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Discuss the Arguments That Parliament Is an Effective Check on the Executive.

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Discuss the arguments that Parliament is an effective check on the executive.

Parliament is an effective check on the executive as it has the process of ‘opposition days’ or ‘supply days’. This is when the majority opposition is given a specific 20 days out of the year to challenge the executive on specific issues. For example on the 29th of April 2009 the labour party government was defeated in an opposition day motion from the liberal democrats over whether Ghurkhas should have the rights to settle in the UK. This makes parliament effective as there is specific time set out for both the biggest opposition party (17/20 days) and the second biggest opposition party (3/20) days) to scrutinize the government on any particular issues that they feel the current government are not dealing with well.

Parliament is also an effective check on the executive as they allow both question time and prime ministers question time. Question time is a topical debate in which guests from the worlds of politics and the media answer questions posed by members of the public. Prime ministers question time is held in the House of Commons for 30 minuets every Wednesday where the opposition party and other members in office are allowed to question the prime minister on specific issues. This is an effective check on the executive as it weekly scrutiny. It is filmed and broadcasted publicly meaning that the government must present themselves and their policies correctly. They must show that they are acting in the interests of the public if they want to remain in office.

A major check that parliament has on the executive is the use of select committees. There are 19 departmental select committees with 11-14 members in each; committees are targeted on specific topics (e.g. culture, media and sport committee) they are in charge of examining expenditure, administration and policy. For example the 2014 the political and constitutional reform committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into voter registration and turnout in the UK. This is possibly the most effective strategy of scrutiny as committees are able to collect any evidence and report advice or recommendations to the government, who then have 60 days to act on it. This is a good form of scrutinising the executive as it can be done all year round and consistently. Government carries out 44% of recommendations. They also provide an alternative career for backbench MPs giving them more influence. In 2010 select committee chairs began to be elected by MPs across the House other than committee members who were voted for by MPs in their party, which gives them more independence from party whips.

Another way that Parliament is an effective check on the executive is via the Liaison committee. Often referred to as the ‘super committee’ as it contains the 32 chairs of each select committee in the House of Commons. They are in charge of investigating the effectiveness and overall powers of each select committee. Since 2002 the Liaison committee hold a prime ministers question time twice a year requesting evidence on the government’s current policies. Each round of questioning has a particular theme that the Prime Minister knows in advance, but not the exact questions. This is a good form of scrutiny as it helps show that there is both specific scrutiny and general scrutiny.
Currently, overall, Parliament does a good job in scrutinising the executive. They ensure that the government is being questioned and kept in check on a wide range of issues that may not have even been considered. It also provides more influential roles for unknown MPs.…...

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