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1. Influences on Parliamentary Law Making

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1 1. Influences on Parliamentary Law Making

2 Lesson Objectives: Describe a range of influences on Parliament Give appropriate examples of each influence Evaluate the effectiveness of each influence

3 What is Parliament?

4 The supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom.
Who is it made up of?

5 Influences on Parliament
The government may be influenced by organisations in changing existing laws or making new ones. It may seek the advice of different organisations to help it formulate its policy.

6 Law Commission (1) The Law Commission Act 1965 set up the Law Commission as a permanent body. It consists of five legal experts chosen from the judiciary, legal profession and legal academics. Its job is to: identify areas of law where reform is necessary codify the law repeal obsolete laws consolidate and modernise the law, for example the Family Law Act 1996 changed the law on divorce What are the advantages and disadvantages of codification?

7 Law Commission (2) The Law Commission’s role in repealing obsolete legislation is more straightforward. The Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998 repealed over 150 complete Acts of Parliament, which were outdated. Parliament is not always keen to find time to pass the Law Commission’s draft bills, e.g. the lengthy Draft Criminal Code.

8 Law Commission (3) Around 70% of the Law Commission’s proposals eventually become law, but a lot of the work that it does is disregarded. The government is not obliged to pass any of the Law Commission’s recommendations.

9 Advantages Possess considerable legal and non-political expertise
Considerable research conducted Well informed recommendations Independent body (not just areas which the government wants to focus on are looked at) Works on its own initiative – not the government’s

10 Disadvantages Only about a third of it’s recommendations are implemented The government is not obliged to implement it’s proposals Proposals do not always suit the government’s agenda Lack of power Lengthy process which can take years Conducts investigations at a time meaning each one might not be as thorough as it could be

11 Royal Commissions Royal Commissions are groups of independent experts who are asked to consider a specific area of concern in the law. They are set up on an ad hoc basis and work part time to investigate issues and then formulate their proposals. Examples of Royal Commissions include the Runciman Commission, the Pearson Commission 1978 and the Wakeham Commission.

12 Other influences on Parliament
public inquiries media pressure groups manifesto promises european Union law

13 Public inquiries Public inquiries are usually set up after a serious event or disaster, e.g. the Taylor Report (set up after the Hillsborough disaster) and the Cullen Report (set up after the Dunblane tragedy).

14 Media The media may campaign for a change in the law, e.g. reports concerning pit bull terriers attacking children led to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Criminal Justice Act 2003 – ‘double jeopardy’ rule. The campaign to ‘name and shame’ paedophiles after the death of Sarah Payne was, however, unsuccessful.

15 Advantages Raise government awareness of certain issues
Voice the public opinion Can support pressure groups Raises public awareness – pressures the government into making reforms as they are answerable to the electorate

16 Disadvantages Newspapers have political allegiances
Media outlets are looking to make profits (sex sells) Can easily whip up moral panic

17 Pressure groups The Fathers 4 Justice campaign uses publicity stunts (known as ‘direct action’), but so far it has been unsuccessful. However, gay rights groups were successful in getting the age of homosexual consent lowered from 18 to 16 in 2000. Pressure groups may ‘lobby’ Parliament, e.g. trade unions lobby MPs to get better rights for workers.

18 Sectional Pressure Groups
Sectional or interest groups exist to further the interests of a section of society e.g. National farmers Union, British medical association The degree of influence depends on whether the government supports their particular interest. Large groups have a lot of members and usually affluent and connected members meaning the government will usually take on board what they are saying.

19 Cause Pressure Groups Cause groups promote a particular idea or belief. e.g. Greenpeace, RSPCA, Fathers 4 Justice, Jamie Oliver Usually have less influence than sectional groups. Less likely to be consulted regarding the creation of laws as they do not really have close links with government ministers or departments. Well organised groups are able to publish their ideas with good impact and generally have the support of the public. Sometimes it can be just one person campaigning for a certain cause – Mary Whitehouse, Jamie Oliver.

20 Advantages Have a broad range of tactics to raise public awareness of their cause – Fathers 4 justice (what do they do?) They can help keep the government in touch with the issues that the public believe are important – global warming Huge numbers – some groups have more members than political parties Pressure groups have considerable expertise as they will need to put their point across

21 Disadvantages Biased in favour of their cause – don’t give both sides of the argument Passionate views can lead to undesirable tactics – criminal behaviour Lots of groups have no access to ministers Opinions held by these groups may only be those of a small number of people

22 Manifesto promises Political parties publish their proposals for new laws in a manifesto before a general election. The Labour Party’s manifesto in 1997 promised reforms to the House of Lords, which have been carried through. The Conservative Party promised the introduction of the poll tax in its 1987 manifesto.

23 European Union law If UK law does not conform to EU law, Parliament must create a new law. For example, the Sex Discrimination Act 1986 was created to improve protection of female workers.

24 Your Task Create a table that explains each of the following:
What the law commission does: What pressure groups do (both types): What the media does: To influence parliamentary law making Then for each influence explain the advantages and disadvantages Then give 2 appropriate examples of each influence Then give your opinion on the effectiveness of each influence

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