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Is Parliament really able to ‘scrutinize’ the executive? To identify the different ways in which the executive can be held to account To assess the effectiveness.

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Presentation on theme: "Is Parliament really able to ‘scrutinize’ the executive? To identify the different ways in which the executive can be held to account To assess the effectiveness."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is Parliament really able to ‘scrutinize’ the executive? To identify the different ways in which the executive can be held to account To assess the effectiveness of such scrutiny  Aims

2  Starter activity Compare your list with the list on the next slide  With your partner think of as many different reasons why MPs ask ministers questions.

3 Why do MPs asks ministers questions? Gain information Gain information Press for action or raise a grievance Press for action or raise a grievance Publicise the aims of a pressure group Publicise the aims of a pressure group Raise public profile, esp. with constituents & party members Raise public profile, esp. with constituents & party members Embarrass or show support for ministers Embarrass or show support for ministers

4  Your task Study Roberts, p and construct a spider diagram to record your notes on questions in the House of Commons. Your spider diagram should include the following categories: Study Roberts, p and construct a spider diagram to record your notes on questions in the House of Commons. Your spider diagram should include the following categories: Question time Question time The Table Office The Table Office Supplementary questions Supplementary questions PMQs PMQs Written questions Written questions Informal processes Informal processes

5 Question time Question Time held each weekday (except Fridays), lasts approx. 1 hour Question Time held each weekday (except Fridays), lasts approx. 1 hour PMQs every Wednesday ( pm) PMQs every Wednesday ( pm) Rota system used for ministers Rota system used for ministers

6 Table Office Table Office (4 clerks under control of Principal Clerk) scrutinize proposed questions Table Office (4 clerks under control of Principal Clerk) scrutinize proposed questions Questions requiring oral answers must be given 3 days before Question Time (c.5,000 oral questions p.a.) Questions requiring oral answers must be given 3 days before Question Time (c.5,000 oral questions p.a.) MP may ask up to 2 oral questions & any number of written questions a day, but only 1 oral question of 1 minister each Question Time MP may ask up to 2 oral questions & any number of written questions a day, but only 1 oral question of 1 minister each Question Time

7 Table office Must be questions, cannot be ‘statements’ Must be questions, cannot be ‘statements’ Must not encourage interpretations of the law (matter for courts not politicians) Must not encourage interpretations of the law (matter for courts not politicians) Must be appropriate to minister’s departmental responsibility Must be appropriate to minister’s departmental responsibility Why shouldn’t ministers offer interpretations or ‘clarifications’ of the law?

8 Supplementary questions MPs asking questions are permitted 1 supplementary question MPs asking questions are permitted 1 supplementary question Speaker may allow further supplementaries from other MPs Speaker may allow further supplementaries from other MPs No advance notice for supplementary questions No advance notice for supplementary questions Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett answering questions during Question Time

9 PMQs Every Wednesday, 30 mins. Every Wednesday, 30 mins. Questions chosen by lottery, ‘the shuffle’ Questions chosen by lottery, ‘the shuffle’ MPs can ask ‘open questions’ about ‘engagements for the day’ and then supplementary questions MPs can ask ‘open questions’ about ‘engagements for the day’ and then supplementary questions System changed in Previously PMQs took place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon System changed in Previously PMQs took place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon Leader of Opposition may make up to 4 interventions during PMQ's and the leader of the Lib. Dems asks 2 Leader of Opposition may make up to 4 interventions during PMQ's and the leader of the Lib. Dems asks 2 Tony Blair answering questions at the Despatch Box, during PMQs

10 Written questions Ministers must respond to written questions Ministers must respond to written questions c.50,000 written question p.a. c.50,000 written question p.a. Questions & answers published in Hansard Questions & answers published in Hansard

11 Informal processes Written questions to minister Written questions to minister Informal processes, e.g. through Backbench Committees, Parl. Parties, 1922 Committee Informal processes, e.g. through Backbench Committees, Parl. Parties, 1922 Committee Private Note Questions (PNQs) – urgent questions at short notice, front bench spokesperson in Opposition Private Note Questions (PNQs) – urgent questions at short notice, front bench spokesperson in Opposition Apply to Speaker before Noon Apply to Speaker before Noon Question asked at 3.30 in HoC to relevant minister (Average of 4 or 5 a month) Question asked at 3.30 in HoC to relevant minister (Average of 4 or 5 a month) Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr Michael Martin

12  Your task Analyse the membership, functions & possible reforms of parliamentary committees by completing the table your teacher gives you. Use Watts, p and your own research. Analyse the membership, functions & possible reforms of parliamentary committees by completing the table your teacher gives you. Use Watts, p and your own research.

13 A scene from the biannual Liaisons Committee, during which the chair people of all the major parliamentary committees are able to give the PM a grilling for up to 2 ½ hours on the issues of the day.

14  Your task You are going to hold your own committee meeting. Appoint a PM and a Chairperson. The Chairperson will explain how the task will work. Justice Justice Immigration & asylum Immigration & asylum Foreign policy Foreign policy The economy The economy Sport Sport The Environment The Environment Education and skills Education and skills Science & technology Science & technology Health Health Home affairs Home affairs

15  Your task List ways the opposition can hold the government to account in green. In red list ways the powers of the Opposition are limited. On balance do you think the Opposition is effective? Write a judgement paragraph using topical evidence to support your ideas. List ways the opposition can hold the government to account in green. In red list ways the powers of the Opposition are limited. On balance do you think the Opposition is effective? Write a judgement paragraph using topical evidence to support your ideas.

16 Effectiveness of opposition Structured and regular challenge Structured and regular challenge Provides alternative to govt policy 7 legislation Provides alternative to govt policy 7 legislation Sustained scrutiny & debate Sustained scrutiny & debate Provides bi-partisan support, e.g. when war declared against Iraq Provides bi-partisan support, e.g. when war declared against Iraq Alternative to government – policies need to be coherent & convincing Alternative to government – policies need to be coherent & convincing

17 Weakness of Opposition Not supported by civil service advisers / resources Not supported by civil service advisers / resources Govt sets the agenda & Opposition responds Govt sets the agenda & Opposition responds PM sets date of GE PM sets date of GE Polarises policies – tries to set ‘clear water’ between govt & opposition Polarises policies – tries to set ‘clear water’ between govt & opposition Landslide victories for govt. weaken role of Opposition, e.g. in divisions Landslide victories for govt. weaken role of Opposition, e.g. in divisions

18 Plenary Plenary How effective are questions in holding the executive to account? How effective are questions in holding the executive to account? How effective are committees in holding the executive to account? How effective are committees in holding the executive to account? Does David Cameron’s opposition provide a credible opposition party? Does David Cameron’s opposition provide a credible opposition party?

19  Extension task Visit the BBC News website: 20.stm Visit the BBC News website: 20.stm 20.stm 20.stm Gather information on the leading members of Cameron’s ‘Shadow cabinet’. In particular, think about their particular skills & experience for their posts. Gather information on the leading members of Cameron’s ‘Shadow cabinet’. In particular, think about their particular skills & experience for their posts.


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