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Flashcards in Functions of Parliament Deck (72)
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What are the functions of Parliament? (5)

1. Legislation
2. Scrutiny and accountability
3. Debate
4. Recruitment of ministers
5. Representation


What is a white paper?

A government document detailing proposals for legislation


What is a green paper?

A government document setting out various options for legislative proposals and inviting comment


What is a Public Bill?

A bill concerning a general issue of public policy


What is a Private Members' Bill?

A bill initiated by a backbencher in the House of Commons


What is a government bill?

A bill initiated by the government


What are two ways in which pre-legislative scrutiny occurs?

1. Green paper
2. Select committees


Describe the legislative process

1. First Reading (short title of bill is read out)
2. Second Reading (debate on general principles of bill)
3. Committee Stage (public bill committee scrutinises details of the bill)
4. Report Stage (HoC debates further amendments)
5. Third Reading (final debate - short and on contents of bill)

*similar as HoC, except:
1. First Reading (long title of bill is read out)
2. Second Reading (those who wish to speak must add their names to the Speakers' List beforehand)
3. Report Stage (amendments proposed by HoL must be submitted beforehand in a 'marshalled list'
4. Third Reading (amendments can still be proposed)

HoL and HoC:
1. Both chambers agree on the exact wording of the bill (ping-pong)
2. Royal assent (monarch signs the bill and it becomes an Act of Parliament)


What is a public bill committee?

A committee set up to scrutinise the details of a particular bill


What is the composition of a public bill committee (who and how many)?

Between 16 to 50 MPs from constituencies affected by the bill under examination


Is the party balance of a public bill committee the same as in the House of Commons?



What is it called when a matter is of national importance and so includes a committee comprising of every MP?

A Committee of the Whole House


What are the three ways in which Private Members' Bills can be introduced?

1. Ballot - 20 names of MPs who wish to introduce PMBs are drawn and are allocated time on Fridays to debate the bill (may fall victim to fiflibustering - when MPs run out of time to debate` their bill)
2. 10 Minute Rule Bill - MPs are given 10 minutes to introduce a bill (least successful method - usually to bring awareness to a particular issue)
3. Presentation (MP introduces name of the bill without debate)


What are some limitations on the success of Private Members' Bills? (3)

1. PMBs tend to be unsuccessful if they lack government support
2. Time constraints
3. Attendance for PMB debates (schedule on Fridays) are often poor as MPs return to their constituencies over the weekend


What is an example of a successful Private Members' Bill?

House of Lords Act 2014


What is secondary legislation?

Legislation that amends an existing Act of Parliament (usually focuses on the details for implementing the Act of Parliament)


What is another term for secondary legislation?

Statutory instruments


Which body is the development of secondary legislation delegated to?



What term describes the way in which parliament affects legislature? (Hint: policy-__ legislature). What does it mean?

Policy-influencing legislature = when a parliament is able to modify or veto government aproposals but unable to develop extensive legislative proposals of their own


What are the limitations on the effectiveness of the legislature? (3)

1. Parliamentary timetable - government decides which bills get debated and their duration for debate -> can limit time given to debate -> less effective scrutiny by HoC
2. Government bills - bills rarely succeed if they are not supported by the government
3. Party discipline - most MPs almost always vote along party lines -> government proposals are rarely defeated


What is scrutiny and accountability?

Parliament regularly ensuring that minister explain and justify their decisions and actions


What are some ways in which scrutiny is upheld in Parliament? (3)

1. Question times
2. Role and significance of opposition
3. Select committees


How do question times enhance scrutiny? (3)

1. Time is allocated each week for ministers to make statements and answer questions in the HoC
2. Prime Minister Question Times - live televised event every Wednesday at noon for half hour, PM answers questions by backbenchers, leader of opposition and leader of the third largest party
3. Urgent questions - backbenchers may request an urgent question to any ministers which, if permitted by the Speaker, results in the minister having to make a statement and take questions that day + increasing number of urgent questions granted by Speaker


How many urgent questions were granted in 2015?



What are the limitations of question times in regards to scrutiny? (4)

1. High noise levels in HoC
2. Party whips tend to craft questions for govenment backbenchers to ask during PMQs, with the purpose of flattering rather than probing
3. Written questions are more effective than oral questions
4. Parliamentary theatre rather than effective scrutiny


How many written and oral questions were asked to government minsters in 2015 respectively?

Written: over 30,000
Oral: over 3,000


Who is the opposition?

The largest party that is not in government


What is the role of the opposition? (2)

1. Oppose government policy proposals
2. Act as a government-in-waiting - develop policy proposals of their own


How does the opposition enhance scrutiny? (2)

1. Leader is the first person allowed to reply after PM makes a major statement in the HoC; is granted 6 question to ask during PMQs; only person able to respond with further questions during PMQs
2. Parliamentary agenda - opposition granted 20 'Opposition days' in which they have control over the legislative timetable


What are the limitations of the opposition in regards to scrutiny? (3)

1. Institutional advantages - government can access resources from civil service whilst opposition relies on short money for funding
2. Lack of legitimate mandate - opposition cannot claim to have a mandate from the public as they did not win the GE
3. Party unity - divided parties are less effective at scrutiny