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Good Governance And Political Accountability Notes

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This is an extract of our Good Governance And Political Accountability document, which we sell as part of our Constitutional Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Constitutional Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Good Governance & Politcal Accountability GOOD GOVERNANCE

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Good governance is necessary in order that people accept the legitimacy and power of the government.

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The term is disputed - set of core principles but specifics are argued over.

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Good governance principles are hidden in more complex constitutional principles e.g. in separation of powers is the idea that politicians should not influence the judiciary. We subscribe to the principles.

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Are the mechanisms we have in place adequate for upholding good governance principles?
What is good governance?

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Five requirements identified: good people, good process, good accountability, good performance and good standards. These are off categories but will be widely discussed below. Governing in the public interest:

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The government should make decisions that advance the public good. Remember that the government have no private interests and may not have any such interests.

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There is, of course, debate over what is the public good and different governments will have different conceptions of it. Some basic things can be widely agreed on: government services should be obtained in a manner that represents value for money. Governing transparently:

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The government must govern transparently. This is done through a variety of mechanisms, including the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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Includes other basic ideas like decision makers giving reasons for their decisions. Respecting the dignity, rights and interests of others:

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Idea anchored in the rule of law. It includes transparency but is much more.

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Procedural fairness when making decisions that affect individuals. Enforceable through judicial review where there is a breach.

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Human rights under HRA '98.

Governing competently:

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Ministers must direct officials working in their department, who the public are far more likely to come into contact with, uphold the general principles of good governance.

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People who work for the departments should know the policies and be able to convey them to members of the public who require guidance.

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This principle also requires ombudsman and tribunal systems to be built into the general system, recognising that at times there will be manifestations of incompetence that need to be dealt with.

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Various scandals recently have raised the profile of good governance: MPs expenses, cash for questions, cash for peerages etc. If citizens want to achieve collective goals e.g. freedom of speech etc., then in a modern world we need to confer more power on the government to facilitate this. It may seem counterintuitive but is necessary.

Accountability

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Those in public office often fall short of expected standards and need to be held to account.

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Mulgan describes accountability as "a method of keeping the public informed and the powerful in check."

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Bovens discusses the "problem of many eyes: they are accountable to a plethora of different forums, all of which apply a different set of criteria"

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Many people exercise accountability: the public, Parliament, the courts, an ombudsman etc. There is no single mechanism of accountability.

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Political accountability and legal accountability are two key strands. Thirdly there is administrative accountability, which is concerned with achieving policy goals in an effective manner. Political accountability:

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Political accountability is to both Parliament and the public. This reflects the fact that power is taken to reside in the people in a democracy. The public hold decision makers directly to account through elections, and their representative take the form of MPs at other times.

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Because elections are only ever 5 years or so, the influence of voters is intermittent rather than continuous, so we rely on Parliament to scrutinise at other times.

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The doctrine of ministerial responsibility allows Parliament to hold government ministers accountable. Ministers must provide an account of their action in various ways. The departmental select committees are designed to

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