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Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution$
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Nicholas Bamforth and Peter Leyland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670024

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670024.001.0001

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Accountability of and to the Legislature

Accountability of and to the Legislature

(p.259) 11 Accountability of and to the Legislature
Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution

Nicholas Bamforth

Oxford University Press

Theories concerning the roles of courts and legislatures entail certain assumptions about or explicit views concerning accountability. A traditional political constitutionalist might prioritise accountability of the United Kingdom government to the Westminster Parliament over judicial review, whereas a legal constitutionalist might focus on the role of the courts. In reality, of course, there is a range of accountability relationships relating to the legislature, and the priority one accords to each will tie directly to one's background approach. This chapter favours a ‘dialogue’ perspective, and tries to explain debate about accountability-related devices associated with the Westminster Parliament – ministerial responsibility and/or accountability, for example, or Parliamentary privilege – by reference to it. Scrutiny of anti-terrorism measures also offers a key illustration of the role played by a combination of judicial and political methods, with ‘dialogue’ between them, in promoting accountability in a sensitive and central area of the constitution.

Keywords:   Legal and political accountability, legislature, ministerial responsibility and accountability, constitutional conventions, Parliamentary committees, Parliamentary privilege, national security, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Independent Scrutineer

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