Parliament Past Paper Questions

Note these are a mixture of 40 Mark essays and 5, 10 and 25 Mark Source based questions.

June 2009: The role of Parliament

Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

Citizens need an effective Parliament. They need a body that can call the government to account, that can ensure that government answers for its actions and the actions of civil servants. They need a body that can scrutinise and, if necessary, change the legislative proposals brought forward by government. They need a body that can ensure that their voice is heard by government when they have a grievance, be it about the impact of a policy or the absence of a policy. They need the security of knowing that, if there is a problem, there is a body to which they can turn for help, a body that can force public officials to listen.

Government needs an effective Parliament. It needs it because its authority derives from Parliament. The more government distances itself from Parliament, the more it undermines popular consent for the system of government. It needs Parliament to give its approval to measures and, prior to doing so, to scrutinise those measures.

Adapted from Report of the Commission to Strengthen Parliament.

(a) With reference to the source, describe three functions of Parliament. (5 Marks)

(b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain why government needs an effective Parliament. (10 Marks)

(c) Analyse the main factors that limit the effectiveness of Parliament.(25 Marks)

January 2010: Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow. White Paper on reform of the House of Lords

This White Paper sets out the government’s proposals for a reformed second chamber of the UK Parliament. The proposals are based on the House of Commons votes for an 80% or 100% elected second chamber and follow cross-party talks on how this could be achieved. The White Paper makes proposals for reform in a number of areas:

Role and composition

The House of Lords plays a valuable role in holding the government to account and revising legislation. The reforms would strengthen those roles and make the second chamber more accountable. The House of Commons would continue to be the primary chamber in the UK legislature.

Membership of the chamber

The proposed reforms would create a second chamber with directly elected members, which would be smaller than the House of Commons. The remaining rights of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the second chamber would be removed.

Powers of the new chamber

The government proposes no changes to the powers of a reformed second chamber.

The possible role of appointed members to ensure independence

If it is decided that there should be a 20% appointed element, the government proposes that its key purpose would be to provide a significant independent element in the second chamber. A statutory appointments commission would seek nominations and applications for membership. The government is also proposing changes to the arrangements for eligibility, remuneration and accountability.

Source: White Paper, An Elected Second Chamber, July 14, 2008.

(a) With reference to the source, what changes to the second chamber are proposed? (5 Marks)

(b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain the arguments for a fully or partly elected second chamber. (10 Marks)

(c) Make out a case against an elected second chamber.(25 Marks)

January 2011 House of Commons

Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

Extracts from three days proceedings of the House of Commons

January 12, 2010

x Questions to the Secretary of State for Health

x Third Reading of the Personal Care at Home Bill

January 13, 2010

x Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland

x Questions to the Prime Minister

x Opposition Motion presented by the Leader of the Opposition: ‘That this House notes with concern the increase in the number of young people not in employment, education or training….[continued]’

x Report presented by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on global security in Afghanistan and Pakistan

January 14, 2010

x Public Bill Committee on the Financial Services Bill to consider proposed amendments to clause 26.

Source:, January, 2010.

(a) With reference to the source, describe two functions of the House of Commons.(5 Marks)

(b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain how the House of Commons can control the power of government. (10 Marks)

(c) To what extent is the House of Commons effective in carrying out its various functions? (25 Marks)

June 2011 Parliamentary reform

Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

Extracts from the document: ‘The Coalition: our programme for government ’.

We will establish five-year fixed term Parliaments. We will put a binding motion before the House of Commons stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May, 2015. Following this motion, we will legislate to make provision for fixed term Parliaments of five years.

We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies.

We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing.

We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation.

We will bring forward proposals… for reform to the House of Commons… starting with the proposed committee for management of backbench business. A House Business Committee, to consider government business, will be established by the third year of the Parliament.

We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for public debate in Parliament.

Source: ‘The Coalition: our programme for government’, Cabinet Office, May 2010 © Crown copyright 2010

(a) With reference to the source, describe three proposals that seek to strengthen parliamentary representation by increasing popular participation. (5 Marks)

(b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain how three of these proposals seek to make government more accountable to Parliament. (10 Marks)

(c) To what extent will the coalition government’s proposals bring about an effective reform of Parliament? ( 25 Marks)

January 2012 Parliament:

Study the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

Select Committees

There is a House of Commons select committee for each government department, examining three aspects: spending, policies and administration. These departmental select committees have a minimum of 11 members, who decide upon a line of inquiry and then gather written and oral evidence. Findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee’s recommendations.

Following the adoption by the House of Commons of recommendations from the Reform of the House of Commons Committee:

x Departmental select committee chairs are elected by their fellow MPs

x A backbench business committee has been established with the ability to schedule business in the Commons chamber and in Westminster Hall on days, or parts of days, set aside for non-government business.

Legislative committees

Both Houses of Parliament refer legislation to committees for detailed discussion and approval. These committees are part of the process of making laws. They scrutinise proposed laws and may consider amendments to improve the legislation. Amendments approved in legislative committees must be approved by the whole House.

Source: adapted from, October, 2010.

(a) With reference to the source, why are legislative committees needed? (5 Marks)

(b) With reference to the source and your own knowledge, explain the ways in which backbench MPs can call government to account. (10 Marks)

(c) To what extent has the formation of a coalition altered the relationship between Parliament and government? (25 Marks)

January 2013

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a) With reference to the source, outline two criticisms of David Cameron’s appointments to the House of Lords. (5 Marks)

b) With reference to the source and your own knowledge, explain three considerations that are taken into account when appointing life peers. (10 Marks)

c) Assess the arguments in favour of a largely or wholly elected second chamber. (25 Marks)


June 2010 To what extent does Parliament control executive power? (40 Marks)

January 2012 To what extent has the location of sovereignty in the UK changed in recent years? (40 Marks)

(Also could be seen as a constitutions question)

 June 2013

‘The House of Lords is now more effective than the House of Commons in checking government power.’ Discuss. (40 Marks)

June 2014

Parliament carries out none of its functions adequately. Discuss. (40 Marks)

June 2015

The House of Commons is in greater need of Reform than the House of Lords. Discuss. (40 Marks)



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