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The Changing Constitution

The Changing Constitution (9th edn)

Sir Jeffrey Jowell and Colm O'Cinneide
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date: 29 February 2024

p. 1576. Parliament: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times?locked

p. 1576. Parliament: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times?locked

  • Philip Norton


Parliament fulfils functions that are long-standing, but its relationship to government has changed over time. It has been criticized for weakness in scrutinizing legislation, holding government to account, and voicing the concerns of the people. Despite changes in both Houses in the twentieth century, the criticisms have persisted and in some areas Parliament has seen a constriction in its scope for decision-making. The twenty-first century has seen significant steps that have strengthened both Houses in carrying out their functions, the House of Commons in particular acquiring new powers. Members of both Houses have proved willing to challenge government. It remains a policy-influencing legislature, but a stronger one than in the preceding century. While strengthening its position in relation to the executive, it has faced major challenges in its relationship to the public. It has seen a greater openness in contact with citizens, but has had to contend with popular dissatisfaction and declining levels of trust.

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