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 starter activity Your local MP is Michael Howard. He is paid a salary of over £60,000 a year and receives additional allowances for office staff, accommodation.

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Presentation on theme: " starter activity Your local MP is Michael Howard. He is paid a salary of over £60,000 a year and receives additional allowances for office staff, accommodation."— Presentation transcript:

1  starter activity Your local MP is Michael Howard. He is paid a salary of over £60,000 a year and receives additional allowances for office staff, accommodation and travel expenses. Do you think MPs are value for money? I must remember to put in my expenses claim for this blue rosette

2 Are MPs value for money? To define the term ‘backbencher’ To identify the different roles of an MP To examine how the responsibilities of MPs have changed in recent years  Aims

3  Your task What is meant by the term ‘backbencher’? Read Watts, p and write your own definition. What is meant by the term ‘backbencher’? Read Watts, p and write your own definition.

4 Backbenchers MPs who literally sit behind the ‘frontbench’ or leading spokespeople for their party MPs who literally sit behind the ‘frontbench’ or leading spokespeople for their party Don’t hold ministerial posts Don’t hold ministerial posts Fulfil all conventional roles of an MPs, e.g represent constituents, can introduce Private Members’ Bills, sit on committees, take part in law-making and debates Fulfil all conventional roles of an MPs, e.g represent constituents, can introduce Private Members’ Bills, sit on committees, take part in law-making and debates

5  Your task Read Watts, p and take notes on the key roles of an MP. Note examples of conflicts of interest, too. Read Watts, p and take notes on the key roles of an MP. Note examples of conflicts of interest, too.

6 Be loyal to the Party MPs expected to ‘toe the party line’ in debates & votes MPs expected to ‘toe the party line’ in debates & votes Attend party committees Attend party committees Promote party policies Promote party policies However, increasing examples of backbench rebellions, e.g. Iraq, tuition fees, anti-terror legislation However, increasing examples of backbench rebellions, e.g. Iraq, tuition fees, anti-terror legislation

7 Serve the Constituency Regular surgeries Regular surgeries Promoting constituency interests Promoting constituency interests Attending political meetings & social functions Attending political meetings & social functions Receiving constituents who visit Westminster Receiving constituents who visit Westminster Handle grievances & ensure they are dealt with at appropriate level, e.g. by asking questions in House Handle grievances & ensure they are dealt with at appropriate level, e.g. by asking questions in House

8 Serve the nation Attend house regularly Attend house regularly Take part in debates Take part in debates Serve on select & standing committees Serve on select & standing committees Take part in law-making process Take part in law-making process 1996 survey, 50% of MP’s time taken up with parliamentary opposed to constituency duties 1996 survey, 50% of MP’s time taken up with parliamentary opposed to constituency duties

9 Advance personal causes Private Members’ Bills Private Members’ Bills Act as spokespersons for particular interests or areas of their expertise Act as spokespersons for particular interests or areas of their expertise Lobbied by private companies Lobbied by private companies

10 Conflicts of interest Constituency needs may conflict with national policy, e.g. closure of a local industry Constituency needs may conflict with national policy, e.g. closure of a local industry Personal interests may conflict with party policy, e.g. foreign policy issues such as Iraq War Personal interests may conflict with party policy, e.g. foreign policy issues such as Iraq War

11  Your task There are three ways in which MPs claim to be representative. Study and summaries the three main theories of representation described in Roberts, p.282. TrusteeDelegateMandate Key features Limitations

12 3 models of representation Trustee model – (originates with C18th politician, Edmund Burke) MPs have a duty to consult with constituents but ultimately must act according to own consciences Trustee model – (originates with C18th politician, Edmund Burke) MPs have a duty to consult with constituents but ultimately must act according to own consciences Delegate model – MPs act as mouthpiece for constituents irregardless of personal opinions Delegate model – MPs act as mouthpiece for constituents irregardless of personal opinions Mandate model – MPs elected as party members with duty to fulfil policies in manifesto Mandate model – MPs elected as party members with duty to fulfil policies in manifesto

13 Problems with these models Party whips undermine the trustee model because MPs risk losing the whip if they act according to individual conscience Party whips undermine the trustee model because MPs risk losing the whip if they act according to individual conscience Delegate model makes MPs much more accountable, and liable to disappoint some members of constituency Delegate model makes MPs much more accountable, and liable to disappoint some members of constituency MPs following Mandate model often accused of ‘toadyism’ and being out of touch with country MPs following Mandate model often accused of ‘toadyism’ and being out of touch with country

14  Your task Changing role of MPs. Read Roberts p and find examples of ways in which the role of MPs has changed in recent years. Changing role of MPs. Read Roberts p and find examples of ways in which the role of MPs has changed in recent years.

15 Limitations MPs meet constituents, pressure groups, party officials, members of the media etc. MPs meet constituents, pressure groups, party officials, members of the media etc. Average constituency covers 150 sq. miles, with 65,000 constituents; many long distances from Westminster Average constituency covers 150 sq. miles, with 65,000 constituents; many long distances from Westminster Parliamentary sessions last longer, more bills Parliamentary sessions last longer, more bills Growth of select committees (involves 25% MPs) Growth of select committees (involves 25% MPs) Growth of ‘professional’ MPs (A.King) Growth of ‘professional’ MPs (A.King)

16 Reforms under New Labour 1994 Commons Committee on Standards in Public Life 1994 Commons Committee on Standards in Public Life 1997, New Labour set up Modernisation Committee 1997, New Labour set up Modernisation Committee 2002, introduced by R.Cook, leader of HoC, for reductions in working hours from 11.30am to 7pm (instead of 2.30pm to 11 pm) 2002, introduced by R.Cook, leader of HoC, for reductions in working hours from 11.30am to 7pm (instead of 2.30pm to 11 pm) PMQs merged into 1 half-hour session on Wednesdays (instead of 15 min. Tues & Thurs) PMQs merged into 1 half-hour session on Wednesdays (instead of 15 min. Tues & Thurs) Summer recess remained, but began and ended 2 weeks earlier in order to sit for 2 weeks before conference season Summer recess remained, but began and ended 2 weeks earlier in order to sit for 2 weeks before conference season Robin Cook

17 Plenary Plenary Are MPs value for money? Write a judgement paragraph giving detailed examples to illustrate your argument. Are MPs value for money? Write a judgement paragraph giving detailed examples to illustrate your argument.


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