In this chapter we will discuss Parliament generally. In the following two chapters the composition and procedures of Parliament will be discussed more closely. Parliament comprises two Houses, the appointed House of Lords and the elected House of Commons. As a result of the seventeenth-century conflict between the monarchy and Parliament, it was established that the monarch could not make law or raise taxes without the consent of Parliament and that Parliament should be free from royal interference (Section 4.4). These powers formed the platform for the subsequent development of Parliament’s roles of maintaining the executive and holding it to account. Together with the court-centred rule of law this forms the basis of modern constitutionalism. Parliament’s functions are to: Enact legislation. Apart from the limited powers of the Crown under the royal prerogative (Section x) no other body can make law without the power being specifically conferred by Parliament. Tomkins (2003) suggests that, in view of the fact that most legislation is, in fact, prepared by the executive, it is more appropriate to regard Parliament’s role as that of scrutinising and approving legislation. However, even though ministers are also MPs there are important differences between laws made by the executive as such (namely subordinate legislation under powers conferred by statute and laws made under the royal prerogative) and those enacted by Parliament itself.
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