Parliament: what it does

As befits its role as the linchpin of the British constitution, Parliament performs five key functions, each of which is concerned with its relationship to the government:

  • Providing the personnel for the government since all of up to 95 government ministers[1] are members of Parliament (nearly all come from the Commons, rather than the Lords).
  • Scrutinising the government, such as by asking ministerial questions and by debating government policy.
  • Approving funds for the government to carry out its functions and policies.
  • Debating topical issues and hence (if democracy is working well) giving the government a steer on the nation’s sentiment.
  • Legislating, by a process of debating, amending and passing legislation.

Legislation is invariably chosen and drafted by the Government.  But Parliament plays a key role in scrutinising and amending legislation before deciding whether to pass it.

[1] The number is capped by statute: House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, s2.