Jonathan McIver Government and Politics Has the UK become a irrelevant institution?

To some extent the UK parliament has become irrelevant. For example, as the UK are members of the EU, this can dissolve a lot of legal sovereignty, as laws made by the UK parliament may have to be repealed by the European union, as the particular policy may breach the human rights act. For example, in the ‘Factortame case’ the EU had overridden the UK parliaments decision, and the merchants fishing act, and allowed Spanish ships to fish in UK waters. Also, devolution contributes to a reduction of sovereignty in the UK parliament, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can now make policies of their own. For example Scotland now has legislative devolution, administrative devolution and also financial devolution, this allows the country to raise its tax rate by up to 3p. This affects the UK’s relevancy, as it shows that all powers are no longer held by the parliament, and Westminster is controlling less and less of the UK. On the other hand, the House of Lords has become increasingly relevant, due to the recent reform, to eject many hereditary peers with elected ones. This has allowed for more scrutiny in parliament, due to a more ‘intelligent’ house of lords, due to specialist lords being appointed rather than under qualified lords being placed in there, this will allow the house of lords to look at matters in greater depth, improving levels of scrutiny, showing the relevance of the institution. This will also mean that the House of Lords will be more willing to challenge the government on specific matters. However, there is also a view that there is not enough scrutiny in parliament, showing that the institution is irrelevant. This view is shared because the different ways of scrutinising the executive have been changed in recent years. For example, the PM’s question time has been changed to one 30 minute slot rather than two 15 minute slots. This allows the PM to prepare their answers in more depth in advance, allowing them to talk about the issue for longer, delaying the MP’s questioning. It is also seen that as the House of Lords can only delay a bill up to one year, the levels of scrutiny are not at the appropriate level. This leads on to the widely acknowledged thought of the UK falling to an ‘elective dictatorship’, as not enough scrutiny is available to stop the executive doing what he or she wants. There are still some supporters of the amount of scrutiny in parliament, as many people believe that a 30 minute period is enough time for enough scrutiny to be enforced. Also, people see debating in the House of Commons as an effective way of scrutinising the executive. Showing that some people still believe that the UK parliament is still a relevant institution. Party cohesion is a big reason why people share the view of parliament losing relevance. The views of the different constitutions are not properly portrayed by their respective MP’s in the House of Commons. For example if a constituency wanted to bring back the death penalty

Jonathan McIver Government and Politics to their constituency, the particular MP may not put forward this idea in the Commons, as their party may not agree with this, the MP’s use their own judgement, and ‘toe the party line’. The idea of General elections is to elect a particular party or person to make decisions based on the electorates wishes, the PM is elected to lead and run the country. This however, does not often happen as the PM is usually unrepresentative of the electorate’s wishes. This shows that Parliament is irrelevant, as the PM does not actually always listen to the people of the country. For example, Tony Blair had much opposition in the idea of a war with Iraq, however the PM still decided to go along with this much opposed plan. Also, the idea of Banning Fox hunting attracted much opposition, however this did not stop the policy from being ratified. In conclusion, I believe that the UK parliament has, to some extent become irrelevant, as the levels of scrutiny within parliament have become lower in recent years, and devolution has taken powers away from the UK parliament. However in some ways I think that the UK still has a relevant Parliament, due to the House of Lords reform, and the idea of debates and PMQ’s scrutinising the executive.