Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.

Specification: 

  • Edexcel: Component 4.2: The relationship between the Executive and Parliament

  • AQA: Component 3.1.1.2: The structure and role of Parliament: scrutiny of the executive and how effective scrutiny is in practice

Background: what you need to know 

This article, by a leading authority on Parliament, highlights the ways in which scrutiny of the executive has been undermined during the coronavirus pandemic. It notes that debate on emergency measures has been curtailed and temporary arrangements for electronic voting have been replaced by proxy voting for a majority of MPs. Many of the changes have been made by delegated legislation, over which it is much harder for Parliament to exercise oversight. All of this has tipped the balance of power in favour of the executive.

Click to read the articles below — and don’t forget to follow the links within it, which provide invaluable additional material. Then answer the questions:

UK government must loosen its grip on parliamentary process

Depending on which examination board you are following, answer one of the following questions.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the view that Parliament has become less effective in scrutinising the actions of the executive. 

    In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK politics and core political ideas. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks] 

    TIP: The article is an excellent source of information for studying Parliament over the past year, but remember that you must consider developments over a longer period. Other ways in which Parliament can hold the executive to account, such as through select committees, ministerial questions and urgent questions, could be looked at.

    A relevant Component 1 topic is 4.1: Case studies of general elections. You could compare an election such as that of 2017, which produced a weak minority government, with the most recent contest in 2019. The size of the government’s majority, or its absence, makes a great difference to the relationship between Parliament and the executive.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College