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Parliament Scrutiny Notes

Law Notes > Constitutional Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Parliament Scrutiny notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

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:

Parliament PARLIAMENT AND DEMOCRACY

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Democratic credentials acquired through elections. Why is democracy good?

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Normative view of the human conditions - autonomy of the individual and right to have a say in the own life.

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Having a voice encourages humans to flourish (Mill). Types of democracy (UK mixes the two):

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Representative democracy: public select representative by election. After election there is no legal requirement to respect the opinions of those who elected you.

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Participative democracy: public involvement beyond elections. Can be seen in the use of referendums on constitutional questions. Elections to the Commons

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Elections are used to determine the composition of the chamber, as well as who is going to form the government.

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A general election is triggered by the PM asking the monarch to dissolve Parliament. As of 2010 we have fixed term Parliaments of 5 years: good in principle because an incumbent shouldn't have an advantage, but might lead to a 'lame duck' government.

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Democracy suggests that the widest number of people should be able to stand and vote in elections - but this is a relatively recent phenomenon e.g. women's suffrage in 1928. Even recent issues like prisoner voting rights have been an issue. Voting system:

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FPTP - candidate with the most votes wins. AV was suggested in 2011 referendum but rejected o Criticised because it means it doesn't matter how much someone wins by and they don't need a majority. Advantage is that is has tended to deliver clear winners in general elections, so no need for a hung Parliament (except now!). Reform

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MPs expenses scandal dented confidence.

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Reform of the voting system: AV was rejected. New Labour deemed the party list unacceptable. AMS, like in Scotland?

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