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University 18 Yrs + | Parliament

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Parliamentary Control of the Executive – Introduction

Liberal constitutionalists developed the idea of the separation of powers between Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary in order to achieve a healthy political system. In Britain the Executive and Parliament interpenetrate each other but Parliament can still maintain some degree of separation by carrying out the function of SCRUTINY of the Executive.

Parliament can ask the following sorts of questions in four areas and these are all explored in other sections.


Is the Government’s proposed legislation well thought out and well drafted with clear objectives? Can it be implemented and have the likely effects been thought through? Does it give too many powers to Ministers?


Will proposed taxation bring in the expected revenue? What effects will it have on the economy? Is it fair in its incidence on various groups in the population? Is it too complicated? Is the spending of public money carefully evaluated to make sure that it has the desired effect and not wasted?


How well are policies working? Could new policies be tried? Are the key interests and experts being listened to? Is foreign policy credible and dealing with issues effectively?


Is the Government choosing people with right expertise and ideas to run organisations such as the BBC and Agencies? Are their terms of reference clear?

There are various ways in which Parliament attempts to scrutinize the Executive. Some are more effective than others but it is always difficult to get the Government to change course.