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The role of the opposition

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The role of the opposition

  1. 1. The Role of the Opposition
  2. 2. How does it work • The opposition is charged with holding the government to account, even if heavily outnumbered • They can make damaging contributions in debates • The opposition leader can make public criticisms of the government’s record in PMQT • Other members of the shadow cabinet can call the members of the executive to account in a similar way • It is argued that having a strong opposition to government is vital • Without a strong opposition, the leading party can make serious mistakes • A strong opposition can help unite the backbenchers and even prevent rebellions
  3. 3. The role of backbench MPs • Backbench MPs are members of ALL parties who are not part of the Executive (Ministers) • Key responsibilities are: – Representing their constituents – Serving constituents – Voting on legislation – Debates – Committee work – Private members’ bills – Executive Scrutiny
  4. 4. The Legislative Process: • Queen’s speech: once agreed, the government’s programme is announced at the beginning of each parliamentary session • First Reading: (no vote) • Second Reading: MPs debate principle and vote on it • Committee stage: bill is allotted to relevant standing committee (see last lesson) where it is scrutinised but rarely changed much, due to government majority built into committee • Reading Stage: if the committee does suggest major changes, the House of Commons as a WHOLE has to approve them • Third Reading: Since the bill can no longer be amended, there are rarely changes or amendments at this stage • House of Lords: the bill must negotiate a similar course as the previous stages in the Lords. The HOL cannot reject a bill, however they can return the bill to the commons with amendments. The Commons can then choose whether to accept or reject these changes • Royal Assent: now a formality; however necessary for a bill to become law

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