chapter  8
24 Pages


8.1 Introduction

One of the purposes of a constitutional system is to provide means by which large scale societies may make collective decisions. The ideal of representative democracy is that important decisions are taken by our elected representatives (see above, 1.6.2). In practice, this is not possible. Parliamentary bodies are too large and fractious to be effective decision making organs. The role of such bodies is, therefore, often confined to scrutinising and passing legislative proposals initiated by a smaller executive committee of their members; and to calling members of that executive committee to account for their actions. As we have seen, the executive committees of the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales are known respectively as: the Cabinet (see above, 2.4.3); the Scottish Executive (see above, 2.5.2); the Northern Ireland Executive (see above, 2.6.2); and the Executive Committee of the National Assembly for Wales (see above, 2.7). The role of members of the executive committees (‘ministers’) is to decide what ought to be done. Ministers do usually set the policy agenda, based on the political manifesto their party issued before a parliamentary election (see above, 6.3).