Premium Essay



Submitted By PatrickCowman
Words 557
Pages 3
Only a few sitting Members of Parliament are directly involved with executive government. Most MPs are backbenchers, so-called because they inhabit the rear seats in the parliament (the ‘frontbenches’ are only occupied by ministers and shadow ministers). Backbenchers might be junior MPs, relatively inexperienced and ‘learning the ropes’ of parliament. They might be former ministers or prime ministers who have resigned, lost leadership challenges or been demoted from cabinet. Or they might be unwilling or unsuited for a ministerial post. Nevertheless they have a number of important responsibilities in the parliament, including voting on bills, delivering speeches, asking questions during question time and representing the interests and welfare of their electorate.
Backbenchers can be an important source of information during the process of creating laws, since they represent different electorates with a diversity of people, communities, economic and social interests. A new law regulating coal-mining, for example, would affect people in some electorates more than others. The MPs representing those electorates would almost certainly take a strong interest in the law and its development. Backbenchers obviously have less impact on law-making than a minister – yet there are a number of ways they can influence both the content of legislation and the legislative process:
By serving on a parliamentary committee. This is perhaps where MPs on the backbench can have the most impact. Committees engage in detailed scrutiny of existing legislation, hear from experts, consider public submissions and ultimately make recommendations about suggested changes to legislation. Some backbenchers with no leadership role in the parliament or their party can take a lead role in these committees, particularly on issues of great concern to them.
By participating in debate about bills. After

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