Parliamentary Control of the Government

Parliamentary control of the government is the work done by parliament to scrutinise the government and influence their actions thereafter. Parliament is primarily made up of the houses of commons and lords; and the government is the executive. Some would argue this is no longer effective because of the work of select committees. Select committees are small group of MP’s from mixed parties who can evaluate and make recommendations to the government on issues, the members being chosen by the government.

I think the work of select committees is not particularly effective as they can only recommend ways in which the government should change its work, instead of enforcing it and also the MP’s in them are selected by the government anyway so are likely to be bias. This is important because if parliament can only suggest things to the government, what control can it hold over it? And furthermore if the committees are chosen by the government, how can there be an independent, fair, enquiry?

However, once per week the prime minister holds Prime Minister Questions; which is where the prime minister is forced to speak in the commons and answer questions. This is an important way in which the parliament has control of the government because it allows all members of parliament to influence the work of the head of the government via questions which he will have to answer in front of all those present in parliament, and therefore control the ways in which the government will act through the following debate and scrutiny.

But, this often turns into a contest between the leader of the opposition and the prime minister, becoming more of a media show. Standing committees are temporary committees set up, made from all parties in the commons, whose job it is to scrutinise bills in great depth. This means that the government is often shown up on their policies, and is helped on ways to improve on them; this is relevant as it presents the parliaments control over some of the government’s policies.

Thus reflecting how parliament has control over the government in certain circumstances. Debates in parliament provide an opportunity for MP’s to speak and question members of the government. Everybody in parliament has the duty to criticise and scrutinise Government Bills. This shows how parliament has control over the government and can heavily influence the work of government bills by speaking about them and using the power/influence of important positions held by people combined to change the works of the government.

However, often the majority of the commons is held by one party; and therefore the majority will agree with the government whom is in power and of the same party, thus rendering the influence of whomever speaks against it unrepresented. Overall; I therefore think that parliamentary control over the government is somewhat ineffective. The majority of scrutiny could potentially have no or little effect in the current ways in which is done; it’s not law binding mere recommendations.

The work of debate in commons is probably the largest way in which the government is controlled, because of the way in which it is conducted, an open floor to speak and question members of the government on things relevant to MP’s. Written letters given to MP’s/ the government can have a generic answer prepared beforehand, for example, but these cannot and possibly reflecting the actual work of the government. Therefore I think the majority of parliamentary control over the government is ineffective.