Understanding Parliament

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By Dr Alexandra Kelso, Senior Lecturer in Politics

In the current edition of Politics Review, the magazine for A-level Government and Politics, I have written an article exploring the UK Parliament in terms of what it does and how effectively it does it. The piece covers a number of important areas, many of which we hear about all the time in the news, even if somewhat tangentially. For example, it examines parliament’s representative role, how it communicates voter opinions and preferences to government, and the extent to which MPs effectively represent the diversity of UK society. It also explores parliament’s scrutiny role as a major check on what government does and as a crucial site of political accountability, particularly noting the expanding role of select committees in this regard. The article concludes that parliament is not a perfect institution – and can never be perfect – but that there is much still to be done to make it work better as a political institution, particularly in terms of its representative credentials and its capacity as a forum for rigorous executive scrutiny. A great deal of political energy is expended inside political institutions such as parliaments and, as such, it just makes good sense for us always to reflect on how they can better serve the public.

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