Non-Legislative Scrutiny

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As Unit 2: British Politics

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Non-Legislative Scrutiny
1 Question Time
1.1 PMQT
1.1.1 PM doesn't receive questions in advance PMQT high profile- PM should be able to answer questions satisfactorily PM is briefed by senior civil servants on what they think will be asked
1.1.2 Opportunity for opposition & backbenchers to ask questions directly to PM Backbenchers allowed to ask questions about their constituency Backbench questions to PM are often redrafted by party whips to attract attention
1.1.3 Opposition leader can raise an issue on policy Can turn into 'point scoring' between PM and opposition leader
1.2 QT provides opportunity to question every department
1.2.1 Given questions in advance therefore competent answers should be given Answers can be drafted and re-drafted MPs can also send written questions
1.2.2 Not as well attended as PMQT
1.2.3 Lack of time: departments only questioned a few times a year
2 Adjournment Debates
2.1 Half hour at the end of each day
2.1.1 End of each day means often MPs leave before adjournment debates begin Poorly attended
2.1.2 30 mintues not enough time for effective scrutiny
2.2 Opportunity for backbenchers to have their voices heard
2.2.1 Constituency business often only discussed Doesn't allow for wide-ranging effective scrutiny
2.3 Different issues tabled each week
2.3.1 Wide variety of issues can be discussed
3 Select Committees
3.1 SCs reflect party strenghts
3.1.1 Fair as they received majority votes at election
3.1.2 Could lead to dominance by government party/parties
3.2 SCs choose their issue to examine
3.2.1 Will be something they are interested in
3.2.2 Might not necessarily be what they should be examining
3.3 Over time members become experts
3.4 SCs have powers to summon witnesses and examine restricted documents
3.4.1 Some witnessess are reluctant to provide honest evidence
3.4.2 E.g. Rupert Murdoch during phone-hacking scandal
3.5 Government doesn't have to accpet SC recommendations
3.5.1 They do, however have to respond to recommendations
3.5.2 40% (estimate) of recommendations are accepted Usually limited policy changes
4 Oppossition
4.1 The largest party not in government forms the offical opposition.
4.2 Two functions
4.2.1 2. Appear as the government 'in waiting'
4.2.2 1. To oppose government legislative proposals The current coalition government has suffered three defeats in the HoC Syria 2013: The government lost 285-272 on a motion to use force 'if necessary' to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria (August 2013).
4.3 20 'opposition days' allow the opposition to set the agenda
4.3.1 In 2009, a Lib Dem motion on British citizenship for Ghurkha veterans produced a rare government defeat.
4.4 If the government has a small majority, opposition may be able to force u-turns on policy

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