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Chapter

Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Public Law

3. Prime Minister and Cabinet  

The Q&A series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each chapter includes typical questions, diagram problem and essay answer plans, suggested answers, notes of caution, tips on obtaining extra marks, the key debates on each topic, and suggestions on further reading. This chapter presents issues relating to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The sample questions given here deal with issues such as the extent to which the UK has moved from a system of Cabinet government to a system of Prime Ministerial government; collective ministerial responsibility; and how the convention of individual ministerial responsibility operates in relation to departmental error.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

9. Accountability  

This chapter turns to one of the central features of a good constitution, namely that it provides opportunities for those who exercise public power to be ‘held to account’ or ‘accountable’ for their decisions and conduct. In relation to ministers, this includes the convention of individual ministerial responsibility (ministers are answerable to Parliament) and the convention of collective responsibility (ministers cannot publicly disagree with government policy). Parliament has developed a variety of practical mechanisms for holding ministers to account, including: debates in the chamber; select committees inquiries; and parliamentary questions posed to ministers.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

R (on the application of FDA) v Prime Minister [2021] EWHC 3279 (Admin), Queen’s Bench Divisional Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in R (on the application of FDA) v Prime Minister [2021] EWHC 3279 (Admin), Queen’s Bench Divisional Court. This case concerned the justiciability of provisions in the Ministerial Code relating to bullying, harassment, and discrimination, and the decision of the Prime Minister in relation to an alleged breach of that Code by the Home Secretary. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from the author, Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

R (on the application of FDA) v Prime Minister [2021] EWHC 3279 (Admin), Queen’s Bench Divisional Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in R (on the application of FDA) v Prime Minister [2021] EWHC 3279 (Admin), Queen’s Bench Divisional Court. This case concerned the justiciability of provisions in the Ministerial Code relating to bullying, harassment, and discrimination, and the decision of the Prime Minister in relation to an alleged breach of that Code by the Home Secretary. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author, Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional and Administrative Law

10. Constitutional conventions  

After the legal sources of the UK constitution considered in previous chapters, this chapter turns its attention to an important non-legal source of the UK constitution: its constitutional conventions. It will be shown that constitutional conventions relate to practical and significant political matters which allow the UK constitution to function. They also represent a means by which the executive branch can be made accountable for its actions. The discussion explores the nature of constitutional conventions, gives examples of constitutional conventions, such as ministerial responsibility, enforcing conventions, the Cabinet Manual, and investigates the courts and conventions. Codification of conventions and the importance of conventions in relation to devolution is also discussed.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

12. Responsible Government and Constitutional Conventions  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. This chapter discusses the nature and extent of constitutional conventions, which are political rules that are binding upon those to whom they apply. They apply to the relationships between the Crown, Parliament, the judiciary, the civil service, and the executive, and play a key role in limiting the powers granted to institutions of government by unwritten rules or sources. Constitutional conventions also regulate key parts of the relationship between the institutions of government. The doctrine of ministerial responsibility is one of the most important examples of constitutional conventions regulating the behaviour of the executive. There are two main branches of ministerial responsibility. One is individual ministerial responsibility—that is, a minister’s obligation to account to Parliament for his or her words and actions and for those of his or her civil servants. The second branch of ministerial responsibility is collective ministerial responsibility. Amongst other things, collective ministerial responsibility prescribes that decisions reached by the Cabinet or other ministerial committees are binding on all members of the government, regardless of whether or not the individual ministers agree with them.

Chapter

Cover Cases and Materials on Constitutional and Administrative Law

6. Parliament: Scrutiny of Government  

This chapter examines the operation of the UK’s parliamentary style of government, focusing on the role of Parliament in scrutinising the government. The chapter explains the crucial constitutional convention of ministerial responsibility to Parliament, using examples to demonstrate how it operates in practice. Having set out the principles, the chapter explores the practice of parliamentary scrutiny of government, including the role of select committees, debates and questions on the floor of the Commons, and the role of correspondence between MPs, their constituents, and the government. The chapter concludes by reviewing some reforms intended to re-balance power within Parliament, by strengthening the role of backbench MPs, creating a public petitions system to select topics for debate, and extending parliamentary oversight over public appointments.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

11. Parliamentary Scrutiny of Central Government  

This chapter examines the accountability of the central government to Parliament. It addresses questions such as: what is Parliament’s proper role in scrutinising government? What does the constitutional convention of ministerial responsibility mean? And how does it operate in practice? The chapter also considers topics of particular importance to government accountability: freedom of information, accountability of the security and intelligence services, and financial accountability.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

9. Constitutional Conventions  

This chapter assesses the nature and purpose of constitutional conventions. The discussions cover the concepts of collective and individual ministerial responsibility; the relationship between the Monarch and her Ministers; the relationship between convention, statute, and the common law; the ‘Ponsonby rule’ and the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. It is argued that the concentration of effective political power is often very intense, even within a political party; small groups of senior Ministers or even the Prime Minister alone may occasionally be, to all intents and purposes, ‘elected dictators’.

Book

Cover Cases and Materials on Constitutional and Administrative Law

Brian Thompson, Michael Gordon, and Adam Tucker

Cases & Materials on Constitutional and Administrative Law is an invaluable resource. Extracts have been chosen from a wide range of historical and contemporary cases and materials to illustrate the reasoning processes of the courts and to show how legal principles are developed. The extracts from the leading cases in the field are combined with legal, political, and philosophical materials and linked together with explanatory text, alongside extensive notes and questions for discussion. The book takes a critical look at the main doctrines of constitutional law as well as the principles of administrative law, examining the operation of the constitution in relation to Parliament, the government, and the citizen. Incisive commentary throughout the text provides explanation and analysis of the key issues and challenges in constitutional and administrative law. The thirteenth edition has been fully revised and updated to reflect the latest developments in legislation, case law, and politics, including the process and implications of exiting the EU, and the UK’s new post-Brexit legal arrangements; continuing change and challenges to the devolution settlement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; major Supreme Court decisions in Miller (No.2) / Cherry, UNISON, the Scottish Continuity Bill Reference, and Privacy International; new developments in relation to ministerial responsibility and parliamentary accountability (including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic); proposed repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; and discussion of proposals for reforms of judicial review and tribunal appeal processes, as well as proposed reform of ombudsmen. This text continues to provide instant access to an unrivalled collection of up-to-date judgments, statutory provisions, official publications, and other policy materials.