Role of Parliament in the UK political system (Roles and Functions of…
Role of Parliament in the UK political system
Composition of Commons
Currently, the Conservative Party is the largest party in the House of Commons. There are 650 MPs who represent all 4 countries in the UK.
Traditionally, the House of Commons is not socially representative of the population, a majority being well-educated, white, middle aged, Christian and male.
It can be argued that this makes it difficult for them to truly represent their constituents, however, as long as they are able to empathise, some may feel that it isn't important.
Composition of Lords
Whilst Lords are not as politically aligned as their Commons counterparts, many do belong to and represent political parties.
There tends to be more Conservative Lords than Labour or any of the other parties. This is because they tend to fit the Conservative key demographic- elderly, white, male, well-educated and well-off.
In recent years, the number of hereditary peers has been reduced to 92, and all other Lords have been appointed as Life Peers who are experts in their field.
Some believe that an elected second chamber would be more democratic, however, it is likely to create a clash of mandate between Commons and Lords.
Roles and Functions of Parliament
MPs should represent the concerns of their constituents within Parliament
Their primary function is to pass and amend laws
Parliament scrutinise both bills and the Prime Minister through committees and debates such as PMQs
If Parliament withdraw their backing of a government through a vote of confidence or no confidence, they can fall.
Parliament provides the choosing pool for executive (Cabinet) positions.
The Legislative Process
Often seek to fulfil manifesto pledges, more likely to succeed as the Executive controls the parliamentary agenda
Private Members' Bills
Introduced by any MP on any issue, PMBs tend to be less successful due to time pressures. They can, however, provide a forum for debate on cross party issues.
Normal Passage of Legislation
House of Lords (same process occurs)
Differences in power
Due to the Salisbury Doctrine, the House of Lords does not have the power to veto anything included in a party's manifesto which has been given a mandate by the public.
As well as this, by convention, they tend not to vote against any bills concerning money, e.g. the Budget