For the past centuries, institutional and procedural reforms in the Britain's system have been slow and gradual. However, there could have been registered a growing movement for more fundamental reforms. After the May 2009 expenses scandal, there has been a much stronger appetite for changes, as people have started to lose faith in the politicians whose popularity gradually fell down. Therefore, after the 2010 elections, because of a hung parliament, the Conservatives formed a coalition with the Lib Dems, which opened up new possibilities for change.
In the first year of their activity, they have passed a lot of laws related to the lower chamber. Therefore, it is vital to analyse as to whether this coalition and their reforms have strengthened the Commons or weakened it. One area that has been affected by these new statutes is the legislation making. The presence of a coalition in the House of Commons represents both a strength and a weakness. One advantageous side is the rejuvenation of the institution. It also means that there are going take place more debates, investigations of the future possible laws.
Therefore, there will not be more situations such as in 1983 when the Conservatives under Thatcher had a majority of 144 seats, meaning that some laws, maybe not the best ones or maybe needing the ones that would need rectifications could be passed without being questioned, and even if the opposition would have said anything, the Tories may not have paid attentions due to their strong mandate. A different point of view might however suggest that the fact that two parties work together can cause delays, and therefore, the passage of a bill is going to take a lot of time, which the Commons doesn't have.
On the basis of the evidence it can be argued that although the parties can be pressured by time, it is about the quality and not the quantity of the laws passed, and therefore, more debates could only have a beneficial effect upon the legislation . The scrutiny function of the Commons was greatly influenced by the changes brought by the coalition in the legislation process. Therefore, it can be argued that more inter-party debates can actually mean that the parties lack ideological unity. An example of that is the voting reform.
In that case, the Liberal Democrats were the ones that insisted on calling a referendum, and since both of the parties have agreed upon compromising from time to time, the Conservatives joined them, however, the only system that would be proposed instead of FPTP was AV. It is debatable whether there is this lack of unity or not in reality, as the coalition can understand that their situation is very delicate, an therefore, the fear of its collapse will make its members be more united and agree on some issues that they may not totally support.
This could also lead to more "backroom deals", meaning that all the debates are more likely to take place in the executive, not the parliament, therefore undermining the Commons. Aviation plans, tuituion fees, NHS reform and spending cuts are all arguments that were made in the cabinet. For the reasons outlined above it can be argued that the coalition has actually weakened the lower chamber, as the loss of identity of the weakest party, Lib Dems, means that they do not fulfill their mandate and go against their ideologies.
Alternatively, it can be argued that the representative function of the MPs only became more powerful. The expenses scandal in 2009 made people be less sympathetic towards their representatives. The coalition has come with a solution that would make people feel more confident again in these people. Therefore, they have introduced the possibly to recall MPs, call by-elections. This has made them more accountable to the citizens and the public at large. 10% of the members of a constituency can recall an MP.
However, this law has been criticised on the grounds that a petition would be triggered only by a vote of no confidence of the House of Commons or by a prison sentence. Overall, the fact itself that people have been given more power upon their representatives represents a positive thing, and more accountable MPs would only lead to a better and more responsible House of Commons. It can be also argued that the government has become stronger after the formation of the coalition as the ministers will come from both the Tories and the Lib Dems, and therefore, there will be a better representation of the parties in the executive.
This point is linked to the argument that when a party used to dominate the House of Commons, the government would respectively be made up of only its members. Now, the executive will have to face more debates, and there will be no 'Tyranny of the majority'. Alternatively, it can be argued that the Lib Dems are actually over represented and they were given the possibility to have more ministers than they deserved only to pacify them, and the Tories are just appeasing them in this way.
However, based on the evidence, it can be stated that the coalition has actually strengthened the government by making it more accountable. Overall, based on the evidence, it can be argued that the coalition has had beneficial effects on the commons as they have strengthened the debates stage as the Lib Dems are less likely to be as loyal and agree as fast as it has happened under the Thatcher and Blair governments. The scrutiny function was weakened in the way that 'backroom deals' undermine the real purpose of the lower chamber, and debates would take place in the executive and not the legislative.
In comparison, the representative function was only improved under the ToriesLib Dems coalition, the main reform of giving people the possibility to recall MPs is seen as a good statute, as after the expenses scandals, this was seen as things that could restore the constituent's faith. Therefore, by measuring on a scale the extent that the coalition strengthened the Commons, it can be argued that it has had a more positive impact rather than negative.