It's all to do with the training: You can do a lot if you're properly trained.

-- Queen Elizabeth II


Commonwealth Module - Unit 8: The Role of MPs and Parliamentary Staff


Learning Objectives:
How Parliament Gets the Job Done!

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • Understand the differing roles which an MP is called upon to play in parliament;
  • Compare the MP’s responsibilities in these different roles;
  • Describe how the responsibilities can vary according to the expectations of the electorate that chooses an MP;
  • Discuss the ways in which parliamentary staff may be called upon to support MPs in their work in parliament.

In democracies, all Members of Parliament are elected by groups of citizens of the country irrespective of the kind of electoral system under which they are chosen. They come to parliament with expectations of their own to fulfil. The holders of important offices such as the Speaker and Ministers find that their responsibilities are primarily dictated and conditioned by their office. All other Members will remain ‘private Members’, that is, not office holders in parliament. They are nonetheless immediately confronted by a variety of responsibilities related to the roles they have to play in the institution.

The roles that most parliamentarians fulfill are often summarized as representative, legislator and scrutinizer of the government. The first refers to the fact that MPs have been elected to parliament as representatives of their electorates. The second reflects what most people see as the central responsibility of an MP, to pass legislation, whether original or changes to existing acts. The third covers the scrutiny or oversight that parliamentarians are expected to exercise over the workings of the executive including the implementation of laws passed by parliament. This function also extends to the support or criticism of proposals placed before parliament by the government.




Index Previous Page