Operation of Parliament, Voters, Elections and Role of Political Peers

Operation of Parliament

The main functions of the UK Parliament are to:

  1. Check and challenge the work of the Government (scrutiny)
  2. Make and change laws (legislation)
  3. Debate the important issues of the day (debating)
  4. Check and approve Government spending (budget/taxes)


Parliament is made up of three central elements:

  1. the House of Commons
  2. the House of Lords
  3. the Monarchy


The main business of Parliament takes place in the two Houses. Generally the decisions made in one House have to be approved by the other.

Check and challenge the work of the Government

One of Parliament’s main roles is to examine and challenge the work of the government. The House of Commons and the House of Lords use similar methods of scrutiny, although the procedures vary.

The principal methods are questioning government ministers, debating and the investigative work of committees. The government can publicly respond to explain and justify policies and decisions.

The Government introduces most plans for new laws, with many included in the Queen’s Speech at the opening of each session of Parliament, and changes to existing laws. However, new laws can originate from an MP or a Lord.

Make and change laws

One of Parliament’s main roles is debating and passing laws.

To propose a new law a Bill is introduced in either the House of Commons or House of Lords for examination, discussion and amendment.

When both Houses have agreed on the content of a Bill it is then presented to the reigning monarch for approval.

Once Royal Assent is given a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and is law.

Debate the important issues of the day

Both Houses of Parliament hold debates in which Members discuss government policy, propose new laws and topical issues of the day.

Debates are designed to assist MPs and Lords to reach an informed decision on a subject. Votes are often held to conclude a debate, which may involve then passing or rejecting a proposed new law or simply registering their opinion on a subject.

Subjects for debates are introduced as a proposal, or motion, by Members, then debated according to a strict sets of rules.

Check and approve Government spending

Parliament looks closely at the Government’s tax and spending plans on our behalf and tries to make sure that public money is being spent fairly and efficiently. The Government cannot raise new taxes or spend public money without Parliament’s agreement.

Each year the Chancellor of the Exchequer presents the Budget, this sets out all the major changes in taxation that the Government are proposing for the coming year. These measures are then contained in the annual Finance Bill. Parliament debates the Budget and scrutinises the Finance Bill.

The amount of public money that can be spent by each government department (e.g. Health, Transport, Education) must be approved annually by the House of Commons. In addition, there are special Committees that monitor how each department is spending money throughout the year.



Make sure you have your voice heard and register to vote. Get on the electoral register so you can vote in elections and referendums.

Voting is a method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision or express an opinion, usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting.

To enable as many people as possible to take part in electing their representative to Parliament, there are three options for placing your vote:

  1. in person at a polling station
  2. by post
  3. by choosing someone to vote on your behalf (by proxy)


Elections and Role of Political Peers

There are three main types of elections in the UK:

  1. General Election
  2. European Parliament
  3. Local Election


This are not the only elections there are also elections for the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, Welsh Assembly, Referendums among others.

peer is a politician who sits in the House of Lords – that’s the place with red leather seats that you sometimes see on the news.

The upper House is known for the expertise of its members and the painstaking detail of its scrutiny of legislation – and yet the majority of peers are not paid a salary for their trouble.

The name peer was adopted, as long ago as the 13th Century, to convey the idea that all members are equal, no matter what their aristocratic rank or title.


Useful links:



Subscribe for our latest offers and updates