Parliament and Government Relationships (Committees (Standing Committees…
Parliament and Government Relationships
Ad hoc rather than permanent, these committees are used to scrutinise individual pieces of legislation, and then disband once their work is complete. They usually consist of 15-25 cross party MPs, and they form after the second reading of a bill in Parliament.
Not involved in the passing of legislation, select committees still help to hold the executive to account. Departmental Select Committees focus on the work of an individual department, and may make suggestions as to how to improve. There are also non-departmental committees, such as the Public Accounts Committee, who seek to hold all departments to account over issues such as spending.
The most public opportunity for MPs to hold the Prime Minister to account, PMQs take place every Wednesday afternoon. Whilst it is not an accurate representation of how the Parliamentary process works, as much of it is for show, it is an opportunity for backbench MPs to engage and show themselves.
Vote of Confidence/Vote of No Confidence
This is a vote taken in the Commons following the tabling of a motion that the party has no confidence in their leader or the Government. Convention dictates that, if a party should lose a vote of no confidence, they should resign.
Early Day Motions
These are calls for a debate in Parliament on a particular issue. MPs can add their names to these motions to indicate concern over the issue at hand. They provide a way for MPs to air the grievances of their constituents, even though very few get through to being debated formally.
Commons Liason Committee
This committee is comprised of the chairs of other committees and, twice a year, they meet with the Prime Minister to hold them to account over certain issues, in a more formal, less public version of Prime Minister's Questions
These are MPs who hold the most senior Cabinet positions, thus forming the Government of the day. Other frontbenchers may be shadow ministers or senior figures in the opposition parties. They may be asked Urgent Questions in Parliament if the Speaker deems it necessary and appropriate, showing that other MPs can hold them to account.
The second largest party in the House of Commons is able to hold the Government to account through sessions such as PMQs, as well as through Opposition Days, which allow them time to determine the topic of debate.
These are MPs who do not occupy more senior positions in the Government. Despite this, they do have a number of different roles to carry out.
Roles of an MP
Representative- they should carry out the will of their constituents- "Your representative owes you not his industry alone, but also his judgement, and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion" Edmund Burke.
Loyal party drone- "Damn your principles-stick to your party!" Benjamin Disraeli. It is a party that gets people elected, and in exchange, they are expected to toe the party line.
Watchdog- MPs are expected to scrutinise legislation to ensure good governance.
Legislator- MPs have the power to block Government legislation.
The job of a party whip is to ensure that the Government have a majority when a vote is taken. They do this by offering promotion to those who are loyal and casting those who are not to a career on the back benches.