'The House of Lords is now more effective than the House of Commons in checking government power'. Discuss
In theory the House of Commons is the dominant chamber as it is elected while the House of Lords plays more of a revising role, issues to be considered include the powers of each chambers, the fact the House of Lords is more independently minded and the impact of the whips. It will ultimately be argued that the House of Commons remains far more effective due to having greater powers in checking the government power.
Firstly, the House of Commons has the ultimate check on government power via a vote of no confidence, this last happened in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was able to be ...view middle of the document...
Furthermore, as members are appointed they do not have constituency pressures to distract them and can think about the long-term effects of policy, rather than be governed by political expediency. The less accountable allows the peers to speak their mind on issues and not be puppets of their party unlike the MPs in the House of Commons who have to be voting with their party or otherwise they will get sacked/kicked out or never be promoted.
Another reason why the House of Commons is more effective in checking government power is Prime ministers Question Time, which is a weekly slot where MPs can ask one notified question of the Prime Minister and one unscripted supplementary question. These are also usually dominated by the PM and the leader of the opposition who can ask four or five supplementary questions. Question Time also extends to other ministers, forcing them to answer oral questions from MPs. On occasion Prime Minister question time can expose a PM or seem to sum up the political weather, for example Tony Blair said to John Major “You’re weak, weak, weak”. Furthermore, PM questions are very high profile due to the high amount coverage via the media and the one occasion in the week where much of the population will form a judgement on the two main party leaders. Also, the vast majority of the government can only be questioned in the House of Commons.
However, the House of Commons operates under a Whips system, whereby appointed MPs ensure that all members of a particular party vote in favour of their leaders decisions. This can prevent MPs from operating independently of their party and can impede the scrutiny of government as MPs are likely to vote for their leader regardless of their own objections. The importance of party loyalty within the House of Commons is also likely to reduce the effectiveness of scrutiny as MPs rarely rebel against their party's wishes; this can prove particularly disastrous when the executive proposes new legislation as, due to the First Past the Post system which rarely produces coalitions, the government is likely to have a majority and so most MPs will vote in favour of the government. This should not happen because the MPs should represent their constituency but due to job security and possible promotions (Pay rises), MPs will vote in favour of their party even though their constituency may disagree. This shows how ineffective the scrutiny function can be when combined with the whip system as fear plays a factor in containing 'party order'.
Furthermore, an effective way of performing checks on the government via the House of Commons is through debates. These allow for detailed questioning of government legislation and policies. They can lead to moments when Ministers make mistakes with their answer and/or judgements, a famous example being when Tony Blair said that...