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Constraints on Parliamentary Committees

We are inclined to believe that our hybrid system of government is designed to ensure that the Executive and Parliament are working along the same lines. Through constraints on both Committees and Parliament the system does not encourage rivalry between Parliament and the Executive.

Some of the factors that constrain Parliament and its Committees in their oversight of the Executive are:

• The bulk of the legislation is initiated by the Executive. It is a daunting task for private   members to  initiate bills in Parliament. The Private Member needs funding, drafting   assistance and support from the government.

• Parliament does not vote (appropriate) money unless the Executive proposes it, nor does the   House impose or increase taxes unless the Executive requires such taxation.

• The bulk of the time in the House is taken up in government business.

Although constrained by limited resources and time, the committees can exercise effective scrutiny of government on particular subjects that the government would prefer the Committees to leave alone. The Public Accounts Committee, for example, can interrogate Ministers and Senior Civil Servants in a way that the House itself cannot do through the use of Question Time. Committee's pressure can contribute to a change in government policy.

 


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