How Effective is Parliament in holding the executive to account

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busbybabe
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Ok this is my essay for tomorrow and i have no idea what the hell it means:
My teacher also said - include comittees, backbenchers + legislative

ok i have no idea what any of those things are - so could someone please decodify this for me and give me help as to how i should start this essay haha
thanks
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Vesta
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Okay the first thing to note is the format of the question: "How effective" automatically means that this question requires evaluation for top marks - i.e. you need to have both sides of the argument. If you only tackle one side, you will not be able to get an A for this essay.

Parliament in the UK is primarily made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The "executive" refers to the Government in the UK (it would be the President in the USA, but this question focuses on the UK I presume). So the question is basically asking you how effectively the Government is held to account by the Commons & Lords.

In the UK, holding the Government to account is one of Parliament's main functions. Parliament forces the Government to justify bills, explain their motives, defend their actions, policies etc. This is always the case, except for during election times when the electorate briefly hold the Government to account (by voting for them or voting for someone else).

Effective ways Parliament holds the Government to account:
- Forcing government ministers to justify their policies, explain why they were developed and the future effects of them
- Debates provide an open floor for MPs to speak and question members of the Government
- The Opposition Party (and everyone else in Parliament) have the duty to criticise and scrutinise Government bills
- PMQs (Prime Minister Questions) is where the Prime Minister is forced to stand up in the Commons and answer questions
- Written letters - MPs can write to Government ministers asking them to justify policies and elaborate and so forth
- Standing Committees are temporary committees set up. They are made up of people from all parties in the Commons, and their job is to scrutinise bills in great depth. This helps the Government improve on them
- Select Committees are slightly more permanent whereby MPs are selected to question/cross-examine ministers, civil servants etc.

All of the above methods are some of the ways the Government is held to account.

For the other side of the argument, you have to criticise the above points (evaluate, basically).

For example, the system is not so effective because:
- In many debates, MPs have the questions beforehand so they can prepare a generic answer instead of being put on the spot spontaneously
- Prime Minister Question Time has now become a sort of 'contest' between the leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. It's more of a media show than real accountability
- Written letters give MPs time to come up with a generic answer to answer the questions posed
- With Select Committees, the Government itself chooses who is part of them and the 'chairman' - so it can work in their favour

I hope this helps.

Let me know if you have any queries
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nazam4
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Hi,
Does this mean that for my essay I need to tallk about comittees, backbenchers + legislative? My assessment question is "The key function of the house of commons is to hold the executive to account? How effectively does the House Of Commons carry out this function?"
This is my first assignment, undergarduate law, which is 1500 words long.
I would be very grateful if you could shed some light in the correct direction. I do not know how to start the assignment and what it should cover. The univeristy tutors are not very helpful at all.

Many Thanks
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annchris
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Hi I have the same problem. Not been there long and I have never studied politic before! I have to have my plan ready for next seminar and have no clue where to start!
A key function of the House of Commons is to hold the Executive to account. How effectively does the House of Commons carry out this function?
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phil.beck10
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I have the same question as annchris for my Constitutional Law essay.
I think i've got the jist of it from the above posts, but still confused as to what i need to get from other sources, like textbooks etc.
would it be the views of authors of textbooks, or would it be MP's etc themselves ? and where would i get them ?

help, please!
thanks, Phil.
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Jen_17
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btw do you have any examples of how debates are ineffective due to MP's having the questions before hand?

like an example of a debate where this has happened?
thanks : )
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Jammin96
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Thank you sooo much, literally saved my Sunday evening!
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Stormwaves
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Thank you! saving me! I have this essay due for monday
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