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Chapter 7

PO263 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Backbencher

Political Science
Course Code
Christopher Anderson

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Chapter 7: Parliament
7.1 The Role of Parliament
Parliament adopts legislation and determines whether a cabinet has the right to govern
Existence of highly disciplined parliamentary parties means that Parliament rarely
uses its powers in these matters
In most cases, Parliament is merely ratifying legislative decisions that have been
made by the PM and cabinet
Primary operational purpose of the modern parliament is to make the cabinet
accountable for its actions to the public
Parliament provides a forum for opposition members to criticize the gov’n, offer
constructive alternatives, and succeed in pressuring the gov’n to make changes to a bill
or even withdraw it
Opposition members scrutinizing and criticizing the cabinet’s conduct or
policy-Parliament plays an essential role in keeping the gov’n sensitive to the concerns
of the voters
7.2 The Parliamentary Calendar
General election held->new contingent of MPs elected to the HoC and new Parliament
will be convened
Parliament has sessions-end of session decided by PM, who advises GG to end the
session by a process known as prorogation
Sessions are divided into sittings-each time the HoC meets is a sitting
Each session begins with a throne speech-outlines legislative program that the
gov’n is proposing to Parliament
The program is then debated and voted on-considered a confidence vote
7.3 The House of Commons: Membership and Officers
Each MP in the HoC has been elected to represent 1 territorially based constituency
known as an electoral district (riding)
Opposition parties will name a shadow cabinet-a team of opposition critics for each of
the government’s ministries
Mrs who serve in the cabinet=gov’n members. Those who do not=private members
Clerk of the House; responsible for doing the official paperwork of the House and
provides procedural advice to the speaker when necessary
Sergeant-at-Arms; responsible for the security of the House
Auditor General; reviews gov’n spending
7.4 The Business of the House of Commons
Most important business of the House=adoption of bills (legislative proposals)
Private members’ bills are rarely adopted
Government bills=legislative proposals presented to the House by a minister
Bill is only adopted after passing 3 “readings”
Adoptions of resolutions are a business of the House
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