight the importance of MPs actively representing their voters’ views. Additionally, the First-Past-the-Post electoral system ensures that each constituency only has one MP. This is preferable to systems like Single Transferable Vote (STV), which have multiple MPs per constituency. Having one MP allows for faster decision-making and reduces internal disagreements, ultimately enabling clearer long-term objectives.

Issues with representation in Parliament arise from the unelected House of Lords, which holds influence over the Commons, resulting in undemocratic postponement of Bills that do not align with the views of the people. However, legislation pertaining to the government’s manifesto cannot be halted by the Lords, in accordance with the democratic Salisbury convention. This is fair, as the electorate has endorsed the manifesto’s policies through their votes, making it unjust to obstruct them.

There are two counterarguments regarding the effectiveness of the Convention. One is that its effectiveness is diminished by the absence of a clear government manifesto resulting from the current coalition. Another concern pertains to representation, as the FPtP system fails to accurately represent the majority of voters’ opinions. In the 2010 election, 52.8% of votes cast were deemed wasted. Insufficient representation undermines democracy’s credibility when it does not adequately reflect the electorate.

From my perspective, the ineffectiveness of Parliament in representing the majority opinions of the public renders it undemocratic. Additionally, Parliament plays a crucial role in establishing legitimacy for governments as those operating through it are seen as more legitimate than those that don’t. This is because Parliament serves as a representative body for the public. When laws are approved by Parliament, it is perceived as though the public has provided its consent. However, due to its absence of elections, the House of Lords lacks democratic legitimacy.

Due to various scandals involving MPs in the Commons, such as the expenses scandal where one MP claimed a duck house on expenses, respect for Parliament is diminishing. The waning respect for Parliament directly impacts its legitimacy. I believe that Parliament maintains a reasonable level of legitimacy as most MPs need high expenses to manage two homes. Additionally, as we have previously discussed, there are democratic elements in the Lords. Scrutiny is another crucial role of Parliament, ensuring that the government fulfills its duty of governing.

This is arguably the most crucial function as it calls the government to account and ensures responsible governance. Parliament attempts to scrutinize the government through various means, such as Question Time. During Question Time, ministers of the government answer questions posed by MPs throughout the week. This enables scrutiny of the ministers and holds them accountable for their actions.

One of the most notable events in British politics is the Prime Ministers Questions, which takes place every Wednesday. While it allows for direct and focused questioning, ensuring improved scrutiny, the sessions are relatively short – lasting only half an hour. Additionally, the debates that arise from it can become highly confrontational, with parties often prioritizing attacking each other over thorough examination.

Parliament performs scrutiny by utilizing select committees, with each government department in the Commons having a dedicated committee. These committees consist of backbenchers who investigate issues pertaining to their respective departments. For instance, the Home Affairs Select Committee carried out an inquiry into the phone hacking scandal involving News of the World.

Select committees have the advantage of drawing attention to an issue and attracting media coverage. Additionally, they benefit from unlimited debate time, enabling thorough investigation. It is worth noting that although most committee members are affiliated with the government, these committees are tasked with examining the government’s actions. This potential conflict is mitigated by the inclusion of independent-minded backbenchers on committees who may not always conform to party ideologies.

One drawback of select committees is their limited power to effect real changes. While they can offer advice and report their findings, actual decision-making is beyond their scope. Despite this limitation, I believe Parliament effectively scrutinizes the government, although there are a few areas that could be improved, particularly in addressing the paradox of self-scrutiny. Additionally, Parliament plays a role in the recruitment and training of ministers.

All ministers of Parliament must be either an MP or a peer. To become a frontbencher, one must first gain experience on the backbenches by participating in debates and asking parliamentary questions. This system effectively provides them with an understanding of how Parliament, government, and policy formulation and development work. Nevertheless, there are issues with this system.

Ministers are exclusively chosen from the majority party, forming a limited talent pool. Furthermore, MPs and peers do acquire some expertise in debating but lack experience in leadership or managerial positions within a department. In my opinion, although Parliament fulfills this role competently, it remains a minor aspect that has minimal impact on its overall performance. In summary, Parliament effectively fulfills the majority of its functions; however, there is scope for enhancing certain areas, such as representation, to ensure efficient and democratic operation.

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Parliament carries out none of its functions adequately. (2017, Aug 22). Retrieved from

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