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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 and the Foundations of British Democracy—the Public Interest and Public Service Principles

Accountability and the Foundations of British Democracy—the Public Interest and Public Service Principles

Chapter:
(p.289) 12 Accountability and the Foundations of British Democracy—the Public Interest and Public Service Principles
Source:
Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution
Author(s):

Dawn Oliver

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670024.003.0012

This chapter focuses on the purposes of accountability mechanisms in the UK's constitutional arrangements. Politicians and public officials in the UK work within a ‘web’ of accountability mechanisms. These include ministerial responsibility to Parliament, the availability of judicial review and recourse to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, pressure from political parties, the press and the public, and elections. The proper functioning of the system, including respect for the rule of law, human rights and civil and political liberties depends on the maintenance of a strong sense of shared or general interests and public service. Most elements of the accountability web in the UK promote these principles. Some elements, however, prioritize instead majoritarian, sectional, sectarian, partisan or party political interests. If these were to dominate, then the government and the system would lose legitimacy and the very basis of the UK's liberal democratic system would be undermined.

Keywords:   purposes of accountability, accountability mechanisms, ministerial responsibility, judicial review, general interest, public service, party politics, rule of law, human rights, civil and political liberties

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