Essay on Parliament: Separation of Powers and Government

Submitted By grachelmellor
Words: 2548
Pages: 11


Parliament= the legislature. It is the main way in which citizens are represented. It controls the power of the government, forcing it to be accountable. Above all, parliament exists to grant formal consent to legislation even though it is dominated by the government.

Features of a parliamentary government:
Parliament is the highest source of political authority- political power has to be authorised by parliament
Government has to be drawn from parliament
No strict separation of powers between legislative and executive- fusion of powers
Government must be accountable to parliament

Features of a presidential government:
Legislature and executive have separate sources of power- separately elected
President is not part of the legislature
The president (and therefore executive) is accountable directly to the people, not the legislature
Clear separation of powers between executive and legislature- there is therefore codified constitutional arrangements that separates those powers

What is parliamentary sovereignty?
Parliament in the UK is legally sovereign
It is the source of all political power
It may restore to itself any powers that have been delegated to others
It may make any laws it wishes and they shall be enforced by the courts and any other authorities
It is not bound by its predecessors- laws passed by parliaments in the past are not binding on the current parliament- neither can it bind its successors
In reference to political sovereignty, parliament has lost much of its sovereignty
Parliament in the UK Is legally sovereign, but the political sovereignty is less clearly located (it lies with the people at elections, with the government between elections)

The erosion of parliamentary sovereignty:
Legislative power has been moved to the EU- European Law is superior to British law
EU law prevails
Parliament cannot pass any law that conflicts with EU law
Executive power has grown considerably in recent decades- there has been a transfer of political not legal sovereignty
Increasing the use of referendums means that sovereignty lies with the people- parliament would not ignore the popular will of the people. However, results are not technically binding
ECHR is not binding but they do treat it as higher authority
Devolution has taken power away from Westminster parliament

The three main parts of parliament:
House of Commons
House of Lords
The Monarch
All MPs elected by the citizens in the General election- each MP represents their own constituency
All of the peers
Nominated experts in their field
92 hereditary peers
25 bishops/archbishops
PM has large say in who becomes a peer
King/Queen at the time
Less power now, but still have final sign-off and on peerages

Basic structure:
House of Commons= lower house
House of Lords= upper house
Queen-in-Parliament= ceremonial role

The different roles:
Shared functions
House of Commons only
House of Lords only
Granting formal consent to legislation
Calling government to account
Scrutinising proposed legislation and amending it where necessary
Debating key issues
Representing the interests of different sections of society
Granting popular consent to proposed legislation
Refusing to approve items of legislation which are undesirable
Representing the interests of constituencies
Bringing attention to the grievances of individual constituents
Deliberating at length on important issues
Providing specialist advice on proposed legislation
Delaying legislation, forcing the government to reconsider proposals

Composition and structure of the House of Commons:
650 MPs
Frontbench MPs- prominent members of the political parties who tend to sit on the benches in the centre of the chamber: made up of ministers of the government and leading members of other parties
Backbench MPs- all the other MPs who do not have a ministerial position post and/or who are not senior members of