Scrutiny and Making Trouble
This chapter argues that Parliament has increased its power to embarrass government, partly due to Select Committees, and discusses the increasing clout of backbenchers the work remains scarcely visible to the public. It analyses what goes on in this world of scrutiny and in the next chapter see how it works as one particular bill travels through Parliament. Scrutiny by MPs is a key role for the opposition and backbenchers. The dizzying range of scrutiny rituals attended by MPs is given some continuity by riffs and rhythms. The Select Committees that scrutinize the government departments are informally ranked by MPs in terms of status from the most senior, the Treasury Committee, down to Welsh Affairs. A sting was introduced into this relationship by the expenses scandal; it eviscerated the reputation of MPs when it was already flagging. The media report frequently on women MPs’ appearance but male MPs’ political achievements or abilities.