9.2 Comparative Powers of the Houses Flashcards Preview

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House of Commons: Government budget

The House of Commons has the power to approve of government’s finances and reject or amend the government’s Budget.

The House of Commons will debate the Budget put forward by the government and then the Finance Bill will pass through the legislative process to become law.

The House of Commons has the primary role in passing Finance Bills, with exclusive power to amend them.

The House of Lords is not able to amend or reject a Finance Bill.


House of Commons: Removing the government

The House of Commons can remove a government through a vote of no confidence.

A motion is put forward by MPs for a vote in the House of Commons on whether the House still has confidence in the government.

If a vote of no confidence is successful, there will be a period of 14 days for a new government to form and win a confidence motion.

If no new government forms and wins a confidence motion, a general election will take place.

A vote of no confidence removed the government of prime minister James Callaghan in 1979.


House of Commons: Legislation

The House of Commons has law-making powers.

The House of Commons has the power to reject legislation by voting against it and has final approval over any proposed amendments to bills by the House of Lords.


House of Commons: Select committees

Select committees have powers to examine the government.

Select committees are able to call on members of the government to answer questions from the committee on the work that the government is doing.


House of Lords: Legislation

The House of Lords has the power to propose amendments and revisions to bills which the House of Commons can review.

The House of Lords will scrutinise legislation in detail through debates and select committees.

The Parliament Act 1949 gives the House of Lords the power to delay a bill by up to one year, but the House of Lords does not have the power to reject a bill.

The House of Lords has the power to veto secondary legislation, although this power is rarely used.


Relative Powers: Commons

The Salisbury Convention means that the Lords does not oppose bills proposed in the government's election manifesto.
The Commons can overrule legislation, but the Lords can only delay it from being passed.
Only the Commons can bring down a government through a vote of no confidence.
The Commons has more power over public finances.
The Commons has a public mandate, whereas the Lords is unelected.


Relative Powers: Similar

Both chambers can scrutinise the government and hold it to account.

Both chambers debate and vote on bills.

A bill must go through readings in both chambers, and pass in both chambers, to become law.