(11) How is the relationship between
government and parliament influenced?
1 Extent of party unity
1.1 How is party unity maintained
1.1.1 Whipping system
22.214.171.124 the whips ensure that MPs know how their parties want
them to vote and defying this can lead to the MP losing
their ‘whip’ – sits as an independent MP and not as a
member of the party until the ‘whip’ is reinstated.
1.1.2 Ideological unity
126.96.36.199 most long-standing MPs ‘toe the party line’.
They believe in their party or government.
1.1.3 Convention of collective
188.8.131.52 referred to as the ‘payroll vote’ –
ensures the loyalty of 100-110
frontbench government MPs.
1.1.4 Promotion prospects
184.108.40.206 backbench MPs want to be
ministers & loyalty ensures
support of ministers & whips.
1.2 Why has party unity declined?
1.2.1 Long term
220.127.116.11 MPs better educated than in
1950/60s – more critical &
18.104.22.168 MPs are ‘career politicians’ –
time & resources to take political
issues more seriously
1.2.2 Short term
22.214.171.124 Public standing of government &
likelihood of winning re-elections
126.96.36.199 Personal authority of
the Prime Minister
188.8.131.52 Radicalism of the government’s
2 Size of majority
2.1 Majority control of the Commons occurs due to the
‘first-past-the-post’ voting system over-representing large
parties – NOT due to voting patterns (no party has won a
majority of votes in a general election since 1935). This is a
reliable outcome – only one general election since 1945 (Feb
1974) has failed to produce a single-party majority government.
2.2 Why is the size of a government’s majority
vital in gaining parliamentary power?
2.2.1 The larger the government
majority, the weaker
backbencher will usally be
184.108.40.206 For instance with majority of 178 after the 1997
GE it would have taken 90 labour MPs to defet
the Blair government. Once Blairs majorty had
fallen to 65 after the 2005 GE this could be done
by just 34 labour MP's. the contrasted between
small and large majority can be stark
3 Advent of a coalition government
3.1 How might a coalition
goverment challenge the
effectivenes of Parliament
3.1.1 A coalition government will radically
alter the dynamic of executive
parliament relation in the UK.
3.1.2 Coalitions are forced to manage the commons not simply
maintaining a single partly unity, because they establish and
maintain unity across two or more parties.
3.1.3 Coalitions means that it support of
back bench MP's for government policy
cannot simply be taken for granted
3.2 'Rejuvenate' Parliament?
3.2.1 A coalition government is expected to ‘rejuvenate’ Parliament due to the very nature of
altering the dynamics of an executive-Parliament (two parties rather than a single party in
the executive). This is because rather than a single party executive (which ensures its power
through party unity, substantial majority & control of backbenchers), a coalition has to
manage party unity across TWO parties (inter-party debate, negotiation & conciliation)
making LEGISLATURE a key focus of policy
3.3 How might a coaltion goverment
maintain party unity in the commons?
3.3.1 Coaltion resolve may of policy issues that may otherwise have
dogged the government and perhs threatened it existence
3.3.2 Extensive use of commission and forums, allowed sensitive issues to
be effectively "buried" or to be resolved though a "neutral" process
3.3.3 Lib dems prominent represention in government. NIck Clegg as Dep
PM, with four other in the cabinet. The lib dems are also marginally
'over-repersented in government 5:1 compared with 6:1 of MP's
3.3.4 Ideological shift in both coalition party before 2010 GE , so policy
diffrents between the Con and Lib Dem had been signifficanly reduced
3.3.5 Having entering into a coalition, there maybe a significant
electoral cost for pullign out. The Con Lib Dem MP's ahev no
realistic option other than to make the coaltion work
4 Impact of the Lords
4.1 Party unity is RELAXED
4.1.1 Non-elected and so no need for party machine to
keep post. Peers are for life and cannot be
disciplined by government through the whip system.
4.2 No guarantee of
4.2.1 Until 2000, dominance of hereditary peers meant that Conservatives had
‘in-built’ majority in Lords, and Labour confronted hostile second chamber.
Thus, the Lords’ checking power was used in a highly partisan way.
4.3 Why might it be argued that the
impact of the HoL on checking
government has increased?
4.3.1 No majority party in the Lords
220.127.116.11 Each party has abour 29 per cent support. All parties
have toseek support from other parties and from
crossbenchers in order to det legislation passed
4.3.2 More assertive Lords
18.104.22.168 Removal of most of the hereditary peers has
encouraged the members of the House of Lords to
believe that they have a right to assert their authority.
4.3.3 Landslide majorities in the commons
22.214.171.124 Some peers argued that they had a duty to check the
government of the day because the commons had become
so ineffective to this respect due to landslide majorities
4.3.4 The politices of the parliament act
126.96.36.199 this act allow the commons to overrule the lords, thier
use is very time-consuming as it means that bills get
regularly passed back and forth between the the house
188.8.131.52 Government are therefore often more anxious to reach
a compromise with the lords than to 'streamroller' a bill
through using the 1949 Parliament Act
4.4 How has the coalition government
threatened increased control of the
House of Lords?
4.4.1 Reform of the HoL is still planned by the coalition government – however,
more recent actions have strengthened executive control over the chamber,
rather than weakening it. For instance, 117 new peers were appointed
between May 2010 to January 2011 and the majority were Conservatives
and Liberal Democrats. With further appointments scheduled, this will
increase the number in the chamber to over 800. This approach has been
accepted in line with the coalition’s aim of representing all major parties
within the Lords to reflect the popular vote at the previous general election.
4.5 How would this influence
the effectiveness of
4.5.1 Loosing party unity in the Lords compared with
the commons continues to impose a major
constraint on the executive. by mid-may 2011,
the coalition had been defeated in the House of
Lords on 16 occasions , while it had suffered no
such reverses in the House of Commons